Naomi (whose name means PLEASANT) lives in Israel with her husband Elimilech (whose name means strength of the king) with her two sons Mahlon (meaning INVALID) AND Chilion (meaning PINING). They live in Bethlehem (the HOUSE OF BREAD). It was a full, good life. Surely Naomi would never have expected anything to change....but famine comes to Bethlehem.
Elimilech and Naomi make a decision to head over to Moab even though it is an enemy nation to Israel. While she is there, Naomi's husband dies. Her strength is gone.
Her sons Mahlon and Chilion marry Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth( whose name means friendship). Then Naomi's sons die...Mahlon (meaning being without foundation in truth/ sickly and disabled) and then Chilion (meaning yearning intensely and persistently for something unattainable).
Naomi finds herself alone and in a strange place, a place she never thought she'd be in....an empty, lonely place. She decides to return home so she tells her daughters-in-law to go back to their father's houses and remarry. After a little persuasion, Orpah goes back home.
Ruth refuses to go back to her former life, however. She tells Naomi, "whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. "
Naomi goes back to the Promised Land a different woman. She left full and now she comes back empty, telling people to call her Mara (BITTER). She also has this little Moabite woman in tow, a woman from an enemy nation and a reminder of her heartache. This seems like the end of a tragic drama. However, we know the end of this story...how Ruth marries a man named Boaz and has a son named Obed who has a son named Jesse, the father of David. Then, David's descendants trace down through the lineage of Jesus.
Consider this recap: Naomi goes to Edom (the Wilderness) with a life full of pleasant things. While she is there, everything that defines her life is stripped away...her strength (Elimilech) is gone. The invalid parts of her life not founded on truth, the disabled and dysfunctional things (Mahlon) are gone. The things she yearns for that isn't attainable, the stuff that just cannot satisfy (Chilion) is gone.....all stripped away. Then when she comes back out of the Wilderness, God has added this one thing to her... Ruth. Naomi really doesn't understand or appreciate the value of the gift....You see, Mahlon and Chilion couldn't produce the move of God on the earth. It took a Ruth to bring the Messiah and salvation not only to Israel but to all nations.
Naomi's story is our story, folks. We have been in Wilderness places....places we never imagined we'd have to walk through. The price we've paid has been higher than we dreamed we'd have to pay. We walked into the Wilderness full of pleasant things but they have been stripped away. The strength that we relied on and boasted in is gone. The invalid things---the things that weren't founded on God's truth, the things in our lives that were dysfunctional and sickly, have been blown away. The things we yearned after and burned for are gone. The journey has left us with bitter memories. We have been in the Wilderness. But God saw us there, stripped bare, and in His mercy started adding something back to us...even though we didn't appreciate the true value of the gift. The gift was friendship and intimacy with Him. He drew us close and breathed on us. That thing He added back to us is what is going to bring revival. The intimacy with Him to which our hurts drove us is what is going to bring the move of God to fullness in our lives, in our church, in our region. So I dare you....come on out of the Wilderness, cast off the sorrow of the price you've paid, and embrace the gift He gave you there. Revival is coming, and it's coming through you.