Summary: We can receive God’s best only if we stay where God puts us to grow. Gleaning in the field where we are, like Ruth in Boaz’ fields.
Fields of Provision
By Pastor Jim May
One of the things that causes many new converts, and even established Christians, to lose their relationship with the Lord is that they do not stay where God puts them. Instead, we tend to wander from church to church, ministry to ministry, from one preacher to another, in search of that one perfect church, perfect ministry, and/or perfect preacher where it will all come together in some form spiritual Utopia.
First of all, let me teach you about one immutable fact: There are no perfect churches, ministries and certainly no perfect preachers. There is, however, is a perfect place in God for each of us and that’s what we need to seek after.
Yesterday morning I sat in on one of the open meetings that are held in the Fellowship Hall of our church on Saturday mornings. It was a meeting of the Alcohol Anonymous group. Regardless of what you have heard about AA, they are helping a lot of people to find freedom from their addiction to alcohol. No – they do not teach people about Jesus. No – they don’t always refer to their “Higher Power” as God, at least not on a national level. But I have found, through our short time of allowing them to continue to meet here, that the individuals who come are given freedom to express what they feel and can say whatever they like. It’s all part of their program to help people recover and lead a normal life. There are no altar calls to accept Christ. There are no prayer lines to be delivered by the blood of Jesus. But the individuals do often give God the glory for their deliverance, even though they really aren’t saved.
On this day in particular, as I sat there, I was impressed by what each one said as they took turns telling a part of their story. The common thread through all of it was that they were seeking for help, wanting deliverance, did not know where to turn or how to break free, until they found the love and compassion of other people who had faced the same thing and found their answer through Alcoholics Anonymous.
One man said that he had search everywhere looking for an answer but none was found. He had gone to church, but no answers were there and he often felt rejected by other people in the church because of his drinking problems. He had tried time and again to develop a plan to break free: “Just a few shots of whiskey, and then I’ll quit”, “One last time to the bar, and I won’t go back”; “Just one beer in the afternoon, then no more, until I can finally stop altogether”. The problem was that none of his plans worked and he always found himself drunk again and then had to face the guilt and shame every time he sobered up. It wasn’t until he found the right “field”, the right place, the right people and the right message, that he finally found deliverance. He has been alcohol free for 18 years now because he found something, or someone, who could help him overcome.
It all started with Alcoholics Anonymous, but A. A. really wasn’t his answer. His answer was found in God. A. A. pointed him toward a “Higher Power”; he recognized that “Higher Power” was Almighty God, and he asked God to deliver him. So God was his real answer, not A. A. They were just the instrument to get him to God and the means by which he is able to remain free. I don’t know if he truly knows the Lord as his Savior, and he may never know Jesus as Lord through the teachings of A. A. alone, but at least he recognizes that God is the only answer.
As I sat and listened to him I wondered, “Where did the church fail?” I’m not sure what his denomination was, but whatever church he attended was not fulfilling the will of God to reach out to the lost. The very place where he should have found God and experienced the delivering and saving grace of Jesus Christ, failed in its mission. Thank God that he eventually found God, even if God did have to use a secular organization to make it happen.
Listening to all of this, and noticing what was being said, I could not help but think of the story of Ruth and Boaz once again. Last week I pointed out to you in the 1st chapter and the first 3 verses of chapter two that Ruth was a type of the sinner, coming from the land of idolatry, following the church, represented through Naomi, to discover the fact that there is a True and Living God as she professed her faith in the God of Israel and took hold of the covenant of Abraham.