Thursday, October 05, 2006

Empty vs Full

I was reading Ruth a couple of days ago when a phrase jumped out at me again. In Ruth 1:21a Naomia says, "I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty." Years back Naomia and her family had left Bethlehem because there was a famine in the land. I guess they left because they figured they would fair better somewhere else during this time rather than toughing it out there. They moved to Moab. While they were there Naomi's husband and two sons died, leaving Naomi in a strange land with nobody, except her two daughters-in-law that her sons had married in Moab before they died. Somehow Naomi got word that "the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them" (verse 6) so she decided to go back to Judah. From the sounds of it Naomi and her family didn't fair as well as they thought they would. She tells her daughters-in-law that "the Lord's hand has gone out against me" (verse 13). When she returns to Judah she tells the ladies to call her Mara, a name meaning bitter, (verse 20) and she certainly does sound bitter. In the rest of verse 21 she says, "The Lord has afflicted me: the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me." It sounds like Naomi has come to the end of herself and she seems to blame God for it.

There's something very curious about this, however. One of Naomi's dauthers-in-law, Ruth, must have seen a time when Naomi had great faith and trust in the Lord. In verse 16 Ruth says "Your people will be my people and your God my God." Ruth must have seen something in Naomi's faith in God at one point that made her have faith in Naomi's God, inspite of the troubles Naomi seemed to be having.

I think that happens sometimes. We have great faith in God but we start to depend on ourselves sometimes and slowly God gets put in the background and He has to allow us to come to the end of ourselves, to be empty. That, however, does not mean that we can not have a witness. Naomi obviously must have been a witness to Ruth at some point. Naomi went out full, but she came back empty, so she thought. I think God allowed her to become empty so that she would fill the place that He had planned for her.

Lord, help me to never be so full that I forget You because without You I am empty.

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