“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.”
The future is something that holds a lot of uncertainty, especially when thinking about the big decisions in life such as which school to go to, what career to take, and eventually, choosing a companion who can walk with us on this journey of faith. With all these uncertainties, it is very easy to get overwhelmed by our emotions and thoughts. However, as Christians with the Bible to guide us, we do not need to live in uncertainty, unsure about where we should go or what we should do, because we have the truth to show us the way.
One of the most common questions asked by the youth in our church is, “When am I ready to start dating?”. In society today, it is very common to see people start dating in middle school or even high school. With this culture constantly surrounding us, it is often easy to forget the guidelines which the Lord has set for us in the Bible.
To answer this question, we have to go back to the origin of marriage in Genesis. God instituted marriage because He saw that it was not good for man to be alone, and so He created a helper that was comparable, or a good fit, for him (Gen 2:18). Hence, one of the primary purposes of marriage is to give us a companion to journey with us in our life of faith.
“A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen 2:24)
This verse provides us with the timing for getting married. It teaches us that when a person is ready to marry, they should leave their father and mother and be joined to their spouse. Up until this point, the role of the father and mother in a person’s life is to provide guidance, comfort, and to provide for basic needs. When this verse describes that a person should leave their father and mother, it doesn’t literally mean being separated from their parents. Instead, it means that a person should become independent, so they no longer need their parents to provide for them.
“So when should I start dating?” The answer is, “When you are independent in all aspects: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.” You are ready to begin dating when you are ready to be separated from your parents and no longer need them to provide for you, but instead are ready to provide for them and to repay them, which is seen as good and acceptable before the Lord (1 Tim 5:4).
Most importantly, you are ready to start dating when you have made your faith your own, i.e., your faith is no longer dictated by your parents or by others. This takes us to another purpose of marriage, which is to raise godly children. In order to fulfill this purpose, you yourself must be established in your faith, to be ready and able to pass the faith onto the next generation.
“He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.” (Mal 2:15)
“Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul,… you shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deut 11:18-19)
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov 22:6)
We do not need to worry about making any steps towards initiating a relationship or about what we can do to make someone interested in us right now. The only thing we need to worry about is preparing ourselves first. So instead of thinking too much about who or what you are interested in, it is better to spend time to reflect and examine ourselves first. Let’s think about what we can do to prepare ourselves over the next few years mentally and spiritually, so that we can have a better idea of God’s will (cf. Eph 5) and clearly understand the biblical concept of marriage. Currently many of us have other, more pressing responsibilities, such as our studies in university or taking on more roles in church. Spending more time on these can also help us draw closer to being ready. If we find ourselves spending a lot of time thinking or worrying about relationships, Paul encourages us in Philippians 4:6 to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” God is faithful, and He has known us before the creation of the world (Jer 1:5; Eph 1:4). He knows what is best for us, even if we don’t understand His will now.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:8-9)
“For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer 29:11)
God has prepared a future for us. As our Creator, He knows what is the best fit for us, and He is willing to give us the best if we allow Him to lead us. He encourages us that what He does will always be for us and never against us, so we can fully trust in His ways. We can take the incident of Abraham’s servant finding a wife for Isaac as an example. Although he may have had his own ideas about who could be the best fit, he willingly left the final decision to God by faith, because he knew that God would choose the best for his master’s son.
Similarly for us, if we are not sure what we want or need or already have someone in mind, we can take it to God in prayer. As we have mentioned earlier, it is good to wait patiently for the right time. We may want to express our feelings right now, but we need to think about whether that is following our own will, which is dictated by our flesh, or whether it is following God’s will. Spending time in prayer to ask God to preserve and prepare us for the future is the best that we can do. And if we do not know what to say, the Spirit will make intercession for us and pray for us according to the will of God (Rom 8:26). If we recognize that God’s way is the best way, we will be able to keep serving and loving God with undivided attention. If we continue to focus on our duties as His children and to bring glory to His name in our current roles as students and young church workers, He will prepare the rest for us when the time comes.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28)
It is important to cultivate our faith and our understanding of the Bible so that we will be able to navigate through life’s challenges. If we are struggling to deal with our emotions and thoughts or are feeling overwhelmed, spend time with God and search His word for His will, and He can teach us what we need to know to manage them.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps 119:105)
If we seek to be constantly filled with the Holy Spirit, we will find that it will become easier to understand God’s will for us, and easier to know what we should do to follow the path that is set before us. Strive to be led by the Spirit rather than by our flesh and emotions, for only the Spirit knows the will of God. Through prayer we can ask God to reveal His will for us; if we acknowledge that His ways are higher than our ways, and show our desire and willingness to follow that way, He will surely guide our future.