Running on empty. Coming back full.

Running on empty. Coming back full.

Running on empty is stressful. Whether it’s your stomach, your spirit or your literal gas tank, it’s a terrible thing to be on the move when you are empty. Because our church is just off of several major highways and near a large medical complex, we get a lot of people stopping by in urgent need. They tell compelling stories about how they got here and where they need to get to, but the point of almost everyone is, “We are running on empty.” In the book of Ruth, Naomi tells a story of running on empty. A famine forced Naomi’s family to leave their homeland. Like so many refugees through history, and those that flee desperate situations today, leave full. Full of hope. Full of dreams. Full of excitement. Full of energy. Full of possibilities. But for them, like so many refugees through history and even now, the migration is filled with disaster, loss and grief. Naomi tells the story of terrible loss. In an alien land, she buried first her husband and then both of her sons. In desperation, she returns to her homeland, after a decade away, and announces a name change. Naomi means “sweet.” Now, she is Mara, which means “bitter.” She tells her old friends, “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” Ruth, standing there beside, Naomi, has a story that could make her bitter, also. She took a great risk in marrying a foreign-born man, very likely alienating her from her family and community and her previous religious tradition. The marriage was childless. Her husband died. Under Hebrew...