"But Jesus said, 'Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.'"---Matthew 19:11-12(Message)
Something that I get asked by many of you is...
*If you're actually called to be married*. After penning a devotional last night on how to know what your life calling is (if you're not on the list and you want to read it, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll shoot you a copy of it), I have received both the clarity as well as the release to answer that question. Or to at least provide a part of the answer that God has given me.
Although it's coming from a slightly different angle than you might expect...
Being that Genesis 2:18 tells us that it is not good for man to be alone and that God will make a helper that is right for man, one of the things that we know, with absolute certainty, is that marriage is a good thing, it's something that is within God's will and because of that fact, it is God's doing. However, I do "fear" that a lot of women are so consumed with the thought of being married that they forget that since it is of God, it is God who makes the determination of who should be married and who should not.
So no, contrary to popular assumption, it's not the automatic assumption that since it is the desire of your heart that you should have it. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart is deceitful and just this week, I read a quote on our desires that was pretty poignant (and relevant to this message):
“You cannot always depend on prayers to be answered the way you want them answered but you can always depend on God. God, the loving Father, often denies us those things which in the end would prove harmful to us. Every boy wants a revolver at age four, and no father yet has ever granted that request. Why should we think God is less wise? Someday we will thank God not only for what He gave us, but also for that which He refused.”---Fulton J. Sheen
All of us can stand to take out some time to think about *why* we want to be married. If you jot down a list and you see a whole bunch of "I's" on it, that is one way to know that it's not something that you need in this season. A wife is an act of great service. *Until death*. God knows who is spiritually mature enough (Hebrews 5:12-14) to take that on vs. who is simply romanticizing the concept. Aside from that, Psalm 37:4 does not just say that we will get the desires of our hearts anyway. It tells us that *if we delight in the Lord*, that will happen. And why is that? Because the more we make God the top priority in our lives (Proverbs 3:4-6), the more we end up getting into agreement with him (Amos 3:3) that his will, whatever that may be for us, that is what's best. Delighting in the Lord changes our hearts from our wants to his way. Come what may.
And besides, there is a big difference between *desire* and *lust* and many of us fail to keep those two things separate. It might be uncomfortable to hear, but God is not going to give you anything because you have an "overmastering desire" (one definition of lust) for it. If it's *overmastering you*, that is a surefire way for it to transition into being a god in your life and Exodus 20:3 tells us that we are to put no gods (NO GODS) before God. *This would include a husband*.
Are there women who lust marriage and get married? Yes. But I don't believe that it has God's blessing on it. Those kinds of marriages put me in this mindset: "And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul." (Psalm 106:15-NKJV) When God is granting you permission to do something, it is going to make you spiritually better and stronger. It's not going to "bring leanness to your soul".
And then there's Matthew 19. I do like the Message Version although I am going to share another one in just a moment. Let's start with the Message first. It's actually the first two sentences that bring forth a lot of clarity. There is a spiritual maturity that is required to be married because marriage is a spiritual union. If you're someone who knows that you need to develop your relationship with God more, if you know there are areas where you are still seriously struggling, then the concern doesn't need to be if you're going to get married. The focus needs to be on how to become a healthier individual. God does things in a decent order (I Corinthians 14:40). Marriage is not going to "fix" you (especially if you have yet to overcome sexual sins). Marriage actually brings along with it some of its own warfare and so you need to be strong as a single person (meaning you need to be whole-James 1:4) before marriage. Expecting it to "make you whole" is too much pressure for any relationship. Especially since the person you are joining your life too is just as human as you are. Marriage is to help each other. Not burden each other.
Plus, it's a pretty unrealistic perspective to think that marriage will "solve your personal problems". Remember that the first word to define a woman and a wife is "helper". To help is "to give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; contribute strength or means to; render assistance to; cooperate effectively with; aid; assist". From the day you transition over from bride (which holds a one day title, by the way!) to wife, you are expected, by God, to give and provide and satisfy needs and contribute strength and to render assistance and to (check it) cooperate effectively and to give aid. *Nothing about that says that you are to be sitting around getting your voids filled*. In fact, that's a big part of the reason why being single is such an awesome blessing. I'll take it a step further and say that I'm pretty sure that's why God had us come onto the earth as singles before being married (because we all know that he could have totally done it another way). This is the time (THIS IS THE TIME) to get to really know our God, ourselves and our calling so that we can mature into whole beings. Sitting around waiting for a husband before we start doing these things isn't fair to ourselves, a man or the Creator of marriage.
So yes, being that marriage requires a certain aptitude and grace, praise God for loving us enough to show us, through his Word, two things that marriage requires *before getting married*. When's the last time you've studied the words "aptitude" or "grace"? For yourself?
And then there's the New Century Version of Matthew 19:
"Jesus answered, 'Moses allowed you to divorce your wives because you refused to accept God’s teaching, but divorce was not allowed in the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman is guilty of adultery. The only reason for a man to divorce his wife is if his wife has sexual relations with another man.'
The followers said to him, 'If that is the only reason a man can divorce his wife, it is better not to marry.'
