Monday, August 10, 2015

OPEN THE EYES OF MY HEART, LORD

         
In a recent conversation with a friend who is going through treatment for cancer, she remarked that she felt that it was fine with God if she if she asked Him to demonstrate His love for her in a more tangible way. Anyone who has undergone chemo treatments knows that they can leave one feeling weak, sometimes nauseated, and emotionally drained. It was just such a time for her and she relayed how she had prayed to God for greater proof of His love and care for her. The actual words of her prayer included a line from a well-known song, “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord. I Want To See You. . .”

Then, she recited many instances of how God heard and answered her prayer that very week through the words and actions of caring friends and relatives.  My friend, a widow, has no one to walk through her pit with her. .  .except God and, as she stated,

“Each widow comes to a point in their “pit” where they may ask for more proof of His presence. I’m at that point . . .” It may not be cancer, it could be any number of circumstances that has put you in your pit, or perhaps you’re still in the pit of despair and grief over the loss of your husband. I assure you, as I assured my friend, that God welcomes your request that He demonstrate His love for you in a special way. As I ruminated over our conversation, I thought of the life of a woman in the Old Testament who was in a “pit” and how God’s mercy was extended to her.

I’ve written much about Naomi, as she’s a favorite of mine for many reasons. (Her entire story is recorded in the book of Ruth.) Let me refresh your memory concerning her. She, along with her husband and two sons, went to Moab from Bethlehem in Judah because Judah was experiencing a drought. Things were going well for her and her family in Moab. They had plenty to eat, while their families back home in Bethlehem were suffering through a famine. Then, trouble hit. First, Naomi’s husband died, followed by the deaths of both of her sons. She was cast into the abyss of grief and despair and, upon hearing that food was again plentiful back in Bethlehem, Naomi made the decision to return.

This was a seventy-mile trip through some rough and dangerous terrain. Only one of Naomi’s daughters-in-law committed to make the entire trip with her. Whether they walked or rode on an animal of conveyance, they doubtless endured hot dusty days, cold nights, and danger from wild animals and robbers who hid along the roadways. Two women would have been easy prey for disaster.

Yet, God protected them and they arrived safely to Naomi’s hometown. Usually when one arrives home after a long absence, there is much rejoicing with hugs and kisses to spare. And even though Naomi’s name means pleasant, she was anything but.  The Scripture relays her homecoming like this:  When they came to Bethlehem the whole town was stirred because of them and the women asked, “Is this Naomi?” But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has brought great bitterness to me. I was full when I left, but the Lord caused me to return empty.”  (Ruth 1: 19b-21a) God is sovereign over all of life, but it is never His intent to make us bitter; He is always at work to make us better, more like Him.  

Naomi, though still in her pit of grief over lost loved ones and despair over her poverty, knew that God was with her. Most likely she would have acknowledged that it was He who had protected her and Ruth on their arduous journey from Moab. Yet, she, much like my friend, needed a new visitation from God, a demonstration of His abiding love in her life. The author, Elizabeth George, says this, “We can be sure that Naomi would say, ‘When you’re in a hard place in life, it is not the time to collapse, to cave in, to fall apart, or to break down. It is time to trust God.’ When her life caved in, Naomi began learning how to trust God more.” 

Soon Naomi’s bitterness was replaced with hope, and God began to orchestrate changes in her life, first through her daughter-in-law Ruth, and then through Boaz, a close relative of her deceased husband. Ultimately, joy and fullness reigned in her heart again through the birth of her grandson, Obed, who became an ancestor to Jesus our Messiah.


Had Naomi prayed, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, that I may see you,” she would have known that it was no coincidence that she decided to make the trip back to Bethlehem, it was no coincidence that Ruth insisted on accompanying her, it was no coincidence that Ruth gleaned in Boaz’s field, it was no coincidence that Boaz fell in love with Ruth, and certainly no coincidence that their precious baby boy became the grandfather of King David and in the lineage of Jesus, our Messiah.

 I encourage you always, no matter what you’re going through, to remember that there are no coincidences with God, our heavenly Father. He has promised in Romans 8:28 that He is working all things out for our good. When you are able to see things through His eyes, you will begin to “see” with faith those good things that He has for you. Remember, you serve a loving heavenly Father whose plans for you are good . . . no matter the circumstances that will lead you there.

If you have not asked Jesus, our Messiah, into your heart, I implore you not to delay in doing so. He wants to make something beautiful of your life too and demonstrate his great and eternal love for you.                                                                   

Message by Shari Hervold




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