So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isa. 55:11
This scripture was in my head all day yesterday. I don’t know why, but when Joshua Harris asked what I would define as a successful courtship in his book, Boy Meets Girl, this came to mind. He started out by relaying how he’d heard about some friends who had decided to end their courtship. At first, he viewed this as an unsuccessful courtship. Then he realized that the courtship had accomplished what they wanted it to, it just didn’t have the hoped for outcome.
When two people decide to actively engage in a relationship with an eye towards discovering whether or not they should get married, whether or not it ends in marriage does not determine the success. Anytime you are able to make a clear, informed decision about whether or not you should marry, it’s a success. But try keeping that perspective and balance when you’re the one in the courting relationship!
It’s always amazing to me what happens when I share God’s word with someone. There have been people I really wanted to bring closer to Christ and His truth who just don’t fully embrace God’s word. It has frustrated me to see close friends and family pick and choose what to believe in the Bible or act as if they can decide to give God any kind of response they want. It doesn’t always matter how I present the Word or the timing of it; they just don’t want it. It has taken me a long time to realize that God’s Word accomplishes exactly what God means for it to accomplish. Sometimes it draws people closer and sometimes it drives them away. As a Christian, my job is to share the Word. I’m not supposed to be concerned with the results because I don’t know what a successful result is in any given situation. I can’t see all that God is doing. I don’t give the increase. Anytime I share the Word, it’s going to be successful. God’s word is going to do exactly what it’s supposed to do. That should be freeing. I can’t mess it up. But when there are feelings involved, it’s not so easy.
Throughout this season of courtship, I’ve learned that God answers prayers. I’ve also learned that sometimes the answer isn’t a simple yes or no like I’d want it to be. I wanted to know if I should marry Mr. Perfect, and my answer has been the Marriage and Family Workshops every 4th Wednesday, pre-marital counseling, and some uncomfortable revelations about self and others (To be fair, I asked for the wisdom to make the right decision. Maybe if I had asked a yes or no question, I could have received a simpler answer :D). I’ve also learned that God doesn’t have to drop out of the sky or send a blazing neon sign in order for me to get the message. He has placed some wonderful people around me who both knowingly and unknowingly have pointed me to the right scriptures at the right time, whose lives have been testimonies, and who have opened up their homes and hearts to share with me knowledge that I would have paid dearly to acquire through experience. Hearing the same things over and over again from people who don’t know each other nor do they know I’m dealing with decisions in the area they are speaking on just convinces me God knows I need some help and has placed study guides in this world for me.
Even if at the end of all of this I am back to being single, this courtship will not be without its accomplishments. I have learned to communicate better. I’ve corrected many negative traits I had. I’ve developed more discernment and a reliance on God for wisdom and not myself. I have written a book that will help many others wade through some of the wrong thinking we have about what relationships are all about because I’ve been disabused of such notions. I can say that I have conducted myself well in this courtship. I have done the work to know exactly what it is I bring to the table, good and bad. I’ve done the work to make an informed decision about my future. How can that not be counted as a success?
Success simply means that something has done what it was supposed to do, even if it’s not what we wanted it to do. I may not end up saving a soul or flashing a shiny ring, but whenever God’s will is accomplished, it’s a success. This quote I saw on twitter by CS Lewis perfectly sums it up:
C. S. Lewis
For you will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.
A successful courtship, a successful life, is one that seeks out God’s will and then lines itself up with it. People like to think of sins as mistakes and God as this eraser that makes most of what you did disappear; that’s not how it works. God forgives sin, but consequences still come. However things end up for me, I strive towards eliminating sin and the need for God to have to work around what I’ve done to get me back on the path He had me on to begin with. Again, CS Lewis says it so much better:
C. S. Lewis
Whatever you do, He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed him.
Your Two Cents: How do you view success? Did your relationship work out as you intended? What are you doing for Christmas?
- REVIEW: “Boy Meets Girl” by Joshua Harris (shouldbereading.wordpress.com)