Sometimes we make our choice from those around us and they are not interested. Which has happened on many, many, occasions to me. At other times those who approach us wear only the mask of “loving the Lord.” It is as easy to blame those who rejected us for being too picky and we might hurl the same charge at them. Perhaps there is even ignorance or sin involved in the decision to reject us or in our decision to reject others. Sin must always be address. However, sometimes no sin is involved—only choice.
At the end of the day, whether married or single what is most important is not who I am with—but who I am. I dare not let those who have rejected me define me. I dare not allow the fact that my advances have been turned back define my idea of how God loves me. This is, tragically, too often the case. Yes, sometimes our “choice” to be single seems made for us. This changes nothing! God loves us!
I do not know how to solve the matchmaking issue! If I get married I will know only that I have found a person whose passion for Christ inspires me, and whom I am able to inspire in equal fashion. I have never offered advice for finding a mate and may never do so. It remains, to me, ultimately a mystery. I don’t believe there are five or ten steps to finding a mate. Nothing is that simple and least of all this great mystery.
I am concerned about how this time of insecurity and longing can erode our faith. I ponder how the longing for relationships affects THE relationship because, married or not, I want most of all to walk with Him in utter devotion. What concerns me is that this process, and perhaps particularly prolonged singleness, can have a devastating effect on our spiritual lives. This should never be.
What I strive to understand is not how to get married but why the failure to get married should so unearth the foundation of our faith. Is it possible that we have held God hostage to our desires? Is it possible that we have come to expect marriage from God as a right rather than a gift of grace? A right cannot be denied but a gift is freely given. We can be disappointed but should not be destroyed if the gift is delayed—or denied.
I hear often that, “God will not give us a desire He will not fulfill.” What a strange thing to say—especially this side of Eden, this side of Heaven. We have many, many, many, desires that are not to be fulfilled. We would be a debauched, gluttonous, people if we trusted that every desire were to be fulfilled.
The fruit of the Spirit begins with love and is hemmed by self-control. I have always thought this wise. Each Fruit of the Spirit is either formed in keeping with self-control or properly administered through self-control. The desire for marriage is no different. It is both formed in the presence of self-control or it is merely lust. It is best pursued and lived in self-control or it will destroy. God may very well give us a desire and ask us to make a choice along the way. This is not cruel. It is a good God orienting us towards His greater purpose that may but need not include marriage.
We have a choice, a freedom in Christ defined for us as, “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial [and] I will not be mastered by anything” (1Cor. 6:12). We can choose and everyone in the Lord (1Cor 7:39) falls within the “permissible” category. But not everyone falls into the “beneficial” category. It is to our detriment if we lose self-control and are “mastered” by the idea of marriage.
Remember, “not everything is constructive” (1Cor. 10:23). This is especially true if our purpose and our goal is to see His kingdom come and to see the nations bowed down in praise of the one true God. If we lift our eyes and elevate our goals, then, though we have the freedom to choose “anyone”—not anyone will do.
We are to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” not seek first marriage and hope that “his kingdom and righteousness” follow (Matt. 6:33). We are to seek Him and trust that HE will add as HE sees fit. This is the choice we make.
The woman for me is the woman with whom I believe this chief goal can be accomplished most effectively. The woman for me is the woman who, by gentle admonition presses me to succeed and yet reminds me that she will be there if I fail. This could be any woman (theoretically) but it cannot be just any woman. I do not believe in the abstract concept of “soul-mate” but I believe in the concrete presence of a person who will nourish my soul and who will consider me a blessing. This is my hope.
Since “the time is short” the choice is to purpose our lives for the advancement of HIS kingdom and not the building of our own homes. If this is what they mean when they say it is MY choice then yes! It is MY choice.
Each person that has rejected me has in part rejected the vision I cast and their possible role in my life. She who I will marry will share my vision and revel in spurring me on to great things. I look forward to presenting her a blemishless sacrifice before the Lord, and pressing her to great things.
“The time is short!” So we make choices in accordance with what we believe to be the best way to make use of the time we have. Paul is radical in his admonition. He says, “this world in its present form is passing away” (1Cor. 7:29). This means that we are to live and orient all our decisions in order to maximize our impact for Christ. If this means living our lives committed to His purposes in such a way that some women or some men are turned away—then so be it. This is our choice and a good one. Still, the hope is that along the way someone else will share our passion and join us.
The question is not whether He will fulfill all our desires but whether we will serve and love Him through valley of the shadow of death. The question is the same one Christ asked his disciples, “Are you going to leave me too?” The answer has not changed: “Lord, to whom shall we go?”
This article first published on Crosswalk.com Tuesday, April 21, 2009