Sometimes learning to rest in God’s timing, especially when we are young and single (well, it is true at any age or circumstance) can be a very trying thing. So much in our culture focuses women on having a boyfriend and, eventually, a husband. The pressure from our friends, our families, our classmates, movies, books, billboards and society at large is tremendous and all point to telling us that we cannot possibly be happy without a boy/man in our lives.
But then the contrary is also true; society tells us that we DO NOT need a man in our lives to be happy. We are encouraged to get out of the home after we are married and have children. We are discouraged from staying home and being a keeper at home or a stay-at-home mom. We are encouraged to relinquish our responsibilities for raising our children to professionals in the world. Basically, every aspect of the world is available to tell us how we need to be discontent with whatever situation in our life we are experiencing. Advertising is geared toward breeding discontentment and all the world’s views of male/female relationships is exactly the same – always trying to get us to believe that if onlys are really true.
- If only I had a boyfriend I would be happy
- If only I were engaged my life would be filled with joy
- If only I were married all my dreams would be fulfilled
- If only I had the home of my dreams I know I would reach my goals
If only, if only, if only – these thoughts have ruined more relationships in history…they are the ideals that keep us always looking for something better, something more, something different.
Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. … But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord. 1 Cor 7:27, 32-35
What is Paul talking about in this passage? He is talking about our focus, about our devotion to the Lord. When we are single, we are free to go anywhere at any time to minister to someone, to share the gospel with someone, to teach the scriptures to someone. In short, our time is free to do with as the Lord guides us, unencumbered by the needs and desires of anyone else. I do not have to make supper for someone or pick someone up from football practice or take someone to a violin lesson. If I skip a meal while reaching out to someone else, it matters only to me and I will not mind if I am in service to the Lord. I do not have to skip a bible study with someone I am discipling because of a sick child or be home by a certain time to get little ones to bed. I am free to pour my life into others and have the energy to be a source of strength and vitality for the saints in the church and for the lost needing a loving and listening ear.
Our biggest problem in our lives today is that we do not view our singleness as a gift. Oh we may SAY that someone who has been single their whole life had the gift of singleness, but we do not view the short years that WE are single as a gift from God. We look at our lives with irritation, frustration and impatience. We think that our real life will not begin until we are married. This leads us to jumping in (shattering our convictions about dating unbelievers) to the first relationship that comes our way because we are afraid we will not get married. Regardless of our age, we think that our lives are worthless and meaningless until we get married. We fall in love with the idea of being in love first and find the first person who can jump into that role instead of waiting for God’s choice for us.
We had a single pastor who used to say “I believe I have the gift to be married, I just don’t have the gift of a wife yet.” He knew that his deep desire was to be married but he was content to wait on God’s timing to bring him the gift of his wife. In the meantime he worked faithfully to serve the Lord with unhampered devotion. There were no cares of the world to distract him.
When I was a young Christian I settled the issue with God. I knew that I had a desire to be married but I did not want to try to manipulate anything to have it happen in my time. I trusted that if I had that desire, it must be from God. And if God had given me that desire, He was fully faithful and trustworthy and capable to fulfill that desire whenever and however He chose. If I was willing to trust in His fulfillment, then I could trust in his timing too. So, the question never came up again! I had grown so content being single and serving the Lord that a pastor in Albuquerque told my future husband that I did not WANT to get married! Not EXACTLY the same thing! 😉 But you get the point.