At sixteen years old, I found the love of my life at a Salvation Army camp. Three years later, we were married. There aren’t enough words in the English language, not enough words in all the languages on earth, to express how wonderful it is to find the love of your life. I consider it the greatest accomplishment of my life.
I’m no expert, but I think I can share, not from my experience alone but, much more importantly, from the wisdom of God’s Word, how to find the person you’ll still love — still like — after ten or twenty or, in our case, more than forty years. By looking at seven examples from the Bible, I hope to suggest a helpful outline for finding the love of your life.
1. Look beyond looks
The Bible tells the story of Samson, a strong man with a weakness for women. After the account of his birth, his story begins:
Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.”
His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?”
But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me” (Judges 14:1-3).
The Bible doesn’t say Samson met this woman; it says he saw her. He apparently didn’t know her at all; in fact, the account never even refers to her by name. That seems significant. Her name, family, background, values — even her religion — were apparently unimportant to Samson. He knew only one thing: “I want her.”
A person’s outward appearance may attract you, but it shouldn’t persuade you. “Love at first sight” is not love; it is attraction. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. It just means it’s incomplete.
So don’t be like Samson. Look beyond the outward appearance when looking for the love of your life.
2. Look away from someone who’s taken
There are many things about David, the shepherd king of Israel that we would do well to emulate and imitate. Not this, however:
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her (2 Samuel 11:2-4).
David may have become a man after God’s heart, but in this he was a man after another man’s wife. That’s obviously not how to find the love of your life. Don’t be looking on someone else’s roof. Don’t flirt with someone else’s sweetheart. Don’t try to take someone who’s taken.
Look away. Look elsewhere. Look for someone who’s not already taken.
3. Let God lead
When Joseph of Nazareth was engaged to be married to Mary, he discovered that she was pregnant. Maybe he’d thought he’d found the love of his life, yet from all appearances, she’d betrayed his love and become pregnant with a child that was not Joseph’s.
That’s when God entered the picture in a big way. The Bible says:
An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20, 21).
That’s happened only once, of course, but there’s still a lesson in it. If you want to find the love of your life, let God lead. Let Him speak. Involve Him in the decision. Don’t leap before you let God lead. Ask Him for help. Agree to His standards. And accept His timing.
4. Learn all you can
Boaz lived in Bethlehem and was minding his own business (literally) when a woman showed up in his barley field. He noticed her, but unlike Samson, he didn’t say, “I want her” or “Get her for me.” Instead, the Bible says:
Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”
The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”
So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me” (Ruth 2:5-8).
Boaz was interested, so he started by asking the right questions, listening closely, and learning from the answers. If you would find the love of your life, ask the right questions, learn all you can, do your homework, give it time. Explore. Discuss. Observe. Reflect.
This is one reason premarital sex is damaging to a relationship. When couples become physically intimate before marriage, they tend to neglect the heart-to-heart talks that would build true intimacy, never asking the right questions because they substituted physical intimacy for spiritual and emotional intimacy.
5. Look in all the right places
As Boaz was noticing the widow Ruth, Ruth was noticing Boaz. And Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, was noticing them notice each other:
One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for. Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”
“I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered (3:1-5).
Naomi’s advice sounds strange in our culture, but this was harvest time. When the threshing was done, they held a great feast, and all the families came up and camped around the threshing floor. After the feast, the men would sleep around the grain, to guard it, with their heads toward the grain in the center and their feet sticking out like spokes. Naomi was simply telling Ruth to put herself in the path of the best candidate for “love of my life.”
In their book Finding Mr. Right, Steve Arterburn and Dr. Meg Rinck write:
If you are looking for a musician . . . go where musicians hang out. If you want a scholar, you had best look in a college or university setting. We have all heard the complaint that “there are not any good men out there,” but sometimes the reason you do not find a good man is that you do not look where the good men are.
Don’t look for love “in all the wrong places,” as the popular song says; look in the right places.
6. Let it slumber
King Solomon is hardly the poster child for good romance decisions. He had multiple wives and concubines, but he is credited with writing the Bible’s peerless love poem, the Song of Solomon. That poem to the purity and beauty of married sexuality contains wisdom for anyone who hopes to find the love of a lifetime. It’s in the form of the poem’s refrain, a couplet that occurs three times in the book:
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires (Song of Songs 8:4).
Maybe Solomon made enough mistakes in romance to finally get a clue. If you would find the love of your life, don’t get impatient. Don’t rush into anything. Take your time. Patience may delay your dreams a few months — even years — but impatience will more likely derail them. Let love slumber until it’s time.
7. Look to yourself
The book of Genesis tells the story of Jacob, the patriarch. The first part of his story portrays him as a lying, scheming little mama’s boy who eventually had to skip town to avoid his twin brother’s wrath. He ran all the way to a relative’s home where he met Rachel and fell in love. Since Jacob had little to offer, he and Rachel’s father, Laban, agreed that Jacob would give seven years of work in exchange for Rachel’s hand in marriage.
Seven years later, however, Laban pulled a fast one. When Jacob removed his new wife’s veil, it was not Rachel but her sister, Leah, he had married. So Jacob worked seven more years, and finally, fourteen years after falling in love, he married the love of his life. On his homeward journey, the Bible says:
Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome” (Genesis 32:24-28).
Jacob was a different man than the schemer who had run away from home. He had struggled but he had overcome. He had grown. He was named Israel, which means “strives with God.”
If you hope to find the love of your life, then look beyond looks and look away from someone who’s taken. Let God lead, learn all you can, and look in all the right places. Let it slumber. And look to yourself. Strive — however long it takes — to become the man or woman of someone’s dreams, and you will more likely find the man or woman of your dreams.