Though it was an unusual question, I understood it immediately: “How does a woman appropriately, biblically, humbly, and submissively go about ‘cracking the twigs and stirring the leaves?’ A friend of mine said that it seems like girls end up ‘breaking logs and throwing leaves’ too vigorously at times.”

This woman was not referring to any hiking or forestry activity. She had heard a quote read at a Christian singles conference and she, like several other women, had written me to ask how to apply it. First, some background. The quote read at this conference was from the outstanding book, Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart, by John Ensor:
Brothers, it falls to us to be the initial risk takers in matters of the heart. Headship means being the one to go ahead and ask. It is ours as men to suffer the embarrassment of rejection if need be. It is our role to initiate. Get to it right merrily. We are the hunters. They are the quarry. It is for men to strike out into the forest and look. It is for women to crack the twigs and stir the leaves so we know where to find them.
Ensor wrote this as a humorous touch in an otherwise direct chapter about biblical masculinity. He wasn’t trying to explain anything to women in this chapter—he was addressing the guys and their responsibility to pursue and initiate relationships. Though I searched the rest of the book, there wasn’t any further explanation about this intriguing “twig-cracking” comment.

So I decided to take a poll and directly ask men for some illustrations of attractive “twig-cracking and leaf-rustling” behaviors. What I discovered is that the qualities these men were describing were quite similar to the qualities that the Bible commends for godly wives (see Proverbs 31). That should be no surprise! Here is a quick summary:

1. Smile While You Stir: A cheerful woman is hugely attractive. A self-absorbed, complaining, and moody woman is hard to lead and please. Ask any married man to describe what attracted him to his wife, and among his top qualities will be her smile—hands down. But this is not superficial cheer. It must really be grounded in the next quality. . . .

2. Trust God As You Wait: No man will ever do everything right—not as a boyfriend and not as a husband. The woman who does not expect perfection from fellow human beings, but is learning to put all her trust and faith in her Savior, is much more gracious and patient as “the quarry.” Anxiety, restlessness, and jealous possessiveness will spook the hunters.

“I think that women most effectively ‘cracks twigs’ by seeking to glorify our Savior with their lives,” writes a single guy named Kyle. “This is what draws my attention to a woman. The humility that is expressed in a woman who truly fears our God is what is most attractive. However, please understand that I am not advocating that all women become nuns. All that I am saying is that when a girl is not trusting God with her future, this is most usually seen in her interaction with the opposite sex.”

Trusting God for one gift (marriage) is hard if you don’t appreciate the best gift you will ever receive, though. Which is why the third quality is essential for both trust and joy. . . .

3. Grow in Gratitude for the Gospel: Marriage is a tremendous gift. But it pales by far in comparison to the gift of salvation. It is also a gift that is only for this lifetime. It is an important gift, and one that desperately needs to be esteemed more highly in our generation, but it is only a temporary gift. So we need to cultivate our gratitude for the gospel—that outrageous act of mercy in which Christ took the punishment for our sins on the cross and, in the divine exchange, offered us His righteousness so that we could be reconciled to a holy and just God. Gratitude for the gospel should permeate our lives. When we really grasp that we’re walking objects of mercy, it colors everything we say and do. This is how we can “rejoice with those who rejoice” when we have yet to receive marriage—for we have already received something far more miraculous that we desperately needed.