“I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” Ruth 1:21
“And he said to me, “my grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9
Most of us wake up with an abundance of expectations. You know the ones. Before our feet hit the floor, we usually have a long list of things that we need to accomplish for the day, tasks that need to be overseen, people to make happy, etc., etc. We spend the morning picking out the “perfect” outfit for our day, placing our hair just right, making sure we have what we need in our purses or bags to take on the day ahead of us. Then, it happens. The dreaded moment when all of our planning falls through, all of our hopes and dreams suddenly turn into a giant puff of smoke above our heads.
The truth? We are desperate for perfection; we are desperately trying to get it all right because after all who in the world would want to be a mess? Deep down all the striving for perfection has just revealed how much of a disaster we are simply for the fact that we will never be perfect. We desire for the list to be checked off, the best job, name brand new clothes, all for what? So those around us will be deceived into believing we have it together.
I imagine as Naomi and her husband left their home to escape the famine, their goal was to find a place for her husband to work and food for their family. They sought a place that was better than where they were. Naomi being a woman probably had a plan, a checklist of some sort:
House – check
Food – check
Job for hubby – check
Never would she have excepted that her husband would die while they were in this place, much less both of her sons. The planning for perfection was no good because her dreams were shattered. “I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty” (Ruth 1:21). Isn’t that just like us to point our finger at God when things go horribly wrong “You did this to me!” We press into perfection, avoid the messes, and when we find ourselves in trouble, there is always someone else to blame.
We cannot minimize Naomi’s despair. This poor woman lost it all, she was left with two young women who were not her flesh and blood, in a foreign land, and she was left to sit in the middle of her mess. The story could have ended at that point. But, that’s not what God does friend. He isn’t going to leave you wallowing, heaped up in a mountain of despair and bitterness. No, no, no. You see He often uses our greatest hurts to create the most significant message.
Naomi’s story graces the pages of Scripture, women for generations upon generations have read about her and witnessed her mess and bitterness and most certainly have echoed her words. They have seen themselves in her shoes, but I pray we finish the story and witness God’s divine grace and redemption.
When we strive for perfection, it always backfires, but when we show our weakness, God displays His power.
Ruth and Naomi had no plan when they walked through the streets back to Bethlehem. Naomi had all but given up on life, and Ruth? She had no idea what she was doing or where she was headed. But, here is the exciting part. God placed her in a field that leads to her redemption.
God doesn’t command our perfection, so we shouldn’t demand it of ourselves. He wants our weakness, our mess, and deep-seated hurts. He wants to display His perfect power and turn our lives into a walking message of the Gospel.