If you are frustrated, in need of reassurance, or beginning to wonder if Christ-centered love stories still exist in today’s modern age of heartbreak, hook-ups, and divorce, this episode is for you! Listen as Leslie answers popular questions about relationships on the hearts of women across the globe. Also, hear about the exciting opportunity to take this topic deeper in Eric and Leslie’s upcoming course, Secrets to an Amazing Love Story, available in February for a limited time!
In This Episode, Leslie Shares:
- The reason behind the lack of godly relationships in our Christian culture.
- Biblical perspectives on pursuing relationships and “helping” God out in the area of love and romance.
- How to find fulfillment, even while single.
- Three principles found in every God-written love story.
Leslie Ludy: Hey, everyone! It’s Leslie Ludy. Welcome to the Set Apart Girl Podcast: Biblical Encouragement for Women of All Ages. Today we’re going to tackle a really important question that, I think, a lot of modern Christians are asking: Does God write love stories anymore?
Now some of you may know that Eric and I have written a book called When God Writes Your Love Story, so obviously we come from the perspective that God is interested in scripting love stories, even in our modern day. But there has become so much cynicism in the church of whether God is really interested in writing love stories; if that’s a fairy tale, if that’s an unrealistic expectation of God. The popular view is to take this area of your life into your own hands, script your own story, and then ask for God’s blessing. But I want to take a look from a deeper and biblical perspective of why God wants to be at the center of this area of our lives and why He’s interested in writing love stories.
Why are There a Lack of Christ-Centered Love Stories?
Leslie Ludy: One of the reasons I think we don’t often see God-scripted, or God-centered, love stories in our Christian culture today is because so many Christians are hesitant to actually give Him the pen and let Him write the story. We’re hesitant to surrender to Him in this area because either we’ve been told by other people that He’s not interested, or maybe we think we’re disqualified from a God-written love story because of mistakes in the past, or we simply want the control of this area of our lives.
I know in my own story, that was my issue. I didn’t necessarily argue the fact that God would be interested in writing my love story, I just didn’t know if I wanted Him to write my love story because I thought I could do a better job. That’s ridiculous when you think about the fact that God is the One who created romance and marriage in the first place; He came up with the idea. He put those desires for human companionship within us, and who better to fulfill them than the Author of romance Himself? But I didn’t see it that way.
I always thought, Whatever I give to God He’s asking for it so He can make me miserable. I had this fear that if I gave Him the pen and said, “Lord, You write my love story. You be in control in this area.” He would rub His hands together with an evil laugh and be so excited to ruin my life – when that’s so ridiculous, and it’s so dishonoring to the nature of God! I thought, He will sentence me to a rocking chair. I’ll be sitting, rocking my life away with a long, grey, tent-like dress; looking out the window forlornly with a 50-pound Bible in my lap – that’s going to be my lot in life until I’m in my 80s. Then maybe I’ll get married and have a couple years with someone, and then we’ll both get old and die. And that was the best that God could do. How ridiculous my understanding was at that time! But that was why I didn’t want to let Him write my love story.
After taking the pen in my own hands and completely messing up this area of my life, getting my heart broken time and time again through trying to script my own love story, I was finally willing to get on my knees and say, “Lord, I don’t think I’m the one to have control of this area of my life. I don’t think I can actually write a fulfilling, beautiful love story for my future. I’m giving You the pen; I’m surrendering this to You.” My life has never been the same since I made that decision to say, “Lord, You are in control. I’m going to surrender it to You. You write my love story. If You desire me to be married, You put the pieces, the story, the details together in Your own perfect time and way without my manipulation.”
That was a really hard decision to make, and yet I think about what I would have missed out on if I hadn’t given Him that pen and invited Him into the center of this area of my life. His plans and purposes for me were beautiful, and they were so far beyond any story that I could have ever written for myself. I would have completely missed the relationship with Eric that He wanted to script for me if I hadn’t continued clinging to my own pen. I think about the way my life could have gone if I had tried to write my own story and it’s a terrible thought. God is faithful when we leave the choice to Him!
Should We “Help” God Script a Love Story?
Leslie Ludy: A lot of times people will bring up the question, “Well don’t we need to be helping God along? After all, God can’t steer a parked car.” That’s what people always used to say to me. You can’t just sit around and wait for God to write your love story; you have to take some action. You have to do some stuff. Well, the argument that God can’t steer a parked car is not a biblical one because God created the Heavens and the earth, He parted the Red Sea, and He’s the God of miracles. So I don’t think steering a parked car is a problem for Him when we trust Him and we wait for Him in “quietness and trust [as our] strength” [as] the Bible says. (See Isaiah 30:15.) We wait for Him. Wait for His timing; don’t rush ahead of Him – that is when we begin to see Him truly do miracles in this area of our lives.
