1. You have to know how before you can begin. If I were to ask just about anyone reading this to go to their nearest Dominoes, Pizza Hut or Papa Johns and make a pizza from scratch, the end product would probably be tragic. And it wouldn't mean that you were incapable of doing it correctly, just that you were ignorant to the process of making a pizza. In the same sense, if you do not know what God says about dating before you start dating, you're bound to make a mistake down the road. It's likely that you may miss out on blessings or spend a lot of time starting over trying to get it right the next time. Not to say that if you date the way that God says you'll find the one for you on the first try, but there is less likely to be emotional scars, drama and residual consequences involved if you stay within the context of the Word.
2. Your foundation must be in order before building on it. The first thing I learned when I started working at Hungry Howie's Pizza was how to prepare and make dough. Before learning how many pepperonis go on a large pizza, or how many slices a medium pizza is cut into, I had to know the proper way to prepare the dough. Before working there, I did not know that the bubbles that I sometimes used to see on my pizza were a result of improper dough treatment. Or that if my crust was flat or not round on all the edges, that too was improper dough treatment. The point is, in order to properly make a pizza you have to take care of the foundation first. You can't add the toppings to dough that isn't ready and expect to have a successful pizza. Likewise, if our foundation isn't in order it's foolish to think that we can add other influences to our lives and not have an effect on our future. It's difficult to determine who you are as a person and discern God's will for you when you have another person's beliefs, values and opinions influencing your own. It's hard to hear what God is saying to you when you already have someone in your ear. On that same note, your faith in God and relationship with Him must be together before you can invest in another relationship. Priority number one should be firming up your foundation in Christ before adding a single topping to your life.
3. There is a proper order and time when things should be done. This point is pretty self explanatory. If I bake a pizza and then add the toppings, it's not going to come out right. If I ask a girl to be my girlfriend and then ask her for her name, chances are that won't work right either. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens" (NIV). There is an order in the way Godly dating is supposed to take place and operating outside of that order brings consequences. The Word tells us that sex should be reserved for marriage. If we operate outside of that order, there is the risk of pregnancy, STI and emotional baggage. If we have children outside of marriage, we can deal with emotionally damaged children, strained relationships between parents and the start or continuing of an unhealthy cycle. In either case, there is a right path to a successful Godly relationship and attempting to take any other path could result in consequences that can easily be avoided if we would only stay within the parameters that God has set for us in His word.
4. Although you have choices in type, there should always be a common thread. Pizzas come in all shapes and sizes but the one things you will always see on a pizza is crust. Whether it's thin crust, deep dish, stuffed crust or hand tossed, there is always dough which in turn makes crust. In the same way, we may have a preference in our flavor of potential mate. We may like them short or tall, light or dark, skinny, thick or thicker but either way, we must always have dough. Referring back to my second point, our dough is our foundation in Christ and that should be something that is a requirement of all those we date. 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 tells us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers as we have nothing in common with them. When having this discussion with my youth, they all agreed that having something in common with the person they date was of utmost importance so if that's the case, shouldn't your belief be one of those things? Shouldn't you have in common the desire to spend time with God, the belief that prayer works and the trust that God's word and will is sovereign? Because if you believe that dating is a stepping stone to finding your husband or wife one day, then don't you think it's best to not have to worry about if you're children are going to have to attend church or if you're both of you are going to tithe? The person's relationship with God should be the first quality you look for in a potential date because if they lack foundation, so will the relationship. And keep in mind, you can't add crust to a pizza after you cook it...If that went over your head let me know.
5. You can't properly prepare more than one at a time. The keyword here is "properly." I don't have to go into too much detail as to what this one means as I think it's clear but I will say this. This point doesn't just apply to balancing more than one boyfriend or girlfriend at a time. The other scenario I see in this point is sexual. The Bible tells us that when we sleep with someone, our spirits are joined as one, (1 Cor. 6:15-16). So in the same sense, if we have sex before marriage, whomever we do marry will now be getting more than one spirit. Think about this: If you were to order and pay for a pizza from your nearest pizzeria and they brought you a box with three slices left in it, how would you feel? Would you demand a refund? Maybe an explanation? Would you feel shorted? Well that's what we're doing when we give ourselves to anyone who isn't our spouse. It's as if every time we sleep with someone, we're giving them a bite or a slice out of our pizza. Then once we get to our spouse, we present them with a half eaten pizza saying, "Sorry, I let whatshername have some first." Think about what kind of pizza you'd like to get on your wedding day and let that be motivation to give your spouse all of you and not just the leftovers.
6. When done the right way, it will bring joy to your heart. I love making a perfect pizza. Even when I don't get to eat it, I know that when my customer opens the box, they will be as excited to eat it as I was to give it to them and that is pure joy. There are no worries, no regrets and no guilt as I proudly hand them their box. Godly dating is even more fulfilling. When that day comes that you find the one that God has set aside for you and you have done it the way that God says, pure bliss will be the only way to describe your relationship. Not to say that you won't hit a bump or two down the road, but you won't have to worry about children when you weren't ready, ex-husbands or wives that won't let go, self esteem issues due to bringing in unwanted spirits or anything of the like because you did it God's way. And if there's one thing we should know, it's that God's way is ALWAYS the best way.
I hope this has been a blessing to someone. Be back soon with another devotional.