When God shakes a local assembly...
Rachael HillMemorial Website
Male and Female Created He Them
VII. The Foundation Of Marriage - The Will Of God
Do not look at...appearance...; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart.
- I Sam. 16:7
I must here relate a story that truly changed my life when I was single. I had worked on an evangelistic project in a ghetto with a dear brother who was convinced the Lord had called him to be celibate. This caused no minor disturbance among all the sisters that knew him, for he was the man of many young Christian women's dreams. A graduate of one of the country's best evan-gelical seminaries, he loved the Lord with a passion. He was warm, friendly, caring, and funny. He was bright, sensitive, spiritual, and often used by the Lord to speak His word. He also possessed the incidental bonuses of being about 6' 4", very handsome, and athletic! All of the sisters thought, "Why this waste?!?" Not unlike Judas, they each had their self-interests at heart!
This precious brother would not date, and truly had no interest in marriage.
Also on this project was a dear sister who was being transformed from a history of personal and emotional problems by the marvelous grace of God. She was not particularly attractive at the time, and had issues in her life - one of which was her weight. Regardless, we all truly loved her, and she loved The Lord.
This brother and I became close friends. After I returned to my home over a 1,000 miles away, he continued the work in the ghetto. But we remained in close contact. The sister with the problems and some others also remained.
Some time later, I think it was a few years, this sister called me to tell me that she had become engaged. HALLELUJAH! I thought! How wonderful is the grace and mercy of our Lord! "Only God could find a man who could love this woman" was my inner thought (today this shames me).
After talking for some time with her, she said, "Brother, don't you want to know who I am engaged to?" Of course I do, I said. And she named the forementioned brother.
I believe I dropped the phone - I know I went into shock. NO! my feelings shouted. THIS CANNOT BE! SOMETHING IS WRONG! I tried to cover my true feelings as I continued to talk to this sister. But inside I was dying. Even now as I remember the call, my heart is racing, remembering my shock.
I felt I had to talk to this brother. I had to find out what was going on. I had to help him get straight! He had left her place for his apartment just prior to her call to me. Amazingly, while I was in shock, he returned to her place, saying God had told him to return. As I spoke to him, I cried, "Brother, can you tell me about this?" trying to hide the deep conflict in my heart.
He explained how in waiting on the Lord, he was told that he was to marry. After a season of wrestling with this, he finally accepted it as the Lord and tried to forget it. But the Lord would not let him. He felt instructed that he must ask the Lord who he was to marry. So he obeyed. And the Lord directed him to this sister. He rebelled. He fought. He wrestled. But finally, he said, "Lord, if this is your will, you must give me Your love for her." And the Lord did just that. He told me he could not explain it, but he now loved her with all of his heart and wanted no other for his wife.
I could not sleep that night. Now it was me wrestling with the Lord. My flesh could not accept this. I could not put this brother and sister together. But as I prayed, I was deeply convicted. The Lord showed me I was only looking at the outer man - He only looked at the heart, and had given my brother grace to do the same. I did not have such grace. I remember thinking, "Lord, if this is what you have for me, I will never marry!" And immediately I knew how rebellious my heart was.
And then the Lord reminded me of Hosea, as we have discussed in the previous chapter. I cried, "Oh, Lord, I cannot take any more!" I saw how selfish and wicked my own desires in a mate had been. But I could not repent. I could not come to where I could say, "Lord, whoever you wish, I will marry." For a long season, I abandoned the thought of marriage while the Lord dealt with my selfish motives.
I realized also during this time that if my love for a spouse was based upon anything in her, it could be destroyed - it was only temporal and outward. If she was very attractive, but later maimed and crippled in an accident, could I still love her? If her mind and personality were warped by disease, would I still love her? If after years of marriage, deep dark recesses of blackness in her were discovered, would I still love her? What if He had for me a sister with deep problems and young in her relationship with Him? Was I willing to lead her to maturity through His unconditional love and laying down my life for her. No. All I could pray was that the Lord would search my black and selfish heart and create in me a willingness to do His will, to be a vessel of His love for whomever He would choose, without regard to the outer shell.
