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Sunday, November 6, 2016

How Does a Boaz Come To Be?

There's a blogger out there who calls herself A Modern Day Ruth. She is waiting, praying, asking God daily--sometimes hourly--for his provision of a Modern-Day Boaz for her. A kind man. A God-fearing man. A man who will see her, tossed roughly about by life but still faithfully putting one foot in front of the other and being crafted in those moments into a more beautiful person--one who wants to love and is more able to now than before all the crises that shape her. A man who will see that, and despite all the brokenness and history and "not the way he planned it" perspective, choose to love her anyway.

I know a lot of hurt and abandoned women. Many are not so bold as Modern Day Ruth, to put it out there on a public blog--the cries of our hearts. But most have at least wondered: Do they exist? Boaz-es. Today. Are there men like that any longer? And if so, where do they come from? What shapes them into such men who can be strong enough to be bold and stand against convention, and kind and good too, in that strength?

This morning, I heard for the umpteenth time about Rahab.

Rahab the prostitute.

Rahab the lowest of the low.

She wasn't just a woman. She was a Canaanite woman. Ewwww!

She wasn't just a Canaanite woman. She was a Canaanite woman who sold herself to men, and not just to men but to Canaanite men. Over and over.

It would really be hard to find a person who would be considered any more low and unclean to the "holy and upright" men at the time than Rahab. The Canaanite prostitute.

But as we know, she turns out to be the heroine of the story, used by God for the good of his people. The pastor said, "Our markers for shame so often get flipped into signposts for glory."

I have a lot of reason to hope that is true for more than just Rahab. The prostitute.

The pastor had us flip ahead to Matthew 1, to show us how glorious Rahab's story ends up being. You probably know that part of the point of that lineage listed at the beginning of Matthew's gospel is recording for us how Rahab--the unclean--was one of the women in the holy and royal lineage of not only King David but Jesus himself. A Canaanite woman, a prostitute, married into the nation of Israel and credited throughout history in the line that brought God to earth in human form. Glorious, no doubt.

But I knew that. My mind got stuck elsewhere today. Today, the light shone on something else, something much, much more practical and mundane, I suppose, but without it, the Divine embodiment wouldn't have happened so I think it's important even if it wasn't the ultimate.

For the first time today, it actually sank in for me where Rahab's place in that lineage fell. You see, the prostitute, the used and abused and desperately worthless woman--that woman, was the mother of Boaz.

The same Boaz that gets referred to today as the example of what abandoned women long for. The kind, hardworking man who looked outside himself and the business of his daily life and his workers and saw the abandoned and displaced Ruth and cared for her--and felt blessed by her and not embarrassed or awkward or repulsed when she responded to his kindness.

What makes a Boaz?

Boaz was born into a family that seems impossibly unlikely. We don't know much at all about who Boaz's father was. His name was Salmon. Was he one of the spies that Rahab protected? Or just another Israelite who, for some unimaginable reason was willing to take HER as a wife after Jericho fell? We really don't know. But Salmon did the unthinkable and took a Canaanite wife--a woman who had been utterly used by men. A desperate woman. A woman with no hope except to sell her body (and I promise you, her perception of selling her soul with every transaction) to stay alive in a world that saw no other value in her.

And with that union, a son was born, and nurtured into the man that women even today consider the manliest to be desired.

I wonder what the mother-son discussions were like as little Boaz grew into a man. I wonder how he saw his mother, how he loved and respected her, how he learned to dignify other women and to think humbly of himself. (I want to credit his father here too; I can imagine Salmon himself had to be humble and open-hearted and forgiving in an extraordinary way.)

I think we're getting something wrong. I can get pretty anxious about the way that ALL the brokenness is likely shaping my children. I worry about the loss of ideals. I worry about how much they're missing--all that I wanted their perfect childhoods to be. I cannot claim to understand God's economies and how he somehow works something majestic and holy and royal and divine out of the darkest threads in our stories.

But he seems to do so. Because Rahab the prostitute raised a Boaz, and through him nurtured the line of the King of Kings--who binds up the broken hearted and adorns his Bride, who lay in her blood and filth, with purity renewed. The Bridegroom who never abandons. The Kinsman Redeemer who isn't ashamed of his Bride, but glories in calling her his own. The Boaz of Boazes.


Janice Powell said...

Oh, Rebecca, once again, your heart cries out to mine! I pray that through our brokenness, I can still raise boys to be Boazes. I feel I have failed so often in my parenting of them, pray that God will bless my feeble attempts, and I will pray your girls find their Boazes! Thank you for your strength and bravery in putting out this blog! My God continue to bless!

--Rebecca said...

God is with you, Janice, and your boys. Always.
Thank you for reading, encouraging me, praying. Let's keep lifting one another up, shall we?