By Blake Widmer

"O LORD, God of my master Abraham...Let the young woman to whom I shall say, 'Please let down your jar that I may drink,' and who shall say, 'Drink, and I will water your camels'--let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master." Genesis 24:14
Dating. Boyfriends. Girlfriends. Sweethearts. These are buzzwords with teens and are certain to be involved in quite a few of their daily conversations. They may have heard of the the concept "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" as written by Joshua Harris, and a quite few other concepts. What about another concept- how about "Marriage by Faith like Isaac?" How would your teens respond?

Abraham lived by faith as told in the story in Hebrews 11. This story in Genesis is the account of Abraham sending a servant to find a wife for his son, Isaac. The servant makes a covenant with Abraham. The servant prays for the Lord's blessing, specifically for the Lord to make His will known, and then sets out on a mission. As soon as he sees a woman at the well, thinking that she may be a potential wife for Isaac, he takes a step of faith and asks for water.  
When her response is according to his prayer, he does not immediately reveal his intent. Rather, he shows patience as he proves the will of the Lord and seeks to learn more. Step by step, he asks about her background, shares openly with her father about the Lord's leading and waits for the blessing of the father. These principles help us understand that living by faith does not mean being ignorant, irrational and foolish in making serious life decisions. But it does support decisions by faith; covered in prayer, patience, counsel, honesty and wisdom. And in the end, God receives the glory, and we shall respond as Laban does in verse 50, "This has come from the LORD; we cannot speak against it."

These principles provide a foundation for us to live by, and offered me an example to follow in my own journey of seeking a helpmate from the Lord.  When He laid someone on my heart, I sought Him in prayer and found accountability. He led me to take steps of faith, and as prayers were answered, one by one, He affirmed that this was His will. Seeking advice, I shared openly with a multitude of counselors, and then waited for the direction and blessing of parents and spiritual leaders.  
Although in my flesh I really wanted to take charge, and talk with her on my own. I had been encouraged by my spiritual advisors to lean not on my own understanding or ways, but to trust God to provide in His way, in His time. So initially her pastor contacted her, and after discussing with her, he encouraged me to talk to her directly. We agreed to meet a week later to discuss in person. God faithfully went before us in many facets, and as we left that restaurant we both experienced peace that, although we couldn't fully understand, it was as real as the air we breathed.

Application to teen ministry? Does this account in Genesis mean dating is wrong? Of course not, and I'm not even saying we should tell teens not to date. In fact, dating done right can be a glory to God also! Nor am I saying that my experience is what everyone should experience, as it was far from what I expected and led by God speaking through others. But are we providing teens with a challenge? Are we offering a different perspective? Are we teaching Biblical principles that can be applied to their daily lives? Are you sharing your own experiences in order for them to have a pattern to follow? Looking at teen's today and from talking to them, there is a lot of confusion, false hope, pain and regret in their dating experiences.  
Let us encourage them to prayerfully evaluate the pros and cons of dating and courtship. Let us become positive model for them to emulate. And may we always focus on following Biblical principles and walking in obedience, by faith.
(Editor's note: Blake Widmer has recently become engaged to Tashi Bent, a wonderful young lady. Blake is on staff at the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf in Kingston, Jamaica  Congratulations!)


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