“He [Jesus] answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” Matthew 19:4-5
My dad loves to put puzzles together. My family goes on vacation and there he is over in a corner working on a puzzle. I try to help because I just like to be around him but he is much better at it than I am. He seems to have a knack for finding just the right piece and has much more patience when things get tricky. I get mildly frustrated just trying to find the right piece… but the annoyance grows when a piece looks like it should fit but no matter which way I turn it, it just won’t work. It must remind me too much of my life…
Over the years I have watched many of my friends meet their future spouses. It often amazes me how well they match up. One of my closest friends just got engaged. I have watched her “date” various other good men but there was always something just a little off. Not with the guy or with my friend but just with the relationship. They just didn’t quite mesh. Until this guy. I remember the first time I saw them together, there was magic in the air! Both are wonderful, seasoned singles (33 & 40 yrs old) who had been happily serving the Lord in their respective ministries. But put them together and whoa…what a dynamic duo! I have watched my friend grow in her relationship with Jesus and become more Christ-like as she has gotten to know this amazing man and has followed his lead. I assume it’s been the same for him. They are better together. The Great Puzzle Master has connected them. These two pieces fit perfectly and have just enough rough edges to be mutually refining.
One of my favorite quotes on the subject of romantic love, mainly because I think it’s fun, is:
“We’re all a little weird. And life is weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.” ― Anonymous (I’ve seen it attributed to anyone from Robert Fulghum to Dr. Seuss…)
I have yet to find this “mutually satisfying weirdness”…but I have definitely met some amazing men. Not all of them have been unavailable and not all have been uninterested in me, but they just didn’t quite fit. There was nothing wrong with them; they loved Jesus, were attractive, kind, sensitive, funny, thoughtful, friendly, and not creepy (though I have had my share of those…), but they were just not for me. Some have gone on to be wonderful husbands and fathers, and I am grateful for their happiness and have no regrets that it didn’t work out for us. We just didn’t fit; I was not the puzzle piece they were destined to be connected to.
I’ve been studying through the book of Ruth in my personal devotions. When we think of Ruth, often we think of the beautiful love story of Boaz and our heroine. But Ruth had to go through a lot of hardship to make it to Boaz’s field. She was a barren, widowed, foreigner taking care of her desperately grieving mother-in-law. This was no small thing. Each one of those words packs a punch—Barren. Widowed. Foreigner. Caretaker. And even when she “happened to come to” Boaz’s field she was doing the hard work of gleaning, uncertain of her safety or if she would find enough leftover grain to feed Naomi and herself. But these are the things that shaped her into the woman that would draw Boaz’s eye in the field. It wasn’t her looks (she had to have been sweaty because gleaning wasn’t exactly light work…and he probably couldn’t even tell what she looked like under all the dirt). It was her character and good name that had preceded her and the beauty of her good works that he noticed and commended.
I love that the hand of the Lord in the story of Naomi and Ruth is clearly evident—from Elimelech’s family decision to move to Moab where they would meet Ruth (Ru 1:2; though this was a poor decision God used it for good) to Ruth’s “happening” upon Boaz’s field (Ru 2:3), to the birth of their son, Obed, the grandfather of king David (Ru 4:13-17). It was all in the plan of God. Though there were tough times, God was still in control and working things out the way it was supposed to be—making all the puzzle pieces come together.
The providence of God is such a comforting doctrine. Knowing that our Lord, who loves us, is looking on and arranging all the puzzle pieces of our lives (and the entire universe) in just the right place gives me a lot of hope. I’m encouraged by His meticulous attention to detail and His ability to be sure that the connections happen. (“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” – Prov 16:9) So we can trust our Sovereign God to arrange the puzzle pieces in the way He sees fit. Though sometimes we don’t understand our path or why the pieces don’t fit the way we think they should, we can have confidence that the Master Puzzler is putting things together in just the right way.
“So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.” Ruth 2:3