This is the second part to this post. The first is available here
I just cannot accept these thoughts. It makes more sense to me to say that God in His power can work in any situation that we find ourselves in, to restore us to His will; no matter how far we have gone, or what disobedience we have cultivated against Him. This is why it just makes better sense to me to suggest that God’s will is actually a way of being, rather than a specific plan. I believe that God’s will meets us where we are, regardless of any choices we may have already made in the past.
Now this is where I could be wrong – because God is all-powerful. If it was the case that He had a specific plan – ABCDE for anyone’s life, then He knows how bring it about to restore us to this plan, even where we have disobeyed Him. I think that the surest way we have of walking in His specific will, if He does indeed have one for our lives, is by praying to Him to ask Him what His will and plan could be, but also by doing the right things, for the right reasons – walking in Biblical integrity and pursuit of Him and His word.
Now, looking back to marriage: I believe that at any one point of your life (ie, no matter what decisions you have made to get you to that point); there most likely will be a best choice of what to do and how to do it; in marriage as surely as in any other aspect of life. This is why we still need to pray and seek God desperately. It is not that I am rejecting the will of God, it is rather that I am rejecting it in that common interpretation. So then, if I had stayed in London, there would be a best choice – or a group of excellent choices – of husband for me; and so too here, in Edinburgh, there might be a best choice – or maybe one or two equally good choices. I’m definitely not saying that people should not pray to discern the will of God concerning their spouse, as in either of these situations I would still need to know which of the available choices would be best for me.
Other thoughts about this: (perhaps these should form another blog post!):
There does not seem to be any clear Biblical teaching that God works in this way regarding marriage. Now I raised this point at a recent church teaching session on marriage. The teacher in response gave the example of Isaac and Rebekah – how the prayers before their marriage led to them having a relatively smooth marriage, compared with Abraham and Jacob either side of Isaac; where for both Abraham and Jacob they married more than one woman, and where there is no record that Abraham or Jacob prayed before getting married. I would say “Yes, but the point for me is more that there was prayer, rather than that God was saying that this (Rebekah) was the one specific person that God had unnegotiably designed for Isaac before time began.” Even within that, it was not like their marriage was perfect, as Rebekah was barren for twenty years.
Off the top of my head, that is the only instance in the Bible where prayer forms a part of the marital choice -except where God told Hosea to marry a prostitute – and even then He did not specify any particular prostitute “Go take yourself a wife of harlotry” – Hosea 1v2. Yes, God instructed Joseph the future husband of Mary the mother of Jesus to marry Mary, but this was after the marital choice had already been made; God was reassuring Joseph that he should still marry Mary after Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant.
Paul in talking about widows remarrying does not refer to “the will of God”. Rather, he says that “if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord”. I Corinthians 7v39. In fact, I do not think that Paul or any other Scripture writer, refers to “the will of God in marriage” the same way we do in church, at all. I think this is one of those situations in which Christians have added to the Bible – although it can never be wrong to pray to God to ask His will and His advice. One big reason why I personally do this is because I do not know people’s hearts. Someone may appear all golden and shining on the outside, but only God can see their true nature. This is why I will always pray for God to have His way, even when someone appears simply perfect to me.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV)
A special mention has to be made of this passage, as I was discussing with someone on the opposing side of the argument, and then he sent me this verse to prove that God has specific deeds that He has planned for us. This is the way I look at it. God has planned specific things, but we still have our will to choose which ones we will perform – and whichever ones we perform, they will all function to His glory. For instance, one of my favourite analogies: God has already designed roses and dahlias and foxgloves and delphiniums – these are specific plants that He has lovingly created. However, if we were to design/plant flower gardens, we could happily choose which of the thousands of available flowers that we want to cultivate – and we can be confident that many choices would still lead to a beautiful garden. He has created the good works; we choose which ones we cultivate – it is still to His glory. Now, it may be that a certain flower would thrive best in one kind of soil rather than another, or needs certain kind of rainfall – so it is with some decisions that we make – this is why we still need to pray. I believe that as with a garden, so it is with a marriage that when you’ve got a good match of people that would work well together, the hardest work is to maintain the garden of your marriage, lovingly tend it, carefully weed it – that more than anything will probably contribute to having a beautiful garden, rather than the specific choice of flower.
Saying the same thing?
OK, having written this very long blog post, I will here concede that I might actually be saying what others are saying, just putting it in a different way. Maybe most people would also say that the will of God for your marriage is about where you find yourself, not about where you would have been if you had made the correct decisions your whole life. I think my issue is more to do with the concept of the will of God for your life, which I intellectually find hard to accept. However, when I’m sure I’m right about something, I say it again and again, and equally here, where I could be wrong, I will repeat it over and over – I think I’m right; this way of thinking makes sense to me, but I could definitely be wrong! 😉
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct[a] your paths.
Photo of man walking from Pixabay