Love. Romance. The next movie you watch or the next fictional book you read and there’s a decent chance you’ll find yourself hearing about or seeing these words play out on the page or screen. Our culture “loves” and loves to talk about romance, this idea of being swept off our feet and wooed beyond our grandest imaginings. How many hear those Jerry Maguire words (“You complete me”) and just melt, longing for that one person to express those same sentiments to them? How many long for that desired storybook ending that has the couple living “happily ever after”? With such deep internal longing for that intimate relationship with a significant other, surrounded by a culture that idolizes romance and love, and in creeps anxious questions and stressful thoughts:
- Does God have “one” for me?
- When will I find “the one”, and what should I be looking for in that person?
- Is the person I’m currently with the “one” that will “complete” me? What if they aren’t?
In the limited space I have available, I want to take time to answer these questions, praying along the way that God will be glorified in the discussion of such a significant and weighty topic.
The Sovereignty of God
Does God have “one” for me? In one word: yes (if you are in the sovereign plan of God to be married). The question we’re really wrestling with in the “the one” question is the age old discussion over God’s sovereignty and man’s choices. While I’m not here to answer in depth this centuries old question, I will say with firm belief that God is indeed sovereign and that your choices do matter and have consequences. For example, we are told that “God works all things according to the counsel of His will” in Ephesians 1:11 (a text that promotes the sovereignty of God), but also are told later in that letter in chapter 4 that we are to “walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel” (indicating human decision-making on our part). Perhaps no better verse marries these two supposed tensions as Acts 2:23 does (“this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men”).
I particularly love this quote that both blows my mind but also brings significant comfort personally: “God is greater than a micro-manager God who needs to control people to get the outcomes He wants. He is greater than a passive God who simply sits back and responds to humans as they run the show. God in His greatness is able to create free agents while also being in control of the details to the story He is writing through their hands.”
So yes, God does have a plan for your life, and if it involves marriage, there is “one”. Does that stress you out? Let me help to alleviate any anxiety here by stating this:
Taking the above section dealing with the sovereignty of God, you can’t marry the “wrong one”. If God is sovereign over the cosmos, there won’t be one of you reading this that will marry the wrong one and set into motion a cosmic domino chain that ruins marital matches for the rest of us. If it could be true that you could step outside the bounds of a sovereign God…well that’s an awfully small God indeed.
My Responsibility in the Matter
At this point in the conversation perhaps the thought comes back to: “Yeah, but what’s my role in all of this?” I’m glad you asked (if you asked of course). Let me encourage the readers, especially the men, on this matter.
God is sovereign (as discussed above), but His sovereignty ought not to make us paranoid, lazy, or passive. In my opinion, too many well-meaning believers are stymied into paralysis because they don’t want to pursue the “wrong one” (and if dating or marriage is such a big decision that has large consequence in our life, we don’t want to get this “wrong” and displease the Lord). Still, others operate under a “let go and let God” mentality, a mindset that leans too heavily on the sovereignty of God and doesn’t embrace our responsibility to actually make decisions. So to come back to the question of how do I think about “the one”, and what responsible decisions should I make in this area, allow me to finish this blog with a list of summarized thoughts that I’ve prayed will encourage you who have taken the time to parse through the first three quarters of this blog.
- If you are married, or God brings you into marriage later on, He does have “the one” for you. For me, I know Ashley is “the one” God had in mind for me because she’s the one I’m married to. I never need to question if she is the “wrong one” or not for me.
- However, and this is a crucial piece: Ashley will never “complete me”. Too much pressure has been placed on finding the one that will “complete you” (sorry Jerry Maguire), and people are left in states of anxiety or tension that’s not healthy or good. Don’t put pressure on that person to be what they never could: only Jesus fulfills perfectly. (We can breathe a sigh of relief here!)
- If you are married, keep putting in the work to have a great marriage. That’s your partner from God (His sovereignty), but you ought to steward and cherish this good gift (your responsibility). Much more could be said here but it is sufficient to say work hard in your marriage.
- The Bible doesn’t tell us who to marry, but it does have something to say about marriage. For example, you’ll know someone is “wrong” for you if they are of the same sex as you. You’ll know they’re wrong for you if they are not a follower of Christ (1 Corinthians 7:39). Christians shouldn’t be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14). Those are clear biblical filters for us who are still in the single stage of life.
- There are less defined criteria that ought to be considered as well. For example, I wouldn’t advise a very mature believer to marry someone who converted to Christ yesterday. I also would advise having godly people speaking into your life on a regular basis. How do they feel about this relationship you desire to be in, or this dating relationship you are in? Their words are not the Word of God, but godly voices ought to be considered as well.
- To you singles, there is nothing wrong with being single. Your being single can actually be a gift from the Lord and a gift to the church (how much more ministry capacity in the evenings you may have that I with a wife and two little boys may not!). Jesus completes me, Jesus completes you. God may have a spouse in the future for you (or He may not), but it’s not your job to figure out God’s sovereign plan in totality. It is your job and mine to take what we do know as revealed in God’s Word, and then to be faithful in the here and now.
- This brings me to my last point: be in the Word of God. You want to know God’s will I’m sure, but you can’t know it apart from His perfectly true Word. In this conversation, God’s Word will keep you from over-romanticizing “the one” as the world too often does but will also provide that biblical framework to be looking for a potential marriage partner down the road. Consume truth, believe truth, and apply truth.
I hope I’ve done this topic justice. I’m sure reading this post will elicit many thoughts and questions (and perhaps disagreement, which I’m okay with!). Admittedly, this is just a blog post trying to condense lots of thoughts into a tight summary. There’s much more that could be said, but I pray however we read and leave this blog it will be our aim to love and follow Christ more faithfully in whatever stage of life we currently find ourselves in! May this be a help for you to be and do just that!
Pastor Nathan Fox
PASTOR OF STUDENT MINISTRIES
Nathan began in 2016 and enjoys reading, watching or playing sports, taking walks with his wife Ashley, and going to Fresh Market to “sample” candy!