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 (Manna 57: Christians in the Community)
When God Is Your Matchmaker
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When God Is Your Matchmaker

Julie Lin—Baldwin Park, California, USA

I am joyful to testify that God has guided me in the biggest decision of my life—that is, my marriage. Growing up, my mother was a believer, but my father was not. There were times when I could not participate in church activities because my father thought that there were more important things in life than one’s faith.

I saw how my mom expended so much effort to bring my siblings and me to church. She spent a lot of time kneeling before God and shedding tears to preserve her own faith and her children’s faith.

Growing up in church, Religious Education teachers often reminded us that we should not be yoked together with unbelievers. As I matured, I became convinced that I wanted to marry in the Lord because I did not want to spend a major portion of my lifetime fighting for something that was as essential to me as my faith. I simply wanted to build up a Christian family and serve the Lord.

FEELING INCOMPLETE

Under the Lord’s guidance, I went back to Taiwan for my undergraduate degree. I had grown accustomed to Western culture since immigrating to the US when I was twelve, and there were many adjustments I had to make when I went back. It was a different society, and I lived a very different type of lifestyle.

In college, most of my friends were Gentiles, and most of them had boyfriends or girlfriends. The common view was that freshmen could be the most selective about choosing a guy. Then, in sophomore year, one should lower one’s standards, and by junior year, one should hurry up because it would be hopeless by senior year.

At times, I felt lonely. I would go out with my friends, but they would have to leave me in the middle of our outing to meet with their boyfriends. That started to become a weakness of mine, because I, too, wanted to have company, and I, too, wanted someone to care for me. When there were suitors, these thoughts would intensify.

But thanks to the grace of God, I would kneel down to pray when I had doubts. I started to pray about my marriage in my freshman year of college, not because I was desperate for a husband, but because I received a lot of comfort in my prayers. God told me to wait for His timing and arrangement.

When I prayed for my marriage, I didn’t ask for any conditions or list any requirements. When I was a little girl, I heard a story about how we’re all like a circle with a piece missing. Although we can’t see the piece we’re missing, I deeply believe that God sees above all and knows what I need. He’ll find this lost piece for me.

GOD’S CALL

During my junior year in college, I spoke to my mom almost every day, and she would tell me of various matchmakers who wanted to match me up with someone. Like some of you, I didn’t like the idea of matchmaking. I thought it was for older people. Also, I was in Taiwan at the time and did not want to get involved in a long-distance relationship.

I had made a lot of plans for the summer entering into my senior year. I was going to take GRE classes and get a job. But in my prayers, I had a feeling that I needed to go back to the US that summer. Since that wasn’t in my plan, I brushed it off.

As the end of the school year neared, that feeling grew stronger and stronger. I could not help thinking that perhaps God wanted to lead me somewhere, so one week before school ended, I altered my plans and booked a ticket back to the US.

It so happened that the 2003 National Youth Theological Seminar (NYTS) was being hosted at Baldwin Park Church that summer, so I registered as a part-time participant. Before the seminar began, a matchmaker approached me and said that I needed to see a brother by the name of Steven Lin, who would be visiting Southern California to attend the seminar. I said, “No.”

Perhaps I’ve seen too many movies, but I always thought that I would meet my future husband in a romantic way, and matchmaking was definitely not on my list!

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

When the seminar began, I remember my first impression of Steven was not very impressive. I didn’t know who Steven was, so my sister pointed him out to me across the hall. If you don’t know him, he seems quite intimidating when he doesn’t smile. The first thought that crossed my mind was, “No way!”

But the matchmaker kept coming back, and my family members continued to encourage me. I thought that maybe I should not hold on to my own judgment but instead leave this matter in the hands of God.

I started to pray about this during NYTS. I also fasted. I thought that I should fast for my own marriage, whether it was going to be with Steven or someone else. At first, I just asked God to guide my way and my marriage. After a while, my prayer started to change—I found peace in my heart. I asked the Lord to tell me clearly if Steven was the one, because this was a decision that would affect the rest of my life.

Up to this point, the matchmaker had only spoken to me and had not yet talked to Steven, so I asked God to let him approach me and talk to me first as a sign that he was the one, since I would not approach him myself.

TRUSTING GOD TO LEAD

On Wednesday evening, I bumped into the matchmaker in the chapel lobby. She asked if I had made up my mind since Sunday. I thought to myself that since I am an appropriate age and he looks like a nice guy, perhaps we could try it out. But before I was able to answer the matchmaker, a sister came to look for her, and they both walked away.

