Written by: Philippe Pang (Photo by: Ronald Lim)
A heart that wanders
In June 2016, God spoke to me about His call for me in relation to marriage, and even went as far as to pinpoint the partner He has in mind for me. While I heard His voice clearly, I was provided with no “evidence” of how this would happen.
My youth leaders have continually stressed that our revelations from God need to be confirmed by what we have gleaned from His Word, hence I struggled with this revelation for almost six months. How could someone so imperfect be given a partner for the rest of his life? A part of me still doubted God’s voice, whereby I entertained thoughts that this word for my life was the result of my fleshly desire.
A year after that, I started university. I had the privilege to stay on campus and forge new bonds, which included a strong Christian community. As young adults, our conversation topics gravitated towards finding a partner and marriage — we questioned whether all of us would find (or begin the search for) our soulmates during these four years.
I soon came to realise that I was beginning to develop feelings for a particular girl who lived in the same hostel as me. Living in close quarters and being in the same weekly campus prayer group meant that I had many opportunities to meet her. I enjoyed spending time with her, regardless of time or place.
However, despite being emotionally attracted to her, in my heart I knew that she was not someone God had planned for me. I was continually reminded of the words God had spoken to me about His plans for me for a partnership with a girl of His choice.
I struggled greatly during this time. I doubted whether I had heard God correctly; and if I had indeed been mistaken, it would give me “permission” to explore the possibility of a romantic relationship with this girl. Looking past my doubts, when I searched deep within me, I also knew that it was not the season for me to enter into a relationship.
I felt perplexed as these thoughts would surface whenever I encountered this girl whom I liked on campus; I wondered whether I was wrong to have such affections, as it seemed that God had other plans for me.
Discovering God’s lessons, not actions
Through this journey of discovering God’s intentions and His plans for me, He taught me a couple of lessons that eventually drove me to put a halt on exploring a romantic relationship during this season of my life.
1. Ask God what He wants to teach us, and not what we should do
During my first semester of school, I was constantly preoccupied with questions such as:
“God, what should I do? Should I spend more time with her or not?”
“Is it wrong to have these feelings?”
“What is your will for me? Am I going against you by going out with this girl?”
Often times, we become too obsessed with what we see, hear, and experience around us. We constantly want to know whether we are “on track.” We can easily fall into the trap of doing everything “right,” especially when it comes to living a “right” Christian life.
It is easy to treat our journey in Christianity as a checklist of right and wrongs: Today, I did my quiet time; on Sunday, I went to church and cell group…the list goes on. This checklist can become our measurement of how “close” we are to God or how much we mean to Him.
However, God is not a taskmaster who demands work from us. In fact, like how he spoke to Jesus at the beginning of His ministry, He values us simply for who we are above all else (Matthew 3:17).
In my season of questioning, God revealed to me that my desire for a relationship was not for His glory nor for His purposes. It was merely for personal comfort, so that I would feel less lonely and have the satisfaction of knowing that there was always be someone there for me.
I began to see that regardless of God’s plans for me to be in a relationship or not, He wanted to me to replace my source of comfort from a human relationship with Him by nurturing a godly relationship.
I had failed to realise that God wanted me to stop being devoted and soul-tied to a human relationship, but rather, be spiritually dependent and devoted to Him.
Psalm 1:3 says that “He [whose delight is in the law of the Lord] is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” If we are “planted by streams of water” (our relationship with God and our desire for more of Him), it matters little whether we are single or attached because our call to “love the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 6:5) doesn’t change. Without loving God, we would never be able to love others in any other human relationship as it would not come from an overflow of His love.
2. Weariness in the Waiting
In waiting for an answer to God’s plan for me in marriage, I learnt many beautiful lessons about God, such as the value of basking in His presence — He has given me so much more comfort than human companionship. It was also during this process that God dropped Jeremiah 29:10 into my heart one night: “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place…” I was convicted that just as God was faithful to the Israelites in exile, He will fulfil His promise to me one day.
Jeremiah 29:10 has since become a central verse upon which I meditate in my moments of quietness with God; it reminds me that no matter what situations we feel trapped by, just like the Israelites who were in exile in Babylon, God would free us in His time and in His sovereign will according to His good plan for us.
If you’re currently wrestling with God today — whether it relates to a relationship or otherwise — may you find the courage to truthfully come face-to-face with your desires. It is perfectly normal to wrestle with God over them — after all, Israel got his namesake after wrestling through the night with God.
You could also ask God this question: What are you teaching me in this situation? There is always more to life than our present emotions and desires, He’s continually working in and through us.