How to Pursue Your Boaz (Like Ruth Did!)

Is there anyone here not familiar with the story of Ruth? So often cited in Christian circles as justification why women can make the first move, we look at her story with profound interest. I’ve always been intrigued by the lives of the women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus and every time, I find myself thoroughly enjoying the way they were, in their own ways, rather scandalous.

Every year starting December 1, I re-visit the stories of the people part of Jesus’ ancestry and so once again dwelled on the story of Ruth. I thought of her as scandalous in the sense that she went and “made the first move”, which I figured was acceptable in their context and culture, but I came to see that things went much deeper than that.

The overarching theme of Ruth was Naomi’s bitterness turning into joy as she saw God redeem her and her family. Ruth’s story is that of an outsider being taken in and shown love and mercy. It’s much more of a testimony of God’s grace and faithfulness than anything else.

Don’t we all want our love stories to look like that? Here’s how Ruth got it right.

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
-Ruth 1:16-18

Upon closer inspection, we could see that Ruth was anything but the take-control, aggressive woman we made her out to be. All throughout her book, we could only see one thing she was determined about: going where Naomi would go. In fact, it was when she was eligible to get married to younger, richer men that she decided to leave everything behind and follow wherever the Lord, through Naomi, would lead her and call her to. She basically gave up her right to live her life the way she wanted to.

Forgive me for saying this, but we have become a culture so obsessed with self. Instead of looking at our singlehood as an opportunity to serve, we see it as a time to focus on self.

I’m not saying that self-development and discovery is wrong in any way, but while we’re busy bemoaning our relationship status, complaining about the lack of available men, and scrolling through social media sites, children out there are dying of starvation, women are being sold and prostituted, and families are broken apart by sickness and poverty. We are present at every singles get-together and retreat, yet we wouldn’t even sacrifice a couple of hours to be of service to other people.

And then we have Ruth, who laid all of her to serve the person entrusted to her.

She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” She gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied.
–Ruth 2:7, 17-18

From the very beginning, her intention and her service was for her mother-in-law. Every decision that she made from the time her husband died was not to her own advantage. In fact, she basically shunned the thought of marriage and prioritized working and providing for Naomi. Her desire was not for herself. Naomi then had to be the one to convince her to get back in the game again.

And even then Ruth in her humility responded,

“All that you say I will do” (Ruth 3:5).

I think one thing a lot of us overlook is that when Ruth approached Boaz, she didn’t do so because he was the one she desired or because he paid attention to her. She did so because he was her kinsman and culturally, one of the few people who can redeem her family lineage and legacy. She did not do so out of her own volition, she did so out of submission.

Her act of going to Boaz did not speak “I like you Boaz so please marry me” as most of us would interpret it. What she was truly saying was, “In order to redeem the family name of Naomi, I am willing to be a living sacrifice and thus offer myself as your wife.”

Ladies, let’s be completely honest here. We all want to be in a relationship, but how many of us are ready to offer ourselves like that? And if we wouldn’t even let God refine our hearts to get to that point, then why bother magnifying your desire for a guy in the first place?

At one point or another, you have probably come across a Jim/Elisabeth Elliot quote, but I love this one certain line from a letter before they got married:

“Let not our longing slay our appetite for living.”

We’re all always longing for something. Love. Relationships. Family. Peace. Provision. Security. Health. Beauty. Purpose. We’re all longing – each and every one of us. Yet all of these must not in any way hinder us from living; from embracing and thriving where we are now, with what we have now.

I’ve talked to countless women who said they were praying to end up with a godly guy, only to find out 5 sentences later that they’re doing so in the throng of bars, speed-dating, and matchmaking sites. I’ve had single women older than me come up to me and ask me to write about how we live in a generation where men are afraid of commitment and pursuit, more so than any other generation before.

And I’m not going to deny the statistics. The trend goes far beyond the romance department. Working for the ministry, high on the list of our greatest, most pressing needs are male missionaries who would be willing to go places and spearhead certain pursuits. We have a huge pool of women volunteering themselves to go to the most dangerous of places because there is such a lack of men willing to rise up. (While I would love to discuss that in length, this isn’t quite the place or post to do so).

