- (By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
How am I going to find the right person to marry? It seems so overwhelming. Where should I start? And how will I know when I have found the right one?
In my own life, I tied the knot 7 years after I first started praying for my future spouse. Those were years of waiting, praying, dating and looking forward to God's plan. And of course there were doubts and times of discouragement along the way.
My wonderful wife, Tammy, and I have now been married for 23 years. So for me, the journey began 30 years ago. How about you? Where are you in the process? Have you started to sense that longing to find a soul mate?
As someone who will turn 50 this summer, I can vaguely remember that feeling of wonder and expectation as I waited upon the Lord. But I also remember reading something very helpful which was given to me by a friend. It basically said that the Lord wanted me to learn to rely upon Him and love Him before I would be ready to fully love a soul mate. That perspective became a large part of my thought process and my prayers during those years.
What advice do folks like myself give our own children and others when it comes to dating and finding a soul mate? Pretty simple. Two words in fact. Love Jesus. That pretty well sums it up.
If you will love Jesus, you will be amazed at how things will fall into place. That's not to say there won't be any surprises along the way. But it is to say that you will be on track with your Lord, and He knows exactly where to lead you to fulfill the desires of your heart. Not only that, but you will find the desires of your heart aligning with His will as you learn to trust Him, love Him, and follow Him.
Stop and think about it for a second. When God created you, He gave you that desire for a soul mate, right? So of course He is interested in helping you fulfill that important part of your life and future. Marriage was God's idea and it is very good.
"But I have seen some pretty messed up marriages Dan. What about that?" Well, that just proves marriage involves two sinners in need of God's grace and power. There is no doubt that marriage can get messy along the way. But whether you remain single or get married, your life on earth is going to have some messy situations. This will include some disappointment, heartache, unfulfilled longings, and missed opportunities. So you might as well go for whatever it is you believe God wants to do in your life.
Here's the deal. Jesus loves you, and He knows you need His love and forgiveness. You may or may not know that right now. But I assure you that you need Him. And you will find deeper satisfaction in your soul through a relationship with Christ than you will in any other pursuit. Once you meet Him and begin getting to know Him, you will really start to feel comfortable in the relationship. But like any meaningful relationship, it requires work, time, effort, patience and persistence. It's that way in marriage, and it's that way in matters of faith as well.
"So who am I going to marry?" Love Jesus and you will find out. "How will I know when I find the right one?" Love Jesus and you will see. "I don't like feeling lonely." Love Jesus and He will bring you peace. "But even after knowing Jesus, I am still lonely for a soul mate." He knows that and He cares about it. Wait upon Him. Pray often. And ask the Lord to meet that need in your life with either a soul mate, or a deep measure of peace to sustain you in the midst of your waiting, longing and praying. He will do it. And in the process, your relationship with Him will go deeper than you have ever experienced.
It might also help to stop and think about why God created you in the first place. Finding your soul mate is not the primary reason you were created. The main reason is even better because it involves a loving relationship with your Creator. The whole soul mate thing is just a bonus. But the first priority is that you grow close to the Lord.
So it comes back to this point: Love Jesus. By doing that, you end up way ahead and you reach goals you didn't even know could be reached back when you were trying to solve the marriage thing all by yourself. And while it's not easy to find "a good catch," it does still happen today. In fact, it happens a lot. But you would be wise to ask the Lord to guide your "search process." Enlist His services. Consider "His company" to be the one that "finds the talent" for this "position." After all, you want someone who is a wonderful fit and a tremendous life partner. And who knows better how to "fit the bill" than God?
"Is it really that easy Dan?" Who said anything about it being easy? It is simple in that it is not complicated, but that doesn't mean it is easy. But I will tell you this much. It is far better than trying to figure it out on your own. You were not made to live without God. You have a soul and only the Lord can truly satisfy your deepest needs.
The second greatest need of your soul is for a life partner in marriage. That is, unless the Lord gives you the grace and the calling to remain single. Some people are perfectly content without ever getting married. Most people, however, long for a soul mate. But either way, the greatest need of every soul is to have a relationship with their Creator. Once you believe in Jesus, you then begin to love Him. It just happens. It's similar to what takes place in courtship and marriage where you begin to love your soul mate.
And the correct order is to love Jesus first, and then to love your soul mate. Of course that is not the only way it happens for people. Some people meet Jesus after getting married. And for that matter, many people live a long married life and never meet Jesus. But that is not God's will or God's plan for anyone. God wants you to meet His Son, period. If you are single, the Lord invites you to follow Him. Likewise, if you are married, you too are invited to follow Christ. Jesus didn't die for only a select few, but for all. (see 1 Peter 3:18)
If you have been pressing and stressing to find your soul mate, there is no point in striving any longer. Trust God. Rely upon Him. It begins by trusting Jesus to forgive your sins. You will only do that if you first recognize you are a sinner in need of God's grace. After trusting Jesus to wash away your sins, you can then begin to trust Him to bless you with a soul mate. And in the meantime, you will be receiving His strength and power to live each day for the One who died for you. As you love Jesus first, your secondary need for a soul mate will fall into place at the right time.
Anyway you slice it, there are pressures in life. The single life has pressures, and marriage brings its own challenges. Interestingly, Jesus said there will be no marriage in heaven. (see Matthew 22:30) All of our needs there will be fully met by the Lord. But we are not there yet. And we experience longings in this life for a soul mate. That is not a bad thing. After all, it was God who said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18)
Some people wonder, "Is there only one soul mate out there for me?" I think a better perspective for a Christian is to say, "I am trusting the Lord to lead me to a soul mate who will join me in loving Jesus." Rather than dwelling on the "only one soul mate" idea, try concentrating on the One Savior who died for you and is fully capable of meeting all of your needs whether you are single or married.
By loving Jesus first and foremost, you are positioning yourself to receive God's plan for your life. And whatever course that takes, you can trust Him to meet the needs of your soul and the longings of your heart. So go ahead and love Jesus to find your soul mate. If He wants you to get married, He will bring the two of you together in His perfect time.
I have seen firsthand how God works creatively behind the scenes to make it happen. After waiting and praying for 7 years, the Lord brought the two of us together at an event where I was sharing some Gospel rap. I didn't see it coming. I was just serving the Lord that day with the gifts He had given me, and God brought us together in a beautiful way. Looking back now, it makes a lot of sense why the Lord had me wait and pray for 7 years. But when you are going through that "waiting period," your faith definitely gets tested.
Just remember. We are the ones who put pressure on ourselves as we race around here and there trying to make things happen. Meanwhile, the Lord never gets rushed about anything. So just trust Him and love Him. He has it completely under control. Do you believe that?
Worry produces fear, but peace flows from faith in Christ. And if you can trust Him for your eternal well-being, you can certainly trust Him as you wait and pray for your future soul mate. The clock may be ticking, but guess who has your time and your future in His hands?