A good Bible study often stirs the imagination. I sometimes find myself thinking about different stories in the Bible and what it might have been like to be there. I imagine being on the boat when Jesus stilled the storm or seeing the face of the man born blind as he received his sight. I wish I could have been there when John received the Revelation. I think I could clear a few things up for us. So many Bible stories stir my imagination.
I’ve recently been thinking about Adam and Eve. It’s a story I’ve known since I was a boy, but like so many stories I still come back to it time and again. I think about what their lives would have been like. I imagine those first moments in the garden as Adam looked around and experienced everything for the first time; his first drink of water or taste of food. Adam and Eve would have enjoyed one long series of brand new experiences, things no one else had ever experienced.
I also think about that moment when Adam was placed into a deep sleep by God and woke up with a woman beside him. I can hear the excitement in Adam’s voice as he exclaimed, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Genesis 2:23, ESV). I bet he literally jumped for joy upon her arrival.
Adam and Eve didn’t have time to warm up to the idea of marriage. They didn’t get the chance to scope out their available options and make a calculated choice. The first couple didn’t become friends first, date a while, get engaged and finally marry. We really don’t know the exact timing, but from the text, we observe the creation of Eve, God’s explanation of marriage and the couple married all within four verses.
First and foremost, Adam and Eve knew marriage was God’s idea. God didn’t consult with Adam before creating Eve, asking him for his opinions along the way. God himself created their genders and every gender distinction: each physical, emotional, social and personality difference was God’s idea, and Adam and Eve knew it full well.
Secondly, Adam and Eve knew God provided for their particular marriage. It was God who made Eve and declared that the human pattern would be children leaving their families to form new families. They knew this wasn’t their idea. By the time Eve was created, Adam had already named all the animals. He knew none of them could compete with Eve as his companion. God had continued in His pattern of providence and once again provided everything Adam needed.
Lastly, Adam and Eve knew marriage was a good gift to them from God. I love the way the ESV translates Adam’s first comment on the woman, “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” or as The Message paraphrase captures it, “Finally!” (Genesis 2:23). Adam desired someone like her and responded with excitement upon her arrival.
All this might seem obvious, but I believe it reveals something we often forget. Marriage was originally God’s idea, and He is its ultimate provider. Many today mistakenly take a narrower perspective in which we must go out and make marriage happen all by ourselves. We tend to think if more men would get out there and ask girls out everything would just click into place.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for us being proactive. I agree we shouldn’t just sit around waiting for God to drop somebody in our laps. But I also believe we should take on the prayer posture of a child coming before our heavenly Father. As men, we come before Him and ask for the privilege of marrying one of His precious, beloved daughters. And as women, you each come before Him as daughters asking Him to bring you one of His beloved sons to be your husband.
I think we sometimes neglect this important aspect of pursuing relationships: a practical belief that God responds to the prayers of His people. We sometimes spend a lot of time pursuing relationships in our own strength and perhaps don’t spend enough time asking God to lead, guide and provide along the way. It’s journeying toward marriage together, asking God for His help even as we do our part.
A friend recently modeled this balance well. He was dating someone, and it was obvious to everyone they are a great fit. They get along great, and we all knew they would eventually get married. Before he proposed, he spent a week fasting about the decision. In doing so, he showed that even though he’d pursued his girlfriend well, he ultimately wanted to seek the Lord’s will for their relationship.
I write these thoughts as a single man. I look forward to meeting, pursuing and marrying that special woman one day. I know I will need to initiate and pursue throughout that relationship, but I also want to be prayerful throughout the journey. Regardless of who she is and how our relationship begins, I never want to lose sight of the fact it is God who does the providing.