The story of my sister in law, Krissy. She waited and gave her love story to God from the age of 12, and all throughout her single and young adult years she didn’t float around from one relationship to the next. She didn’t pursue guys. She wasn’t putting her life on hold until she would finally get married. Even when she was in her 30s, she had never been in a serious relationship and people said, “You really need to get moving and take some action.” She was living in a rural part of Michigan doing some missionary work, and she knew she was where God wanted her to be, but there was a lot of pressure to move to a bigger city and be around available, single men. Yet as she kept her eyes on Christ and said, “Lord, if You want me to be married, You’ll bring my husband to me in Your perfect time and way. I don’t need to go chasing Him all around the country and revamp my whole life to put myself in the path of available men.”
And that’s exactly what God did. As she trusted Him, as she kept her eyes on Him, God wrote for her a beautiful love story in the most unlikely place, and it happened without her manipulation.
What Should We Pursue in a Season of Singleness?
Leslie Ludy: There are modern books for Christian women on singleness that say that we are called to pursue marriage. The argument is that because God created the majority of us for marriage and marriage is a good thing, then we won’t really be fulfilling God’s plan for our life until we pursue marriage, go after it, get that area of our life resolved, and then we’re complete. Really, we can only be complete in Jesus Christ whether married or single. And we’re not called to pursue marriage, we’re called to pursue Him – Jesus Christ. It says in 2 Timothy 2:22, “Flee youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, [and] peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” So it’s not the pursuit of marriage, it’s the pursuit of Christ. Again in 1 Corinthians 7:34, Paul says, “The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy in body and spirit.”
The desire for marriage is not wrong and steps of obedience are not wrong if God says, “This is what I want you to do.”, as in the story of Ruth with Naomi. Naomi told Ruth, “This is what I want you to do.” And it led to her marriage with Boaz (see Ruth 3:1-6). But yieldedness to the Lord, pursing Him, being consecrated to Him, and building our life around Him instead of the pursuit of a relationship is what we are called to in our single years.
What NOT to Do
Leslie Ludy: Now if you want to get back to that question, “God can’t steer a parked car.” I would encourage you to look at the story of Isaac and Ishmael because it’s such an amazing illustration of what happens when we rush ahead of God and take the pen in our own hands. We use the excuse that, “God’s not really doing anything. I don’t really see anything happening here. Obviously He can’t steer a parked car, so I’m going to start driving that car down the hill and see what happens.”
Well, that was what Abraham and Sarah did. God had promised them a child who would be a legacy for them and that the descendants from this child would be more numerous than the stars of the sky. And yet they were in their old age and God wasn’t fulfilling their promise so they thought, Obviously, God needs our help. He needs us to manipulate circumstances to make this happen. So they came up with a plan for Abraham to sleep with His wife’s maidservant and Ishmael was born. Ishmael was not God’s promised child. It says in Genesis 16, “He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him” (Gen. 16:2).
At one point in the story Abraham cries out and says, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You [talking to God]!” (Gen. 16:8). But God says, “No I’ve not chosen Ishmael as the promised child. I’ve chosen Isaac, and I want to do this in My own time, in My own way, and all the glory will go to Me” (Gen. 16:19 paraphrased). It was only when they allowed God to do it His way that that promise was truly fulfilled.
Inspiring Examples of Cross-Centered Love
Leslie Ludy: There are so many amazing examples throughout history of God-written love stories. [To] think of a few … Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. Here’s a quote from Elisabeth Elliot as she was writing about the way God scripted their love story. She said, “A man’s love for a woman ought to hold her to the highest. Her love for him ought to do the same. I did not want to turn Jim aside from the call of God, to distract his energies, or in any way stand between Him and surrender. That was what I understood real love to mean.” Their story was God-scripted because they both put God first and they wouldn’t allow even a good thing – their love for each other – to stand in the way of full surrender to Jesus Christ. And that was what made their entire story so God-scripted and so powerful.
Oswald and Biddy Chambers had an incredible love story with the same principle of surrender at the core. When they were getting to know each other Oswald Chambers wrote to her, “God has all the circumstances in His hand. In His hand my whole life and yours with me must be for Him and not for domestic bliss.”
And another great story is Rees and Elisabeth Howells. He was an amazing evangelist in the early 1900s, and in the biography about their life together it says, “The Lord had drawn them together until they wondered if it were God’s will for them to marry and make a home together for the tramps [because they both had a ministry to the tramps of the village that the lived in.] Soon after, however, they were led in the opposite direction, to give up their marriage not knowing whether it would ever be restored to them. It wasn’t until three years later that the Lord’s word came that their lives should be united in His service.”
All three of these couples had to surrender their love stories to Him and say, “Lord, we’re not going to manipulate. You do this in Your own time and way, and because of that they had amazing, Christ-centered, God-written love stories.
Key Principles to a God-Scripted Love Story
Leslie Ludy: There are two keys to a God-scripted love story. It’s not a pattern or a formula where you say, “I’m going to do x,y, and z, and then I’ll meet my husband at this age, and this is how it’s going to look.” It’s biblical principles that you apply to your life and the specifics of your story are going to look different than the next person’s God-written love story because God is a very creative God. Here are two key principles that are there in every God-scripted love story.
