Of Being Full and Being Empty

Our pastor is beginning a sermon series through the book of Ruth and in anticipation I have been reading through the book. If I were to be honest, and since this is my blog I can be or can not be as my mood fits. but I’m choosing honesty, I haven’t made it out of the first chapter yet. Jesus is opening these eyes to see things I hadn’t seen before and things I’ve seen before I am seeing in a whole new light.

Most everyone who grew up in the church knows that the book of Ruth is a love story. It’s the love story of Ruth and Boaz. But it is also a story of great loss and death. Those two items litter the whole first chapter.

I’m not going to get in to it all here right now, maybe at some point I will but now is not that point.

Lately I’ve felt that I’m in a season of great loss. If I were to be completely honest, and again it’s my blog so I can be, I’d have to admit my whole life has been a season of great loss, I’ve lived through my share of famines and death. I’ve suffered loss at the hands of others and some losses, to be sure, have come at my own hands, or at the very least my own choices.

This morning I read Ruth 1:21:

I went out full but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?

I pondered going out full. Elimelech and Naomi left Bethlehem in a famine. Fullness and famine do not go together in my mind. They are opposites.

It is so easy to see fullness in famine when we’re living in a different kind of famine. When life hurts and we’re facing yet another loss (family member, child, spouse, job, friendship) or we have a fresh one in the rearview mirror, we don’t see life clearly. We remember the “good ol’ days” as being well, the good ol’ days. We don’t remember them as the hard days full of just as much hurt, pain,  and bitterness as today is.

So what if we did something really crazy? I mean, really, really crazy? What if we turned that verse around and saw our present situation differently?

“I went in empty, but the LORD has brought me out full…”

When our eyes are focused on our needs, wants, and desires we tend to look to other people to meet and fulfill these. We make them responsible for our lack and then when they don’t meet our needs as we think they should we quickly begin to believe that our needs don’t matter. Our wants don’t matter.

And that is true. They do not. They don’t matter to anyone except Jesus.

And we feel empty. “I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty…”

Our needs do matter to Jesus and He alone is the One who can meet and fill them. He takes the empty and fills it, not with what we think we need or want but with Himself. When we look to Him to meet our basic heart needs and wants, He frees us to see that they are filled and we are full. This frees other people from having to be our god.

Yeah, because there is that. When we look to anyone or anything else to fill us we are committing adultery and idolatry.

So let’s choose to change our focus and our heart attitude.

“I entered empty, but I’m being brought out full.”