Either way, I believe that this does not at all hinder God’s stories for His children. Our frustration does not in any way give us the right to grab the pen from God’s hands and try to overwrite what He has already spoken. The fact that the cute office-mate you have is brave enough to pursue you does not change the fact that he’s not a follower of Christ. You being convinced that it’s your season to be in a relationship does not mean that you’re right.

If God wanted you married by now, then He would have found a way to bring a man into your life by now. It would certainly entail obedience from both sides, but He is more than capable of using the most unlikely of circumstances to, at the very least, get things moving. He managed to bring Eve to Adam when Adam didn’t even know someone like her existed after all.

The thing about the book of Ruth was that there was no angel visitation or apparent supernatural manifestation but her seemingly ordinary life was marked with divine orchestration – all started by her humble act of submission and catapulted by her obedience. Ruth did not just happen to end up in Boaz’s field, where he took notice of her, and it was no coincidence that he was her kinsman redeemer. It was all God, moving behind the scenes all along.

God writes the best stories, but only if you allow Him to hold the pen.

So if you really want to pattern out the way you approach your love life according to Ruth, then here’s how you can start:

Yield. Surrender. Obey.

Men, You Are God’s Gift to Women.

I’m not talking about the guy who arrogantly flaunts and flirts and personally tags himself as God’s gift to women.

(Hi. If that’s you, I’m telling you straight up: you’re probably not, actually. Sorry).

I’m talking about you who care so much about Biblical manhood that you’d invest time and money into learning how you can better serve others by being the best you could be. I’m talking to you who wouldn’t subscribe to the stereotypical basis of what a man looks like and would rather break the standards by following His standard.

I’ve told you before how much we needed more men like you, but have I ever mentioned how much we appreciated you?

When you lead and not dictate,
When you are tested yet stay committed,
When you graciously listen and communicate,
When you have vision and take action,
When you pray and obey,
When you take responsibility and not make excuses,
When you rise up and take initiative,
When you give and don’t require,
When you respect and don’t expect,
When you are passionate and compassionate,
When you affirm and correct,
When you protect and pursue,
When you fight for the wronged,
When you forgive what is wrong,

When you refuse to be passive and jump right in,
When you step back and choose to be patient,
When you go out of your way,
When you show up,
When you don’t leave,

You are God’s gift to women.

When your heart is in the right place,
When your eyes are fixed on His face,
When you seek Him always,

You are God’s gift to women.

Please, never, ever stop making an effort. Never, ever stop stepping into all that He has for you. Never, ever stop fighting for the calling He has placed upon you.

Even when it’s difficult, even when it’s tiring, even when it takes so much of you: keep at it. Never, ever stop using the gifts He has given you. Never, ever stop being the gift He has called you to become.

For when you humbly admit that you aren’t there yet, but you want to be,
When you deliberately take steps, no matter how slowly,

You already are God’s gift to women.

Thank you for all that you are,
And thank you for all that you will be.

There Is More to Singlehood Than Being Single

In other words, if you are single, there is a higher calling upon your life in that season than just figuring out how to get married.

Shocking, I know. *note sarcasm*

But let’s be real here. We all know it in theory. In actual life, it can get a little blurry.

Now I do agree with the concept of active preparation. Yes, prepare for marriage even when you’re not married. Know the ins and outs of it before you even get there. Seek knowledge on how to be good spouse. That is wisdom.

On the other hand, I also think that God is interested in who we are becoming as an entire person and not just the part of us that becomes a husband or a wife. Singlehood is not just a season you get past to get there. It is is a wonderful time to be committed to the process of which God conforms our character to Christ.

And beloved, we have to be clear here. God is molding you not just because He wants you to be a good partner but also because He wants you to be a good child, friend, officemate, leader. He’s not just preparing you for marriage life; He’s preparing you for life in all of its entirety.

Please know that you cannot hold against God the fact that you sought first His kingdom and righteousness so “WHERE IS THE SPOUSE THAT WILL BE ADDED TO ME.” It doesn’t work that way. Becoming some spiritual giant is not license for God to suddenly give you a partner. Reaching a certain standard of spiritual maturity is not a pre-requisite to the “one” suddenly coming along. A husband or a wife is a gift from God, given according to His perfect wisdom.

Decide to be the person God wants you to be, married or otherwise, “mature and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:4).

“Well I’m not called to singleness.”

