I really believe in God giving us clear guidance in everything so that we may be children who do the Father’s will. Now I’m in love with this woman whom I’ve been mentoring. She is a beautiful woman of God and loves God above all else. She carries the character of love. And she has a desire to work among children in the future. I’ve had a natural desire to take care of her and provide for her ever since I met her.
I’ve asked God for signs, and I’ve also got them fulfilled in a certain way. For example, one day I was asking God to give me the words “go ahead” if He wanted me to pursue this woman. I went for a meeting that evening, and the person next to me was receiving prophesies, and the pastor clearly said those words, “Go ahead.” Ironically, when the Pastor was praying for me next, he said these words, “Come to me” (as in Christ saying that to me). That got me a little confused!
Do I pursue this woman I love? Or do I just “wait” for the right person? I know my heart is ripe for marriage. I’m just building my business right now “to prepare my field before building my home.” And I’m ready to wait for God to speak to her as well. Am I doing the right thing?
Thanks for writing. It’s great to hear of your strong desire to do God’s will, especially in the area of getting married and being a capable provider for a wife and children. Deciding whom you’ll marry is hugely important and will affect extensively the whole rest of your life and into eternity. Given the weight of this decision, it’s natural to want reassurance that you’re doing the right thing. Whether you’re looking for a burning bush or putting out fleeces, however, I’m concerned that your search for signs won’t give you the clarity you’re seeking.
In an article called “The Burning Bush,” my husband, Steve, interviewed marriage researcher Scott Stanley about this desire men have for certainty about their decision of whom to marry. Steve acknowledged his own hope for a burning bush when he was dating me. Thankfully, he realized that wasn’t something he was likely to get and moved forward in faith, based on other information. “A burning bush offers something of a shortcut around reading Scripture and learning the principles for finding a good mate,” he said. “I wonder how often our desire for supernatural involvement is so that we don’t have to study and learn all those biblical principles and do the hard work of applying them.”
Is it possible you, too, are seeking evidence of God’s will in places He does not command us to look (Matthew 12:38-41), while overlooking the one place He does — His Word? As you’ve already seen, looking for and trusting in signs easily leads to confusion. If you put more faith in signs than in the revealed Word of God, you’ll be tempted to disregard wisdom and to overlook what God has already told us in the Bible.
God has already told us His will in His Word that is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). There is no other such book. That it can even be contained in pages and read and understood — all of these things are themselves miracles and evidence of God’s great kindness to us. He didn’t have to reveal himself to us. We know from God’s Word how we can be made right with Him and how we can live faithfully as His children. Without this revelation, we would be utterly lost. Theologian Carl F. H. Henry marveled that “God forfeited His own personal privacy so that His creatures might know Him.” In so doing, 2 Peter 1:3 tells us, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” How do we gain knowledge of Him? By studying His Word: reading it daily, meditating on it, asking God to help you understand it, and hearing it preached faithfully by men of God.
Not only has He revealed who He is in the pages of the Bible, He has told us what His will for us is: “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” How are we do to that? For most people, it will be by availing ourselves of His great gift of marriage. He has made sex and made it for husband and wife within the boundaries and protections of the covenant of marriage. This is for the good of husband and wife, and also for the great benefit of their children. Paul told Timothy that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). That certainly includes the good work of taking a wife, providing for her, conceiving children with her, bringing them up in the instruction of the Lord, and all else that is part of fruitful family life. So how do you know God’s will for marriage to this particular woman?
This is where life in the body is especially helpful. If you are members of a biblically faithful church, then you should be able to get wise counsel from your pastor about your potential as a married couple. What’s needful and helpful in choosing a wife is guidance from wise Christians who know both of you, who’ve observed your lives, who can help you by asking good questions and work with you through the answers. What’s not helpful is being in a position of leadership over this woman as her mentor. You can’t help but mimic certain responsibilities that would come with being her husband. This will only make it harder to think clearly about moving forward. It would be wise to end this way of relating so that you can think more clearly about her and your relationship.
Your future wife will have tremendous influence on you, your faith, and the faith of your children. For this reason, Paul says plainly, “Do not be unequally yoked.” Believers in Christ, if they are to obey God, must marry other believers in Christ. The sign you should be most fervently seeking is the sign, or evidence, of the covenant of grace, a circumcised heart. Does this woman have evidence of saving faith in her life? Is she characterized by the fruit of the Holy Spirit? (Galatians 5) Is she growing in spiritual maturity, faithful in her commitments, industrious and virtuous? Are you trusting in Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sins? Are you growing in godliness and spiritual maturity? If you say yes to all these, the next question is, are you both free to marry? If yes, then you must find out: Will she have you? And if the answer there is yes, then it sounds like you’re ready to seek pre-marital counseling from a faithful biblical pastor.
Discerning the answer to these questions and all future questions that will arise over the course of a marriage requires that you treasure God’s Word, study it, meditate on it, and obey it. Christ defeated Satan in the wilderness using God’s Word rightly. He took up the sword of the Spirit and crushed the serpent. We are commanded to take up that same sword, the only offensive weapon in all the armor of God (Ephesians 6). The only way we can wield it effectively, truly, is to know it and understand it. And to do that, we must give ourselves daily to the study of the Word. I would encourage you to pray a simple prayer I’ve recently learned from a wise and godly man in our church: “Lord, open your Word to me, and open me to your Word.” Then, give yourself to reading it and letting it change you. Praying that prayer before I read the Bible has made a life changing difference.
I pray it will do so in your life, too.