This is a photo of one of my cute young grandniece’s first visit to the dentist. Most of us know the acute apprehension of our first dental experience.
It’s like a close encounter of the unknown and unforgettable kind. The sound of the “drill” and the sight of a masked stranger sticking strange instruments, instead of lollies, into our mouths is enough reason for an infantile meltdown.
Yet, here she is … quite at peace. Reason? She sits in the dentist’s chair safe in the arms of her mother. There is nothing more comforting than to be coddled by a loved one when you face perceived or real danger.
If only life was as simple and straight forward as that. Our church is preaching through the book of Ruth. In chapter 1, we meet Naomi.
She is a widow with no sons to support her. That is akin to us growing old or retiring with zero safety net. She is comprehensively vulnerable.
She leaves famine-stricken Bethlehem with her husband and two sons to seek out a better and brighter future in unfriendly Moab. Overnight, her husband and sons die.
She faces a reversal of fortunes. She departs with three men to rely on. She ends up with three graves to cry over. Naomi goes from comfortable security to utter destitution overnight.
She faces a dead-end.
Is that you? Struggling students may face an academic dead-end. Employees or business folk may face a financial dead-end. Many of us may face single, married or family dead-endness.
Little wonder she proposes a name change for herself from Naomi which means “pleasant” to Mara which means “bitter”.
There is no hope in her dark and dire circumstances until she hears that God has returned to bless Bethlehem by ending the famine in the land.
Naomi then decides to return home. “Return” is a main theme in the book. Her physical return to the land of God points to her spiritual return to God. Return means repentance.
Which means, we have to clean up our vertical mess with God first before we clean up the horizontal mess in our lives.
As she returns home to her comfort zone – God’s land and God’s people – she can see God blessing her people and even her foreign daughters in law. But she cannot see that God can ever bless her personally again.
That is a fatal spiritual blindness. This is a consistent Biblical truth and promise we must grasp.
It is not the size of our sin that matters. It is the size of God’s forgiving heart. It is not the magnitude of our rebellion but the magnitude of God’s redemption that will have the last say.
Have you sinned? Have you rebelled? You may be softened to see God’s discipline of you but, paradoxically, be hardened to seeing that God can ever bless you again.
I pray that God will cure you of this spiritual blindness. The ultimate reversal to our spiritual dead-end is Jesus dying on the Cross to love and save us. He brings the ultimate u-turn to our dead-end of living under Satan, sin and death.
When you are coddled by Jesus, you can be more secure than my grandniece in a a dentist chair. Amen.
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