But sweetheart, right now you are. And whether or not you will be next month or next year isn’t of the issue. It’s the fact that since God has not yet a brought a special someone in your life by now, then it means He has a plan for you as a single person, today. And He will be the One to give you the grace to squeeze everything that you can out of this season, to His glory.

Now please, I’m not saying you’re not allowed to desire to get married. God created marriage! It is His idea and it’s beautiful! Practically prepare, I’m sure your future family will thank you for it! But also do not overlook this opportunity to do so, so much more.

Singlehood is an opportunity to be single-minded about Christ and His mission.

Paul even wrote to the Corinthian church of how being unmarried is a great chance to have no distractions when it comes to serving Him. Our single years give us the ability to pour our resources, time, energy, and focus on the great commission more than ever.

So I encourage you, take advantage of it. I know, I know. You’re already living your single life “to the full” by travelling and meeting new people and exploring new things. And that is wonderful!

But wouldn’t it be so much more amazing not just to see His beauty in every opportunity you can grasp, but to reflect His glory in every opportunity as well? Prayerfully consider how you can not just see the wonders of the world but how you can also be His hands and feet to a lost and dying world. What does it look like to take up your cross and follow Him in this season? You can ask God to shift your passions and focus from the sacred calling of marriage to His sacred calling for your life right now. And you can trust that the steps you take towards this particular calling now will take you closer to where He would want you to be in the future – whether that looks like you with a ring on your finger or not.

You may be asked to pray for your family and community in greater measure. You may be called to pursue further education and gain more skills in preparation for what He has up next for you. You may find your heart wanting to minister to children or the elderly or the sick. You may see yourself on a plane to do a mission trip to Africa or you may stay right where you are, evangelizing to the people around you.

Practice sacrificial love to your family. Share life with your neighbor. Volunteer at your local church. The particulars don’t make it more or less significant; your heart fully surrendered to Him is what matters. As long as your actions are an outflow of your love for Christ, they will make a difference.

And we can overflow because right now, we have already been made whole. We are already complete in Christ. Not when we get married, not when we have children, but right now.

Loneliness is real and desire of companionship is true, but no human relationship, no matter how God-orchestrated, can substitute the joy of being with Christ. With every burst of yearning is a choice to either get lost in the feeling or to turn to God and draw closer to Him. Biological clocks may be ticking, but remember that it’s the Author of time you’re serving. It’s all in good hands.

Be faithful with where you are now, and then He will entrust you with more.

Dear Millenials: How Do You Love?

Dear Generation Y,

Hear me out. In this world of modernization, we claim to know love by insisting on “marriage equality” all the while pushing for divorce and pre-nuptial agreements. We stay in a relationship until someone more interesting comes along. We think that sex before marriage is completely normal because, hello, we have to check the sexual compatibility.

Let me stop you right there. What’s your definition of love in the first place? I find it sad that so many people in relationships cry out, “understand me” “listen to me” “give me this” “pleasure me”, me me me me me. People these days enter a relationship based on what they can get – on how much the other puts out sexually, on how rich the person is, on how much fun they’ll experience while it lasts. We don’t look for partners who will walk out the rest of our lives with us, we look for people who set our hearts ablaze until the fire runs out. We ride along until the bursts of adventure turn into comfortable moments of mundane, then we go along looking for another person to give us the thrill yet again. 

We enter relationships founded on chemistry, not trust. We enter relationships based on “similar interests”, not mutual beliefs and values. We want someone cool who’s good-looking and dresses well, not a beautiful soul who inspires us to be a better person. We want someone easy, not someone who knows her worth. We want someone perfect, not someone we can grow with. We want someone right now, not someone who is worth the wait. We want someone who’s “modern”, who believes in open relationships and one night stands and understands that there are other fish in the sea, not someone who believes in loyalty and building a life together.

Instead, the talk of commitment makes people balk. We laugh at couples who “take things too seriously” in their 20s. We tell children to “explore, but don’t invest too much because you’ll break up eventually.” We romanticize people who leave their homes so they can spend their life wandering from one place to another. We don’t believe in settling down. We believe in “options.” We believe in being “explorers.”

We have wider social circles than people ever did in any other generation. Yet we have less meaningful relationships than people did in any other generation as well. We know people based on their facebook wall and instagram account, not their history and personality. We think that a person’s value is dependent on how many friends they have and how many likes they get, not their identity.

