I've always loved the Book of Ruth. It was the first book of the Bible I read straight through, a feat accomplished just before I surrendered my life to the Lord. Since that reading, and through various teachings on this little gem of the Old Testament (Mark Dever, John Piper, Alistair Begg) it's become sort of a benchmark for me; what I hope to be as a woman and what I hope for in the man the Lord would bring into my life. I try not to hold too tightly to my notions or the idealized version of Boaz in my head, but more to the general character of the man.
Last year, I met a Boaz. Our first meeting wasn't in a barley field, nor was it filled with kind, exhorting, caring words. We each shyly said "Hello", but a switch in me got flipped (which also, coincidentally stopped my breathing momentarily) this was new and different. I blew it off as simply an intense reaction to a really good pair of shoulders and left it at that. A few months later, there was more contact via e-mail. This time the words were kind and exhorting and caring. I needed to know this man...but how? The answer came, again from outside sources/circumstances, which requested my presence at the office in which this "Boaz" worked. As it happened, I flew up on Valentine's Day. When I saw him for the second time on this symbolic day, my lungs once again momentarily took a break...and we were both wearing red sweaters. ( Awww. ) During the course of my visit, we got to spend some time talking. It was good...really good. I left hoping I'd hear from him again.
A few weeks later, the Lord led me to send out something related to prayer for Hurricane Katrina recovery. As I was sending it, it occurred to me that I should include him on the list. I did. He responded the same day, at length, commenting on what I'd send and thanking me for it. His response was thoughtful, Christ-centered, and kind.
Over the course of the next few months, our correspondence continued and widened in subject from Katrina issues to prayer to holiness and our respective churches. As they unfolded, I found more and more reason to think him a Boaz and more and more similarities between us in terms of priorities and theology. It didn't take long, and I can't really pinpoint the moment, but after a while I came to realize that I was in love. I ached. I yearned. I felt deeply and cared for him in a way that was alltogether new to me.
And I was scared.
Our conversation had been about the Lord, primarily. He'd done nothing, said nothing to indicate that he was interested in anything more than this type of discussion...yet here I was...In Love. I didn't know what to do with this...but I knew it wasn't going away anytime soon.
It's now been almost a year since our first face to face conversation...since our friendship really began...and things are no different. I still regard him as a Boaz. I still hope to be his Ruth. And I still see no reason to think that I will be.
In the beginning, I prayed faithfully for him, about him, for help with my heart, for God's will to be done and discernment for each of us. But then, it just got hard. Painful. Disappointing. So...well...I didn't pray as much.
What the Lord showed me was that, when He says "hope does not disappoint" He means it. Providing the hope is properly placed. I was "hoping" that all my prayin' would prompt some sort of change or action in my friend and make him my Boaz. I didn't see that, so I became discouraged and sorta gave up. But my hope is meant to be in God and His goodness and kindness and sovereignty. He says He is for me. He says He works all things together for my good. He says we plan our way and He directs our steps. So, more of the same from my friend was God's idea of Good. And it needed to be mine, too.
I struggled with that one. But then, I struggle with many things I don't understand and I always have to come back to this reality: "I'm not God!" I can't see everything. I can't know what would be best for me, much less me and any other person. But I can know what God tells me is true and that it is true regardless of my circumstances.
Losing sight of this, though, means misplaced hope and failure to do the one thing we can always do even when we feel we can do nothing else...and that is pray.
So, I begin again to pray, trying to do so as unselfishly as possible. I love this man and I want to be with him, but, because I love Him, I want God's best for him. That might not include me at all and, if that is the case, I need to see it as a mercy for both of us and rejoice with my friend and my brother when God's actual plan unfolds.
The thought of that is not an easy one to swallow. So I hold it up to the Lord, my burden bearer, and hope when and if the time comes to swallow it, He will have made it smaller than it seems today. I trust that He will...and that He will do beyond all I could think or imagine for me and my Boaz, whomever He turns out to be.