"I've had a vision that God wants
us to get married."
I went on to share with her what
the Lord had told me, nervous but confident that
her response would be one of elation. After all,
since she was a serious Christian wanting God's
will, how could she react otherwise?
It had been nearly a year before,
while praying in a beautiful mountain setting,
that my thoughts turned to this young woman in
our college fellowship. As I prayed, I suddenly
found myself overcome with a warm feeling that
God intended us to be married. A picture of her
as my wife came into my mind; it seemed
startlingly real. After that I simply assumed
that I'd had a revelation from God.
Later that year a friendship with
her started to develop, and we began dating.
Several extraordinary coincidences occurred that
left me even more convinced that God was leading
us to marry.
Now on our fourth date the time
finally seemed right to unveil my vision to her.
I was so hopeful that now our relationship would
become defined and we would reach a mutual
conviction of God's will.
The relationship did indeed
become defined at that point. The next day she
told me that she didn't think God wanted us to
Death of a Vision
For days I was reeling with
disappointment and wounded pride. I felt rejected
by both her and God. I simply could not
understand how this could have happened. Did she
misunderstand God's will? Was she blatantly
disobeying it? Or was God for some reason
punishing me and allowing me to miss his perfect
plan? Or--heaven forbid--was it even possible
that I had misread what God had said to me in the
Countless Christians have shared
similar experiences with me. One person in a
relationship is certain of having a word from God
about it's future--but the other is quite
unconvinced. It is not only the one with the
"vision" who feels rejected and
confused. Often the other feels just as confused,
and angry as well, at being forced into a corner
and denied a role in where the relationship
What causes this predicament?
Fooled by a Feeling
In my own case, at least, it is
now clear what the problem was: I read too much
of God's will into my own feelings. In the
romantic area especially, where emotions run very
strong, it is easy to do. I simply assumed that
feelings as strong as mine must be a revelation
It has been helpful in studying
biblical principles of guidance to find that God
seldom, if ever, reveals to us our personal
future--or anyone else's. He simply gives us
enough guidance to take the next step in faith.
Even a person with the remarkable spiritual
maturity of St. Paul seldom knew God's precise
intention for his own future. When he writes to
the Corinthians of his desire to visit them, for
instance, he states, "For I intend to
pass through Macedonia, and perhaps I will
stay with you or even spend the winter, so
that you may speed me on my journey, wherever
I go. For I do not want to see you now
just in passing; I hope to spend some time
with you, if the Lord permits" (1 Cor
16:5-7 RSV, italics mine). In many ways Paul
indicates that his notion of where God was
leading him was tentative at best.
Too often in romantic
relationships Christians assume that their
feelings are giving them a certainty about the
future which even saints like Paul seldom had.
My advice to Christians in dating
situations now is this: if you believe God has
revealed to you that you should marry a certain
person, fermez la bouche--at least until
you are sure the other is just as convinced.
Believe that if this is really God's will, he
will make it every bit as clear to the other
person as he has to you, without the need for
unusual persuasion on your part.
At the same time, share your feelings
honestly and openly with the other person. Let
him or her know of your affection and desire for
marriage, if it seems appropriate to do so. But
stop short of any ultimate statement on God's
will which might make the other feel boxed in.
That really amounts to spiritualizing your
feelings and is bound to make further discussion
When I began dating Evie
Kirkland--the one God actually intended me to
marry--there wasn't much I could have done to
keep the relationship from working out. There was
something very natural about the way we both
concluded God wanted us together. It was as
obvious to her as it was to me.
I am struck that in the first
marriage in Scripture, God brought the
woman to the man. Adam didn't have to hit Eve
over the head with "thus saith the
Lord." If I had understood this as a young
Christian, it would have spared me some real
agony. And it certainly would have made life
easier for the young woman who had to suffer
through my vision.
For relationships, the lesson
boils down to this: don't play God. Take things a
step at a time, and don't presume to know God's
future plan for yourself or the other person.
Allow the other the freedom either to come to the
conviction of God's will that you have or to see
things differently. This kind of sensitive and
patient approach to the marriage decision will
pave the way for a more mature seeking of God's
will together within marriage itself.