Last time, you read about a Father and his two sons who were killed in Alaska. The mother, Naomi, wanted to go back home to Virginia but what would she do with her two daughters-in-law? One stayed behind but Ruth was determined to stick by Naomi’s side. Living in Virginia was difficult for Ruth at first, until she met – Boaz.
“Boaz is a relative and dear friend,” said Naomi. Then with a sly wink, she added, “but he is showing special kindness to you.”
Boaz endured an especially traumatic divorce and long ago gave up any hope of finding another person he could share the rest of his life with. Over the years, he had been content to let restaurant and church become the main focus of his time and energy.
But there was something about Ruth’s steely dedication combined with a quiet dignity that attracted Boaz. One Sunday, people at church were making snide remarks about her religious beliefs. Boaz, who was normally quiet, said in an angry voice that all could hear, “Look, Ruth is respecting us enough to visit our church and learn. Maybe we should show some interest in her culture and background and learn something from her!”
Naomi and Ruth were sitting at the dinner table talking over the events of the last few months: The tragic accident, moving from Alaska to Naomi’s former home in rural Virginia, the emotional and financial adjustments of trying to survive the loss of loved ones.
“My daughter,” said Naomi. “It’s time that you gave some serious thought about your relationship with Boaz. He seems to care about you very much. Do you love him?”
“Yes, very much,” Ruth replied. “Boaz has been so generous to give me a job at his restaurant, but it’s become more than just appreciation. I really enjoy being with him, talking with him… laughing with him. Oh Naomi, it feels so good to laugh again! But neither one of us seem to be able to find the time or even know what to say that will take our relationship to a different level.”
Naomi gave a conspiratorial smile and said, “Tonight, Boaz will be conducting an annual inventory after his restaurant closes. I want you to volunteer to stay and help him. For the rest of the evening you two will be alone, working. Meanwhile, pray that God will guide you from there.”
Everything happened just as Naomi predicted. Boaz was visibly pleased to have Ruth stay and help him with a necessary but tedious task. Throughout the night, Boaz and Ruth worked side by side talking about each other, their hopes and dreams, even their diverse religious beliefs. “Would you tell me about your faith?” Boaz asked.
“Asatru has a lot in common with Christian ideals,” Ruth replied. “We believe the goal of living is to lead a worthwhile and useful life. We emphasize nine noble virtues: Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Industriousness, Self-Reliance and Perseverance. Jesus seems to teach those same values. I have come to admire his teachings!”
Boaz replied, “But Jesus is more than that, Ruth. I feel a personal relationship with Christ. I’m no preacher so I can’t really describe it. I just know that Jesus is there somehow, within me. I would have never survived the divorce and the other painful incidents in my life without knowing that Jesus and my church were providing comfort and love! Does that make any sense?”
“Of course it does,” said Ruth. “I am beginning to fall in love with Jesus just as I am with you.”
Boaz was quiet for a moment before he smiled and said, “I have been in love with you for awhile.” As they continued working side by side, counting, Ruth’s hand softly brushed across Boaz’s arm. They looked up into each other’s eyes, shyly at first but as their gaze grew bolder their faces slowly moved closer together until at last they shared the first tender kiss of love.
Imagine that… Boaz and Ruth have their first romantic moment in a restaurant storeroom. You can guess what happens next or better yet, read the story for yourself in the Bible. The book is titled, “Ruth.”
Can two people from different cultures find love and happiness? Yes, of course they can, but it will be a struggle and requires lots of love and patience. “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Cor. 13:7)
Can Christians respect and love people from other faiths without compromising their beliefs? Yes, but we must learn a new kind of love. Jesus said: “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (John 13:34) The challenge is for us to love as Jesus loved with compassion and without judgment.
Look around and find someone you haven’t noticed recently and offer him/her the love of God in a fresh new way. Meanwhile, I’m going to find a restaurant where my wife and I can enjoy a romantic evening by taking an all-night inventory.