Did you know that for every member of a given Christian church there is a dramatically different opinion on Christian dating? All you have to do to see that this is true is check out the comments section on a Relevant Magazine article about dating or maybe even post something to Facebook about the virtues of courtship. We simply can’t agree. Should the parents be involved or is that anti-feminism? Should you be clear about your intention to one day get married or is that putting too much pressure on the relationship? We could fight all day about these issues and more. Thankfully, even though the Bible doesn’t give us any hard and fast rules on dating, it has some cool examples to take lessons from.
One such story is found in today’s chapter, Genesis 24. Abraham has lived a good old life (literally, the Bible legit says that God has blessed him in every way possible [verse 1]) and is now ready to turn his attention to his son’s future. Step number one? Find Isaac a wife. He enlists his senior servant to do the legwork for him, explaining to him that he doesn’t want Isaac to marry a Canaanite. He’d rather him marry someone from his own family, with his own value system. The servant swears to do his best and sets out with a bunch of camels and gifts.
We can tell Abraham chose this servant wisely, because he does not waste any time before taking the issue to God in prayer. He asks God to give him a sign when he’s come upon the right woman for Isaac – when he asks her for water, she will not only give it to him, but offer to draw some for his camels. Almost immediately, a woman appears before the servant and he puts the sign to the test. The woman, named Rebekah, eagerly agrees to give him and his camels water. Success! The servant praises God, showers the girl with gifts, and asks to spend the night with her family.
The faithful servant finds that this woman is the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother; so essentially Isaac will be marrying his second cousin. He is more overjoyed by this information than anyone would be in modern times, and proceeds to tell the family the whole story. They agree that God is at work here, and eventually send Rebekah and her maids back with the servant to Canaan. It doesn’t take long for Rebekah to meet and marry Isaac, and she soon moves into the role of beloved wife in a wealthy and happy home.
The Treasures Within:
Trust That Passes All Understanding
Let’s be real. This story is a bit insane. In all of what seems like two weeks or less, Abraham and a servant go on a search for Isaac’s wife, take the first woman who meets their criteria, and shotgun the wedding. After this whirlwind of life changes, Isaac and Rebekah are now expected to build a life together! They hardly know each other! This cannot be a good example of how to navigate romance and dating and marriage as Christians.
Or is it? Although our processes differ by a lot these days, there’s an integral quality that stands out in this dating scenario – trust. It’s everywhere. Abraham had to trust God’s leading power enough to send a servant to do this important task, rather than going himself. Isaac had to trust that his dad would be able to properly pick his life partner. The servant himself showed deep trust in God by basically handing the reigns over to Him as to which girl to choose. Finally, Rebekah and her family had to trust that this crazy servant was telling the truth that God was the one at work here! That all sounds like much too much faith for my comfort – and that’s the thing.
Surrendering to God and trusting Him with important decisions in our lives can at first be the most uncomfortable thing ever. This can be especially true when it comes to dating – if the Holy Spirit is urging you to avoid the super cute, mesmerizing guy or girl that you’ve had your eye on for ages…well, trusting that may be difficult. Or trusting that God has a plan for your future love life when absolutely no one seems to be interested? That’s a much less attractive option than taking matters into your own hands via Tinder or something. Trusting God hurts sometimes and it’s confusing, but the very definition of trust is believing that God knows best. After the pain of trust and giving up control comes the sweet relief of blessing and hopefully, like Isaac and Rebekah, we’ll realize that what God has given us is what we were waiting for all along.
As romance-focused as this story seems, this chapter actually reminds me of something else, another sort of proposal that we all will receive. We are sort of like Rebekah, living our lives, doing our thing, not at first knowing that there is a Man who wants us, all of us. He sends His servants to us, and they tell us about Him and how great He is. They tell us of the beautiful gifts and blessings He wants to offer us. God’s servants ask us if we are prepared to drop everything and essentially turn our lives upside down, all because this Man asked us to enter into a relationship with Him. And then we must decide. Like Rebekah’s family, there might be people who tell us to put this decision off. There’s still fun to be had before committing our lives to Jesus. Yet deep down in our hearts we wonder if it’s not best to jump straight in, without delay or hesitation, and accept our God’s proposal. Rebekah made the right choice. Will we?
God’s Message To Us:
“Trust in Me. Take a leap of faith into My love. I will not let you down.” When God asks us to believe in Him and to surrender our lives to Him, He does not ask lightly. Earnestly, with bated breath, He requests that we forsake all and come to Him. He lays out all His promises before us. He makes it clear that He is all-in for us. It is not too much, then, that He asks the same of us. God doesn’t want some of us. He doesn’t want just fifteen minutes of our time, or one day out of the week. He wants us to leave the world behind and come and live with Him. He wants us to trust Him enough to let Him into all aspects of our lives, our minds, and our hearts. It’s a crazy request, an indecent proposal. But somewhere deep down in our hearts we wonder if this is the real deal. If this is what we’ve been waiting for all along. So we jump…and He catches us.
There Are Always Questions:
- I find it interesting that in verse 41, the servant says that Abraham had agreed to release him from his duty if the woman’s family refused to give her to Isaac. Yet in verse 8, Abraham’s distinction is that if the woman herself refuses, then the servant is absolved from responsibility. Was Abraham being more feminist than the servant, recognizing that the woman was the one who needed to decide? Or was this just a translation thing? Either way, it was Rebekah who ultimately chose to go to Isaac (verse 58), and thank God for that.
What do you think? What other dating principles did you get from this story? What message do you think God was trying to get to you when He wrote this chapter?