At first I was angry.
Well, maybe not angry, but definitely discouraged. And I’m not used to that reaction when I finish a great book. Especially not by one of my favorite authors.
Yes, it was a love story. Christian romance, if you will, though I hate that label and everything it conjures up. It was the second book in a retelling of the story of Ruth and Boaz from the book of Ruth in the Bible. Set in Scotland. Swoon.
I was hooked after the first book and had waited many weeks for a copy of the sequel to become available in the library system. When it was finally my turn, I devoured the book in a matter of days.
I loved it, for what some would say is all the wrong reasons: the Boaz character. The leading man.
If you’re not familiar with the story of Ruth, stop reading this and go find it in the Old Testament. Or click here to start reading. It’s only four chapters. It won’t take you long to read. It’s a love story, too.
Back to the leading man. He was so perfect. He rescued. He protected. He loved. He pursued. He was everything a woman could want in a man.
And there lies the problem.
I know women who say they won’t read Christian fiction because of how the men are portrayed, giving us women a standard for our husbands (or future husbands) that is unattainable.
I’ve never felt that as strongly as I did with this book. When I closed it, I wanted what the leading lady had — this perfect, handsome, all-around great-guy husband who did everything right.
And I was disappointed. Not because I don’t love the husband God has given me but because it didn’t feel like enough.
Then, I realized something.
My husband wasn’t supposed to be the ultimate source of fulfillment in my life. He would make mistakes. He would not love me the way I thought he should. He would fail. Even at his best, he would fall short of perfect.
It’s true that I would not find a man who could live up to the expectation set in this book.
But, when I compared the book’s ideal man to Jesus, something inside me changed. My husband couldn’t love me perfectly but Jesus could. And did. And does.
In the days after I finished the book, I found myself longing — not for my husband to act like the character in the book — but for Jesus. Suddenly I wanted to know more about Jesus. I wanted to read my Bible again. And pray. I could feel His closeness around me. And my heart was filled with a desire to see Him.
Most days, I’m pretty comfortable here on earth. I’m not eager to leave it, nor do I think God wants me to be. But in so many ways, the life I’m living falls short of what I want it to be. The Ruth character in the book loses everything and struggles to survive. Some days, I can identify. And she dares to hope that something better might come her way.
Fairy tales thrive on this longing — someday my prince will come.
I don’t have to merely hope or long forever.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
If I could have everything I wanted the way I wanted in this life, I wouldn’t need Jesus. Longing is part of the path that leads me to Him.
Someday, my Prince will come.