It is possible for a journey to be so long and arduous that the traveler becomes most adept at traveling, at surviving while hardly expecting to arrive. We find this same condition with those who long for loved ones to be saved, who harbor a desire year after year. I remember laboring for ten years before seeing fruit in my father and then—when the Lord lit the fuse—Anthony Leslie Davis became a great man of God and a hero to me. While I labored in prayer and words to my father it was, in the end, the Lord’s work.
Our hearts might expect but we dare not presume.
Our tongues may cry out but we dare not demand.
Our hearts may hope for but we dare not hope in.
We live by faith and not by sight. We live with a desire not a realization. We pursue what we have not yet attained and sometimes after the long period of expectation—an occasion of realization—the expected arrives. Then that traveler, so familiar with the roughed landscape through the wilderness of loneliness must exchange what sustained out there for those things that sustain a marriage.
Life is lived just where we are with the hope and expectation of what our hearts desire and we are to live there in peace. It is the greatest test of faith to be laid low by a desire for more and in the midst of it all still know peace. It is a testimony to our faith that we can trust Him in the now while hoping and expecting more in the future. In this we can be content but not satisfied. What we dare not do is lift our voices to accuse God of being unkind.
If we have not known contentment in singleness we will not know contentment when the expected arrives. We will simply exchange one desire for another—an old anxious thought for a new one.
The expected is that person who for so long been the object of our desire. In reality that person can, over time, become a mere object, a concept, the personification of our dreams and hopes—simply wife or husband. They lose the personhood because, in reality, they are not yet a person. They remain only dream and fantasy, hopes and ambitions. The expected can become what he or she should never be—an idol—or a smaller God.
I continue to emphasize that we are not promised marriage, that our Good and loving God cares for us even in the midst of our longing, and that we must focus on living with this longing. But there is this little matter of life and its turns. There is this little matter of fulfilled expectations, answered prayers, and hope realized. Sometimes, when we least expect it—the expected arrives.
While we dare not live our lives simply preparing for what may not be we dare not neglect the fact that love may yet be. It is here that the contentment of our spirit meets the dissatisfied longing. We who are single, who long to be married, may one day find ourselves staring into the eyes of someone who loves us enough walk with us for life—hand in hand.
Several years ago there was primetime special in which Wild E. Coyote actually caught the Road Runner. The Road Runner was a short cartoon that ran with the Bugs Bunny cartoons and Wild E. Coyote was the persistent pursuer. He NEVER caught the Road Runner!!! He chased the Road Runner for years without success. Anyone with any sense would have given up. Then some brilliant writer had an epiphany, “What if we let the Coyote catch the Road Runner?” Hmmm! What if?
The Road Runner was one of my dad’s favorite characters so I had an early fascination with the cartoon saga. While everyone saw Wild E. Coyote as arrogant and incompetent there was a bit of sympathy for this misfit who never seemed to win. Perhaps I was not alone in wondering what would happen if he, just once, caught that Road Runner. I was very excited to watch this primetime extravaganza where my questions would be answered. There on national TV—in primetime—Wild E. Coyote would have his moment in the sun.
After nearly an hour of the usual bumbling, falls, burns, and explosions, finally, the Road Runner fell into the trap and was stuck. There he was, Wild E. Coyote, staring at a trapped and vulnerable Road Runner. There, in reach, was the fulfillment of all his efforts, all his striving. He approached the Road Runner in stunned silence.
“What are you going to do now?!!” asked the Road Runner.
The paralyzed Coyote stood and stared, stood and stared.
He scratched his head and stood and stared.
He stood and stared scratching his head.
Then a very strange thing happened.
He turned and walked away still scratching his head.
He walked away scratching his head and that is how the show ended.
And I am still scratching my head.
This episode is profoundly related to the way we often live our lives—to the way the traveler who endures the journey sometimes succumbs. Sometimes we pursue something for so long that we lose track of why we want it. Sometimes as singles we might pursue marriage as we pursue some phantom that is ever shifting, ever elusive so that the goal becomes an idea more than a person.
Before we can really discuss the issue of marriage we must come to a decision on why we want to be married. I believe far too many people endure a “difficult first year,” or suffer a bitter “last year” because they never paused to conceive of marriage beyond the dream and desires of a young heart. I believe that too many singles have imagined marriage more than they have imagined “being married.” This will be revealed when the expected arrives.
I mean that it is possible to pursue a dream but hardly realistic to marry that dream. Somewhere along the way we must awake to the reality of marrying a real person who may not have read the script of our dreams. When the expected arrive we may encounter another person who had for years fostered their own dreams. The two dreams may form a nightmare—or meld into a more beautiful reality.
To be told, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” is to be told—do not pursue marriage for your own end (Phil. 2:3). So, before the expected arrives we are to dream of dying to self so that our cause in marriage will be the extension of His kingdom and not our family line. We do nothing out of selfish ambition so that the expected arrives we do not require that they fit into our dreams or fantasies.
That’s it—if we dream we dream of dying. Try that on for size. If we dream in this way we will awake to life.