Archive | May, 2013

Exegeting Proverbs 18:22 (How I misread the meaning of “find”)

When it comes to finding a wife, I was using Proverbs 18:22 as proof positive of the belief that I needed to exert as much effort as I could to successfully find a woman worthy of marrying (and who saw me worthy of marrying too.)  I pulled this verse out again when having an argument with a dear friend who said I needed to learn how to wait on the LORD instead of taking matters into my own hands, using it once more to refute my friend’s point.

But then I went back and re-read the verse carefully, and for the first time I realized I had been too presumptuous about the meaning of the word “find.”  According to Hebrew’s lexicon, the word here is matsa’ (transliterated), and carries a variety of related meanings (based on the Hebrew tense Qal):

  • to find, secure, acquire, get (thing sought)
  • to meet, encounter
  • to learn, devise
  • to come upon, light upon
  • to happen upon, meet, fall in with
  • to befall

What the word indicated more than anything else was a state of discovery, yet I misinterpreted “find” to mean “to actively seek after,” which was NOT what the verse was indicating at all.  Had the writer meant whoever actively sought after a wife would find a good thing, he likely would have used the word “baqash” instead, which is translated, “to seek to find.”

After all, one can find or discover something without actually looking for it.  I had completely read the verse wrong.

So does this mean I should no longer actively seek a wife?  No, I don’t think I’d agree with that either, it only means I no longer have the biblical justification I thought I once did to comb the entire world until I finally find my bride to be.

Some things really are better left up to God to handle, especially when it pertains to something as life changing and important as marriage.  But rather than go from one extreme to the other (from exerting all human effort to meet someone, to hiding out in the closet and expecting the world to be handed to me), it’s better that I focus on renewing my faith in the LORD’s promises to give to those who ask of Him, and mentally preparing myself to be a good husband and friend to whoever God sees fit to bring into my life.  Beyond that there’s no use fretting over things that I ultimately have no control over.

Is the LORD among us, or not? Believing God for the impossible

One of the things that I’ve been doing lately was reading the many articles and blog posts about the state of marriages and relationships today.  While Christian singles have been all but abandoned by the churches, we also face a deteriorating culture that has ingrained poisonous ideas about masculinity and femininity into us, causing men to behave more like women, and women to behave more like men.

The net result is that our western world has become a veritable wasteland for any well meaning Christian who is seeking to marry a decent spouse equally devout in the faith.  To personally address this, I’ve read and received much advice about what I could do to make myself more attractive to women: how to talk, how to behave, how to dress, how to be more like a man, along with advice on where to look:  dating sites, singles groups, volunteering, going abroad and meeting foreign women, who to date, who not to date, what age range is acceptable, what age range is not acceptable, and on and on.

Most of it constructive, much of it sensible, but in all of that I kept wondering:  Where is God in all of this?  Is there an unspoken assertion out there that the LORD is sitting idly by while we continue to grope in the dark looking for that elusive pearl of great price?  Is He not a God of love and mercy?  Is it not in His power to make that search easier, especially as we draw nearer and nearer to the end times?

In my mind, I knew the truth of seeking God first before I could seek “her,”  but it’s one thing to know something intuitively, it’s quite another to actually LIVE it.

And while I was given a word and a vision, certainly enough to believe that there is indeed someone out there who would be my wife, the truth was, I didn’t really believe it.

I may have wanted to, but nothing I did afterward reflected this.  I simply did not live my life under the expectation that I would be meeting her soon.  Instead,  I wallowed in unbelief.

Many sins God will forgive, but unbelief is the sin that ultimately keeps us out of the Promised Land.  (Hebrews 3:12-18)  If He made a personal promise to me, then how can He reward me if I don’t believe it?

I was putting the cart before the horse.  I wanted to see something first, then I would start believing.  I needed some morsel of evidence to indicate that all was not lost, that despite the harrowing prospects of a single man my age, I could still end up happily married.  Just give me something, LORD, a little something to convince me she was real.

But the thing was, He did give me something:  His word.  That should have been enough.

And that’s when I finally understood: there’s a greater issue here than merely trying to find a wife in today’s climate, and learning to be more masculine.  I needed to believe God for the IMPOSSIBLE, and I’m sure you’d be hard convinced to find a more impossible scenario than the prospects of finding a godly mate in today’s world.  And yet this wasn’t about the impossibility of finding a mate and achieving a happy marriage anymore:  this was about my faith.

And our God, even our God is able to perform the impossible.  Even if I didn’t FEEL like it was going to happen, I still needed to ACT in faith that it would.  After all, faith isn’t about what you feel:  it’s about what you DO.

And while I feel my heart agonizingly ripping in half and sinking into the depths of despair, I have decided that I am not going to let my emotions dictate my actions.  Instead, I’m going to walk in faith, and trust God to do the impossible.   I will live my life as if she were just around the corner, so that when she finally does come, I’ll be ready to receive her.

Walk by faith, not by sight.

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