I'm interested in someone, now what?
Am I supposed to spend time with this person in a “non-dating” way, maybe in a group setting? Should I try to go serve where they are? How do I get to know them better? This might be God’s will, how should I pursue this? What if they are far away?
This is the most common question people have after studying God’s design for marriage and it reveals a root problem: us trying to control/plan/manage our life.
Stay with me here.
As Americans we really can’t be warned about our self-centeredness enough. Every single advertisement, tv show, movie, clothing store, and even the food you eat all seek to convince you that everything starts and ends with you and what you want. The world revolves around you.
The Biblical answer is that everything you do should be an action of following God. There shouldn’t be any more time left in the day where you need to “figure out” what to do. We are servants of the Lord and He leads us.
“O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walkes to direct his steps. - Jeremiah 10:23
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. - Matthew 6:31-33
We often imagine God as overworked, or uninterested, where He only has time for the “big” things in our lives. In reality, God is the only person that knows every hair on your head. He has already seen your future and is present every second of your life. You will never know yourself as well as He knows you.
With this reminder to surrender control of our lives to God, let us answer this question.
As you follow the Lord daily, He leads you
God makes things happen. Not only that, but even the bad things He allows, He turns right around to fit into His plan.
How your romance will unfold is something only God knows. But you will either follow His leading, or your own. The real question is how do we keep from listening to our own thoughts and following our desires instead of hearing and following His Spirit. Our flesh can be sneaky.
For example, several times in my life it seemed like God might be opening doors for me to pursue different young ladies. We seemed to be involved in similar things, shared a similar understanding of Scripture, enjoyed each others company (or it seemed like we would), and many other little things that we can dwell on to convince ourselves that this is the “one”. Was God really opening these doors or was I reading into things?
Turns out, it wasn’t God’s will (something I can see more easily now). The importance of being able to hear God over our own thoughts is invaluable. By my own judgement, everything seemed like it would have worked out just fine, but I don’t know that. God had other plans and I am rejoicing in choosing those instead after looking back.
Excluding couples who were saved after they married, almost every godly marriage story I can think of started when God brought them together through serving Him first, and said “This is the one; you are going to keep serving Me together”.
These people didn’t orchestrate their marriage, but in seeking first the Kingdom of God, their marriage was orchestrated.
We cringe at the idea of an “arranged marriage” - yet that is exactly what we want God to do for us because He can do it perfectly.
When you don’t follow the Lord, you miss things
There are many times I’ve chosen to ignore people or opportunities God has placed before me. Choosing instead to ________ because that was what I wanted. God has given us free will to choose Him or ourselves. He is long suffering with our hard hearts.
Like most people, I could have married (or at least dated) more than once in my own pursuit of things. To other people, I might have appeared to be doing everything correctly and as purely as anyone else. But we don’t look to society for acceptable standards. God’s Word, not those around us, are to be our standard.
”…they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. - 2 Corinthians 10:12
God may not have stopped me, and might have let me live the life of my choosing, while completely missing the greatest blessing of a wife I could never imagine. I seemingly “gave up” a lot of things considered normal and God rewarded me just as He said He would. If not following the Lord, I would have missed my wife - I’m sure of it.
Sometimes you have to wait
You just turned 25 and you’re still not married? Feeling the pressure to make things happen? Society denies God, so they naturally deny His plan in everything - especially marriage.
If you think waiting to get married is hard, try waiting for children… 25 years… after God himself said you would have children.
“For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. - Hebrews 6:13-15
I also need to be reminded of the importance of God’s timing, and not my own. Personally, I was 26 before God had brought me to 1) the place in my walk with Him I needed to be and 2) the place where God had me to be married.
I’m really, really thankful that God refined me before I met my wife. Those could have been some hard years of unneeded conflict.
Seek the Lord until you have an answer
I know people who prayed about someone for a couple weeks, didn’t really hear anything so they went ahead and pursued a relationship. Unfortunately, because they were hasty it didn’t work out and caused some problems.
Now whether or not something “works out” should not be how we navigate life, but when things don’t work out, it’s not because God messed up.
We know we need to seek God, so we do until we think we’ve satisfied that requirement well enough for our own tastes and then take control of our lives back over and continue on.
It seems God has always answered me, but most often it is “wait”. Jesus illustrated this perseverance in prayer with a story:
“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? - Luke 18:1-8
I prayed for a couple years about my wife, then I became more earnest and started fasting once a week really wanting to know God’s will. I was even asking for nothing to happen. I just wanted to know what I should do. If this relationship really is that important, shouldn’t I be willing to seek God even past my “comfort zone” or own “timeline”? I knew God wanted me to seek Him about this.
Do not pursue a relationship with someone until God has shown you that is His plan. If you are not sure then getting romantically involved with someone will distract you and them from what God does have you doing. In fact, based on statistics it’s safe to say you are even putting a stumbling block before both of you.
Question your thoughts/motives
You have to compare your thoughts with Scripture. It’s easy to justify something in your own mind, but instead, trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; - 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
If you want to hear someone in a crowd, you have to know what they sound like. Knowing God’s word will help you recognise His thoughts from your own.
Pray with others (especially mature Christians)
God has put people in your life for a reason. As a part of the body you should seek Godly counsel whenever it’s needed. Don’t ask others to solve your problems or give you answers, but ask that they would pray for you and with you. You want to hear from God, not man. However, God often does speak through others, sometimes without them even knowing it.