So, what is the criteria we have for a mate? Whatever they are, I believe they need to go to the cross, and be laid down there. And we should pray, as He did in the garden, "Lord, not my will, but Thy will be done." Every relationship that is born of God must go through the cross. It must be brought to a point of death. It must be laid down. If it is from Him, He will resurrect it. If it is not from Him, we want it to remain dead.
I am often asked by readers if this wonderful couple is still married. I can gladly report that as I expected, and as of 2013, they are still very happily married and still serving the Lord in ministry - he is a pastor in a northern state.
I believe that there is one requirement for knowing the will of God above all others. It is this:
We must be willing to do His will.
In John 7:17, the Jews noted of our Lord that He was uneducated, questioning the source of His wisdom. Part of His reply was, "If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know. . ." Though He was speaking of His teaching, I think the principle applies across a much broader spectrum. So the real question is, "Are we willing to do His will?" No matter what it is?
I sincerely believe if we are seeking first the kingdom of God, and totally willing to do His will, our knowing His will about a mate will come to pass in His time. But this too must be tested.
Let me ask a question. When would be the most difficult time (or circumstance) to hear the Lord's will about whether or not to marry a brother or sister? The answer is easy.
When we are head-over-heels in love with a person.
Who among us can say we could hear the Lord during such a time? Probably our emotions will be screaming so loudly that all we can hear is our own hearts. But what if we are wrong? How do we quiet our souls to hear from the Lord?
I truly believe this is a most dangerous time. Many marriages have been based upon the loud demands of the emotions, and not on the quiet, quiet voice of the Holy Spirit.
Remember something we said previously - if we marry because we are in love - we can divorce if we fall out of love. Surely marriage requires a stronger foundation.
I honestly believe that the relationships of those brought together by God's throne must at some time go through the cross, be laid down, given up, died to, and left in the hands of God. No differently than Isaac was sacrificed by Abraham. Left totally in God's hands, for Him to raise up, or leave in death. And that once we lay the relationship down, we do absolutely nothing to take it up again. We let God do the raising, if it be His will. And if it is His will, He will surely do it.
I also believe that God can bring together a man and woman and reveal His will to them about marriage before they fall in love. This certainly seems to be the norm in the scriptures. But this requires an unusually close walk with the Lord. And the love will come, if it is truly His will.
I believe God has given us wonderful means of protection from missing His will in such serious matters - and all of them relate to spiritual authority. There are three checks God gives to us to prove his will in selecting a mate. These three things permeate God's word from beginning to end. Perhaps in a future edition we can take the time required to provide the many scriptures supporting them. In the meantime, would to God that we all could submit to these God-ordained coverings:
1. The authority of our parents;
2. The authority in our church;
3. The authority in the body of Christ.
Regardless of our age, I believe that our parents, even if unbelievers, will know from the Lord about our choice for a spouse, if it is right or not. This authority is God ordained, and transcends time and cultures. If they do not concur, most likely our choice is incorrect, or the timing is incorrect. Possibly God wants us to lay down our choice.
And radical as it may seem in today's age, I also personally believe (this is my own opinion), that we are not unwise to allow our parents to be involved in choosing our life-mate, especially if they are truly God-fearing and walking with Him.
The same safety is provided in those church overseer's that we submit to where we live and worship. Few of those in responsibility in God's house will ever stop a couple's relationship unless something from the Lord tells them so. They too only want the will of God.
And there is the witness of God's people - the authority inherently resident in the body of Christ and the sensing of His body. Do the brothers and sisters that know both say, "Amen" in their hearts? If so, good. If not, perhaps we should wait.
Praise God, if we truly want to know and do His will, we can be confident that He will lead us.
Every marriage will be tested. There are no exceptions. And today the fires of testing are hotter than ever. Only one thing will stand the fire of testing. That one thing is knowing we have done the will of God so that we can receive the infinite grace of God. If we can answer, "We proved the will of God before we married - we know He put us together", the fire can pass quickly. And we can appropriate the grace of God to love our spouse unconditionally.