I’ve been chatting with some newly-marrieds and some wish-we-were-married-but-we’re-nots, so I’ve been praying for both camps a lot lately and I’m chock full of hope. If you are in the wants-to-be-married camp, this post is for you. If you do NOT want to be married, this blog post is for you, too. You might not want a relationship right now or ever, but your brother or sister really, really wants it…so that means you must step up in prayer for them! Fulfill one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. (it’s love. that’s the law of Christ.) Married folks, you’re also on the prayer team.
Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 19:14 says, “House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.”
Catch that? God is on the prayer team, too! Marriage is God’s idea. And let me say right off that I’m not especially fond of the phrase, “marriage is hard.” I don’t know why marriage counseling materials start out with this false advertising, because it’s not what God shows in the Bible. Marriage was God’s idea. He created the covenant for love, companionship, procreation, partnership, protection, enjoyment, endurance, and delight. A marriage union blessed by God has incredible potential to glorify Him, and that’s always the endgame. Married or single, your highest calling in life is this: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. You know what’s hard? SIN. Selfishness is hard. Stubbornness, immaturity, pride, meanness of spirit, legalism—bad fruit can make any relationship miserable. I hope that’s what the back-of-the-book-blurb means when it says “marriage is hard” but I really wish it led off like this: “Marriage is a beautiful, wonderful, bountiful, fun experience that’s so good God uses it for the metaphor of how much Christ loves the Church. Sometimes it’s doesn’t feel so “good” because we act like a bunch of sinners, but the Holy Spirit is here to help!” Go into God’s vision for marriage with the fruit of the Spirit on your heart, and you’ve got something to work toward, not something to fear.
Anyway, MARRIAGE IS GOOD. Stop scaring people, sheesh.
Proverbs 18:22 adjures the men to find a wife. “A wife of noble character, who can find? Her worth is above rubies,” says Proverbs 31. Well, looks like he found her! I am not addressing men in this blog post. I MEAN I COULD DO THAT DANG SKIPPY but this post is for women because Titus 2 and all. Do you have to sit in your father’s house until a suitor comes a-knocking? No, you do not! That is some weird, patriarchal nonsense right there. The Proverbs 31 woman is a serial entrepreneur, but you don’t have to measure up to that, either. Faithfulness and productivity will look different on every woman. So, sure, you might decide to join an online dating site or ask a guy out for coffee. Don’t get hung up on rules—focus on the state of your heart. In Psalm 119 (that’s the long one), the Psalmist is simply overcome by his delight in the law of the Lord. Yes, this is the same law that goes on and on about whether or not mold is in the warp or the weft of the basket…but it also declares that the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Do you delight in the Word? Are you walking uprightly? Do you put yourself under God’s teaching, or do you stand on top judging the bits you don’t like? Are you working on your temper or just saying, “Oh, the man who ends up with me is really in for it!”? Know your destiny: ezer kenegdo. A help that is meet; a helper suitable for him. Warrior. Rescuer. Treasure worth more than rubies. Everything you invest in your relationship with God will bring favor to this man, so ask the Holy Spirit to teach and convict and bless and inspire you to an overflowing cup.
Anyway, so the real situation is that men are out there finding wives left and right and y’all are just out there flapping in the breeze…so what gives?! Well, I don’t know where your man is, but I know where your God is. Let’s look at 2 questions from this Proverbs verse:
1. Do you want to be found? Ask yourself again. Do you want to be married, and if so, do you want to be married now? The answer might surprise you. Could be you go and chat with the Lord about it and surprise surprise, He’s calling you to start a business or move across the country to live with your grandmother or you get deployed or start summer classes for the first time since you flunked out of college and you realize this isn’t the time for a relationship, after all. That’s amazing! We can thank God and pray for that, too. There is no shame in realizing you’re actually NOT ready to be married, for whatever reason. Splendid choice. Come join the prayer team for the other folks! If you search your heart and the answer is yes, then I challenge you to say it OUT LOUD. Sometimes saying what we want, no matter how obvious it is, unleashes a torrent of truth between us and our Creator, and He acts. (Mark 10:51) And then be brave to tell a few other people. It’s scary to put it out there because you might be disappointed, I get that, but do it anyway. You don’t have to announce it everywhere, but tell the intercessors, at least! We’re family.