Not all adults are mature Christians, very few young people are either. Maturity in Christ takes many years of obedience and faith to build up. My advice would be to find someone that has given their live to serve the Lord (missionaries are often great) and ask them to pray as well. Even long-time church members often haven’t learned to trust the Lord with their lives and might simply give you conventional, secular guidance. So again, compare everything to what God says.
God opens Doors
God will ask you to do difficult things in life. God’s promise is that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12) However, God is also the great mountain mover.
I’ve learned that when someone is God’s will it just seem to “happen”. It might be tough, costly, or stretching, but it will have God’s provision the whole way. Look at the stories in the bible and see how God placed everything perfectly to fall into place. The people where in the right places, at the right times, with the right responses.
Fear, stress, strife; none of these are the signs of God’s plan. They might be our own sin rebelling against what God is doing - but following God’s path brings peace, hope, and Joy.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. - Matthew 11:28-30
If something isn’t working out, it’s probably not God’s will or not God’s timing yet. Don’t try to force a plan. Also, don’t confuse this with persevering through hard things.
Do not date the person to “decide”
Everyone jokes that love is blind, and a person in love is prone to ignore warnings. Yet, the world still places their trust in themselves. They prove the saying true by disregarding God’s Word with the result of many failed marriages. Contrary to Disney-ology, you can’t “follow your heart” because it will lie to you (Jeremiah 17:9).
Christians have been influenced by this idea of self-reliance and have taken to dating more recently (dating is a recent invention) as they seek to determine whom they should marry.
We should determine paths in life by nothing other than God’s leading and direction. Don’t base decisions on money, don’t base them on perceived happiness, don’t base them on how you liked your first date. None of these show you God’s plan. God alone reveals His plan.
Dating to “determine if this is God’s will for our lives” doesn’t make any sense. It’s similar to living together to see if “this will work”. Each step down this road moves us farther from seeking God until we are completely living our lives by what is right in our own eyes.
Christ did not “date” the church to figure out if He should die for us. Remember His prayer?
“O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. - Matthew 26 “He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. - Matthew 26:42 “And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. - Matthew 26:44 “Then he came to his disciples, and said unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. - Matthew 26:45-46
As all of Christ’s life, he prayed earnestly, and then embraced God’s plan even at the cost of the cross and bearing the sin of the world while facing God’s wrath for our rebellion.
How well should I get to know them?
Everyone teaches you must get to know someone before you make a decision about marrying them. However, since everyone has different arbitrary standards on the subject - you will always find someone that thinks you should go a little further in your relationship before commitment just to make sure.
The only answer to this question is however much God has for you to know them before you are married. Like most couples, my wife and I were not strangers when we started our path to marriage. Though we had never dated, God had brought us to places and events where we had seen each other living, working, and serving the Lord.
In some people’s eyes we were still far from knowing enough to commit to marriage - but we only wanted to base our choices off God’s wisdom. If God said we should marry, then whatever we knew about each other was enough.
For a more radical example of faith, read the book of Hosea.
“The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son. - Hosea 1:2-3
God told him to go marry a prostitute. This marriage fails every pre-marriage counseling test I can think of - secular or biblical. Hosea could have disobeyed the Lord. He could have even brought up good points like how Gomer wasn’t interested in the things of the Lord and would make a terrible wife. After all, we should not be unequally yoked.
Now God has already explained the purpose of this weird marriage was for instruction in the plan of salvation for countless people since then. I doubt God would repeat this marriage today since it’s not needed.
However, the point is that all our checklists and ideas about marriage still must be submitted to the Lord.
Even knowing someone completely today and being sure they meet your requirements for a spouse would not stop them from changing tomorrow. That is what our marriage (and life) is - a changing/growing adventure where two people are refined by God into what he intends for them to be.
One day, a well-off man appeared and claimed to be sent from a distant family member looking for a wife for His son Isaac. He said God had shown Him Rebecca was the one he should take back. Should this young lady Rebecca agree to go with him? Talk about God setting something up. No really, read the story in Genesis 24.
Another example is the family God choose to send Jesus into the world through:
“Joseph was betrothed to a wife when she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. - Matthew 1:19-20
The most spectacular of all is that God showed his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). We did not know or seek Christ, but God planned not only our salvation - but our own adoption into God’s family. Christ came to die for His bride, the body of Christ.
You might have found someone. You are interested, but are unsure how to proceed. First, realize that you are not called to pursue riches, marriage, or any of your own desires. You are called to pursue God knowing He will provide these other things when you need them.
If God seems like He is leading you to someone then seek Him, pray, and wait patiently. If you are supposed to marry this person, God will make that clear. Your marriage story will be unique. If you are seeking God, your marriage will not depend on dating, finances, or happy times.
Do not pursue a relationship with someone until God has shown you that is His plan. If you are not sure then you need to wait and seek God until he makes his plan clear. Running off your own desires without the Lord is not how you build a Godly marriage.
The blessings of seeking God are far greater than that of merely discerning and knowing His will for our earthly marriage. Spend time pursuing the everlasting God who has loved you with an everlasting love for His own sake—not just to find your earthly love your heart desires.
Christ’s Marriage to the Church is the only marriage that will last forever. If you imitate Christ, and follow His example, then you will be blessed.