We’re run by logic, you see. We’re practical. Getting to know another person’s depths is just too time-consuming and takes too much effort. We have to save the energy for our school and work. Relationships can take the back-burner because we have a career ladder to climb. Long-distance is just too difficult so we’d rather break up. We want what we want so we refuse to meet halfway and swallow our pride.The people we have relationships with should fit our schedule, anything less convenient and we cut them off. Apparently, material things and temporary gratifications matter more than people these days.

And you’re surprised the relationship didn’t work out? Love, to its core, has been about giving, never about receiving. Love is a commitment, a decision, not a fading emotion.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
-C.S. Lewis

We love movies where the girl comes up to the boy whose heart she has broken a million times over before, asking him to love her. We adore TV shows where the guy runs to the airport and while the girl turns him away, he is undeterred as he promises to still wait, to still hold on. We like stories where the guy is edgy yet respectful -a gentleman in all the right ways. We watch them over and over, wishing that that was our story.

But wait a second, are you sure you can have that as your story? Are you ready to love someone that much? Can you risk leaving your life behind and move to another continent to chase after the one you love? Are you willing to ignore other people vying for your attention as you wait 7 years for the one person you truly want? Do you believe in abstaining from physical intimacy so that the body you’ll give on your honeymoon night would have only been one with your spouse’s? Are you willing to give up certain goals you have for yourself because you know that you can build a better life together with the person you love? Can you open your heart like that and be completely vulnerable as you lay your love down for another person?

No. Because we’re too scared. We’re too guarded. We’re too selfish. We’re too embarassed by the thought of putting ourselves out there and getting turned down. We don’t want others to think of us as “old-fashioned” or “whipped.” But then, that just shows how we’re thinking of ourselves. 

“Fear is always a killer. It doesn’t always look like ugly cowardly fear. Sometimes it looks like unforgiveness – when we don’t want to forgive because it may just happen again. Sometimes it looks like entitlement – when we want to hold back for ourselves just in case. Sometimes it looks like pride – when we think we’re better off.

Whatever it is, fear and love are like oil and water. If you want to hold on to your fears you’ll end up with your fears. If you want love, you have to be brave.”
-David Bonifacio

There’s no such thing as loving with half of your heart, as the John Mayer song goes. No, love is all-in. I noticed that most regrets stem from the fact that one played things too safe, and so I have come to find that the greatest risk is not taking risks at all. At the end of my life, I’d rather have the ones I love beside me instead of newspaper clippings of me and stacks of money that won’t matter when I’m gone. 

So I plead to you, don’t run and don’t hide your heart away. Love the way Christ loved you – wholeheartedly, patiently, deliberately, unconditionally. Love because you want to give, not because there’s something you want to receive. Love purely. Love no matter what it costs. Love until your graffitied walls have been peeled and the hidden canvas underneath has been uncovered. Love in a way that commits your entire life to one plan and one plan only – laying yourself down for this person. Love to the point that the word love feels insufficient anymore.

Love like it’s already the last chapter. Love like you’re sealing the letter.

Because that is the only way worth loving; that is the only way worth living.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:1-8‬ (emphasis mine)‭

P.S. Please be secure of your identity in Christ first. Know who you are and who you commit to because loving selflessly even when it hurts and when it’s hard is different from being a masochist and a pushover; from giving yourself away because you’re insecure. Love because you’re filled with God’s unconditional love; anything less, you’ll lose yourself and you’ll run out eventually.

Marry Someone Out of Your League

“Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage.”
-Hebrews 13:4

I recently came across an article about the Ashley Madison scandal, and I saw comments by men and women who were sharing how you should never completely trust your spouse because it doesn’t take much for them to go astray. Wives were stating how you shouldn’t submit to your husbands because their take on things cannot be taken seriously, husbands were talking about how they were no longer satisfied by their wives sexually. I was already appalled by the existence of such a site, and as I pondered upon it, I grew to hurt for these couples.

See, here’s the thing that baffles me: why in the world do people marry someone whose character they cannot trust; whose opinion they cannot respect? Is it because of the overwhelming butterflies they felt when they first met but have obviously flown away in time? Is it because the other party was good-looking and they were given a sense of feeling wanted? Is it because their personalities clicked and they had fun together? 

