OPENING STATEMENT: Like the dreams we have as little girls or little boys. (I didn’t do this but I know girls would get magazines and cut out pictures of houses or wedding dresses etc …basically their dream plans and put it in this cool board or in a dream scrapbook…anybody do that?)
Or as we get older…Dream job. Dream house. Dream spouse. Dream church.
Dream 2020. I can probably say that most of us didn’t plan 2020 to behave like this. 2020 needs a tim e out or spanking.
SO…what do we do when things just don’t go the way we envisioned. When we have those curveballs of life. How we handle those curveballs, those disappointments…that’s what I wanna focus on today.
OPENING SCRIPTURE: Ruth 1:1-5
“In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. 3 Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
- I really want to paint of this story line as we go through it this morning. To hopefully pull you into the story. Their turmoil. And ultimately the choices those 3 each had to make
- Now, could you imagine the heartache. The despair. Back in those days and in that culture without sons or a husband, you not only have no food, but no one to carry on your family name, and so much more.
- So, they’re currently in Moab …just the 3 of them. Naomi hears there’s food back in Israel..her “home” so the 3 of them prepare to leave Moab and go back to Israel to her home and land. They’re literally packing and preparing all together. Are they excited? Are they sad? Remember for Orpah and Ruth..they’re leaving THEIR homes. So as they’re setting out….decision land appears. Naomi says…go back. Go to Moab…remarry and build a family. I have nothing more to offer etc. Orpa stayed in Moab.
TRANSITION: Let’s look at Ruth. She had no husband, no children. And she had made the decision to leave HER home and go with Naomi. Do you know what this means…something Ruth was also well aware of. She was going to be a foreigner…in a land that wasn’t her own. She KNEW she most likely wouldn’t be accepted but remains with Naomi, her MIL anyway.
In fact! This is what Ruth said to Naomi…her MIL in Ruth 1:16:
“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
STATEMENT: Truth is, she had no obligation to stay with Naomi. Naomi had released her. According to Jewish law and traditions….Naomi didn’t have any more sons…Ruth had every right and freedom to stay in Moab and remarry and bear children. She was by all accounts FREE. But she was seeking a different kind of freedom. See. For Ruth this wasn’t just a basic decision. This was not just a geographical decision. Or a relocation. This was a life altering trajectory type of decision.
She wanted to be truly free. She knew true freedom was only in God. See. There is a type of freedom that ONLY comes when you let go of it all. Like really let go. More than just a one time prayer but a decision to let it all go…A CHOICE. A choice to let go of the past. To say…ok…what I had planned for my life isn’t at all what’s happening. But I’m letting all that go and simply trusting in His sovereignty.
QUESTION: What kind of choices are you making today? Are there choices and decisions he’s asked you to make? Ones to pursue or decisions and choices he wants you to let go of?
TRANSITION: SO!! What do we do when life throws those curveballs? Here’s the thing. We may not have a choice in some things. We may not have had a choice in our childhood. Our upbringing. A promotion that was unfairly given to someone else. Slander on your name. The picture perfect children you could just pop out and boom: perfection….Uhm cue 2020. Naomi didn’t choose to lose her husband and two children. Ruth for sure didn’t choose to lose her spouse. See, we may not be able to control all those outside influences but we DEFINITELY have a choice in our RESPONSE and what perspective we choose to look through.
What are some things we can keep in mind when things just don’t go the way we want or thought they would/should or what was in your dream scrapbook?
- REMAIN STEADFAST
Psalm 112:7 There is no fear of bad news. Our hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
- Steadfast means: Firm. Unwavering. Fixed in place.
- Feast on his faithfulness. How has he proved faithful in your past
- Staying steadfast is a conscious decision. We choose to keep our focus on what’s AROUND us (things you can’t control) or what’s IN you. If that means you have to shut the TV or stop looking at your social media. Do it. If that means purposefully putting songs on that are full of hope. Do it. This conscious decision isn’t based on emotion. What the news outlets are saying. What your kids are doing or not doing. What you feel like that day. It’s remaining steadfast in His truth and Hope in our lives.
- Isaiah 26:3 – Our source of peace comes from Him. (He keeps you in perfect peace when your mind is stayed on Him or steadfast on Him ) It’s not based on what’s going on around us. It’s based on Him.
- Choose to see through a different lens or perspective…instead of 2020 being the worst year ever and how horrible you had to be in it….maybe ….for some of us…the fact we are alive is praise enough.
- PICTURE QUOTE: “The presence of God is often discovered in the fray as He tends to live in the impossible, the unreasonable, and the unbearable. If you are going through a tough time, look around. He is near.”
