Note: words can be confusing on this topic; by ‘dating’ in this post, I am not talking about just ‘going on dates’, but the next step: boyfriend-girlfriend, intentional courtship.
In our day, few things are less straightforward than dating. Questions, doubts and unknowns – it feels so overly complicated. Certainly all of the details are good to pay attention to and live in, but is it possible to simplify it? Can we boil it down to one principle?
In the end, dating is just like everything else in the life of a disciple. It is just about asking, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” That is the fundamental orientation of a disciple, in dating and out of it. God works in the details, but we ought never to let the details anxiously distract us from the solid base: the simple sense of where we honestly feel like God is leading us.
The messiness of dating can get to us and make us nervous. “But what about this? What about that? And what about x, or y, or z!” Again, all of that is important to take into account. But, looking for direction from those things gets absolutely overwhelming. The only way to get anywhere amidst it all is just to be a disciple – stake your entire life on, “Lord, where are we going?” Like all of life, dating finds its redemption in prayer, in a lived relationship with Jesus. Like all of life, it comes down to this:
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
“But I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” (John 14:31)
“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” (John 15:10)
“Nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
A few cautions to take with us:
- Don’t despise the natural – God made it, He loves it. The same goes for dating. Pay attention to your attractions and the desires of your heart. When rooted in prayer, we ought to become more human and more caught up in the grit and messiness of life.
- Live and act as if He is guiding us, even if we don’t ‘feel’ it. We should pray, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” and then leave that time of prayer confident that He will answer our plea, not in some detached way, but in and through our lives. Keep in mind that He might answer that prayer by saying, “Just live and follow your deepest desires, counting on me to shape them.”
- Maybe we need more time in prayer, learning how to discern the Lord’s voice before we set out on a voyage in which we will really need His guidance. Dating is darn near impossible without a mature understanding of how to discern the Lord’s will.
- Remember that He speaks in little hints, with a still, small voice. He might just give us a “general sense”. He is rarely blatantly obvious. Instead, following Him takes faith and risk; it takes guts and a willingness to fail. God doesn’t move a parked car. So, pray and then put things in gear and take a chance.
Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do. (Ephesians 4:17)
Really, take one look at how the world does dating – let’s not follow its lead on this one.
Instead, we need only be tremendously confidently about the Lord’s active, present, purposed workings in our lives. In dating, as in all things, let’s just stay very close and very small at the feet of the Lord, and trust Him to run our lives. Lord knows, there might still be plenty of challenges, mountains to overcome and things to discern but if we can’t keep coming back to the question, “Lord, what should I do?” then…
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life… (John 6:68)