We are doing a three-part series on thriving in your single-hood. Our inspiration comes from Ken Grave’s book, Master, Mission, Mate: A guide for Christian singles. We are studying the first single man i.e. Adam. He gives us a picture of the transition from single-hood to marriage with God at the centre of it. Adam had God as his Master, then God gave him a mission, which led to his mate. If you haven’t read Part One (MASTER), please read it first here. If you haven’t read the sequel (MISSION), find here. Please read part one and two before embarking on this final part- MATE. This piece will be slightly longer than the previous two.
Mate: whose will are you rejoicing in?
Genesis 2:20-25 (NIV)
So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
In verse 20, we see that Adam has named the animals. The scriptures then say “But for Adam no suitable helper was found.” The contrast word, BUT, seems to imply that Adam noticed everyone in Eden was hitched except him. At this point, I believe Adam began to have the desire for a mate. This is the desire that God had in verse 18 when he said it is not good for man to be alone. It is important to note that God had this desire even before Adam did. So now Adam is aware of his need for a woman. But when he looks around there is nobody. Let me encourage you, Beloved. If you desire to be married but look around and see nobody, take heart and just wait on God. If he could get Adam a spouse out of a world with no humans, he can definitely get you a spouse in a world with 7 billion. Do you desire a mate? We bet Adam did after naming those animals. But whose plan will you rejoice in? Yours or God’s? Some Bible language experts say that when Adam saw Eve and cried out “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” it was in song. The language is poetic! And that’s exactly what having a mate from God is- beautiful poetry! If you want a taste of heaven and a glimpse of God’s love, look at a working marriage! And a working marriage is a result of rejoicing in God’s will. Arranged marriages have the lowest divorce rate in the world. And since we believe that God is a match-maker, we implore you to let him arrange yours!
Do you trust the Master enough to lead you to the right person or are you afraid that God’s will is bogus and out-dated? I recently read an op-ed piece on Nairobi’s UP magazine. The writer claims to be a practicing Christian but blatantly calls the Judeo-Christian sexual stances as archaic. I was not surprised by this. Many people who claim to be in the faith are self-deceived. Paul implored us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to examine ourselves and establish that we really belong to Christ. Unfortunately we are in a generation that believes since they go to church, sing the songs from the projector, take their children to Sunday school and know the Bible stories, they must automatically be Christians. Religiously they may be; but spiritually, they are still dead. The mark of the faith is the fruit of the spirit, not self-proclamation. A person who goes to church is no more a Christian than a cow that sits in a garage claiming to be a vehicle. So when self-proclaiming believers vehemently fight God’s biblical stance, we can smell from a mile away that they do not rejoice in Christ but in themselves. God’s will is the best thing that could ever happen to you because he knows the desires of our hearts and he fulfils them. I, on the other hand, think I know the best desires of my heart. But the scriptures warn us about the heart in Jeremiah 17:9-10:
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (NLT)
Let God be involved in your mate selection. Allow godly men and women who walk with God to be involved. If God gave me what I deserved, I would be dead. But since I allowed him to have his way, he gave me what I do not deserve. And one of the things I do not deserve is a lovely and humble wife like Turi. I want the same for you and even better. Adam slept and his rib was taken out and Eve was fashioned for him. But what if Adam had been rebellious? Imagine for a moment that Adam, after naming the animals, realised he had no mate. He decides not to rejoice in God’s plan and decides to venture out on a mate-finding mission. So he grabs a vine and begins to swing through Eden like Tarzan looking for his Jane. God realises that Adam is panicky about being single!
“Adam, just go to sleep.”
“No way, God. I need to find a mate for me. Everyone in this hood is in a relationship.”
“Adam, just trust me and it will be okay.”
Many of us would be like that Adam. Saying ‘No way!’ while all we need to do is trust Yahweh! And after much resistance, we can imagine Adam finally returns home after a hard day of hunting and presents to God his mate.
“Here you go, LORD, I finally found her!”
God is lost for words!
“Adam, that’s…um..a chimpanzee!”
“Yeah, a bit hairy but she’ll do.”
“But if you only trusted me…”
“Yeah, yeah I know! But your plan was taking too long so I decided to help you!”
“But you too are not the same.”
“Well, not entirely true, God. I mean, I think we have about 99% DNA match!”
Whenever I read the scriptures and see someone try to help God, the result is always chaos. Sarah tried to help God by having Hagar sleep with Abraham. The result was Ishmael and a lot of political chaos. King Saul tried to help God by sacrificing on behalf of Samuel. The result was a lost kingdom and the death of his loved ones. Many people are not rejoicing in God and are trying to help God instead of trusting him. As a result they are bringing home chimps for life partners. Well, not physically, but perhaps spiritually! Stop opening accounts on every dating site you find. Ladies, stop taking selfies on Facebook and Instagram to show that you’re available. Men, stop worrying that your rib has been used to make soup! Stop moving churches because the men and women there are hot. Instead, submit to God your master, enrol in his mission and trust him for a mate. Or as we like to put it: run so fast towards God and if anyone catches up, introduce yourself.
But why don’t we trust God’s will for our mate? I will give you three reasons.