Jesus answered, 'Not everyone can accept this teaching, but God has made some able to accept it. There are different reasons why some men cannot marry. Some men were born without the ability to become fathers. Others were made that way later in life by other people. And some men have given up marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. But the person who can marry should accept this teaching about marriage.'"---Matthew 19:8-12(NCV)
OK, in the New King James Version, where it says "refused to accept God's teaching" (I'd venture to say a part of that also has to do with not accepting that in order to be forgiven *you must forgive others*-Matthew 6:14-15), it says "hard heart". Another popular misconception (Luke 6:26-Message) is that adultery was the reason for a divorce being permitted. That's not true. *A hard heart was* and Proverbs 28:14(NKJV) tells us this: "Happy is the man who is always reverent, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity." Calamity is not a warm-and-fuzzy word (look it up sometime).
My point? People who cannot accept that in marriage, divorce should not to be an option...that marriage is to make two people one unto death and that even when adultery happens, it doesn't change the teachings of I Corinthians 7:10-11 ("Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife."), they would be better off not getting married. IF DIVORCE IS AN OPTION TO YOU, IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO FORGIVE YOUR MATE EVEN IF ADULTERY IS COMMITTED AS TO AVOID HAVING A HARD HEART AND PUTTING YOUR OWN FORGIVENESS IN JEOPARDY, YOU ARE BETTER OFF BEING SINGLE. Don't even put yourself in that kind of spiritually compromising place with God.
There's also the line that says in the Message "some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons" and in the New Century "some men have given up marriage because of the kingdom of heaven". This all basically goes in line with I Corinthians 7:34(NKJV): "There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband." When all of the controversy was going on several years back about if Christ was married or not, personally, I found it to be odd just how offended a lot of Christians were with that concept. It's almost as if they forgot just how sacred marriage is designed to be and thought it was a "downgrade" that he could have a wife. The reason why I don't believe that he was married is actually due to the opposite perspective. I discern that Christ had *so much respect for marriage* that he knew it would be unfair to a woman to marry her. He was always on the road. He knew he was going to live a relatively short life. Children did not appear to be in the picture. And so, why put a woman through all of that?
Uh-huh and you know what? The reason why a lot of women need to be using this time as a single woman is to really understand her purpose and calling...for pretty much the same reason. If what God has commissioned you to do is going to require so much that you are not going to be able to serve your husband, then being single, at least for a season, is what's best. And trust me, the women who come to this conclusion, their life is full. So full that it's hard for them to fit a husband into it. So yes, pondering (Proverbs 4:26) your calling plays a significant role in the answer of if you are called to be a wife.
And then there's the definition of calling itself...
One definition of calling is "summon" and another is "to call upon to do something specified". I hope a lot of you really and truly get this. Remember that in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 2:21-22(NKJV) says this: "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man." The Woman did not call upon herself to be Adam's wife. God called for her to be. And she wasn't just "any man's wife". She was made to be Adam's.
It's a light bulb moment if you're really paying attention...
As a woman, there is something within all of us that can make us wife material.
But when you're *called to be a wife*, aside from all of the other things that were mentioned (and I hope you take into serious consideration in your own prayer time), far too many women are one, "calling themselves to be a wife" rather than waiting on God's invitation and two, they are focused on "being a wife in general" rather than spending time in prayer about the *specific kind of wife* they are meant to be.
OK...let me phrase it another way...
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW IF YOU ARE CALLED TO BE A WIFE, IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT GETTING MARRIED BUT BEING MARRIED TO A SPECIFIC PERSON. IT'S ABOUT ASKING GOD TO ALERT YOU TO WHEN HE WANTS TO INVITE YOU TO BE IN A SPECIFIC MAN'S LIFE.
AND UNTIL GOD OFFERS UP THAT INVITATION, YOUR MAIN FOCUS NEEDS TO BE ON BEING A WHOLE WOMAN, EMBRACING YOUR PURPOSE AND LOVING YOUR LIFE.
So when women say that they wonder if they are called to be a wife, after breaking all of this down, I would say that the bigger questions are "Would my calling be better served in a single state?" and "Does God have someone specific for me to complement?" Both of these are questions that God is more than happy to answer in his own time and way. Your job is to be patient and to accept the answer when he gives it.
By the way, don't be surprised if he comes back with a question:
"My daughter, what I want to know is if you're willing to be content in your singleness until I extend an invitation to you? Not just to be 'a wife' but *his wife*. Yes, that guy over there...not so much the one you are pining over or is chasing you down...but the one that I am bringing you to. That I am presenting before you as my daughter---as a gift to his life."
(We know when we're pining vs. when we're being presented...don't we?)
To call is to summon...
To summon is to invite...
To invite is "to call forth or give occasion for".
Will God call you forth or give an occasion for you to be someone's divine helper?
I'll put it to you this way:
God is all for providing good help (GOOD HELP) to those who need it...
When they need it. Not before or after.
When God knows that you are the *specific support* that a *specific man* needs for his mind, body and spirit, that is when you will know, literally, that you are called, that he is calling you, to be a wife. Not just a wife---"his" wife.
Until then...enjoy all of the other things God is calling you to.
Pursuit of joy.
He's been extending an invitation to those things?
*Have you accepted?*