Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I Almost Missed My Boaz

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I was scheduled to go into the hospital for my second round of chemotherapy on the holiday, but my oncologist gave me a reprieve. I'll head to Abilene next week instead. Since many of my Facebook friends and fellow writers are posting what they're thankful for this time of year, I guess it's my turn.

Before I even met my husband George, I received two, separate prophetic words from well known, seasoned prophets that God was sending me a "Boaz". I'm sure you remember the Bible story of Ruth. Her mother-in-law was Naomi.

Because of a famine, Naomi's husband left Israel with his family and ended up in Moab. He soon died, but the family remained in the foreign land for ten years. During this time, the two sons married. However, both tragically died before any children could be born from their unions.

Naomi and her two daughters-in-law faced a meager existence. One day, news came that the famine had ended in Israel. Naomi told Orpah and Ruth to return to their homes so they could find new husbands and bear children.

At first, Orpah and Ruth insisted on going with Noami. Only when she reminded them that staying with her would doom them to barren and lonely lives did Orpah turn back. Ruth, however, could not be persuaded to leave Noami's side. From this commitment comes the famous passage:

"Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go: and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: they people shall be my people, and thy God my God." (Ruth 1:16)

Noami arrived home in Bethlehem, broken and embittered. It just "happened" to be at the time of the barley harvest. In order to get bread, Naomi sent Ruth to glean (pick up the leftovers) in the field of Boaz, a distant relative, hoping he would be kind to her plight.

Boaz just "happened" to walk by the parcel of land where Ruth was gleaning and asked, "Whose damsel is this?" Turns out, all of Bethlehem was already abuzz about the young stranger. Villagers were impressed with the great love and care demonstrated toward Naomi by this Moabitess who had left everything familiar to start a new life in Israel.

Wealthy Boaz was immediately taken with Ruth. He gave her unrestricted access to the best parts of his fields to glean, and told the reapers to leave generous portions behind. At mealtime, he personally made sure she was well fed and forbid his workers to touch her.

Let's fast forward to the marriage, which takes place after a rousing, unorthodox proposal from Ruth and Boaz's tense, but winning negotiation with another relative who could have legally claimed Ruth for a wife. Noami was happy again. Not only were her fortunes restored, but she also had the joy of raising her grandson.

There's so much more to the romantic story of Ruth. You must go back and read the entire book to grasp the miracle. But here's what I always remember when I think of Ruth: the field she gleaned in one day became the field she owned the next.

All it took was a Boaz...a man of great wealth and strength. Even his name means "by strength".

In 1997 I met my Boaz, but I didn't realize it at first. All I saw sauntering into church that Sunday was a self-assured Texan--complete with Stetson and a big, rodeo belt buckle. I quickly got out of his way. And that was that for several months.

I was an associate pastor and dean of our church's Bible school. George would often come up to the office during the week to give money for various outreach missions. I have to admit, I was struck...not only by his generosity, but by his preference to give privately.

I always liked to pray with folks who stopped by, so one day I ended up being the one to pray with George while everyone else was at lunch. Only a sentence or two had been spoken before he interrupted me.

"Ma'am, I don't mind you praying for the kids to be blessed with the offering for their mission trip, but I always name my seed."

I looked up. "What do you mean?"

"Well, a farmer knows ahead of time what kind of crop he's gonna get 'cause he planted its seed in the ground. For a couple of years now, I've been naming the harvest I want from God. This is my seed."

"Okay. So what do you want me to agree on as your harvest? " (I asked in my best pastoral tone, I might add). In the back of my mind, I was thinking it's probably finances. George was very generous, but far from rich on a construction foreman's salary.

"A wife."

"A wife?"

"Yep. Been sowing seed for her for some time. Not just any wife. I ain't wasting any more time or money. No more dating. I'm done with all that trial and error stuff."

With a little laugh, we joined hands over the check and prayed. He left, and I went back to work without giving another thought to the strange prayer request.

