My Kinsman Redeemer

In Beth Moore’s “Praying God’s Word” she has a chapter on feeling ‘unloved’.  Within that chapter are so many verses that assure God’s faithful love to us:  his everlasting, never ending love.  I read and pray these verses whenever I feel tempted to throw a pity party for myself.  Yet out of all the verses, there is one that Beth adapted and that I wrote out because it holds so much meaning for me.  Perhaps it will for you too. 

Before I write it here for you, I want to give a little background for it. Many of you know the story of Ruth — there’s a whole book about her in the Bible.  Ruth was a Moabite who married into an Israelite family.  Not long after she married her husband, he and his brother died, as well as his father.  This left Ruth, her sister-in-law Orpah, and her mother-in-law Naomi alone.  Naomi, bitter and unhappy, decided to return to her homeland, but bid her daughters-in-law to go back to their families.  Orpah did, but Ruth replied:

“Do not urge me to leave you or to turn away from you, for where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay.  Your people will 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 separates me from you.”  (Ruth 1:16-17)

Naomi consented to Ruth’s determined devotion, and the two women travelled back to Israel –specifically, the town of Bethlehem.  There Ruth began to glean in the fields for grain.  One particular field belonged to Boaz, a wealthy man who lived in the area.  When he saw Ruth, he asked who she was, and finding that she was Naomi’s relation he made sure she received more grain than anyone else.  When Ruth brought the grain home to Naomi, Naomi asked, “Where did you glean today?  Where did you work?  Blessed be the man who took notice of you!” (Ruth 2:19).  Upon hearing that the man was Boaz, Naomi said:  “The Lord bless him!  He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.”  She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.” (Ruth 2:20)

In that day, the closest male relative of a widow had the duty to marry her so she could be supported.  Boaz was one of those kinsman-redeemers.  As a kinsman, he had the first right to the bride, to redeem her from her suffering and shame.  Boaz, however, was doing more than his duty.  He loved Ruth. 

The rest of the story tells the beautiful romance that Boaz and Ruth had.  Next to Jesus, Boaz is my favorite character in the Bible.  He is truly the ‘knight in shining armor’ that we hear so much about!  Yet the character of Boaz is only a symbol of one so much greater, with so much more love.  One who is our Kinsman Redeemer.

Jesus Christ is our Kinsman in that he was man and God.  He was our biological equal, but our spiritual superior.  As Kinsman, he has the right to the Bride above all other suitors.  He has redeemed us from our suffering and shame as widows of sin, and taken us as his own.  He is our hero, our knight — our Boaz.  His love is everlasting, his redemption is complete, and his hope is in us as His bride.

I wrote down that quote from Beth Moore on a card, and have it on my bedside table to remind me of the privilege of having such a redeemer as Him.  Every morning that is what I wake to, and every night I see it when I fall asleep

Jesus Christ, my Kinsman Redeemer and Bridegroom… 

Your banner over me is love.

 

When the Circle is Empty

I have had several comments on the posts about girl friends from ladies who are at a time in their lives where their circle of friends is very small — or even nonexistent.  For these women, going out for coffee isn’t always possible.  The facts are, we all will probably have a time in our lives where our circle of friends is empty.

When I was twelve our family had a circle of friends that were very close.  We had been friends for years through our church.  Yet when we moved to another church, our friends went a different direction.  We didn’t see them so often.  Now they are still our friends, but not nearly so close as they were before.  Following were three years where my friend base wasn’t that big.

During those three years, however, we joined the drama group for girls I have mentioned, and through that group, I made an entirely new circle of friends.  These were girls of all ages, while before they had been mostly younger than me.  The friends from those years are the friends that are closest to me now.  Also, when we began going to the church we attend currently, I met more girls and guys my age who became part of my circle.  But in order to reach this time of fullness in friendship, my circle had to be empty first.

Sometimes God takes certain things from us to keep Him as our first priority.  While it can be hard not having what it seems all other women and girls have — a great group of girlfriends — God is not allowing it arbitrarily.  He knows the longings of your heart. 

I had one girl write me with an opposite problem:  she had all girl friends, and no guy friends.  While I would definitely say that girls need to be your best friends, no matter what age you are, but girls can get petty and small at times, and in these times guy friends are refreshing.  She wanted to know if it was a natural desire to want to have young men as friends.  It is!  Titus was advised by Paul to treat the young women as sisters, and the young men as brothers — but he was not advised to avoid them.  As I said before, having young men friends will help you understand how they think when you enter the courtship age.  For this particular girl, her desire was to expand her friend base in gender.  God knows that desire just like any other woman’s — and in His time, He will fulfill it.

