It’s time to talk to Malcolm Gill, in the segment we call Running the Race, where we talk about different issues facing us as we run the race as a Christian. Malcolm, this week, we’re heading into the territory of love. I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about relationships in general, but also dating. You got any pearls of wisdom for us?
Dating can be a really delicate issue for many people out there and it can actually be a hard issue. For many years of my life, I wrestled with the challenges of being single and for the last 14 years, I’ve wrestled with the challenges of being married. I don’t think, when we find our identity, whether it’s as a married person or a single person in our identity, and whether we’re with somebody or not with somebody, I think in that way we can be a little bit on dangerous ground because at the end of the day, the Bible says that contentment is actually found in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Now that doesn’t mean that dating’s bad or having a relationship’s bad or being single is bad. In fact, the Bible says there’s going to be different advantages to different relationships. The key is contentment.
We can feel quite left out when all our friends are in relationships.
And that’s the thing. We’ve been created for relationship, but the Bible would say there’s a much grander picture than just a relationship with a member of the opposite sex and that is we’ve been created to have relationship with all sorts of people. So we’ve been created to be in a family unit, for example, where we have value in brothers and sisters and nephews and grandparents. And so that’s really important to consider, that we’ve all been built for relationship. There is nothing wrong with desiring a relationship, whether it’s to get married or to settle down, even to be a family person. And at this time of year, there can be a bit of external pressure that, “Hey, have you found somebody yet?”
So I remember when I was single, people would keep asking me questions, “So is there anyone special in your life?” And there wasn’t. Then I’d go home thinking, “Oh, I wish there was, but there’s not.” And then when you actually or in my case I did find somebody and then all of a sudden, their next question, people put pressure on, “When are you going to get engaged?” And then you get engaged and you get married and, “When are you going to have children?”
And it seems that sometimes we miss that, while it is good to have relationship and it is significant, contentment is actually not found in just somebody else. Contentment’s ultimately found in God because I’ve meet a lot of lonely people who are single and I’ve met a lot of married people who act like that they want to be single. And so the question is one of ultimately contentment, not whether we find joy in somebody else alone.
Do you have any tips if we’re feeling discontent?
I think there’s a couple of ways that we can do that. First of all, as I said earlier in another episode, don’t be by yourself. Surround yourself with other Christians. It’s so important that we encourage one another. Doing it by yourself, being lonely is in essence being by yourself, and that’s not a good place to be. So I would encourage find other people who are like-minded. Having said that, when I met who’s now my wife, Tamara, we didn’t see each other and have the music in the background, the Lionel Richie, you know, and the eyes across the room.
But what we did do…I didn’t know and at the time she didn’t know, but we started asking people to pray for us. And so somebody asked me once, they said, “Is there anyone special in your life?” And I was in America actually at the time visiting some friends and I thought, “Well, there’s not, but you can pray for this girl, Tamara.” And so I thought, “That was a pretty gutsy call.” But I figured I’m in Atlanta, that’s a long way away. Word’s not going to get back to her and so somebody started praying. A few people started praying. Eventually Tamara, I plucked up enough courage to ask Tamara on a date and she graciously accepted. And as we spent a bit of time together, it became clear upon our engagement that when I confessed, “Look, I’ve actually had people praying for you and about maybe us becoming an item,” she said, “Well, I have a confession to make. My grandmother’s been praying in Ecuador for you.”
All across the world.
In fact, I went to a Spanish-speaking church and I met this man and he said, “We’ve been praying for you for years.” Not necessarily by name, but the fact that they’d been praying for Tamara to find a suitable spouse. And so I think having people praying, but also looking in the right places.
What I’m suggesting is you want to be with people who are like-minded, people who are heading in the right direction. So to use the race analogy, I wanted to be running my life with somebody who’s running in the same direction. So if their life choices and their life decisions, whether it’s just money or, “I’m going to go after this or that or the other,” if it’s not Christ, I’m not sure I’d want to be running with that person full-time. And that’s the thing about looking for somebody. You want to be praying, you want to be with other people in a communal context, but you want to be looking for somebody moving in the right direction. That’s Malcolm’s pearl of the day.
Malcolm’s dating tips or relationship advice. Thanks so much.
Each Sunday, FRESH presenter Sam Robinson chats with Malcolm Gill, lecturer at Sydney Missionary and Bible College (SMBC), about different aspects of living the Christian life—or ‘running the race’. Hear them on air Sundays at 6.20am and 9.20am, or on FRESH just after 9pm each Saturday.