Easter Sunday rolled around a few months later. George was in the office prior to the morning service, check in hand for another project. A friend, knowing my lifelong love for chocolate, had given me a Cadbury Easter Egg. Just when I was about to take a scrumptious bite, George bolted around the corner and almost knocked me over. I stumbled into his arms.

Awkward for something to say, I blurted out."Uh, want a bite of my Cadbury?" (I know. I get the ribbon for stupid remarks.)

Before I could recover my composure, the rude buckaroo bit off half of my chocolate egg! Shocked, I paused for just a few seconds and looked at him up close--uh, really close! Our eyes met for the first time...I mean, in a way I've never seen before. He had the bluest, clearest eyes. And caramel goo was dripping from my fingers.

Then, something strange happened in my stomach. Sort of a "hiccup" is the best way I can describe it...or maybe like a somersault or a "da-doo". I turned to go the bathroom and clean up. I whispered to God, "This isn't what I think it is, is it? No, of course not. I'm just getting a little stomach virus. Yeah, that's it."

I walked out and got ready for the service. Despite trying to brush the notion aside throughout the morning, the thought just wouldn't leave: I just shared a Cadbury Easter Egg with my future husband.

Yet, I resisted the relationship at first. George just did not fit the profile of a Boaz. Let me ask you a question: when you think of the Biblical Boaz, what first comes to mind? Material wealth and prominence? That's what I was thinking, too.

I almost missed God's best for me because I was sizing up the guy in the natural. I failed to judge as God does--by the heart, not by appearances or status. Even after we were married, I continued to assume that God would bless my husband with great wealth one day. If not, then in the end I would have to admit that either I missed God or the prophetic words were false.

But here's what I want you to know: I DID marry a Boaz after all! Not a "one day will be", but a Boaz in the here and now. So, I know you may be asking...Did George come into a windfall of a promotion? Did he invent a better Shamwow? Did we win the lottery? No, no, and another no.

George's work takes him all over the United States. Every three or four years, he's given a new assignment to build or upgrade a municipal water treatment plant. (Right now, we're primarily working in the Texas area.)

Due to our nomadic lifestyle, we don't have a permanent home full of fine things. We don't take vacations to exotic locations; we don't have fat bank accounts or 401 K's. But we have seen some beautiful places. We've made good friends. We have wonderful relationships with our family and three grandchildren. What kind of price can one put on such things?

Over the past fourteen years of marriage, I've witnessed George turn to prayer to pull us out of difficult situations. He prays until He hears in his heart a God-sent word or instruction, then He obeys it.

I'm not saying that I'm married to a perfect man. Far, far from it. My Texas George is similar to King David--an "earthy" man of great passion and intensity. David was an all or nothing kind of guy, too--a fierce warrior one day, a gentle, weeping poet the next. The king was capable of both impetuous anger AND anointed worship. That's my George.

David often mixed up his gazes and glances. You know...when to gaze and when just to glance at something in the world. Remember Bathsheba? What a mess he made! Although we've never had a real Bathsheba problem in our marriage, there are other things equally as beautiful and seductive that can entice men with the temperament of a King David. Nevertheless, I have a man who, like David, has grown in his walk with the Lord. Instead of allowing his past to stop or define him, he has pressed even harder into the ways of God. And like David, he has become a man after His Father's heart.

George took up the gauntlet when I was diagnosed with a tumor in my ascending colon. He never left the hospital through two misdiagnoses, a battery of tests, and ultimately delicate surgery to remove the tumor and re-section my colon. One day, I convinced my husband to go home for a few hours to rest and wash a few clothes. It was a Friday. We were told not to expect any biopsy results until Monday.

The doctor came in and gave me the news just hours after he left. I called George. He grew quiet; I could tell he was stunned by the report. He said he'd get back to the hospital as soon as possible, and then fumbled to say good-bye.

My cell phone rang thirty minutes later. It was George. This time, his tone was different. It was resolute. He was determined, not defeated.

