Episode 1. The Journey So Far
There are times when we kind of survey our lives so far … and we know in theory that God is a God of blessing – but the last thing we feel like, is …well, blessed. That’s why over the past few weeks we’ve been looking at Ruth form the Old Testament. Because on the surface of things – she wasn’t looking very blessed either, just quietly.
Why don’t you join Berni Dymet, as he takes another look at life, from a different perspective.
There are times when we kind of survey our lives so far … and we know in theory that God is a God of blessing – but the last thing we feel like is well, blessed. That’s why over the past few weeks we’ve been looking at Ruth form the Old Testament. Because on the surface of things – she wasn’t looking very blessed either, just quietly.
So, how are you at the beginning of a new week? You know what I find exciting, as I ask that question so many of us kind of will say, “well, okay I guess”. Then there are many who are struggling through life at the moment, perhaps you’re one of them, and probably a handful would say, “Well you know what, my life is just fantastic at the moment”.
Of all of us gathered around the table today, around God’s Word, because that’s what we’re going to be looking at and feeding on the Word of God, there are so many different things going on in all our lives. Whether you’re sitting somewhere in Australia today or in the US or the UK or other parts of Europe or whether you’re in the Pacific Islands listening or somewhere in a jungle in Africa or wherever, the situations, the joys, the sorrows, there are so many different things going on and whilst I can’t see or even comprehend all that’s going on in so many lives, nor can you, here’s the exciting bit.
God can. God does. God cares with a love and a tenderness and a concern and a hope for us in ways we can’t even begin to dream or imagine. The Lord our God, the same one who sent His Son Jesus to tread the dusty, painful, dangerous roads of this earth, He sees it all. He notices everything and He doesn’t miss a thing. Don’t believe me? Well here’s how Jesus put it, Matthew chapter 10, verse 28:
Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father and even the hairs of your head are all counted? So do not be afraid, you are of more value than many sparrows.
Sometimes when we look at our lives, sometimes when we weigh and assess our journey’s so far we kind of stand back and look at it all and think to ourselves, “you know what, it’s not much of a life is it? Look at all the things that have happened to me. Look at that mess and hurt and that bad investment decision over there and this and that”.
And sure we all have things in our lives that don’t seem fair, that God shouldn’t have allowed to happen that we could be bitter about.
The single mother, the father of her child has fled and left her to fend for herself. And as she struggles to make ends meet through the sleepless nights she wonders, ‘Where’s God?’ Those losing family members through poverty and starvation through to the wealthy businessman whose teenage son took his own life through depression and now his wife is struggling to cope. Do you see what’s going on? The list just goes on.
And God hasn’t missed one little bit of anybody’s journey. Then some joker like me gets on the radio with a series called, “A Journey Into The Blessings Of God” and we wonder what planet is this guy living on? Maybe he has a nice cushy life over there, that’s nice but not me, I’m on no journey into the blessings of God.
And that my friend is why we’ve been journeying with this young Moabite widow, Ruth. Over these past few weeks, because her life was no bed of roses either, far from it. When she looked at her life story it was pretty cruddy too.
She’d married an Israelite, a man called Mahlon. Mahlon, his dad Elimelech, his mother Naomi and his brother Chilion had fled Israel during a famine and settled in enemy territory in the land of Moab. There the father Elimelech died. The two sons took wives and then they promptly up and died as well leaving the Israelite mother Naomi and her two daughters in law, Ruth and Orpah, all widows.
Well what do you do now? I mean what a lousy twist and turn in life. So Naomi decides to head back to Israel, Bethlehem where her extended family was because at least there she might find some support. The reason the Bible, Old Testament and New, makes such a big deal about looking after widows is because back then without a husband or a man to look after her a widow was destitute, she’d starve.
So Ruth made the conscious and courageous decision to go to this foreign land, this hostile land of Israel and settle there with her mother in law Naomi. And in case we should miss the courage that that took to do it would be like an Arab today from Jordan or Egypt or Syria choosing to go and settle smack bang in the middle of Israel and start worshipping God of Israel rather than Allah. I mean that would be a gutsy call.
And instead of wallowing in her self pity Ruth gets out and does what the poor people did during the harvest when she got to Bethlehem, she picks up the scraps from behind the labourers. This was called gleaning. She tries to get noticed by someone and as it turns out a wealthy land owner, Boaz, a relative of her mother in law, does just that. He notices her and he starts blessing her and what we’re going to see tomorrow on the program and indeed over the next few days how that all turns out.
Now I’ve just quickly recapped this story to make this point. Blessing often comes disguised as trials and pain. God does things that way. Romans 8, verse 32 is a perfect example:
He who did not withhold his own son but gave him up for all of us will he not with him also give everything else.
Jesus suffered terribly so that God could forgive us and bless us and friend Gods Word, the Bible, the living Word of God is replete with promises of His blessing, here and now as well as eternally. Matthew chapter 7, verse 11:
If you then who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children how much more will your father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?
And again, Philippians chapter 4, verse 19:
And my God will satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
I guess in all my ramblings today the point I’m trying to make is this. We look at our lives and they look sub optimal according to the perfection that we would expect when we enter into this pact with God. I’ll believe in you and you bless me on our terms of course and it just doesn’t seem to have worked out that way, does it?
Mothers who passionately believe in Jesus and love Him and serve Him still have sons who end up as drug addicts. Bad things happen to good people and so we assume that God isn’t blessing us, that somehow we’re not on a journey into the blessings of God.
Well nothing could be further from the truth and I pray that you and I would take courage from that fact today. From the moment He drew His first breathe and cried His first cry in that draughty stable in Bethlehem Jesus, the very Son of God, was on a journey to the cross to suffer terribly so that you and I might be blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. So that you and I could be close to God. Forgiven and free for all eternity.
Jesus suffered so that you and I could be blessed and sometimes God calls us into times of suffering and yet He blesses us through those times and He blesses other people through those times.
Who would have done it that way to Jesus? If you had been God would you have done it? Of course not. Why let your own son suffer like that? But God did because somehow in this life blessing and pain are strange bedfellows, they always are and in the midst of all life’s ups and downs God has us on a journey into His blessing. Problem is we’re so often focusing on the negatives, we’re so busy complaining and hurting that we miss the blessing that’s sitting there right under our noses. It has a name, it’s called Jesus.