Friday, July 13, 2007

Empty or Full?

What do you do when life becomes a huge disappointment? Things didn’t turn out the way you had hoped and dreamed, your plans came to nothing, you didn’t become who you wanted to be and the people around you are not who you would like them to be. What do you do when you find yourself there? I don’t know about you, but I pout. When I don’t get my way, I sulk and mope around like my three-year-old when she doesn’t get dessert. Now, on the outside, I seem fine, but on the inside I’m down on the ground kicking and screaming, “It’s not fair!”

Case in point… this is a small example and it was a total trifle, but it works: we have been planning on seeing this one movie for over a year and have been looking forward to it like crazy. When it finally came out on Wednesday, we made plans to go on Thursday, but when we looked at the date and then looked at our money, we decided we couldn’t go. It was a hard but wise decision to make. –That was me on the outside. On the inside I was in a total funk… brooding and complaining in my spirit. Now I know that not getting to go to the movies is a stupid reason to pout. I know that life brings real problems that are much harder to swallow than this, but I think it shows how we all handle disappointment in our lives sometimes. And by the way, what are we really saying when we pout on the inside? Who are we pouting to if no one even sees it?

In the Old Testament book of Ruth, Naomi’s husband moved her and her two sons to Moab to live out a famine in Israel. Her husband died, her boys married Moabite women and then they died, leaving Naomi with two foreign daughters-in-law. She decided to go back to Bethlehem and tried to convince the girls to stay in Moab with their own people, but she couldn’t shake Ruth, so she took her home. When Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, everyone said, “Hey, is that Naomi? (Which is a name that means ‘pleasant’ or ‘delightful’) “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, (Which means ‘bitter’) because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.”

The thing Naomi didn’t know was that Ruth was going to capture the attention and affections of a wealthy and awesome guy named Boaz who was related to Naomi’s dead husband and therefore in a position to marry Ruth which would save not only their land and the family name, but would keep them from begging and starving and give Naomi grandkids and joy she never thought possible! Naomi thought she was empty, but the Lord wasn’t finished yet! Ruth and Boaz made wedding plans in the middle of the night, and Ruth came home with a sack full of barley and good news. She told Naomi, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.”

In The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf told Gimli, “Despair is for those who see all ends beyond hope… and we’re not there yet.” Our Lord is always working everything out for our good and if we think we have a reason to pout, it’s because He’s not done yet! Just trust Him and hang on. The sun is going to rise after every dark night and He will fill the empty hands. One last note… I went to bed sulking and complaining in my heart on Wednesday night like a baby, and when I woke up on Thursday, I wandered into my kitchen and saw a strange thing… someone had scotch-taped a twenty dollar movie card onto our kitchen window (which is about eight feet off the ground) and on Thursday night the hands I called empty were filled with popcorn!

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