I was trying to look at our current plight as an “adventure”. In actuality, my 10-year old world was topsy-turvy. Our family of five was living in a cheap motel all crammed together and irritable after being abruptly evicted from a rental home.
The days were long in that little motel room. In order to create some semblance of privacy, I fabricated my own “room” with a blanket carefully placed across a small round table situated in the corner. I spent a lot of time under that table and was grateful to have my own “space”. One day unexpectedly, there was a knock on the door. Now, this was a strange occurrence; we hadn’t told anyone where we were staying and knew few people in Arizona. My dad slowly opened the door and there stood our old neighbor from down the street. I knew this gentleman; he and his wife had brood of kids and had held a vacation Bible school in their home which I faithfully attended, largely in part for the cookies and lemonade. My dad stepped outside and had a long conversation with the kind man. When he walked back into the room what he had to say completely took me by surprise. As it turns out, this dear man tracked down our family to invite ME to go to a week-long summer Bible camp! Even more surprising, my parents agreed to let me attend this all expense paid camp and I would be leaving in just a few short days!
Before I knew it, I found myself on a loaded church bus. The butterflies in my stomach rose and fell with each crescendo of excited laughter and merriment as the bus climbed its way up the mountainside. Finally, we arrived at our destination and a whole new world was opened before me. I can only remember a few exact details of that beautiful week:
- They loved me well, I mostly remember their smiles and kindness.
- I was made me camper of the week-HUGE for this 10-year-old girl at the time.
- I first learned the story of Naomi and Ruth illustrated on a simple felt board and was completely taken with it.
One Saturday afternoon, just a few weeks ago, the Lord brought Naomi and Ruth to mind once again. I was at the cemetery sitting by Justin’s graveside; a gentle breeze was blowing while the warm afternoon sun rested on my cheeks. I studied Justin’s birth-date and his “end-date”. I pondered the life lived in those seemingly short twenty years; I remembered the achieved milestones, his teachable spirit, and his worshipful heart. As tears poured down my face in a steady stream, I brokenly asked the Lord, “Why?”.
With an aching heart, my mind replayed the following scene from the book of Ruth: Because there was a famine in the land, a man from Bethlehem named Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons went to sojourn in Moab. At some point, Naomi’s husband, Elimelech died and she was left to care for her two sons. Both of her sons married Moabite women, one was named Orpah, and the other Ruth. Tragically, about 10 years later both of Naomi’s sons also died. Now, Naomi was returning home to Bethlehem and she strongly urged her daughters-in-law to go back to their mother’s house. Orpah did return to her mother, but Ruth vowed to stay with Naomi. Finally, Naomi and Ruth made it was back to Bethlehem. As they entered the city, the people took notice and said, “Naomi, is that you?” She replied, “Call me Mara, for the Lord has dealt bitterly with me….” What ends up happening in the rest of this story is something of wonder and beauty. Through a series of God-ordained events, her dear daughter-in-law Ruth is redeemed by her kinsmen redeemer, Boaz. Oh my, the significance you ask? Boaz was the great-grandfather of King David and King David of course is in the line of Jesus Christ!
While my story of losing our dear Justin is not the same as our beloved Naomi and Ruth, our great God, who has a purpose in all things, is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Ruth, who referred to herself as Mara-meaning bitter, didn’t understand God’s plan either. Yet, that did not change the fact that He indeed had a greater plan and a purpose in her great loss.
I may never get my “why” answered, but I am confident that the Lord has plans that I know nothing of. My heart finds great peace in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Just as the Lord plucked a ten-year-old girl from a seemingly hopeless situation, He continues to faithfully comfort this grieving Mama’s heart with hope and His promise. One day, I shall see Him face to face, may His name be praised forever, for He is worthy.
Forever being held in His grace,