Hey did you know that Jenny and I first met online?
Back in February~/March 2003, I went online—ok, no one believes this is what I was doing, but it’s true!---I went online doing some research on Indian Christians.
I “happened” to get on this website called, “Indianmatches.com.”
I laughed thinking, “I can’t believe they have this for Indians too!
Hmm, I wonder how it works?”
What was interesting about this website (and no, I am not one to go on these kinds of websites regularly) is that in the search criteria, they had “religion” and “degree of religion” as options.
I figured that usually when you would click “Christians,” even people who worship Satan call themselves Christians and that was never a good enough filter.
However, this time, the “degree of religion” appealed to me.
So the site had “Christian” and “very religious” as options.
I figured this would filter out all the so-called Christians.
When I clicked “enter,” there were about two or three results.
One said nothing or something generic about the Lord.
Another said she was looking for a man after God’s own heart and was interested in ministry.
But there was no picture or location!
Well, they way they get you on this website is that if you are interested in someone, you have to buy their subscription to get contact information.
Otherwise, the person you’re interested in will get a generic email saying, “So and so is interested in you!”
That option was free, however.
I was in seminary at Moody Grad School, so I did not have a lot of money lying around.
The only job I had was a catering job, but that was really to get free food in the dining hall.
I decided to put my profile up and send her the free generic email option.
But I added a picture so she wouldn’t freak out.
This was the best picture I had that showed my heart.
Doesn’t it just say, “I am a servant of God”?
The smile definitely will win over anyone’s heart.
I should have cropped out that smiley old man in the background though.
Well, Jenny bought the subscription.
To make a long story short, she sent me an email and told me she was from Chicagoland and working at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, just a few blocks from Moody!
What coincidence?! No, what providence!
Later I found out that she was on that website about a week or two before I was.
About two weeks later, we were both off that website.
It seemed like God in His providence, brought us both on, we met, and took us off.
We met in person a few weeks later and the rest is history, or shall I say, His Story.
We have been talking about the providence of God.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that our lives are not by chance, some random string of events that have no meaning at all?
We have a Master Weaver, who takes tangled threads to make a tapestry out of it.
We don’t always understand it and often the hand of providence seen only in the rear view mirror.
One of my favorite images is God sitting on the throne.
It is a picture of His Sovereignty.
It is all over Revelation.
So while there is war and calamity and all kinds of destruction taking place, God is shown as one settled and secure.
He is not wringing His hands or biting His nails or pacing back and forth.
He rules with His feet up!
He is Sovereign, but He is good.
This means He is actively working in the lives of His people for our good and His glory.
We are in Ruth 2. In reading this chapter and the beginning of a blossoming relationship with Boaz and Ruth made me think about relationships.
Let me share a few words of encouragement to those of you who are not married yet.
Ruth 2 is not about dating methods, but we can glean some truths regardless.
If it is God does not give you the gift of singleness, let me encourage you to remember that the most important thing you need to look for in someone and to build in yourself as you prepare for marriage is character.
Let me give you five ways the world will challenge you in this regard:
1. /Cosmetics over character./
Yes, being attracted to your spouse is important (and your spouse will appreciate that), but that is not everything.
Look at Boaz and Ruth.
Scripture writers highlight both of their character than their looks.
In Ruth 3, she’s going to get dressed up a little (it’s not wrong to do that), but that is not the most important thing.
2. /Chemistry over character./
It is good to have good chemistry with one another.
You want to be able to have fun with the person, but remember this: personality changes within context.
When we first met, Jenny was really extroverted and I was pretty much introverted.
However, just four years later, she has become more introverted and I have become more extroverted.
We are changing!
3. /Culture over character./
Sometimes the pressure will be on you to marry someone from your own race, usually this pressure is from your own family.
But that is not the number one essential.
If someone says that the Bible says don’t marry outside your race, first ask them where it says that and then ask them about Boaz and Ruth.
4. /College education over character./
Yes, it is good to marry someone who can read and maybe speak to you in a mature manner and I would put that near the top of my list, but not all the way.
I know people who will not allow their children to consider anyone but a doctor.
There are a lot of smart idiots out there!
5. /Circumstances of the past over character./
Man, if Boaz looked at Ruth with that criteria, she would have no hope.
A foreigner, a widow and a former idol worshipper!
It is important that the person you are considering for marriage knows your past before moving forward, but as long as the person is not deep in sin of some sort, that should not be a deterrent for marriage.
There will be consequences of poor past choices that you will bring into the relationship that you will need to work through together.
You might wonder, “What’s the big deal with character?”
Pastor Mark Driscoll out in Seattle says that we need to look not for a good time when we are dating~/courting, but someone to build a legacy with.
Look at Boaz: he’s a believer, has a job (see, he didn’t have to ask his dad for money for a first date), is good to his employees, man of prayer, man of generosity, servant-hearted, runs a good business, knows how to handle his money and honors women.
Look at Ruth: hard working~/great work ethic, devoted, sacrificial, loving, servant-hearted, humble, grateful, woman of faith and love.
When they are brought together, and boy, did they build a legacy!
It’s character folks!
Back to Ruth 2. We have been following two widows who have come from a lot of tragedy in their lives.
God was in their wandering and their weeping as they came back from Moab.
Ruth decides to take advantage of the Mosaic law which allowed the poor to pick up the leftovers from the harvest field.
This was risky and she was putting herself at the mercy of the landowners and workers.
Amazingly, she ends up in the field of a man named Boaz, who shows her amazing generosity.
The same God who was in her weeping was in her working too.
The two lessons we learned so far was that:
*I. **We must depend on God’s providence for our guidance (Ruth 2:1-3)*
**We must respond to God’s overwhelming providence with humble gratitude (Ruth 2:4-17) *
His hidden hand of providence guided her and she responded with such humble gratitude as God provided much more than she ever expected through Boaz.
Wait, it gets better!
In Ruth 2:14, lunchtime arrives and Boaz calls Ruth over.
Sharing a meal was an intimate act in Israel.
Bread is a* *staple food and the wine was a vinegar-tasting sauce to moisten and add some flavor to the dry bread.
She is seating beside the reapers!
Boaz treats Ruth not like a servant, but as one equal to his entourage.
She was now in his inner circle!
He even serves her!