2. Can he see you? In many cultures, family is where the wife-seeking process starts. But even if this isn’t your tradition, do not discount your family when it comes to dating. My brother never liked any of the guys I brought home. I ignored him because he wasn’t a Christian then and he was my little brother, so what did he know? Well, he was right every single time and I should have paid attention. If your family of origin is non-existent or toxic, inform your community group or Bible study or Sunday brunch group they just got promoted. If your ‘family’ knows you’re looking to be married, they can keep an eye out for godly men and drop your name, organize group fun, set you up, whatever you’re comfortable with. Which they will know, because you told them what you’re comfortable with and they said, “How about this dude?” and you’re like, “yeah okay why not” and then there is a frisbee game, or whatever. It’s awkward. We’re sorry. We promise to try.
It’s okay to think about what you’re looking for in a husband, but what are you bringing to the table? This brings us to another way to be seen: ask yourself if you exhibit the fruit of the spirit. Perfection isn’t what men seek, but they admire a woman humbly working on self-control, or triumphing over impatience. This good fruit comes straight from abiding in the Vine. Be in the Word so much that it transforms you from the inside out. Your light will so shine before men that they will see your good works and praise your Father in heaven. You will be seen. And, obviously, you will be seen when you serve. What are your gifts? What do you like to do? Do it and have a blast doing it! Volunteer somewhere. Be productive. Bless others. Jesus was always doing what the Father was doing. Go thou and do likewise!
Let’s look at the last bit of the verse: “…and obtains favor from the Lord.”
So, this man that you’re vowing to spend the rest of your life with is going to be about his Father’s business. He needs YOU to be about the Father’s business, too, which means you need to cultivate the maturity needed to grow up together. A lot of women look around the church and see these mature, godly men and think, “I want a man like that.” But those men didn’t start out that way, they got that way as they walked out God’s will with their wives. Pray for the single men who are serving, worshiping, showing up, using their gifts. A meekness of spirit powerful enough to move mountains might not come with splashy outer packaging and a six-figure salary. But just as a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised, a man who fears the Lord and finds great delight in His commands has children who are mighty in the land, blessed generations, a house with wealth and riches, and a righteousness that endures forever. (Psalm 112 is the men’s version of Proverbs 31, by the way.) Your life and character might not start out bountiful and lush, but it’s your garden. The Holy Spirit will cultivate those fruits in you as you abide in Him together.
You are going to be one of the ways the Lord gives favor to your husband. Yes, you will, and he will brag about it and you will want to be even more of a blessing and then he’ll be a blessing to YOU and it just snowballs, like the debt snowball except with love. Proverbs is full of examples of how a wife can be the opposite of favor, but we won’t peek at that. Nope! We’re going to be holy, as Christ is holy. How, by pulling up our bootstraps and trying really hard? No, by resting in Jesus. By rejoicing in the truth. By worshiping him and exulting in his worthiness, in his holiness, in the sheer, unimaginable force of his creative power at work. Yes, we can do all things…but through CHRIST who strengthens us. Anything we do to someday bring favor to our husbands must come out of an overflow of love, not because we Should or Ought To. That way is exhausting and leads some to abandon the faith. It is for freedom that Christ set you free; stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians is, as they say, A MOOD.) We talk a lot about how God gives good gifts to his children, we ask Him to give the Holy Spirit and eagerly pursue the spiritual gifts…well, Proverbs 19:14 says that a prudent wife isn’t a possession to be traded or inherited, she is a gift from Yahweh. Are you ready to be a gift? The wife God gives as a gift is one who blesses her husband, encourages his spirit, intercedes for him before the Father, submits to him, shows up when there’s a battle to be fought, saves the day, comes alongside in adventures, comforts him, loves him, delights him.
Or, at least she is willing to try. God sees the heart. The increase will come from Him.
So, enjoy the Lord, glorify Him, and trust Him to work out the details of this marriage you are praying to have. We, the ones who will sit in the congregation during your wedding ceremony and vow to help you when you need it, will start helping NOW by praying for you, listening to you, discipling you, and loving you so that when that day comes, we can share in your rejoicing. Your prayer team awaits!!