Is love at first sight possible? Or is it commitment that makes true love possible?
I know of at least one instance of “love at first sight” in the biblical accounts. It was what Adam felt for Eve when he saw her for the first time, and it made him suddenly poetic (Gen. 2:23). Adam was set up to feel the need for a true companion after naming and seeing the animals in pairs, and Eve was the first and only woman he ever laid eyes on! This instant attraction may be rare occurrences, and it may happen to a few today. There are several instances of similar strong emotions, but they would be considered as “lust at first sight.” It made men fall and commit atrocious acts, but that is another story. Today’s love story of Isaac and Rebekah is unique in that there was commitment first, not having met the other, and then love grew from there (Gen. 24).
Isaac, who was still single at the age of 40, was still grieving for his mother Sarah who must have pampered him being the one and only son born in her nineties. Abraham, already very old, extremely wealthy, and having remarried, made preparations for his son to get married with the right woman.
There are four sound principles one could apply from this story in finding the love of one’s life.
First, the parents were involved in the matter of finding a suitable life partner for their child. Abraham took the initiative when his son was not doing anything while grieving for his mother. In Rebekah’s family, the family listened, consulted and respected Rebekah’s decision to wed someone she had not seen yet, sensing it was from the Lord. In collectivist cultures like ours, marriage is very much a family affair. One does not just marry another person but a whole set of relatives as well. There has to be respect and balance on both sides – the parents and the ones getting married – for the greater chance of harmonious blending of relationships and setting the new couple off to a good start. In some cultures, parents matchmake their children who consent, while in others, children choose with parents guiding in the process. Either way, parents’ involvement and support are important.
Second, trusted people were enlisted to help. Abraham tasked his most trusted servant, Eliezar, to get a wife for Isaac from among his relatives in his home country. The trusted servant prayed earnestly for this responsibility and was guided accordingly. Godly counsel and involvement of the community that knows and cares about the couple considering a serious relationship are important. A community of supportive friends and family coming alongside a couple gives them a much-needed boost for the journey towards becoming one.
Third, the mission to find a wife for Isaac was borne with love and lots of prayers, both Abraham and the servant’s. The servant’s prayers were very specific, so that he knew the answer when the circumstances matched his specific prayers. Enlisting people to pray for a relationship to blossom and materialize means invoking God to lead and guide the decision-making process and to sovereignly work out the circumstances. Marriage is not easy to enter into, and the difficulties one encounter along the way could bring doubts if one has made the right choice. But if there is certainty of God’s guidance, one can always lean on him to intervene and bring help when the going gets tough. Prayer shows dependence on the Author and Source of true, self-giving, unconditional love.
Fourth, they all relied on God’s sovereign guidance. The servant laid down several parameters to know God’s leading. First was circumstantial or external – the one who offers him a drink of water and will give his camels too; Rebekah also happened to be beautiful physically, in character (helpful, accommodating, and hardworking) and she was eligible! The second was familial – Rebekah belonged to Abraham’s family, the family welcomed and offered him place for the night. The third was internal confirmation or conviction – the family confirmed it as coming from the Lord (vs. 50); Rebekah herself desired and agreed to go marry Isaac (vs. 58).
This story is close to my heart, as this chapter challenged me to pray if Teody, who was pursuing me, then, was indeed God’s best for me. These four principles helped confirm it. Some friends tried to matchmake us, godly people prayed and gave their input, our families supported our decision. But the one that compelled me to marry him, even if I did not feel anything for him then, was how God answered all my excuses very specifically through his word until I had no excuse left. God, the best matchmaker, knew exactly whom I needed to spend the rest of my life with!