I awoke yesterday with great expectations!
Shannan and I were just a day away from a rare family reunion! When I say rare, I'm not talking as rare as say, winning the lottery, visiting the North Pole, sailing around the world, taking an African safari, or owning a true Shelby Cobra. But gathering our little tribe of six children, six spouses, and seventeen grandkiddos in the same place seems to happen with a frequency akin to the Dolphins making the playoffs.
Let's just say, "It's a special occasion."
You don't need the backstory, just that we were all hours away from descending on Franklin, Tennessee. The anticipation was palpable:
- Hotel rooms had been reserved (we owned the fourth floor!)
- Children from South Florida, Chicago, and Memphis were packing bags.
- One family was already en route.
- The family group text was lighting up my phone, emoticons popping up like backyard fireworks on the Fourth of July.
- Playful family banter, inside jokes, and lots of love in the air.
- I was going to experience Daddy's Delight -- a current family photo!
Then the late night news: One of our grands had hand, foot, and mouth disease.
Our tribe includes lots of toddlers, two young babies and two pregnant mamas. This was not good. You could feel the Good Times bus slowing down. The music stopped, the joking subsided, and a foggy uncertainty descended.
What in the world should we do?
Our kids are a tough lot, but no one wants to go dancing with a contagious virus. So last night, somewhere about 11 p.m., we called off the party. In two minutes, two months of planning went down the drain.
I was bummed. Shannan was disappointed. Our kids were all dealing with the letdown. I went to bed with the "What Ifs." Never a good idea. I slept little and awoke disappointed. But then the Lord brought around an old friend to remind me he's got this.
My friends name is Naomi. Back in her day, Naomi left Israel for better times in Moab. I think she was riding the same bus we were. Then her husband died. Then her sons died. And the music stopped. Like me, Naomi was left with delivering the bad news:
6 She and her daughters-in-law set out to return from the territory of Moab, because she had heard in Moab that the Lord had paid attention to his people’s need by providing them food. 7 She left the place where she had been living, accompanied by her two daughters-in-law, and traveled along the road leading back to the land of Judah.
8 Naomi said to them, “Each of you go back to your mother’s home. May the Lord show kindness to you as you have shown to the dead and to me. 9 May the Lord grant each of you rest in the house of a new husband.” She kissed them, and they wept loudly. 10 They said to her, “We insist on returning with you to your people.”
11 But Naomi replied, “Return home, my daughters. Why do you want to go with me? Am I able to have any more sons who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters. Go on, for I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me to have a husband tonight and to bear sons, 13 would you be willing to wait for them to grow up? Would you restrain yourselves from remarrying? No, my daughters, my life is much too bitter for you to share, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me.” Ruth 1:6-13 CSB
Naomi thought God's hand was against her because she could only see what was in front of her. Little did she know that God was "working his magic" behind the scenes. Little did Naomi know God was using that experience:
- To bring her back to her homeland.
- To provide a husband for her daughter-in-law.
- To provide a grandson for her to hold.
- To provide a future king for her nation.
- To provide a Savior for the world.
Jump to chapter four and the "the rest of the story" to see what God was doing.
Naomi was a living example of the oft-quoted words of Paul:
I'm fond of telling people that it is much easier to preach Romans 8:28 than it is to live Romans 8:28; for that matter it is easier to talk about Naomi than to walk with Naomi.
But when it comes to Naomi, this is what I know:
God's hand "against" her was actually God's hand working "for" her.
What is true for Naomi is true for me. It's true for you too!