One 4th of July…
..some great friends of ours invited us to join them at a party being hosted by a family Joshua and I didn’t know. Our friends, the H’s, assured us that the host family would be pleased to have us show up, even if not officially invited. With much tepidity we decided to go, but of course through a crazy set of events we ended up arriving before our friends did. Talk about awkward! You should have heard us trying to explain that. “Um… yeah… we uh… know the H family, and they… uh… invited us to come here but… well… they aren’t here yet.”
Thankfully the rest of the day went much more smoothly and the host family showed us kind hospitality, welcoming us eagerly and not acting at all is if we didn’t belong there.
It was at that party that I met the hosts’ oldest daughter. Finding out we were newlyweds, she (along with many of the other girls) wanted to hear the story of how Joshua and I met and all the exciting details surrounding our marriage.
At one point I mentioned that, now that I was married, I was keeping an eye out for a man for my sister-in-law since she greatly yearned be a wife and mom. At that point the hosts’ daughter looked straight into my eyes and said, “What about my brother?”
“What about your brother??” I asked, surprised by the question.
“Well… he’s 25, owns a house, has a good job, and wants to get married!”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Lord provided a husband for my sister-in-law. Yes, it required a few more details than that, but the point I’m illustrating is that God uses human means to bring about His purposes.
The Lord used two young women, both looking out for the welfare of their loved ones, to bring about a beautiful marriage. That’s the way He works. (Side note: my sister-in-law has now been married almost 1.5 years and has an adorably chunky little 6-month-old son!)
There are many examples in Scripture of God using human means to bring about His will.
They include: Abraham’s servant finding a wife for Issac (Genesis 24), Joseph gathering food in Egypt before the famine (Genesis 41), Naomi providing a husband for Ruth (Ruth 3:1), Rahab hiding the two Israelite spies (Joshua 2), Paul’s nephew warning him of death threats (Acts 23:16), just to name a few. No where in these examples did the person say, “God will provide/take care of us, so there’s not need for me to do anything.”
In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus gives an example of how to pray.
In this prayer He included one earthly need: food. Yet how many of us are going to sit down at an empty table and pray for food, fully expecting Him to shower it down from heaven? We’re literally commanded to pray for food, yet we by no means believe that prayer is the only means by which we are to receive it.
Working for money in order to buy food doesn’t negate the fact that it was still God’s provision. What do we do every time we sit down to eat? Thank God for the food! We understand that even though, from an earthly perspective, we are the ones who provided the meal, it was actually God’s providence that granted us the ability to work for and purchase the food.
This is all pretty obvious. But why, then, do we expect God to drop a man from heaven under the same conditions as the ridiculous illustration above??
Praying + human effort = food (and everything else we need)
And yet praying – human effort = marriages??
We mustn’t allow praying to be a cop-out for doing our duty.
It’s all too easy to pray for foreign missions without giving money. It’s easy to pray that God stop abortion while we do nothing to plead the cause of the unborn. It’s all too easy to pray that God will lead a family member/friend to Christ while not sharing the gospel. And it’s easy to pray for a spouse without taking any action toward that goal.
So ladies, let’s begin to reconsider our use of prayer, and ask ourselves if it is just one of the tools we use, or if we using it as an excuse to avoid getting blunt and honest about marriage.
Which is it for you?