Married women often say (and I believe they should) that their husband is their best friend.  When you are married, guy friends are unadvisable unless it is a ‘couple friend’, as in, two couples that are friends with each other.  Obviously, my mother does not have male friends just to chat with like she does my dad.  HE is her priority.  However, they do couple dates quite often with their friends.  She also has a few great girl friends she goes out with now and then.  But she doesn’t find her security in them, because if she did, when they left or had to move like our first circle, she would be crushed.  My father and God have to be her foremost friends, just like they have to be ours.

On the topic of friends is family.  I used to be desperate for friends while totally ignoring the fact that I had sisters.  Granted, I LIVE with my sisters, and not with my friends.  Sisters don’t always get along!  As time has gone on, however, we have become much better buddies.  There can still be some friction since we are very, very different.  For instance, Ella is the tomboy, lumberjack-gone-girly type; Autumn is the funky-layered-laugh-a-lot-   didn’tthinkthatwouldgotogether type, and I am the prissy-ultrafeminine-don’t-break-a-nail-type.  Somehow, we all ended up in the same house.  Yet your family is the first friend base you should have before all others.  Outside friends come after;  blood is thicker than water, you know.

Thus, there may be a time when you will not have the friend base you wish for.  Instead of evaluating yourself or your life in view of the number of friends you have, use this time to learn what it means for the Lord to be your best friend.  If you are married, then the Lord and your husband become your best friends.  There will still be a desire for girl friends who can understand certain things from a feminine perspective, but God will fulfill the desires of those who delight in Him (Ps. 37:4).  Trust your best Friend to fill your circle, and it won’t feel so empty anymore.

The Lonely Road

Did you know you aren’t complete unless you have a man on your arm?  It’s true.  The internet says so.  And so do the movies, and the books, and the television, and old Aunt Bertha.  You can’t be anybody unless you’ve got a guy to drag to every social event, preferably a different one every time.  I mean, gosh!  If you don’t, what’s wrong with you?  Are you afraid of guys?  That has to be it.  Listen, I will help you.  Let’s make this a little lower and this a little higher, and we’ll have you sporting a regular Clark Gable like a Rolex watch.  You’ll see — I’ll help you…

That’s about how it goes!  While most of that remains unsaid, I usually get s standard reaction to my admission of not ‘having a boyfriend yet’:  “What? What’s wrong with you? Er, I mean, what’s wrong with them?”  This isn’t a slam against well-meaning questioners.  They have right to ask.  But they always try to cover up their astonishment at the absurdity by blaming it on the guys around here.  “Hmph, well they don’t know good when they see it… er, what’s wrong with the fellas around here?  Are there any?  Hmph, probably the atmosphere or something, not conducive to matchmaking… so do you get out much?” 

Yes, it is pretty funny. That’s how you have to view it, because if you take those things seriously you will never be content.  The world around us, as I am sure you have realized, has made ‘love’ (which it isn’t) the highest goal.  If you don’t have a guy you just aren’t a whole person!  Single women are seen as constantly ‘in between’ relationships.  There is no neutral ground.  You’re either with a guy, breaking up with a guy, or looking for a guy. 

As we have discussed before, waiting doesn’t mean you’re doing nothing.  And it doesn’t mean you’re afraid of guys.  And it DOESN’T mean marriage is the utopia we are waiting for.  I am still trying to put into words exactly what I am doing now, because it is not waiting.  I waited in high school.  Now I am out.  I would have to say that right now, I am neither waiting for a relationship nor seeking one.  Yes, I hope for one.  But my life does not revolve around my relational status, and I am not going to define my life in terms of that hope. 

That being said, do I get lonely?  Sometimes.  Not lonely for friends, and not for family, because I have the best of both.  But there are definitely times when I wish there was someone else, someone who loved me in a different way.  That’s a real desire, a perfectly valid one — because if it weren’t, people would never get married.  They’d live with a dog for the rest of their lives. 

I am not alone in my loneliness, however.  I am not alone in the sense that there are thousands of other girls who are feeling the exact same way.  What do you do with these feelings?  When it seems like you have been hoping for years, and frustration or despair set in, where do you put them?  I’ll tell you this much: don’t invite them to tea.  They’re the kind of visitors that assume the guest bedroom was built for them, and they quickly commondeer it… and never leave.  It’s your job, as the hostess of your heart, to pitch them out the door!

If your heart (and mine) is in the right place, you will have the love of the most wonderful man who ever lived.  Too often I have thought in the past, “Of course I love Him… but I can’t see or feel Him.  He isn’t enough…”  But to you girls, I can now tell you that HE IS.  He is enough. 

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you may go.”  Josh. 1:9

“For the Lord your God is a merciful God.  He will not leave you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers that He swore to them.” Deut. 4:31

He is enough to dispel your loneliness, because He is always with you.  Because of that, we have no valid reason to be lonely.  Does that mean those feelings will no longer come?  Of course not.  But when they do come, know to “cast your cares upon the Lord, for he will sustain you”.  He is Almighty God, and He is yours to love.  So love Him!  His is a relationship that requires no waiting.  He is here now.  And you are His bride.