"But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. "---2 Timothy 2:20-22(NKJV)
Earlier this week...
While prepping for this message, I happened upon (Proverbs 16:33-AMP) a Scripture that I didn't recall seeing before:
"Prepare your outside work, make it fit for yourself in the field; and afterward build your house."---Proverbs 24:27(NKJV)
As I thought about the divine wisdom that King Solomon was inspired (2 Timothy 3:16-17) to share regarding that verse, it reminded me of what I have suspected ever since I found myself wanting to follow the courtship and marriage blueprint of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2); that *even now* a man needs to have just what Adam did *before* his Woman arrived:
A relationship with God
A clarity about his purpose
A career path
Oftentimes, when I speak on college campuses, I will tell the women who are trying to make those *students* husbands that college is one of the most important times in life for young men to figure out who the heck they are and what the heck they want out of life; that to pressure them into even contemplating marriage is a bit unrealistic and actually pretty unfair as well (the stats on the marital success rate of people under 25 is not good).
Yet, more and more, I'm seeing that *any women of any age* who pressure a man into marriage (and trust me, I've been guilty of it myself!-James 5:16) when he doesn't have those three things in place is just as out of order.
I remember when I was walking a particular journey with a guy and he once wrote me and said, "I promise to pray and strive to get into position for this life and for us." I promise you what I heard from that was "I'm going to marry you in a year." (LOL) Oh, what would our lives be like if we *actually listened* to what men said rather than what we wanted to hear? First of all, have you ever looked up the word "strive" before? It means "to exert oneself vigorously; try hard". OK, so he told me that *first* he was going to try hard to pray and *then* he was going to try hard to get into position *for this life*...and then he would get around to us. And in that order. What I should've done when he made that declaration was silently pray, believing in the power that comes with "touching and agreeing" (Matthew 18:18-20). Instead, I started referring to us as husband and wife to him and all who would listen. On this side of wisdom (Proverbs 4:7), I realize that it probably actually distracted him from doing what he said that he was going to do because when a man says that he needs to *pray on something* (and please make sure you settle for *no less* than a man who thinks in that way), it means that he needs to hear from God more than from you. It's hard to hear when there's a lot of background noise (especially when it's whining and nagging). My point in bringing that up is because "he" was telling me that he was going to prepare. And a lot of the preparation had *absolutely nothing to do with me*.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam had a relationship of God way before the Creator declared that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). In the Garden of Eden, Adam had clarity about his purpose in life and a job before the Woman arrived as well. And here's the thing that a lot of men and women continue to jack up:
MAN DOES NOT DECIDE WHEN IT'S TIME FOR A HELPMATE.
WOMAN DOES NOT DECIDE WHEN IT'S TIME TO BE A HELPMATE.
GOD DECIDES WHEN IT'S TIME AND TIMING IS THE FATHER'S BUSINESS (ACTS 1:7-MESSAGE).
This means that neither party needs to be pushing the other into marriage (or into doing what married people do-Hebrews 13:4). All that singles need to be doing is, because of sin, focusing on wholeness *and then* preparing themselves (and honestly, a lot of us don't even get the order of *that part* right!). Yet here's the point even about preparation: Adam didn't know if or when he would have a companion. God didn't speak about that as he was establishing a relationship with his son and delegating responsibilities. Now, one would "argue" that since Genesis 1:26-28 spoke of being fruitful *and then* multiply that if Adam heard that information (because it's not exactly clear that he was present for that part; being that he was created in the second chapter, I'm thinking probably not), he might have had a clue that God had something up his sleeve (if God wears sleeves-LOL), but the timing of such a manifestation and what that would actually look like was still a blur.
And honestly, I kind of dig that about God and his order of things (I Corinthians 14:40). A woman wasn't even on the radar as Adam was communing with God and getting settled into his career path. In other words, he wasn't a God-follower *to get anything*. He was a God-follower simply because he loved God. That is the kind of love that comes from a pure place. And as it relates to his career, he wasn't working to "support a family" (or these days to pay child support, to purchase an engagement ring that he can't afford or to answer to his girlfriend's ultimatum). He was working because it gave him purpose and pride in his manhood. It helped to solidify and establish him as an individual on this earth.
