When I was in my senior year of high school, my mom very strongly and continually urged me to break up with Barb because I’d soon be going off to college and meet hundreds of girls during my college years. “There are many fish in the sea; how do you know SHE is THE one for you?”
I broke her heart
That sounded wise, so I broke Barb’s heart and told her we needed to end it. I knew I was inflicting deep pain as we’d said ‘I love you’ and meant it, but mom wouldn’t let go of her advice…I was 17.
Over the next 24 hours I thought it through and even prayed a bit, but heaven was silent. The Father nor the Lord were saying anything, which was frustrating, but I knew it was my decision to make, not His. I knew it was my choice and would either suffer the consequences or reap the benefits of choosing the right mate.
Weighing it out
On the one hand was mom’s ‘more fish in the sea’ argument. On the other hand I knew Barb very well – all she had been through as a child, all her dreams and aspirations, and that she would be a devoted and faithful wife and mother. She knew me as well, all I’d been through and that I would be a devoted, hard working and faithful husband and father. We knew we could build a life together.
To start over I realized I’d have to find a girl who loved the Father God as I did, which narrowed the field considerably. Then I thought of working through the soul issues - what we wanted in life, what we liked and didn’t like. Barb and I clicked in that we both loved God, love nature, how we saw future family life, and we were opposites in several areas which had helped grow us as people and in the Lord – we had learned how to argue, how to yell at each other and then let it go, and knew our strengths and weaknesses.
I suddenly realized I’d be comparing every other girl I’d ever meet to Barb, and realized all I wanted was right there in her. I realized no matter who I met in the future, she might be Barb’s equal in terms of the heart, but she would never be better than her. With that I drove to Barb’s house, apologized, we both cried, reaffirmed our love for each other, and have been together ever since.
Marriage – The Lord doesn’t run a dating service
I continue to share how the Lord delegated to us that we determine some things, and the subject today is how we will ‘be fruitful and multiply’. Some cultures have arranged marriages, set up by the parents almost from birth. Some require a couple to gain approval from village elders. In the book of Ruth, she proposes to Boaz by putting his skirt over her*, which is what the groom does to the bride in the Jewish wedding ceremony, indicating she is now under his covering. Ruth (and Naomi) were bold women! *(Ruth 3:4-11)
(I can’t help but share a little trivia in case you’re unaware. Why was Boaz willing to take a Moabite wife? It was because Boaz’s mother was a Moabite – and you’ll recognize her name: Rahab, the former harlot from Jericho who helped the spies. Matthew 1:5 says she settled in Israel (taking their God as her own as Ruth did), and she married Salmon. They had a son, Boaz, who married Ruth. The story is also important because Ruth 3:21-22/Matthew 1:5 tells us Ruth/Boaz had Obed, who had a son named Jesse, who had a son named David. That makes Ruth David’s grandma, and Rahab was David’s great-grandmother.)
Is there ‘the one’ I’ve had many Bible school students, teenagers in youth groups, and people online ask me if I thought God had just 1 person He wants them to marry, and if they miss that one chance are they doomed to never marry or out of His will if they marry someone else? I tell them no, finding a mate is our job, not God’s. And at one season of life you might fall in love with one person, but at another season of life it would be another person.
Can He help? Yes. Can He provide wisdom and insight about that other person and about ourselves to help us make wise decisions? Yes. If you involve Him in the decision making might He even bear witness in your spirit or otherwise indicate to you who a right person might be for you? Yes.
Your spirit can be attracted to someone Back when Barb and I were teenagers I had a friend in our ‘prayer & praise’ group come to me about a girl in our group he was attracted to. He said while she was pretty, deeper down inside him he felt an attraction to her. That same day and unknown to me, Barb had that same girl come to her about that exact guy. She said he was nice looking and all, but it was down inside that she felt drawn to him.
Separately we told each it was their spirit, and their spirit was recognizing something in that person they were attracted to, and advised each to follow through and get to know one another and see what happens. They did and they are still married to this day!
Your spirit bears witness with or is attracted to… What happens in those cases is that a person’s spirit likes or is attracted to another person’s spirit because of a similar personality, call in life, or gifts of the heart. It is the same thing that happened one day when a Bible school student came to my office in tears, asking why she got so emotional listening to the missionary speak in chapel that day. I asked what she was called to and she replied ‘missions’. I told her that her spirit recognized the call and Spirit on the missionary, and bore witness, and that is why she was so overcome – they had the same call.
But being attracted to or even loving a person’s spirit doesn’t mean you are to be married. It might happen if all other things are right – but many affairs and broken hearts have happened because one person recognizes an attraction in their spirit to another person’s spirit and mistakes that for God. All that happened is their spirit is attracted to another person’s spirit.
What happens is a person will love another’s spirit, and often their potential they see in their spirit, and compromise in the soul, body, and natural life areas, thinking God will make it all better. And I’ve seen situations where single or married men/women become attracted to a another married man/woman in their spirit, then rationalize they got married for the wrong reason (lust is the most commonly blamed reason) so they have an affair which destroys at least 1 and maybe 2 marriages – all because they didn’t know their spirit could bear witness with another’s spirit but that wasn’t God’s will to commit adultery.
Your spirit will bear witness with a person of similar personality, call, gifts, or on the same spiritual page, but that doesn’t mean God is saying they are your mate. Love the person’s spirit, but keep the relationships within the boundaries the Lord intends mature people of character in Him to do.
“I think attraction is too often mistaken for rightness.” From the movie Runaway Bride
Within the framework of all that is ethical, moral, legal and right, God can lead a man and woman into a relationship if they are attracted in their spirit to one another, but issues of the soul, body, and natural life like job and family are involved. Often with people in their 30′s or later, they want a potential mate to fit into their carefully constructed life as well as fitting all the qualifications of a 20 point ‘spouse’ list.
But finding a mate means a person must be willing to lay down their life for that of another, which may mean the life you now have is going to be totally rearranged if not de-constructed only to be re-made with elements from their life. But because that is unknown many would rather continue in career or ministry as they are, rather than risk what they see as tearing down what they’ve worked so hard to build.
I had a couple come to my office for pre-marital counseling sessions, and at one appointment they were barely speaking to each other. As they sat in separate chairs with arms crossed exchanging cold glances at each other, the issue came out. Was it infidelity? Was it secret sin? Was it lying about how money was spent? No, it was about the right way to load the dishwasher. Would they end it over a dishwasher?
I’m out of room – next week the dishwasher story, and about money as we continue talking about His will, our will, does He care?