Lost in Malaysia - August 18th, 2019
I have been following the story the last week or so of Nora, the 15-year old who went missing on holiday in Malaysia. I suspect most of us thought this was not going to have a happy ending. In the end she was found to have died from the effects of starvation. Maybe we will get to know the full story; maybe we won’t. But right now you have got to feel for her family. A dream holiday has turned into a total nightmare.
The Bible tells the story of a dream that turned into a nightmare, too. Having a vineyard full of juicy bunches of grapes was everyone’s dream. This story was about the shattering of not just one family’s dreams, but a whole nation’s. A landowner [God] cleared the ground, planted his vines (the country), and laid hedges to keep wild animals out. All he wanted was to have good grapes (people). He thought he had done everything right, but the grapes he got were wild and sour. In his despair he had everything dismantled and the land was taken over by others.
The story symbolized what happened when the people lost their land; foreign soldiers came along and packed them off to live in exile in another country. And so it became a national nightmare. [It’s not to be used to point the finger of blame in Malaysia!] Even God’s dreams got turned upside down.
One of the hardest things we ever have to cope with is losing the things that matter most to us, whether it’s people we love, our home, the things that make us glad to be alive, our health, our confidence or even our freedom. It was a long time before the exiles returned, but without their land they learned a little more about God than they had before. It was even longer before they got their mojo back, when a young man called Jesus showed them how to live again.
What the future will hold for this family who have lost their daughter we cannot say. Simplistic platitudes are out of place. But if you believe in a God who sheds tears for them and wants them to enjoy the taste of good grapes again, then pray for them today.
I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard:
Lord, you know what happens when dreams turn to nightmares. Be with those who struggle in quiet ways and those whose nightmare is there for all to see. Draw near in the name of Jesus and given them your peace. Amen.