"I've just prayed. Honey, we're going to get through this together. Now, I want you to know I'm your cover. I'm your shield. I'm gonna fight for you and see you into the clear. So, you just be at peace." Then George ended with one of his favorite phrases: "I've got this!"

I cried, so thankful for the gift God had given...a gift of a true Boaz...more precious than any earthly wealth or possession. I finally understood what the prophetic words I had received so long ago meant. They were genuine after all!

Difficult days continued and again, George rarely left my side. Oh, he had his moments! I discovered my rip roarin', former rodeo rider and macho construction man hates needles and the sight of blood! When the nurses came in to "fiddle" with me, as he called it, he'd make another trip to the bathroom or down to the snack bar. He complained about his flimsy, World War II cot...and just when he would drift off to sleep, a nurse would come in to do some more "fiddling" with his wife. Some of them got a kick out of his colorful language; others did not.

My chemotherapy requires about a sixty-hour stay twice a month in the hospital. I go in every other Thursday, and George takes off early on Fridays to stay with me until my release. Yes, he endures the cot, the interruptions, and hiding in the bathroom when the "fiddling" starts. Interestingly, he is not gifted with great patience for people; but what makes up for this lack is a heart that loves a challenge. It's coupled with a dogged perseverance to keep his jaw locked on the prize to the end.

The softer, poetic side of my Davidic warrior strolls the halls with me, taking charge of the IV pole that drives like a broken grocery cart. We finally learned how to dance a slow--VERY slow--Texas Two-Step while I'm hooked to the IV. (No one has walked in on that scene...yet!)

When I'm in pain, he holds me and sings our favorite love song (Don Williams' "You're My Best Friend). My Boaz has bathed me, cleaned up my embarrassing messes, fed me, and styled my hair.

The other night we were preparing for bed. Most of the time, I can successfully cast down fearful thoughts of future "what if's" and "what will be's", but I had wrongly begun to entertain them early in the day. I wondered if I'd get to minister again in churches and conferences as before, or if my book and writings would ever be received by wider audiences. By bedtime, they had become fiery darts in my mind. I confessed this to George.

He also confessed something. He said that up until the hour of my surgery, he privately struggled with the same thing. He knew the Word and was publicly standing on what it generally said about hope and healing, but inwardly he was not at peace because he had yet to receive personal assurance in his heart from the Holy Spirit.

Just as I was being wheeled into the OR, George said God spoke to his heart and settled the matter. Of course, this aroused my curiosity and I asked, "What did He say?"

"He told me not to tell you," he replied matter-of-factly.

For several minutes, I tried to pry it out of my husband, but to no avail. George turned over and I knew within a minute or two he'd be asleep. I usually admired George's ability to fall asleep so easily, but not this night! (Sleeping well under adverse circumstances is another trait he shares with King David.)

Just when I thought I'd never hear another word about it, George muttered, "I'll tell you this much. If you could see what God has for you on the other side of this valley, you wouldn't give those stinkin' thoughts the time of day. Now go to sleep!"

About a minute passed. "George, you know all I want to do is finish my course, my know, my reason for being here." (One of my lifelong verses has been Acts 13:36: “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed."

I didn't think he heard me, but then he slowly turned over and drawled. " All right. I'm gonna tell you one more thing, but you have to promise me that afterwards you'll go to sleep!"

"Okay," I said.

"I know you've always hung on to that verse in Acts."

"Yes. Acts 13:36."

My Boaz continued. "Diane, that's what will be said about you, too. So be at peace. I mean it. BE AT PEACE. Good night."

I breathed deeply, pondering his words and my legacy. Soon, light snoring was coming from my left. I chuckled...not only at George, but at the sudden realization that I, too, have something in common with King David.

You do remember David's genealogy, don't you? David's father was Jesse. Obed was Jesse's father; and Obed's father was BOAZ.

I am a very wealthy woman, indeed!

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