Well I’m sorry, but that’s a very poor criteria for choosing someone to marry.

You can find someone who knows all the right words to say and the right clothes to wear, but that doesn’t mean they’re the right person for you. It’s actually very easy to find someone to have fun and feel giddy with, but it’s very rare to find someone you can build a life and home with.

So here’s a nugget of thought from someone who has never been married, has seen her parents faithfully in love for the last 25 years, and plans to get married and be as happy as they are 25 years from now: marry someone out of your league.

I don’t mean out of your league in a way that they’re more good-looking or richer than you; I mean out of your league in a way that they just appear so beautiful to you, inside and out, that having them would be too much of a privilege.

Marry someone whose flaws are so visible to you, and yet they seem still too good to be true simply because they are constantly growing and flourishing where God has placed them. Look into the eyes of a person who seems to never lose sparkle, whose face always reflects the glory of God. Fight for your destiny with a warrior who challenges you to not settle for less than what God has planned for you, with a soldier who will correct you when you are mistaken but has your back no matter what. Learn together with a humble heart who allows rebuke and is eager to become more Christlike. Grow old with a lover who has time for you and will walk with you not only when your knees are rusty, but also as you together turn weaknesses into strengths. Enjoy life with an adventurer who lavishes in the love of God and gives back to the world by selflessly sharing this beauty. Hold hands with a child of faith who inspires you and joyfully pulls you up, not a pessimist who just pulls your life down. Fit together with a whole being who complements you and will communicate with you, not someone who looks to you to fill in the missing pieces. Embrace a beautiful soul who is committed to only you through the highs and lows, and still points back to God as your source of security. Partner with an intercessor who understands everything God is and explores more of Him and His people each and every day. Build a family with a leader whose character is founded, someone you can look up to and trust to raise your children in an upright manner. Leave a legacy with a visionary driven by God and desires to make an impact in this generation and the generations to come, who understands that the marriage you live is a big part of the inheritance you will leave.

At this point, some people may call me idealistic, but trust me when I say I’m being realistic. Statistically speaking, 50% of marriages end up in divorce, not counting the ones that haven’t gone through the legal process but are emotionally separated already. There are far too many broken marriages in this world, and so this is a decision we need to be wise about. Don’t be hasty just because you are feeling lonely or because there are bursts of emotion. Take time to pray about it, and allow God to grow and mold you through it.

You get to choose who you marry, so always remember that it is far better to be single than be married to the wrong person. It’s dangerous to commit just because you see the potential of a person without any actual guarantee that the person will change, so learn to wait. Always remember: good doesn’t mean godly, and your love won’t make a person godly. Also, please know that there is a huge difference between someone who is active in the ministry and someone who has a heart like Christ. Don’t fall in love with someone just because you see them on stage, doing amazing guitar riffs, only to find out that their character isn’t as solid as their drum rolls. 

And if you’re a married person reading this, thinking you’re already too far in to take back decisions, please remember that you get to choose how you act within your marriage.

But as much as I have listed down wonderful attributes here, there is this bottom line: we are all works in progress. You are a work in progress, just like the person you are going to marry. So likewise, marry someone who thinks you’re out of their league. Marry someone with these qualities because you allowed God to mold you into having these qualities also. Marry someone amazing who knows just how amazing you are too.

Marry someone who loves God more than they will ever love you.

For even after you wed, you will still be under construction. In every relationship, there will be conflicts. And there will be times when your spouse will slip up. But it’s okay, because you will slip up too. It’s okay because you both understand that true love isn’t driven by emotion, it is mirroring Christ’s selfless, forgiving, unconditional love. It’s okay because you both have solid relationships with God so He will be the One to point you back and guide you through the relationship.

Looking back at the first ever couple, Adam and Eve, they lived in peace and tranquility as they were totally submitted to God and to each other. But as they allowed themselves to give in to temptation, they lost their harmony. They were accusing each other, pointing fingers, acting selfish – which is very much a normal thing between wedded couples these days. This kind of self-centered, privileged mindset is what causes so much separation, so let’s go back to that original design, when there was nothing but serving God, loving each other, and working His will together. 

“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
‭‭-Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭

Let it be that as you fall deeper in love with God together, you fall deeper in love with each other. For giving love (the 1 Corinthians 13 kind), not getting sex, is the core of what marriage is about.