Do you ever go to a mall and wonder where you are? If you are like me, I always seek out the map board that is a common feature of shopping malls. When I look at these maps, I begin by locating for a marker common to these maps. This marker will tell me where I am in the mall. The common label on this marker: “You are here.”
While I like a map board with “You are Here,” there is an application of this idea that I find even more important. That application is life. What do I mean? Well, let’s look at it.
Naomi and Ruth
I am currently teaching a Bible study on the book of Ruth. I think as you work your way through this little Old Testament text, you can learn to appreciate the importance of “You are Here.”
Let me share what I mean. Early in the book, you find that life has become quite challenging for one of the characters in the book, Naomi. It’s only taken five verses for Naomi to move from her native Israel to Moab, become a widow, and lose her two sons. By verse six, she is alone in Moab with her two Moabite daughters-in-law.
By the end of chapter 1, Naomi has returned to Israel, with one of her two daughters-in-law, Ruth. She confirms her opinion about her situation in life, her “You are Here.” After telling her old friends and relatives to call her Mara (meaning “bitter”), she explains why. “I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi (meaning pleasant), when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me” (1:21, ESV)?
Naomi and “You are Here”
Think about Naomi and where she is in life at the end of verse 5 and at the end of chapter 1. What about her “You are Here?” She confessed that she was bitter because the Lord has brought calamity upon her. Well, we can say that in some ways, Naomi was a good theologian. She understood the sovereignty of God. Ultimately, God is in control of all things that occur in our lives. But Naomi still misunderstood her “You are Here.”
You see, at this point in the story, Naomi believed it was her story. She believed that her “You are Here” was her position in the story of her life, where she is the main character. You see, in her bitterness, the otherwise good theologian Naomi forgot that it’s not her story at all. Additionally, she’s not the main character. God is the main character and it’s His story. As it is often said, “history is His story.”
Moving from Star to Supporting Role
The truth is that all of us will face trials in life. Jesus warned us as much, “In the world, you will have tribulation….” (John 16:33). We, like Naomi, become bitter at times like she experienced because we become too self-focused. We only think about “You are here” in regards to our own lives. When this happens, we are making the same error Naomi made in the first chapter of Ruth. We make ourselves the star of our own story.
But we are not the stars of our own story. We are supporting actors in God’s story…the drama of His redeeming a world and a people for Himself. And it is not just okay to be supporting actors, it is great. Why? Because the sovereign God of the universe is the star, the scriptwriter, the director, and the producer. Let me share more of the verse from John cited above. Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” It is Jesus’ story and He has overcome the world for us, even in the midst of tribulation.
When we face tribulation as the stars of our own story, we only see tribulation and we are prone to become depressed, angry, and bitter. But when we view ourselves as supporting actors in God’s story, we are able to look beyond the tribulation to just who God is and what He is doing to redeem us and the world in which we live.
“You are Here” is Temporary
When we look at “You are Here” in our lives, especially during times of suffering and trials, we can easily begin to despair, thinking that is all there is. But that’s a lie. Paul tells us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28, ESV). But Paul’s exhortation is only understandable when we see ourselves not as the star of our own drama, but the bit player in God’s.
Think about this…meditate on its truth. Be “quick to hear” all that God is telling us in His Word, from Genesis through Revelation. Don’t try to be the star. Take the role God has given you and trust Him at His Word. He will make all things work to the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
After you meditate on this for a while, come back to Quick to Hear, I’ll continue sharing on this theme next time.
Grace and peace to you as you endeavor to be quick to hear.