Portrait of a Redeeming Love
Dena Johnson MartinDena Johnson is a former single mom to three amazing kids: Blake, Cole, and Cassie and wife to her high school friend, Roy. She strives to follow Christ each day and to lead her children to do the same. She delights in taking the every day experiences of life and turning them into biblical lessons for her children. Dena's daily prayer is simple: Lord, my life is yours. Live through me. Love through me. Parent through me. Let me decrease that you might increase. Dena is the founder of Dena Johnson Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people find beauty through the brokenness of this life. Her heart's desire is to use her own pain to point others to the power of God who redeems every hurt, every pain. You can contact Dena at Dena@denajohnson.com. You can also find her blog at Dena Johnson Ministries.
- 2018 Feb 15
Valentine’s Day is upon us once again. I know for many of you, it brings a depth of sadness, pain, loneliness. Your lives have been shattered, and you are simply trying to figure out where you go from here. The thought of being alone—again—on Valentine’s Day is more than you can handle. You are just waiting for this day, with all of the hearts and candies and flowers and reminders of what you don’t have, to be over, done with, behind you.
I’ve been there.
Over the years, I’ve had a number of Valentine’s dates—with my 98 year old Grandpa, my kids, my family. It was a fun way to celebrate special people, but it wasn’t the same. If you are alone, I encourage you to muster up the courage to take someone you care about out, to celebrate the blessings God has put in your life. My motto is always to thrive, not just survive.
Maybe you are at a place in this journey where you are ready to date again, ready to put yourself out there in hopes of finding your Boaz, your kinsman-redeemer who will help redeem all you have lost.
I was on a flight to Vegas this week, taking a much needed break with my husband. He’s on business and I’m just tagging along, but I plan to catch up on some reading and writing and resting and exercise while he’s at his conference. We were in separate rows on the plane, so I was left alone with my thoughts.
Not always a bad thing.
My mind drifted to Valentine’s Day and a post I wrote several years ago about waiting for Boaz. I reflected on some of Ruth’s qualities, on her reputation and her heart of service. I talked about what we must do while we wait for God to bring the right person into our lives.
It was then that I began flipping through the book of Ruth again. With my precious husband, my very own kinsman-redeemer, sitting in the row in front of my, I saw these amazing qualities in Boaz. I looked with fresh eyes at why Ruth would choose Boaz, why he was the perfect kinsman-redeemer for her.
This year, as Valentine’s is thrust upon us, I pray you will open your eyes to these qualities of Boaz, qualities that make him a great catch. It’s not about his rugged good looks or the amount of money in his bank account. Ruth didn’t look at his past—good or bad. She didn’t look at things that didn’t matter.
She looked at his heart. She looked at his reputation. She looked at who he was as a person.
And that’s what makes a perfect kinsman-redeemer.
If you are dating, I pray you take a lesson from Ruth. Learn what you should look for in that special someone. Don’t settle for anything less because I promise…it’s worth waiting for.
Boaz provided for Ruth’s physical needs. Boaz recognized Ruth’s physical needs, and he made sure she was cared for. He assured her that if she would stay in his fields, her needs would be met. She and Naomi would have plenty of food to sustain them.
In Biblical times, women were able to follow behind harvesters, picking up what they dropped or missed. But Boaz took it a step further. He told Ruth to stay with his harvesters, and he instructed his workers to allow her to work alongside them. Her physical needs were of top priority.
Boaz went over and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them.” Ruth 2:8-9
At mealtime Boaz called to her, “Come over here, and help yourself to some food. You can dip your bread in the sour wine.” So she sat with his harvesters, and Boaz gave her some roasted grain to eat. She ate all she wanted and still had some left over. When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her. And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!” Ruth 2:14-16
Boaz spoke kindly to Ruth. The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” couldn’t be more wrong. Words hurt.
But words also heal. Ruth’s life was not an easy one. Her husband died young, before they had any children. She left her home to go to a foreign land with her mother-in-law. She was a childless widow, one of the lowliest of the low in biblical times. She was destitute, and she was trying to support her elderly mother-in-law.
It was in that place of brokenness that Boaz spoke kindly to her. His words were always life-giving, life-sustaining. He spoke words of kindness, words of encouragement. He spoke words that flowed from a heart of goodness.
“I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.” Ruth 2:13
Boaz took it upon himself to protect Ruth. Have you ever been in a vulnerable situation? Few things are better than to know someone has your back, someone is there to protect you.
Again, Ruth was extremely vulnerable as a young widow in biblical times. She was unable to work, unable to provide for herself or anyone else. She had no one to stand up for her, to protect her from the violence of the day. She was alone with her (also vulnerable) elderly mother-in-law.
Boaz recognized her vulnerability, and he pledged to protect her. He told his workers to be kind to her, not to harass or harm her in any way. He was looking out for Ruth.
And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!” Ruth 2:16
Boaz was with Ruth to the end. Boaz made a commitment to Ruth. It was not a short-term, here today gone tomorrow mentality. It was a stay with me until the end attitude. He wanted Ruth to stay in his fields, let him watch over her until the end of the harvest. He wanted to make sure she was cared for, provided for until the end.
Boaz had a long-range mentality instead of a desire for immediate gratification.
Then Ruth said, “What’s more, Boaz even told me to come back and stay with his harvesters until the entire harvest is completed.” Ruth 2:21
Boaz had a deep respect for Ruth and did everything to protect her reputation. Boaz knew Ruth’s story, knew her heartache and her pain. He also knew her commitment to care for her mother-in-law, even though it was not truly Ruth’s responsibility. Boaz knew Ruth’s shining reputation and wanted to do everything he could to protect it.
Mutual respect is an essential quality for any relationship. That was what Boaz was all about.
“The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman…So Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet until the morning, but she got up before it was light enough for people to recognize each other. For Boaz had said, “No one must know that a woman was here at the threshing floor.” Ruth 3:10-11, 14
Boaz was a man of his word. Have you ever known someone who said one thing and did another? Me too.
But that was not Boaz. He told Ruth he would take care of everything, and that’s exactly what he did. He immediately went to the other kinsman-redeemer, asking for the right to take Ruth as his wife. He started the relationship right, by keeping his word.
A man who keeps his word in the small things can also be trusted with the big things. Make sure your potential Boaz is a man of his word.
Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat there. Just then the family redeemer he had mentioned came by, so Boaz called out to him, “Come over here and sit down, friend. I want to talk to you.”… I thought I should speak to you about it so that you can redeem it if you wish. If you want the land, then buy it here in the presence of these witnesses. But if you don’t want it, let me know right away, because I am next in line to redeem it after you.” Ruth :1-4
Boaz left a godly legacy for Ruth and her descendants. You know the beautiful ending of this story? Boaz and Ruth truly lived happily ever after. Their relationship was blessed and beautiful. Boaz took a broken young lady and stepped in to become the one God used to redeem her pain.
They were blessed with a son, a son who became the grandfather of a king and an ancestor of the King of Kings. Boaz and his kindness left a legacy that we still benefit from today.
The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David. Ruth 4:17
I don’t know where you are this week with love in the air. Maybe you are still reeling from the shock, the pain, of a marriage that ended too suddenly. Maybe you are lonely, waiting for that special someone. Maybe you are dating, asking God if this is the one. Or maybe you are walking in redemption, the beauty of a broken life restored.
Wherever you are on this journey, make sure you are looking for a Boaz, a man who will love and respect and protect. Make sure you are looking for one who will leave a godly legacy.