(Continued from yesterday. Please see yesterday’s article first at our website at http://www.fcet.org/, if you did not receive it.)
During the last ten minutes or so of my being with John that day, confusion reigned. It was as though all hell broke loose in my mind — thoughts of wild confusion reigned. Then, God spoke: “This same type of thing will happen before your wedding.” I heard it, though I didn’t know, or fully realize “just exactly what it was” that God was getting at. All I knew was that this was some type of “type” for what was up ahead. Something was going to happen. God knew about it. He was warning me about it. Was there anything I could do? I wasn’t sure! But I wasn’t worried. It was more a “word of the Lord” to let me know that God was in control, rather than a “word of the Lord” telling me to do anything. God was in full control. What was he saying? Not quite a year later, I would find out!
Please allow me to roll back the clock even farther. When I had been delivered of that fear that prohibited me from “going forward and getting married” — that morning that I woke up and “knew” that it was okay to get married — well, you see, I had not seen my former girlfriend for many many months by this time. I had previously “called off” the relationship on account of my insecurities (though I hardly knew what was going on, except that I wasn’t sure about marriage). She had gone her way devastasted and disappointed (yes, I did that without even understanding what was happening, all because of these deep insecurities). Now, you see, it is months and months later, God has done a healing work in me, and I wake up one morning and “just know” it is okay to get married. For all intents, our previous relationship is “over and done with” — we had even disposed of all pictures, and letters, etc… She has her life, and I have mine! We are “worlds apart” and not even living in the same city! So, naturally, I asked the question, “Well, … if it’s right to get married, … *who* do I get married to?”
At about that time, I knelt down by my bed and was led to pray the following prayer: “Lord, whoever you want me to get married to, … please make sure she doesn’t marry someone else!” For, unbeknownst to me, this same woman that God had reserved for *me* was on the verge of becoming engaged to another man! (Of course, I knew nothing about this; I did not even assume that I was going to necessarily get married to my former girlfriend. But the prayer, of course, was led by God!) Now around that time, I had a DREAM in which I picked up the phone and the “telephone operator” said to me, “Collect call from MARY, do you ACCEPT the call?” “Yes, I said!” Then I heard Mary’s beautiful voice for about 10 minutes (it was really “her voice!”) and she told me where she was — that is, she gave me directions and all on how to get there. As it turned out, in real life, I had to call her former roommate — where she used to live in Montreal — to find out that she had moved to another city, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where we both now live, since being married in October of 1992 (keep reading the story!). But, true to the dream, you might say, once I contacted her, it was she who gave me explicit directions on where to meet.
Now when it comes to the Bible, I take it very seriously! If something even “suggests” that I should do something, I will take it to prayer and find out “if it is from God or not”. I will try to understand it from a hermeneutic standpoint — from the point of properly interpreting scripture, in its historical, grammatical, context. I must admit, as a “zealous Christian”, and particularly as one who was insecure about the idea of getting married, I was “particularly concerned” about 1 Corinthians 7 — the passage that seemed to say that it is better for a man not to marry a woman. I did a lot of reading about that passage, and read books. Though I came to a “head understanding” in many ways, concerning what that passage taught, yet I still felt insecure until that time that God set my heart free in this critical area. The passage seemed to “condemn me” for getting married, but, you see, I was reading the passage through a “condemning, fearful set of eye-glasses”. What was binding me was the fear of God’s displeasure towards me if “I made a mistake”. How then does one get free from the “fear of making a mistake”? We need to come to know God’s loving, tender, “Father heart” towards us, as we have never known it before! That heart is a heart of acceptance. It is not a heart of acceptance towards all who want it, however. It is a heart of acceptance towards those who truly fear him, and want to do what it pleasing in his sight. Two passages bring this out:
Jesus said: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21) Jesus, then, “displays” himself to those who fear God and desire to keep his commandments. The world may be in darkness, others may condemn and laugh off this “Jesus” who seems only to be a by-word. But to those who fear him, as this passage declares, he delights in revealing himself to such people. And when he does this, it is “love at first sight”. So my recommendation to you is, if you have never “felt his father heart” towards you — that heart that melts all fear — may I sincerely ask you, “Do you fear him and seek to obey him in every area of your life? Is there any known sin in your life that needs to be done away with?” And then, secondly, I quote to you the following passage, which I think complements this first one nicely: “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15) God had “met” me at that Family Camp in 1991, and had delivered me from “enough of the fear of failure” so as to liberate me to be able to get married. It was really that simple and I praise his name for it!
(Incidentally, if I understand him correctly, author Lewis Smedes essentially argues that one of the reasons for 1 Corinthians 7, for the reader, is to “challenge” him or her on his motives for getting married, rather than prohibit him from getting married. In that passage, Paul argues forcefully against getting married for a variety of reasons. Yet, we have to remember that God never contradicts himself in Scripture. Genesis 2:18b, which says it is “not good that the man should be alone”, and 1 Corinthians 7, which, on some levels, seems to imply that it is better for a person to remain single, cannot say opposite things. Here is a good example where we *must* reconcile Scripture so as not to take it out of context. Yet, sadly, there are still many authorities in the church that argue that marriage is “second best”! I’m here to say that it is *not* second best and if someone says it is … please, go find another counsellor! The other thing that you might want to consider, if you are “hung up” on 1 Corinthians 7, is that Paul argues all of this in light of what he calls the “present distress” (verse 26) … in other words, as some have argued, they were facing persecution and it was not a time to think about getting married. Yet this argument was never enough to “break the fear” that existed inside of me. God had to do that, and do it he did!)