Oh marriage, marriage, marriage.
What a topic!
As women, we are naturally drawn to romantic movies, fairy tale endings and sweet love stories.
Some more than others. Ahem. Some of us more than others.
Ok, I admit it. I am a hopeless romantic. Sometimes, in the midst of my day, I “catch” myself thinking about the hows, the whens, and – most importantly – the who.
When I decided to wholeheartedly, intentionally follow Christ, I admit that I felt pretty bad about my exceptional ADHD-like tendencies to lose concentration on whatever I was thinking and switch into thoughts about – like I said – the hows, the whens, and – most importantly – the who regarding God’s love story for my life.
Thankfully, there is no condemnation for those who serve God, and He – as always – figured out a way to speak to my life and (lovingly) smack me out of it.
You see, the cool/amazing/awesome/neat/rad thing about God’s Word is that it is alive:
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
As an attempt to finish reading the whole Bible, I’m actually doing chronological bible studies in my devotional time. You would think that I would be asking God for mercy when coming into books like Leviticus and passages such as Joshua 13:3-5
“…from the Shihor River on the east of Egypt to the territory of Ekron on the north, all of it counted as Canaanite though held by the five Philistine rulers in Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron; the territory of the Avvites on the south; all the land of the Canaanites, from Arah of the Sidonians as far as Aphek and the border of the Amorites; the area of Byblos; and all Lebanon to the east, from Baal Gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo Hamath.”
Got that? Right.
No, but joking aside, it has not been like that at all. God has been speaking to me day by day, verse by verse, chapter by chapter in the most timely, relevant way that you could ever imagine. (yes, I did learn something pretty rad about Joshua 13:3-5. Post on that coming soon!)
Back to marriage – and my hopeless romantic tendencies – I learned a really cool picture of how God fulfills his promises and the process that can happen in order to get there.
That’s where Gideon’s story comes in.
In Judges 6-7, we can read the story about a man who feared and followed God in the midst of rebellion and corruption. The Israelites had – once again – turned away from the Lord and were under the opression of the Midianites:
“Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds.Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys.They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.” Judges 6:2-6 (NIV)
God promised Gideon that – with His help – he would conquer the land of the Midianites. Gideon was to be sent to “redeem” and make the Israelites realize that God was still well, God.
From this story, I learned and identified a very peculiar process:
- God speaks. (ch. 6 v.11-12)
- God promises / reveals. (ch. 6 v. 14-16)
- God gives specific directions. (ch.6 v.20+)
- God confirms. (ch. 6 v.36-40)
- God makes Gideon see the bigger picture / understand His purpose. (ch. 7 v.2)
- God fulfills His promises. (ch. 7 v.20)
First, an angel of God appears to Gideon and calls him a “mighty warrior”. Then, He tells him He is going to deliver them from the hands of the Midianites: something that they were eagerly longing for (get it? *wink wink*).
Then, God gives Gideon specific directions in preparation for the fulfillment of His promise. While Gideon was focused in obeying God and being faithful for what He had revealed to him, the Lord confirmed his promise.
When Gideon was about to enter into the land of the Midianites to fight, God told him to get rid of most of his men. Why?
The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.‘ Judges 7:2 (NIV)
God made Gideon realize that this was not about him. It wasn’t even about the Israelites. The victory and the fulfillment of God’s promise had little to do with the people’s strength or works. It was all about the Lord. The situation came about so that God would be glorified through that victory.
Finally, God delivered the Medianites into Israel’s hand. They were free, and the Lord’s promise towards them was fulfilled.
Now, what does that have to do with marriage?
Marriage is also meant for God’s glory. It is a picture of Him and the church. Marriage does not serve the purpose of personal, emotional and physical fulfillment alone, but is only complete and true when it glorifies God.
Gideon’s journey can be easily applied to many areas of our lives. But of course, since we are talking about marriage, I can see it applied in this sense:
- God speaks and reveals to us whether we are called for marriage or not. (Thankfully, most of us are!)
- God gives specific directions. (Just read Proverbs 31…enough material to work on for a lifetime!)
- God confirms. (While we are faithful and we obey, God will reveal and confirm in our hearts who that person is.)
- God makes us see the bigger picture / understand His purpose. (When we truly understand marriage is for God’s glory.)
- God fulfills His promises. (Wedding bells, anyone?)
Of course, this not by any means the ultimate, final and correct order of things. “Love stories” come in all shapes and sizes, each with its own peculiarities. What we can truly bring out from this story is that there is a period of preparation that is very needed in our lives before we get married. Gideon followed through all that God had told him to do before he went to the land. He understood that it was not through his strength that He would obtain victory, but only through God’s grace. The promise then became an event dedicated entirely to give God the glory.
While we obey, God shapes and molds each of us into the women He created us to be. When we focus on becoming godly women and devote our lives to Him, we can truly understand that marriage is meant to glorify God. The how, the whens and the who then become a beautiful work on-the-making in God’s hand – and stop becoming something we have to strive and work for.
In His timing – He will deliver the promise. He just will. He’s got you covered.