Key No. 1: Find Fulfillment in Christ Alone
Leslie Ludy: First of all, we have to realize that true fulfillment and happiness doesn’t come from marriage but from Jesus Christ. As Corrie ten Boom said, “Marriage is not the answer to unhappiness. Happiness is found only in a balanced relationship with the Lord Jesus.” If you are thinking that your fulfillment and happiness is going to come from an earthly relationship, you’re not going to be able to have a God-scripted love story because you can’t truly surrender the whole idea of marriage into His hands. You’re looking to the wrong thing for your ultimate fulfillment.
Key No. 2: Make Your Motive for Marriage God’s Glory
Leslie Ludy: The second key is that our motives for marriage have to be for God’s glory and not to serve our own desires. I think so many of us look at relationships as getting something that we want that will bring benefit and fulfillment to our lives as opposed to saying, “Lord, if this is Your desire for my life, if this will bring more glory to You to be married versus single, then I will surrender myself to that as opposed to, “If this is what I want, then I need to go after it.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.” And that includes marriage.
Luke 14:26 is where Jesus says, “[If anyone] comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife, and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” We see here not that we’re supposed to hate our family members, but our love for Jesus Christ should be so strong, so preeminent in our lives that even earthly relationships we will be willing to sacrifice and surrender those things so that He can truly have first place.
Marriage is a good gift and a blessing from God, but it shouldn’t be what we pursue and build our lives around. Even the good and perfect gifts that God gives us have to be continually given back to Him, just as Abraham willingly offered Isaac, His only son, when God asked him.
If you’re wondering if God writes love stories anymore … yes, He does – when we’re truly surrendered to Him. If we’re trying to keep our hand on the pen and saying, “Lord, I want You to write my love story, but I want to help You out over here. I’m going to do this over there; I’m going to go flirt with this person over here; I’m going to make sure this guy notices me there; I’m going to make sure I’m all over the internet and I have all these online dating profiles so people can really see me and I can get their attention … that is not the way that God is going to script a love story.
A God-scripted love story comes from a heart that fully trusts Him, that is completely surrendered to Him, and a heart that is completely fulfilled in Him and not looking to marriage to meet needs in your life that only Jesus Christ can meet. One of the most important foundations that God laid in my life before He ever wrote my love story with Eric was that I had to learn not to fit Christ into my life, but to build my life around Him; to delight in Him, and to truly make Him my first love. A lot of times the reason God doesn’t script our love stories is that we never learn that lesson. We’re always putting our life on hold until we finally get married because we think that’s our ultimate fulfillment as opposed to saying, “Lord, I have everything I need for perfect happiness in You right now, whether married or single.”
Key No. 3: Love Your Spouse Even While You’re Single
Leslie Ludy: Another key principle for a God-written love story is we need to learn how to love our spouse even before we meet them with the sacrificial love of Christ. A God-written love story is not going to happen as long as we’re chasing guys and we’re trying to jump into one relationship after the next, giving our heart to one person after the next, and somehow trying to get a God-written love story out of that.
In Proverbs 31:12 it says that the wife of godly character “… does [her husband] good and not harm all the days of her life.” That was one of the verses that God used to totally transform my perspective in how I was treating my future husband before I met him. I realized I wasn’t doing him good all of the days of my life. I was waiting until I met him to start doing him good. God was saying “Do him good right now.” Set your life apart for him and honor him not only in your actions around other men but in your thought life, in how you dress, in every thing that you do. Even in your friendships with other men, make sure you are truly honoring your husband and doing him good.
Leslie Ludy: If you have a surrendered heart, if you’re finding your fulfillment in Christ, and if you’re purposing to do your spouse good and not harm all the days of your life – even before you meet him – you can be sure that God will script your love story if His desire for you is marriage. If His desire for you is singleness, He will give you the grace and the strength to walk that path of singleness with the same joy, the same peace, and the same fulfillment as someone who’s called to be married. You can only walk this path of surrender by the enabling grace of God, but remember that the things which are impossible with men are possible with God.
I encourage you to remember that a God-scripted love story is not a formula and it’s not an unrealistic fairy tale; it’s a journey of surrender, faith, and trust in our mighty God. If you simply take your hands off the pen and surrender it to Him, watch and see what He will do! Don’t give into the cynicism and the sarcasm that surrounds the Christian world today. Look at Him with childlike faith, and you can know that He will be faithful in this area of your life.
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode. If you would like to go deeper into the principles of a God-scripted love story whether you’re married or single, I encourage you to walk through our online relationships course. It’s called Secrets to an Amazing Love Story, and it’s over 17 hours of Eric and I teaching on video all of the most important truths that we have learned over the years about keeping God at the center of a relationship both before and after marriage. It’s available for a limited time in February of this year! Visit us here to learn how you can be a part of the Secrets to an Amazing Love Story online course. I pray you have a blessed and Christ-centered week!