Even though it sounds contrary, the answer to both questions is, "Yes." You should both have your eyes open for a future spouse and wait on God to bring that person to you. All right. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense, but hear me out. It's all about balance. You should not frantically search for a future spouse as if everything hinges on your every effort to find that special someone. Neither should we be entirely lazy about it, assuming that God is going to do all the work. It's fairly unlikely that someone will knock on your door one day, it'll be love at first sight, and they'll pull a ring out of their pocket and start reciting the vows. (Convenient, yes, but unlikely!)
When the time came for Isaac to take a wife, action was taken by his parents, which was their cultural norm. They sent a servant to actively find him a wife (Genesis 24). The servant had a list of qualities he had to look for in this woman, and he asked God to lead him to the right person. Outside the city of Nahor, the servant stopped at a well and asked God to show him the woman by letting her give water to his camels (verses 12-14). If only it could be that easy, but it was for this guy! The Lord answered his prayer by bringing Rebekah to him. She gave him water, then watered his camels, and the servant knew she was the one God had provided for Isaac.
Once we know that it is time to start looking for a spouse*, we should begin with prayer—lots of it. First, commit yourself to follow God’s will for your life. Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." Hold on, though! That doesn't mean that raising your hands in church during worship equals getting straight A's or a Wii or a mate for life.
"Delighting in the Lord" means we truly love knowing God and trust that He will delight us in return. He will put His desires into our hearts for good things. In the case of finding a future husband or wife, you will desire the kind of person He desires for you—someone He knows will delight you even more. Not a bad deal! “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:6).
Seriously. He knows every single person on the planet; surely He knows which one is best for you. Then your part becomes to desire whatever He decides is best, which includes accepting His perfect timing. If we pray, God will lead us to the person He has for us. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times), God doesn't seem to work "fast enough" for us. But we can trust that He knows what He's doing (Proverbs 3:5).
Some people like to use a verse in 1 Corinthians 7 to say that no one should be trying to find a spouse. Verse 27 says, “Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife.” This seems fairly straightforward, but if you read the verses around it, the context, you'll find some more important details about what Paul is saying. Verse 26 says, “Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are." What crisis? At the time Paul wrote this letter, the early church was experiencing a terrible time of persecution; Paul said it was better not to make big plans, such as scheduling a wedding, during uncertain days. Persecution hits a married couple harder than a single person, and it is even worse if there are children involved. Paul repeats the sentiment in verse 29: “Those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.” In the same context, Paul says, “If you do marry, you have not sinned” (verse 28). So, seeking a marriage partner is not wrong, though Paul advises that if life is uncertain and rocky, it might be best to wait.
Of course, there is no reason to look for a future husband or wife if it is not God’s will for you to be married. Sometimes God calls people not to marry at all (1 Corinthians 7). There are people who “because of the kingdom of heaven” have renounced marriage. Jesus says, “The one who can accept this should accept it” (Matthew 19:12). If you don't have any desire to marry, then don't look! If you do want to marry someday, then do not fear singleness today. If God doesn't have marriage planned for you, He will make it very clear that that is His will.
Remember that whether or not God wants you to marry, the true purpose of your life is live each day for the glory of God. We wake up every morning not for us but for God. The question you might want to focus on should not be so much, "Does God have marriage planned for me?" but rather, "How can I glorify God (regardless of my relationship status)?" God will direct your life in the way that brings the most glory to Him, and in that desire to bring glory to God, may your heart be filled.
* Knowing the timing of when to start looking for a spouse is a whole other article altogether.
The key is aligning your desire for a spouse with God's timing and plan. Agreeing to work with God in the search for a spouse means surrendering to His ultimate matchmaking skills. Seriously. He knows every single person on the planet; surely He knows which one is best for you. Then your part becomes deciding that whatever He decides is best, which includes accepting His perfect timing. (See Proverbs 3:5-6.) Remember that whether or not God wants you to marry, the true purpose of your life is live each day for the glory of God. Don't focus so much on "Does God have marriage planned for me?" but rather, "How can I glorify God (regardless of my relationship status)?"
Cat is the webmaster and editor of 412teens.org and regularly teaches local young writers at her workshops. She also contributes at GotQuestions.org, Blogos.org, and GQkidz.org. When Catiana is not writing or hanging out with teens, she loves spending time with her two kids, three socially awkward cats, and one curly-tailed dog.