7/27/11

Singles, Resting in God's Sovereign Love

I had the privilege, this past Sunday, to see one of my nieces marry a man who loves the Lord. I remember days, long ago, when Jamie and I talked about her heart's desire for marriage, and I am glad that the Lord blessed her to become Jeff's wife.

Her heart is overflowing with love for her young man, but even more, her heart is focused on God, from whom all blessings flow.

As I sat in the wedding, rejoicing with this young couple, my thoughts turned to other women who are in various stages of singleness. Some desire with all their hearts to be married. Some have long resolved that they are content to remain single. Other precious women are still waiting on the Lord, seeking His direction. But what I have seen in these women, in all three categories, is the choice to be content.

And even more, they desire to glorify God and enjoy the unique adventures and opportunities that God is bringing into their lives.

Some of these young women are learning homemaking skills. Some are pursuing fulfilling careers. Some reach out to others' children and becoming "another mom" or a treasured spiritual aunt. Some are eager to reach the world for Christ. One woman that I deeply respect lives daily for her Heavenly Bridegroom, teaching women the Word and ways of God.

These women know they are secure in God's sovereignty over their lives and rejoice in His care. Their lives model the psalmists' words: "O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places...." (Psalm 16:5-6a).

Most of the godly single women I know have embraced the truth that they can best magnify God at this time by remaining unmarried; and they know that when God ordains that they can better magnify Him in marriage, God can easily change their circumstances. They believe that no purpose of God can be thwarted (Job 42:2; Deuteronomy 32:39).

No matter our status or season in life, God is in control ~ He has an powerful agenda for each of us (Proverbs 16:1, 9; 21:1). He simply asks us to open our hearts and hands and all that we are to Him ~ to surrender to His direction in our lives (Proverbs 3:5-6). He cares about the details.

As a single in the 1970s, serving in a Christian revival ministry, I focused on serving God ~ but I always leaned toward marriage; I always felt I'd been called to establish a home and be a mother. But I came to a point in my ministry when I surrendered my desires to God, believing He knew best and had my best interest at heart.

About that time, a Christian professor challenged me to pray for my husband "somewhere in the world," but I struggled, wanting to be fully surrendered. Finally, I decided that I would pray that God would develop spiritual character traits in me beneficial to marriage or ministry, and that ~ if I were never to marry ~ God wouldn't waste my prayers for that "somewhere" husband.

I prayed, "If you want me to remain single, then credit these prayers to some single male missionary, Father. Encourage and strengthen him." I practiced (chose) contentment as I waited on the Lord, but I didn't sit around. I got busy reflecting God's glory in as many ways as I could, and I learned to enjoy His company.

In time, God did direct me to the man I'd marry, and we are still married, 37 years later. Today, I like to talk about God's sovereign love. Yes, He is in control ... and yes, He dearly loves His children. We do not need to fear His will, but sometimes we do need to lose the grasp of our own definitions of happiness. There is joy in serving Christ that the world cannot comprehend.

Elyse Fitzpatrick
wrote, in Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone (P& R, 2001, p. 150): "The truth about the choices we make is plain. We don't consistently choose the Lord because we don't really desire Him... and we don't really desire Him because we're not convinced that choosing Him will result in our happiness."

The more we understand God's sovereign love, the more we will be able to rest in Him and experience peace. God doesn't want our anxious resignation. He wants our trusting contentment.

When the Psalmist wrote, "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4), he anticipated God's blessing, not a curse. Likewise, when singles trust God to hold their hearts, and cooperate with Him in seeking His purposes, they can be confident that God will work. It's all about the desires He gives, not the desires we create or expect or even demand. It's not about how we try to manipulate His will, or the various means we use to cope with our unmet desires and longings.

Being content in the will of God means that we are not prisoners to our desires, but rather, living full, abundant lives. We give our Father the freedom to work in our undivided, unhindered hearts. We don't grumble about what we don't have; we praise Him for preparing opportunities for us for fruitful living.

For some ~ perhaps most ~ a lovely wedding dress is part of the calling of God. But for others, God prepares a beautiful garment of single service. It is the garment that fits for a season, or perhaps for an earthly lifetime, and it is lovely in the Heavenly Bridegroom's eyes. The woman who is "singled out" is not to merely "exist," but to thrive, undistracted in her attention to Christ and His kingdom.

When a single woman rests in God's sovereign love, she understands that a Christian is not single by error or default, but by design... Divine design.


Note: A book that has encouraged some of my single friends ~ and it has given me much of the perspective I have on singleness ~ is Lydia Brownback's book, Fine China is for Single Women, Too. I also recommend a book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, titled Singled Out for Him: Embracing the Gift, the Blessings, and the Challenges of Singleness. Nancy's book and some other resources for singles are also available through Nancy's ministry, Revive Our Hearts.

2 comments:

Kay Swatkowski said...

What a great article. And, what a great story of how God brought your husband into your life. The quote on not desiring God because we really don't want Him--well, that applies whether married or single.
Thanks for the great post.

Dawn Wilson said...

Thank you, Kay. I loved being single, and I love being married, and (Lord willing) when it is time for me to be single again as a widow, I trust that I will still be loving, glorifying, and enjoying the Lord.