At that moment, I heard a voice coming from my heart asking, “What is trust?” This question shocked me. I paused and asked myself, “Really, what is trust?” Is trust just mentioning my request to God in prayer, or is it continuing to have faith in Him even if He doesn’t give me an answer?

If I gave the matchmaker an answer, then all the prayer and fasting would have been in vain. I would have directed my own way instead of trusting God to guide my way.

When the matchmaker came back for my answer, I told her, “I haven’t received a response from God yet.” The matchmaker replied, “What if you do not receive a response before he leaves?” “Then he’s probably not the one,” I answered.

THE SIGN

After prayer the following day, I went to the dining room to eat dinner. Since students were cleaning the tables, half of the dining room was already closed. There were other brothers and sisters eating at other tables, but I chose to sit alone.

This is what Steven told me happened afterwards: He originally approached a table with five brothers, but they all left right when he sat down. He looked around and saw me at one table and Pastor Liang and some other brothers at another table. He is not the type of guy who would sit alone with a sister, but when he was about to go sit with Pastor Liang, there was a voice that told him to go and talk to that sister. He had reservations, but then another brother sat down with me, so he thought that it should be okay now to sit at my table.

We sat at opposite corners of the table and quietly ate our dinner. All of a sudden, he said to me, “Hi, my name is Steven.” Perhaps he didn’t know, but I was in shock because I knew God had heard my prayers and had answered it clearly.

Next he asked, “How old are you?” The second question was just as shocking. I didn’t stay long. I quickly finished my dinner and left because I couldn’t wait to go back to pray and ask God, “Is this it? Is this it?”

ME, STEVEN, AND…THE PASTORS

That night, I told the matchmaker that I was willing to start off as friends, so the matchmaker approached Steven, who said he would pray about it.

On Sunday, under the arrangement of the pastors, we had our first official meeting. We were called outside during the morning class prayer. Steven told me that, when Pastor Hwang called him from the classroom because the sister was waiting at the front door, Steven said, “I need to pray more,” but Pastor Hwang replied, “There is no time. You go, and I will stay and pray for you.”

That afternoon, Pastor Jung took us out for lunch and we talked. I thank God for all the pastors that encouraged us. The next day, Steven left for New Jersey. Two weeks later, I returned to Taiwan.

When I told my friends what happened to me, they thought I was insane and was desperately in need of a boyfriend. They questioned how I could make the decision to treat someone as a potential husband when we had only met for two hours over lunch. But they did not understand that God is the controller of all things and that I trusted Him—the One who holds the promise and blessings of marriage.

Steven and I first wrote emails and then eventually started to talk on the phone. In our first exchange of emails, I wrote him a small paragraph about some of my favorite verses and the teachings that I learned. Steven returned to me a three-page summary and analysis on the Book of Isaiah. He said it was the homework that he was supposed to turn in to Pastor Hwang, and he wanted to ask me what I thought about it.

Thanks to the guidance of God, Steven and I were engaged two years later. I moved back to the US for graduate school, and he moved to Los Angeles because of his job.

We spent a lot of time praying after our engagement. We would set a time to pray together because we knew that God had to be the center of this relationship, or else it would not last.

Looking back, I thank God for everything. I realize that God was my real matchmaker. He not only led me to someone who was compatible with me but gave me someone who was more than I could ask for.

After we were married in May 2006 at Baldwin Park Church, I felt that life was indeed very joyful. Not only have I found a life-long companion, he is someone who will walk with me in the Lord, who can kneel down and pray for me without me asking, and who will support me when I am facing trials in life.

BE PATIENT…THE MATCHMAKER IS ALSO WORKING ON YOUR MISSING PIECE

I encourage brothers and sisters to be open to all the possibilities that God has to offer because to be able to marry in the Lord is a blessing beyond imagination. When God is your matchmaker, marriage is not something we have to run away from.

            Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD! (Ps 27:14)

In this age, we face a lot of temptations. When we walk out into the world, we’re the minority. In a school of thousands of people, you may be the only believer. Because of peer pressure, we are tempted to make compromises, but remember what the Lord told us—that He is a faithful God and will always prepare the best for us.

Guard your heart and reserve that special place for that special someone. Let God bring your beloved to you and you to your beloved. Perhaps it might be the other end of the continent or the other side of the world, but patiently wait for Him.

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