That is why I think the lead Scripture for this message and that verse in Proverbs is so profound to this "preparation point". First, *the Word*, which is Adonai (John 1:1), says that a man who *cleanses himself* is someone who is considered to be a vessel of honor, a sanctified man, a man who is useful for the Master...prepared for every good work. Marriage (and sex) is of God. Yes, it is a good work (James 1:17).
A MAN WHO PREPARES HIMSELF IS A MAN WHO CLEANSES HIMSELF, WHO ESTABLISHES HIMSELF AS A VESSEL OF HONOR, A MAN WHO IS SANCTIFIED AND USEFUL---*FOR THE MASTER* BEFORE ANYONE OR ANYTHING ELSE.
And according the verse in Proverbs, a man also prepares his outside work and makes it fit *for himself* and then he builds his house. He doesn't make it fit for his girlfriend's approval. He makes it fit *for himself* so that *he* can be satisfied with what he has done. *Then* he starts to build his house and even then, honestly, he is to do just what the Lord says: "count the cost" to make sure that he has enough (literally and spiritually) to finish it (Luke 14:25-33) and *allow the Lord* to build the house (because he does it in vain otherwise-Psalm 127:1). And *again*, those steps also have nothing to do with us as women. We come in to *help* what is already established not *build* what needs to be there to begin with.
"Miscarried marriages". As a doula, I experience all kinds of pregnancy journeys. Sometimes, when a woman miscarries, it's because she is under so much pressure and stress that her body can't contain both the stress and the baby growing within. I also do (pre)marital counseling. As I was praying about this message, the Spirit (John 4:24) was like "Do you know how many courtships are put under unnecessary pressure and so therefore a lot of what's supposed to be in place before the wedding ceremony is *miscarried*? It doesn't get to finish maturing because the two parties involved don't allow it to." Miscarried. MIS-CARRIED. One definition of miscarry is "to have a miscarriage of a fetus". Oh, but another is "to fail to attain the right or desired end; be unsuccessful".
A MARRIAGE THAT LACKS A MAN'S PREPARATION TO BECOME A MAN OF GOD IS VERY LIKELY TO MISCARRY.
I just love the quote at the top of this message. It reminds us again of the power and purpose of "counting the cost"; that a man of God is not just thinking about marriage from the perspective of only the wedding day (as so many *brides* tend to do), but his last day on earth with his beloved as well. It also reminds us that if a man prepares to be a husband by first preparing to be a man of God, we as women can be at peace because a man who knows who he is in God is a man who is automatically going to be in a mindset of preparing for all that his Father has for him. Being a man of God *naturally* brings forth becoming someone who constantly desires to be "to put in proper condition or readiness"...for whatever God desires to bless him with. And the right kind of helpmate is a *blessing*.
Romans 14:13(NKJV) says, "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way." There are countless amounts of women who are men's stumbling blocks simply because they are trying to put *their wants* ahead of *God's will and timing*. For a man to prepare to be a husband, he has to prepare to be a man of God first. And again, that has *absolutely nothing* to do with us. A relationship with God is private, intimate and individualized (Psalm 33:15, I Corinthians 12:11).
Besides, there's another verse in Proverbs that I also haven't recalled seeing before that came *right before* the one that I already referenced. It says "He who gives a right answer kisses the lips." (Proverbs 24:26-NKJV) A man who has *prepared* for his wife is a man who is answerable to God to where he can get all of the benefits that come with having her. Giving God the right answers brings forth the reward of our presence. In other words, *we* don't have the "husband preparation study sheet"...*God does*. Let the student study. Let him take the tests. Support him in prayer until he passes.
After all, don't we have *enough* to prepare for on our own without bothering someone else, anyway? I'll answer for me and say, "Definitely." The truth is, a godly husband prepares but a godly woman knows that she has a lot of preparing to do as well; enough to not have enough time to tell a man all of what he needs to being doing.
That was good, Holy Spirit. Thank you.