When I was single you couldn’t tell me that I didn’t know everything there was to know about marriage. I had watched so many television shows and seen enough examples of what not to do that I’d crowned myself as a relationship expert, even though I hadn’t been in a relationship in years. After all, I went to all the singles meetings at my church and listened and obeyed when they told me to seek God, not a mate. In my mind, I was all set and ready to walk down the aisle and be the best wife this Earth had ever seen; but how many of you know God has a way of showing you that you are never as ready as you think you are.
So, as time continues and I am in my process of seeking God (not a mate, but God), I begin to get specific instructions on how to prepare myself for marriage. Of course, I began to study and sought a greater understanding of covenant relationships; I mean after all I would be all set if I only understood covenant relationships, right? Hardly! Still, in my heart, I knew there was so much more I had to learn.
I continued to seek God in prayer and that’s when He began leading me and changing my perception, not only on marriage, but also about the ministry of a wife. The first thing God told me to do was STOP attending singles meetings. He said, “I am preparing you for the next level which means you have to graduate from this level and prepare for the journey ahead.”
What that taught me is that we learn by faith, not for where we are, but for where we desire to be. For example, a doctor doesn’t wait until he gets ready to apply to medical schools to begin his preparation for a career in medicine. No. He’s preparing all the while he’s in high school and college—taking the necessary science courses he will need to even be considered a candidate for medical school. He knows his goal and he operates on a daily basis in preparation and anticipation of that goal being fulfilled. If he were to stall or defer preparation, when the time to apply to medical schools came he wouldn’t be ready, and therefore would be unable to apply.
Why then are so many singles encouraged to forgo any training for marriage in efforts to cleave to and hold fast to preparing for singleness? Remember, what you focus on is what you will receive. So if you are so focused on being a successful single that you forgo opportunities to prepare for marriage you will be the most successful single in the world, which is great if you truly desire to be single. However, if you desire to be married, your goal as a single must not only include being a successful, whole-in-Christ single, it should also include gaining spiritual practical insight on how to operate in the covenant of marriage. In my mind, one does not trump the other and both can be done simultaneously.
For me, it wasn’t until after six years of developing in my singleness that I decided that I didn’t desire to be a single—I desired to be married. So I began to transition away from teachings on singleness and move toward teachings on marriage. My goal then became to prepare for success in marriage just as purposely as I had prepared to be successful as a single.
So, there I was, fresh off the singles ministry boat and still very unsure and unclear of next steps. At this time, I hadn’t spoken to anyone but God about this transition so I found myself at His feet daily desperately seeking next steps. It was almost a month before He began to direct me. The first directive in my spirit was a one word banger: “Apprenticeship.” I was like Apprenticeship, Really God. What the heck does that mean?
So I began to study the concept of apprenticeship and it was at that time that I learned that the concept is not nearly as popular today as it was a few decades ago. In past times, when someone wanted to enter a vocation they went to school to get the necessary knowledge (or foundation) for their intended profession, then once they graduated, they became an apprentice—they began to study under someone.
It’s important to note that the person they studied under was not their teacher so to speak, because they already had the knowledge of their profession from school. However, this person would teach them the intangibles of the profession—those things behind the pages of the book—things that could only be learned on the job. I said all that to say that God told me to look for an apprenticeship as it related to the area of marriage. He told me to find a couple who would be willing to give me in the field, on the job training that would support and give life to the knowledge I had. Thankfully, it did not take me long to find that couple. Isn’t it funny how we easily find exactly what we need and are looking for when it’s God-ordained?
Since I’d already had a relationship with the couple, I quickly began shadowing them. They allowed me a behind-the-veil seat into their marriage and it was during my time with them that I began to realize that the knowledge I had was only good on paper. The intangible aspects that produce success in marriage come from wisdom. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have, until that knowledge has been tested and illuminated by the Holy Spirit as wisdom, it’s almost like you don’t know a thing.
So here I was, this walking Bible full of scriptures and concepts about marriage that I quickly learned were not enough to make a marriage work. And I would never have known that had I not been able to see that for myself on my apprentice assignment. I have concluded, absent from Holy-Spirit breathed wisdom, marriage might be good, but it will never be glorious. It takes knowing how and when to apply the biblical principles you have learned to experience the glory of God in marriage.
My point is this: success is the result of preparation that collides with opportunity. We know God is never short on providing us with opportunities, so the question then becomes are we prepared to walk into them? I am convinced that so many men and women are not marrying, not because they are unable to find a mate, but because they are truly not prepared for marriage. Keep in mind that preparation takes place in levels. First step is learning to be successful and whole in Christ. Without a foundation in Christ and an intimate relationship with Jesus, you are not even ready to move to the next level of preparing for a mate. Take the time to get to know the “you” God created you to be. Learn your strengths and weakness. Learn what you like and what you don’t like. Learn how to serve and how to be joyful. Renew your mind, learn how to pray without ceasing, how to hear God’s voice for yourself, and how to submit to the voice of the Lord. These things will serve as an awesome foundation for your marriage.
Once these things are a working priority in your life, began to seek relationships that can serve as a guide to wisdom and give life to the biblical insight you have gained. For example, I cannot for the life of me figure out why so many singles who desire to be married are not connected to godly, married couples who can walk with them as they prepare for their spouses. Now, that doesn’t mean you allow these couples to become your conscious, you must follow God first. It just means that you allow them to show you how they practically apply the Word of God to their lives when it comes to resolving conflict, dealing with money, raising children, etc. This will allow you to have a practical picture of what marriage really is and how the scripture comes alive in the area of marriage.
Do you know that most singles get all their advice and concepts for marriage from people who have no idea what the Word says about marriage? They look at the relationships they see on television never taking the time to really understand that even though those marriages may seem good, they are not glorious. A glorious marriage ONLY comes from a Word of God-lived marriage.
Furthermore, I want to point out that when it comes to renewing your mind about marriage, it is important to note that single people and married people have totally different concepts of marriage. I can remember having intense conversations with my single friends where we would talk about what we would and would not accept in a mate, what we expected from our mates and how we intended to work our marriages according to the Word of God. Sounds good, right? But I wasn’t married then and I tell you my thoughts today are way different than they were then. The foundation is still the same, but the approach has definitely changed as a result of the wisdom I have gained from actually being married.
In the end we have to understand that marriage in not a status to be desired or coveted. It is a tool God uses to develop His children and when you see it from that perspective you realize that every day in marriage is a series of events and circumstances designed to sharpen, strengthen and develop you into wholeness for one reason only—to fulfill the greater calling God has for you. In that regards, marriage is truly a ministry that need not be entered into lightly.
Marriage is a mirror of sorts. When you marry, although you will have the awesome opportunity to enjoy your spouse in every way, you need to understand that you are marrying the person who will show you your flaws and bring attention to your deficiencies. This is not to shame you but to bring you to a point where you are ready to grow and become the best you you can be. That’s what makes it glorious—because it’s the one constant that allows you to grow and be better and better day by day.
If you are married and you are reading this article, I encourage you to ask God what areas in my life has my spouse been sent to shine the light on? For the singles, I encourage you to make a habit of uncovering areas in your life that are deficient and allow God to correct them. Doing so will make it easier when you come into covenant with your spouse who is on the way!
Marriage is glorious and I declare in the name of God that your marriage will garner God-given glory that will strengthen God’s Kingdom agenda and marvel the world.
Titus 2: 1-15
Second Corinthians 5:7
Here’s to living your life out loud and on purpose …
Please be sure to visit our YouTube Channel for this weeks supplemental video blog:Becoming Marriage Minded