None of us enjoy empty places in our hearts. Some of us wish there were more empty spots in our garage, but no one really likes the heart-holes. In fact, we’ve filled our garages and closets trying to fill our hearts, yet the satisfaction only lasts until we go shopping again or have a really bad day.
However, there is one good thing about empty vessels. When they are empty, then they can be filled.
Naomi was Empty
We’ve been studying the book of Ruth for 24 weeks, my friends! That’s a loooong time! Thank you for sticking with me through this marathon. If you’re just joining us, spend some time reading the past posts and visit my YouTube channel, Andy Lee Bible, to watch our Facebook Live virtual Bible Study group.
Anyway, when Naomi trudged back into Bethlehem heartbroken and destitute, she was empty. Her husband and sons were gone. That’s enough to empty all of us, but Naomi also was struggling with God. She was angry and bitter. She even tells her friends to call her “bitter” because the Lord had done this.
Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”Ruth 1: 20-21
I’ve been there. Have you? I haven’t lost a husband or sons, but I have lost someone very dear to me, and even though I did not blame God, I struggled. My sister’s death left a huge hole in my heart until . . .
Positioned to be Filled
In my own experience, the hollow ache of grief wasn’t healed until I could worship again. One day as I sat on my couch listening to a friend singing in the background,I decided to dance. I hadn’t danced to the Lord in a long time, but that day I tired of anger and emptiness and wanted nothing more than to feel God in my life and to be filled with more of Him.
I raised my hands and breathed in deep, and I danced. Nothing fancy or talented, just an offering to the God I had loved for so long. That’s the day I chose His goodness no matter what, and that’s the day the oozing wound of grief was seared, closed with His love. I still missed my sister, but the bitterness and anger vanished.
I believe Naomi danced too (sort of.) Her return to Bethlehem from Moab signified the return to her faith and worship of the One True God. That was her first step back to being filled. The second was when she took her eyes off her own emptiness, and she began to find a way to bless Ruth.
How to Receive From God
In my Bible study on Ruth I ask, “Do you believe God wants to fill you?” (p.212).
This is key.
All that God requires of us is to position ourselves in a place to receive, and truthfully, I think we must want it. Do you want all that God has for you? Let him know.p. 212
We can receive from God when:
- We worship him only.
- When our eyes are not focused on our own emptiness.
Bite of Bread Reading Plan and Printable
Join me this week as we discover God’s generosity, favor, and faithfulness to those who believe. Read through the scriptures and prompts below, so you don’t miss where we will be going this week in our time with God.
Light a candle, pour your fav hot drink, and let Him fill you with His Word.
Monday: Ruth 3: 15
He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he[a] went back to town.
Prompt: “Three measures” was the standard fellowship offering. Why would Boaz give Ruth double what was the custom? If Boaz is symbolic of Jesus, what can we learn about our Redeemer?
Tuesday: Ruth 3: 16-17
When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did it go, my daughter?” Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her 17 and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”
Prompt: If you dig into the ancient text, the verse actually reads, “Whose daughter are you?” Naomi asked if Ruth now belonged to someone else. What do you think Boaz intended to communicate when he sent Ruth home with 6 measures? Has God ever given you a sign? Write it down.
Wednesday: Ruth 1: 21
I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted[a] me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
Prompt: This was Naomi in the first chapter. She could not even dream of her life filled again. She was empty. But life is filling up for her fast. If you have an empty place now, write about that emptiness today and ask God to fill it. Date the journal entry.
Thursday: Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Prompt: Have you experienced Jesus’s promise of measurement? Explain.
Friday: Ephesians 3: 16-19
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Prompt: Being empty can be good, because when you’re empty, you can be filled. According to this Bite, what do we need to grasp in order for to be filled with God? (We can’t be filled until we know beyond doubt that he loves us.) Write a prayer asking for the Lord to reveal his love for you and others around you each day.
Praying You Up
I feel it. I know some of you reading this feel okay. You’re full today. Things are good. But I feel the eyes that are empty of joy today. Your heart hurts and nothing can fill the void inside. I’m holding your hand, and I’m praying for you. I pray God himself will fill those empty places and sear the oozing wounds of loss with his love like he did for me.
This was our prayer at the end of this lesson in the Ruth Bible Study: A 31 Day Journey to Hope and Promise.
“Jesus, how do we thank you? We have been so empty, but you generously fill us with your Spirit–your generous pledge. We want more of you. Give us the full measure of you. Help us come to know you better. Enable us to receive your love, filled to overflowing, so that we can spill your love out all around us. Reveal yourself and your generous Spirit through Boaz as we continue this study. Amen.
Midweek Manna . . .