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I have been married since 1988; does that prove Anne was “the One” God had in mind for me? How did I know she was the one before I proposed? Is there really a “One” God has for any of us? If you find “the One” and later get divorced and remarried (which some of my Christian friends have done), does it make that spouse “the second One”? Did you miss God’s perfect will the first time?
For such a hot topic, you’d think there would be more about it in the Scriptures, but there’s not. Marriage was approached quite differently back then. And in some countries today, it still is – even for Christians. “The One” for those believers means the one your parents picked when you were eight.
But the question persists strongly for those of us raised in evangelical America, where we are taught to seek God’s will for our lives in every area, especially the big decisions. So when I was head over heels in love with Anne (being a good Evangelical) I wrestled with whether or not she was “the One” God had chosen for me. My desire for God’s will for my life was an honest one, and here’s how He led me.
It took me three years to even get a date with Anne. But that was OK since we met at 15. College and other circumstance separated us, but our paths kept crossing and I could never get her out of my thinking for very long. After college we both taught conversational English in Japan for the summer, where I announced that I was in love with her and had been for years, and that I was going to pursue her to see if it were God’s will that we get married. (I really did say it pretty matter-of-fact like that). All she said was thank you. (Her feelings were far from certain). We dated for a year after we got back to the U.S. I became more convinced than ever that I wanted her. All that was left was to get God to say she was “the One”. Simple. (It didn’t matter to me if she thought I was “the One” for her, since, I reasoned, when God answered me, He would, of course, break the news to her.)
But God wasn’t cooperating. He was saying a lot of other things, but nothing about what I most wanted to know. So one day, inspired by some story I had heard about persistence, or wrestling with God, or something like that, I decided I would go to the library the following Saturday with my Bible, find a quiet corner, and stay there until I got an answer (or until they closed the library). I arrived as the doors opened. I read and prayed the same stuff I had for a year. The morning passed. Nothing. I was frustrated as afternoon crept by. Why was God making it so hard to know what He wanted? Then, in His mercy and sense of humor, God spoke to me. I was reading 1 Corinthians 7 for the hundredth time:
But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned.… let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry. But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well. (1 Corinthians 7: 28, 36-37)
All cultural differences aside, here is what God said to me:
You won’t be in sin either way, as long as you know your own mind. You can ask her to marry you or not. The choice is yours – I’m not the one who has to live with, or without, her. But if you do marry her, then you know what I expect of husbands.
I closed my Bible, happy. I told God, “Well I know what I want!” I learned that day that God is fond of delegating choices. He gave Adam and Eve choice as a gift, and even though they screwed up, He didn’t take His gift back. He pushes us to make choices, and holds us responsible to honor Him by demonstrating His character in the consequences.
Of course, He may tell others who “the One” is, but that’s His choice.