As much as I would like to read this story just as a story, I can’t treat it as I would any other novel. I already have a husband and reading some other romance story as if it could change my own, will leave me confused with my own reality. I am not one to read the scriptures without the longing for God to speak and minister to me beyond the beauty of the story. I am too aware of my need to hear the voice of Jesus speaking and looking for ways his words will nourish my soul.
Even when I was single and in my 20s I wouldn’t have considered Boaz my type. He was possibly double Ruth’s age and in spite of or being a widow, she was not looking or available. I can see how other readers would read this story as they would a novel… Her future husband is wealthy, owns a farm, and has servants. But for me, he is probably already married and in my western mindset, wrapping my head around being a second wife while still grieving my own husband is a stretch……but this is not my story….but the story of redemption and God’s providence is is my story
Sure, I could write 10 things to look for in your Boaz or 10 wise things to position a single girl to do to get ‘the one’. This blog is what God is saying to me not the singles in my life so I have to stick to that. I have already found my ‘mr right for me’, the one-in-a-million possible perfect-for-me guys. Instead of finding the one, I have spent the past 16 years working hard to be one with someone who is so incredibly different to me that being one is almost impossible without God’s help. For the select few who may be reading Ruth needing a promise about their Boaz, the reality is that God may speak but this story (on a purely romantic level) may mean that Boaz was probably already married and Ruth would likely be number 2. No, that doesn’t work for me either and in our culture and in 2015 it would also illegal! It does however tell to me see the providence of God in my own story. Despite there being so many differences, it helps me see the ‘just so happened’ in my own life including how God put Steve and I together.
So how can this story speak to me,coutside the details of their love story? Can it speak? YES!!! It does in the most precious way. I see Boaz as the redeemer (to be), being lead by Godly providence into a field where a needy, broken outsider finds herself in need of his provision and in need of that redeemer. I see a man (who represents all that God has to become for her) reach out in compassion and mercy and invite her to the table, ‘Come and join us, you are not less’. Such grace , such kindness, is a picture of Jesus to me all my life. In my most vulnerable and grieving moments when all I can do is gather leftovers in the heat of the day, God intervenes with grace and kindness. This is way better than a romantic notion of desperation. This story is my story in this way: I too, can step out in faith and take responsibility to move forward out of my Moab. When partnerships have died and I am still in my mourning clothes, having to deal with the reality of letting go, God has gone ahead of me with a plan to redeem and provide and protect and bring beauty out of ashes. When Boaz speaks to Ruth, she responds with humility and gratitude. That is my story too.
Then Boaz spoke to Ruth: “Listen, my daughter. From now on don’t go to any other field to glean—stay right here in this one. And stay close to my young women. Watch where they are harvesting and follow them. And don’t worry about a thing; I’ve given orders to my servants not to harass you. When you get thirsty, feel free to go and drink from the water buckets that the servants have filled.”
She dropped to her knees, then bowed her face to the ground. “How does this happen that you should pick me out and treat me so kindly— me, a foreigner?” Boaz answered her, “I’ve heard all about you—heard about the way you treated your mother-in-law after the death of her husband, and how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth and have come to live among a bunch of total strangers. GOD reward you well for what you’ve done—and with a generous bonus besides from GOD, to whom you’ve come seeking protection under his wings.” (Ruth 2:8-12 MSG)
She said, “Oh sir, such grace, such kindness—I don’t deserve it. You’ve touched my heart, treated me like one of your own. And I don’t even belong here!”
I remember being 23, my parents were overseas and I was flying back to Bible College after my grandpa’s funeral and my family were once again a long distance away. My parents were in Africa and unable to attend his funeral. I was feeling particularly alone and missing ‘normal’ of going back ‘home’ . My grandpa had been a grumpy old man as he aged but he loved us kids and was a stable factor for me in the many changes I had gone through growing up. I pulled out my little blue bible and felt the sting of tears well up as two scriptures spoke God’s comfort to me and something shifted in me. Even though my parents were overseas I had always spiritually allowed them to remain my covering but as I read this scripture I felt that God was asking me to allow him to take the place of what my parents couldn’t be for me. I felt the overwhelming Father heart of God and to this day, I have never doubted His provision and protection. It was to be a defining moment as God met me thousands of metres above the clouds somewhere above outback NSW. Nothing had changed in my situation and I was still doing life very much alone but I felt the grace and kindness of my Heavenly Father lift me out of my dispair. I felt the grace and kindness Ruth felt when she encounter Boaz. Such grace, such kindness is what I felt in that moment and have felt ever since. Even today when I feel overwhelmed with a situation or emotion, His promise of provision and protection as my Father stills my heart and reassures me. I love that God meets us in our grief and emptiness and dispair with all that we need not just for that moment for the future. I have never yearned for what I yearned for that day. His grace resolved that ache in my heart.
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
6 God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
Psalm 91:4 NIV
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.