by Candice Watters
I was reading your book tonight about preparing yourself for marriage; eight years ago I had done just that very thing.
- I got Baptised in 2001.
- I got rid of wrong types of friends.
- Stopped using my credit cards to live on and paid them off.
- I even gave up occasional drinking.
- I told God what type of godly man I wanted to marry right down to hair and eye color.
But nothing happened all that time and still today I am waiting to be married.
- I have been to a few Christian single groups at churches. I have been on a few Christian single websites, yours is the current one. Nothing.
- I have prayed boldly and trusted since I became a Christian 25-plus years ago for a godly man to marry me. Nothing yet.
I was into the Word earlier this year and in a centering prayer group. One morning while I was at work I was reading God’s Word and I was in Psalms and the Word spoke to me: “I will give you the desire of your heart.” I have been believing that all year. Nothing yet.
The often-frustrating thing about getting to marriage is that it’s not entirely up to you to make it happen. That’s a hard word in a culture that insists we are in charge of our own fate, that we can be anything we put our minds to, that nothing is out-of-reach. While there are many things you can and should to do help the process, in the end, you’re dependent on other people to form a good match. At a minimum it’s you, the man, and God. Also essential are all the members of a biblical community, your mentors, your extended family (and his), and your friends.
Each item in your list is commendable—and godly marriage is often the fruit of this sort of changed lifestyle. And it sounds like you do want the sort of husband that is attracted to vibrant faith. But your primary reason for doing these things—and continuing in sanctification—can’t be your desire to get a husband, because there’s no guarantee that you’ll get married. That’s not to say you won’t, but to avoid bitterness and getting angry with God—especially after such a long season of waiting—you need to think about why you’re doing those things.
Jesus said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me” (John 14:23-24).
It’s tempting to obey because we think obedience will lead to what we want: a husband, a job, a house, a baby, a car, the list is endless. But Jesus gives us something infinitely better. He gives us Himself—the object of our affections.
Obedience motivated by love will be fully satisfied with Christ. Obedience motivated primarily by a desire to get married can’t help but be disappointed if it doesn’t happen (or happen quickly). Just as it can be a comfort to know that husbands aren’t rewards for good behavior, it’s also a reminder that good behavior doesn’t entitle you to a husband. I’m not saying marriage won’t happen—and I pray it will!—but that it’s not a prize from God for good behavior.
Marriage is a gift from God. One you should pray for boldly, but humbly. Scripture says, “a prudent wife is from the Lord” (Proverbs 19:14). What does it mean to be prudent? The MacArthur Study Bible says it means wise. About wisdom, the Bible says spare no expense to get it.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you (Proverbs 4:6-8).
About these verses Barbara Mouser (“Five Aspects of Woman“) wrote, “God takes a special and direct hand in one kind of marriage more than any other. This special wedding is the giving of a prudent woman.” MacArthur says, “A wise wife is a result of divine blessing.” I love the image of being given, by God, in marriage. He is not only aware of our desire for marriage; His is actively facilitating it for women who are wise.
And part of wisdom is “correctly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The verse you mentioned in your question must be set in its context to be rightly understood. It doesn’t say “I will give you the desire of your heart—whatever it is” it says,
Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun (Psalm 37:3-6).
If you’re delighting yourself in the Lord, daily committing your ways to Him in prayer, and doing everything unto the glory of God, you can trust that your desire for marriage is good and that God is able to grant her desire for the thing He created. You can also rest in His ability to transform your desires to align with His, and to satisfy you, completely. We may never be able to understand this with our finite minds, but the Holy Spirit makes it possible to grasp it in our spirits, so that we may pray with Jesus, “Thy will be done.”
Believe God is able. Trust Him. But know that believing and trusting aren’t the same as setting yourself up for bitter disappointment if He doesn’t answer you the way you hope He will. God is calling us to faith, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who said,
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).
The God we serve is able to bring you a husband. But even if he does not, will you be faithful?
If you spend your life getting wise, delighting in the Lord, and trusting Him—for the sake of Him—you will benefit. Rather than making a giant to-do list for getting married, pare it down to this: know Him. Live your life pursuing the things of God, out of obedience that flows from your love of Him, confident that you’ll receive Him as your great reward. If marriage happens along the way, all the better. But if it doesn’t, you will have protected your heart from bitterness and none of your efforts will have been wasted.
It’s for His glory,
This article was originally published by Marry Well on Jan. 17, 2011.
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