Advice for confused single Christian men, part 4
This is the fourth part in a series offering some advice to Christian men who are looking to get married. Part one, which sets the scene, is here. Part two, which considers expectation levels, is here. Part three talks about your eyes here.
4. Seek God for guidance, make a decision
This is where I’m going to focus on God’s sovereignty and our responsibility. You think understanding that girl you’ve just met is tricky, try to get your head around this! The best way I can think of explaining how this can work is with an example from my own story...
Soon after Deb and I started going out, when we were living hundreds of miles apart, we had the opportunity to make a decision about Deb relocating to be closer to me. She did have a job lined up in Scotland, but she could have changed her plans, moved down, and looked for work. We chatted excitedly about the possibility of this but after we’d reflected and prayed for a little longer we both concluded that the right thing to do was for her to take the job as she’d planned to, and for us to continue to maintain a long-distance relationship. Although we knew that would be hard, we both had peace about the decision. The next day I visited a church in London and during the service someone read from Isaiah 43, which is all about God’s amazing protection, even in tough times. I didn’t really take much notice of this, until someone else shared a story about to secret believers in a Muslim-majority nation who were arranged to be married, without either of them or anyone else knowing that they were Christians! The preacher then began his message by mentioning how he and his wife had spent most of the first year of their relationship living on different continents. At this third attempt, I realised that God was speaking to me: whatever difficulties came, He would get us through. I suddenly had faith, and from them on would not countenance quitting on our relationship. God had guided, that led to my decision-making.
Other people have even more remarkable stories of God speaking, and some have nothing so dramatic. I believe that God wants to be closely involved with you and your love life, so asking Him to intervene is the key first step that you can take to make this happen. I prayed for Deb long before I met her, and have kept on praying for her ever since. This isn’t to suggest that I’m some sort of prayer warrior – many of those prayers were brief and confused – but as a single man I was determined to trust God, to believe that He would guide me and bless me if I asked Him. I really wanted Him involved in this, I knew how helpless and hopeless I would be without Him. Are you asking Him for all this?
Prayer is not the enemy or opposite of action, it is its best friend. As you seek God for guidance, you should expect to be involved in the answering of your prayers. The five sources of guidance that Nicky Gumbel suggests on The Alpha Course seem comprehensive to me, even if the mnemonic gets a bit forced by 4 and 5:
1. Commanding ScriptureOf these five, you can make 1, 3 and 4 happen by reading your Bible, thinking, and asking wise Christians for advice. And you can pray that God makes 2 and 5 happen, then refer them back to 1, 3 and 4, to check it’s not just your wishful thinking. The infinite variety God’s ways with His people are found within this. Then you’ve got to make some decisions and take appropriate action.
2. Compelling Spirit
3. Common sense
4. Counsel of the saints
5. Circumstantial signs
At last we’ve reached the moment when you ask someone out. When you do, you will be vulnerable, exposed, possibly wrong, and at the mercy of another – the kind of things that most men hate! And yet this is the life of faith, and this taking of initiative, of responsibility, is a man’s work. God loves it when we go with the best that we can know and take action, whether it’s asking a girl out, praying for someone to be healed, or standing up for integrity in our workplace. And do you know what? A godly woman loves that too. Even if it doesn’t work out, if you’ve stepped up humbly and with faith, you will have done the right thing, let no one mock you for that.