- We think marriage’s main goal is happiness
Waturi and I meet many young people who want to get married. We like that. We encourage them. But often when we ask, “Why do you want to get married?” they respond “because I want to be happy.” And we ask “What if your marriage makes you unhappy on most days?” The bewilderment is clear on their faces. Why would we say that to them? We ask: “What if marriage is primarily not to make you happy but to make you holy? What if marriage is a refinement process for your character? What if happiness in marriage is a by-product of a refined husband and a refined wife? What if the way to stay happy in marriage is to submit to the refining process? What if marriage is not the goal in life as far as relationships are concerned? What if marriage is but a mirror of an ultimate heavenly marriage? What if this latter marriage is the ultimate life goal? What if our focus on the altar is meant to refine our focus on Calvary? Beloved, Christ is not just a means to a better relationship with your spouse. Your spouse is also a mean to a better relationship with Christ. One of the purposes of marriage for the believer is to refine them and make them more like Christ. Your marriage is not primarily to make you happy, but to make you holy and Christlike. And if you pursue the holiness, the happiness will automatically come. But if you pursue happiness and neglect holiness, you may just miss out on both. God achieves a refinement of character through your marriage partner. If you are teachable, a godly marriage can make you humble. If you are not, even if you married the best spouse on earth, your heart will be as hard as a rock with pride. All your flaws and worst sides are brought out in a marriage. When that happens, the believer realises that they need to work on their relationship with Christ in order to be a better spouse. When that happens, they become a more mature Christian (a good relationship with Christ) and they become a better husband/wife (a good relationship with the spouse).
- We think we can change people
If there is a more hopeless pursuit among the young people of our generation is trying to change people. And this false thinking causes many not to trust God. People hope to date chimps that will turn to Adams and Eves. We hear people say, “I will date them to change them.” Not only is it a futile attempt, it is also a very proud one. An attempt to change people is to innately believe yourself better than those people. At times what we are not saying is louder than what we are actually saying. People who compromise their faith in an attempt to change other people simply show they do not value their faith. Or even scarier, they may not genuinely be in the faith. People are not projects, Beloved. The attempt to change people is often masked by our claim to love the other person. But in true sense, it is because we love ourselves; it is selfishness. We want our will to be done at the expense of the other person. I call us out to have enough self-integrity to know when a relationship is not meant to work out and trust God’s bidding. Because at the end of the day, there are only two kinds of people:
- Those who say to God, “Your will be done!”
- Those to whom God says, “Your will be done.”
What blessedness it is to have God’s will in your life and what horror it is for God to give you up to your own paths. As Romans 12:2 puts it, his will is a good, pleasing and perfect will!
- We don’t realise marriage is a big deal
A third reason why we don’t trust God’s will for our mate is because we don’t value marriage as God does. I have heard people equate marriage to a college degree or a football game. I have also heard single people trash it as if it’s a man-made thing. But we must realise that marriage is a big deal for a number of reasons.
First of all, marriage in Hebrews 13:4 is termed as holy. “Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and sexually immoral.” (NIV, 1984). That’s why we call it Holy Matrimony. I am not surprised that many people would bad mouth marriage yet it is holy. Hebrews 13:4 explicitly commands us to honour marriage- that means even in our speech. Humans have a knack for messing with holy things. The name of Jesus is holy and yet people trash it when they use it as an expletive or a cuss word. God’s word is holy yet humanity pokes fun at it. If you read your Old Testament, you realise that anything holy if defiled invited the wrath of God. God’s grace right now gives us room to repent. In his second return, he is not coming as a baby in a manger; he is coming as a King of wrath and glory. May we not be found in dissonance with what he calls holy matrimony.
Secondly, marriage is a big deal for society. In his book, The 4 Seasons of Marriage, Gary Chapman asserts that in every human society, without exception, marriage between a man and a woman has been the central building block of that community. An assault at marriage is an assault at community.
Thirdly, marriage is a big deal for you. It matters whom you marry because before you say “I do” you may have the freedom to choose your love but afterwards, your only option is to love your choice.
Fourthly, marriage is a big deal for the Gospel. Marriage is so powerful in God’s economy. It is the only relationship that existed before sin came into the world. It was the only relationship that tasted a perfect life. Adam and Eve expressed love emotionally, rationally, physically, sexually and spiritually without the interference of sin. God wants us to experience Eden. But we can’t until we understand why marriage is so important to Him. We can’t rejoice in his will like Adam did until we understand the potency of marriage. Marriage is powerful in God’s economy because it is the relationship analogy that He uses when he describes his relationship with us, the one he loves. Look at all these scriptures that allude to that:
God as our husband
Isaiah 54:5 “For your Maker is your husband- the LORD Almighty is his name- the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.”
Israel as God’s passionate and devoted bride
Jeremiah 2:2 “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem ‘I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown.’”
Israel as an unfaithful spouse to God
Jeremiah 3:20 “But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you have been unfaithful to me, O house of Israel,” declares the LORD.”
God as a scorned husband
Hosea 2:2 “Rebuke your mother, rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband. Let her remove the adulterous look from her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts.”
Jesus as the Bridegroom
Matthew 9:15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
John the Baptist as God’s best man
John 3:28-29 To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.
The Church as a virgin in waiting for her husband
2 Corinthians 11:2 “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.”
Eternity as a wedding
Revelation 19:7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”
Perhaps the most compelling of scriptures that affirms God’s relationship with us as likened to a marriage is from Ephesians 5:24-25. It says: “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Marriage is not in league with any other relationship. It is uniquely powerful. A thriving marriage between a man and women submitted to God is one of the most vivid signs of the Gospel of Jesus. The world is attracted to it. When Turi and I are not walking right with God, the marriage suffers. And for the seriousness of it, Beloved, as you transit from single-hood to having a partner, do not initiate a relationship with the opposite sex if you do not aim for this serious marriage. This is counter cultural! Our pop-culture says you can date for fun. We say, if you date for fun, you could break up for fun and it won’t be funny! While the whole world is looking for “the one”, God is challenging us to be the one. Know your Master passionately. Pursue his Mission radically and you will find your Mate graciously! May God’s favour be upon all who obey, till death do you part.