- Steadfast is a place. Like this circle here. Let me stand in it. Steadfast is like this spot. Where I am immovable. So we have all these things around me…outside of this steadfast place…all of 2020 (all 37 months of 2020…which can literally fill up this entire space)…a doctors report, difficult boss, anxiety, family drama, unhealthy emotions, kids going astray…those are realities, right? But they don’t move me.
- Ruth had to be in this place. She went to a foreign land where she was most likely ridiculed, rejected…or at best not treated the same as she was in her home land of Moab. She was presented with a host of reasons like we are today to leave this place of remaining steadfast. She could have left. We can also choose to leave this place. But when I stay in this place… I am looking at all these things through the lens of yes….i see…yes I am not in denial… but nothing changing the truth of His love for me, His plan for me, His purpose for me, His purpose for you.
- Then what also outflows from this place is peace, grace, joy, compassion, EVEN with all these things around me. See? This place of steadfast is a powerful place.
- .He hasn’t forgotten about you. He is keenly aware of everything you are going through and he’s saying don’t you dare give up. We’ve come this far. He is near you…He also will send friendship and joy even when smack dab in the middle of those curveballs, those disappointments.. (Naomi and Ruth were that for each other) Who has God placed in your life right now? Whose life are YOU in to bring encouragement during THEIR hard time?
- Jim Thorpe and his stolen shoes
- Give others grace AND yourself
1 Peter 3:8 Be like minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate, be humble.
- How many of you are perfect? Oh ok…good…I’m right there with you. We all live in this fallen world. We are all living in 2020 right alongside you too. I’m human. You’re human… we sometimes will look at parts of our life and say wow…this is better than I envisioned or maybe…this is not what I thought was going to happen…
- The same compassion and empathy you want people to have with you…give to others.
- QUOTE rolling around on FB and it’s been shared many times…our bday girl Tami shared it and I’d like to read it to you: “Be careful not to dehumanize people you disagree with. In our self-righteousness, we can easily become the VERY THINGS we dislike in others.”
- Here’s what’s comforting…and so important to remember….God’s purpose didn’t die when we fail or don’t respond well. Or when we place ourselves out of that steadfast spot. There’s so many times I have stepped out of that steadfast spot and perspective with my kids and reacted emotionally out of frustration, or exasperation, and had to apologize…over and over… does that mean God can’t use me as a mom…I’m purposeless?
- Just like Peter. He thought he was beyond redemption and help and yet God told him AFTER he had betrayed Him…get up…go feed my sheep. Be about my fathers business. That means that if God can use Him…we fr need to chill out on how we view others…and ourselves. Jesus didn’t just forgive Peter but he fully restored Peter. Wanna know something cool?! He began that process of redemption BEFORE Peter even rejected him. He will continue to work His purposes and plan through us. Don’t give up even when you fall flat on your face. when you respond poorly etc. Pick yourself back up (Micah 7:8) apologize where you need to and get right back in that steadfast place and proper perspective/lens place.
TRANSITION: Here’s what’s amazing. Even in the midst of things not going how we envisioned or planned….God has a way of turning our story…our life…into something even better. Whatever your best dream in all the areas of your life…God’s is way better.
- Let’s bring it full circle with Ruth. She’s now in a foreign land with all the dangers that entails as a foreign woman having to get the scraps of grain in the corners of the fields. She’s determined to not desert Naomi and to live for “Naomi’s God.”
- What Ruth didn’t even know was that place…that circle of remaining steadfast ALSO became her place of redemption. A place of encounter. It became very personal to Ruth. She saw God’s faithfulness in provision. In hope. In a future. In lineage. Did you know that Ruth is actually in the lineage of Jesus? What they thought was dead and had no hope…God was working out a plan that was better than their best plans! Was it hard? Sure…did she have moments where she wanted to check out. You can count on it. Did she fail sometimes? Probably.What redemption and joy she got to experience because she remained steadfast. But what joy and reward is awaiting you as you remain steadfast? What plan that you can’t see is waiting for you as you remain steadfast..as you determine to look at all these things through a lens of hope, and trusting His sovereignty, His plan.
STATEMENT: In the same way, when you remain steadfast…Naomi’s God…also becomes your God.
- Micah’s example (What was not MY plan…has brought a tremendous amount of joy to this family)
- What is the Holy Spirit saying to you through this message?
- So my charge to myself and to you….stay in this circle…stay in this circle of remaining steadfast. Look outward at all of these things through the lens of trusting His sovereignty, His plan and His goodness. What in your life needs a little refocus? What are you looking at where you are outside of this circle and feeling fear, anxiety, anger, hopelessness?