Flying Through Fourteen Weddings
- Tim Laitinen Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2011 4 Aug
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the latest installment of Solo Zone, a monthly series focusing on believers who have taken advantage of serious opportunities God has laid in their faith walks—and whose singleness actually works to their benefit, as well as God’s glory.
Calm, cool, and collected.
As a pilot, you’ve gotta be all three. As an airplane pilot for a major children’s hospital, you’ve gotta be all that, and more.
So maybe personality does help Kirk Sammons* maintain perspective as he flies sick children to healthcare specialists around the Southwest. And navigate singlehood in his thirties. But it’s the power of God that Sammons credits with all of it.
After all, helping pediatric patients and their parents access the critical healthcare they need is one thing. Participating in fourteen weddings while you’re still single, and maturing in your faith at the same time, is something only God can do.
Yup–fourteen weddings. And he’s never been the groom.
“There was probably a time when I didn't think anyone ended up single,” Sammons grins broadly, “but I have the pleasure of seeing the fruit of it personally.”
Fourteen weddings can give one plenty of opportunities to contemplate marriage and singlehood, and Sammons appears to have used his time wisely. He believes the Lord has helped him grow as a leader as well as a relationship partner.
“I have realized that I must learn both how to be a better decision maker, and how to have fun,” he admits, describing a balance the husband brings to a biblical marriage. “One can become ‘too’ serious when trying to ‘grow up enough’ to get married, or to be a husband.”
It’s all part of developing a realistic appreciation of marriage, not to mention singlehood, and God’s designs for both.
“I view marriage as a gift of God's design for a man and a woman [Genesis 2:18-25] who are each created uniquely, in order to honor God better together [Ecclesiastes 4:4-12]. I think the unity of marriage is a picture of our relationship with Christ,” Sammons explains, “as well as the relationship that the Trinity shares, at least in terms of its function.
“I think marriage is intended to be pleasant, pleasurable, and productive,” continues Sammons, with a bit of alliteration. “Not just in procreation, but in accomplishing God's will here on Earth.”
As a hiker and all-around outdoorsy kind of guy, as well as a volunteer leader in his church’s youth group, Sammons values the process of preparation, and appreciates the rewards of prudence and effort. “My desire to get married has moved from one of nearly pure selfishness, to wanting to work hard. Love is hard work, but even working through the most difficult things is so rewarding.”
And speaking of rewarding, just as marriage can be, Sammons readily affirms that singlehood is also a gift [Matthew 19:11-12] to be used to honor God [Colossians 1:10]. However, whereas biblical teachings on marriage may be well known, singlehood and dating can seem trickier, particularly in our North American culture.
But is it?
“A life of the single person lived in ‘a manner worthy of him’ [Col 1:10] is equal to that of the married person,” Sammons affirms. Singles of both genders have a responsibility to act honorably before God and to the people with whom we have relationships.
Which can be where the complexities of our culture come in.
Although he’s never been married before himself, Sammons has seen how destructive divorce can be, even in the evangelical church. Of the fourteen weddings he’s been in, one marriage between two particularly close friends of his has already broken apart. Because of that, he admits to being cautious, which, he also acknowledges, can lead to hypersensitivity in the dating scene.
Sammons is willing to take the time necessary to invest in a dating relationship for both his partner's sake and his. However, he doesn’t want to become a serial dater, or somebody who tries to avoid divorce by hunting for the “perfect” wife.
“I’m reminded to understand the purpose behind marriage, and desire to know both my potential wife and myself well,” he explains, as he recounts the amicable ending of his last dating relationship. “We have to learn to be content as singles, but contentment—at least for men—doesn’t mean we don’t pursue. Accepting singlehood doesn’t mean you stop dating. We should still use our time wisely, particularly in relationships that could be special.”
Sammons concedes that his co-workers in the hangar and at the hospital have commented on the way he treats women respectfully and advocates for the sanctity of sex. Nearly everybody with whom he works is fairly jaded and explicit about almost everything. “It’s not necessarily easy, and I’m not bragging, but I’m glad unsaved people see a difference between my dating life and their relationships. Shouldn’t they see a difference?
“I date with the intention to marry,” he admits. “I like having fun, but fun isn’t the objective. Enjoy the people around you, but singlehood isn’t something to waste.”
Since he’s been prayerfully contemplating a career switch to the mission field, Sammons feels an added responsibility to date conscientiously. After all, should God confirm the missionary calling, and provide him a marriage partner, she will need to be a woman willing to join him overseas. And since missionary pilots by definition don’t serve in the most developed parts of the globe, it’s no small consideration.
Still, Sammons doesn’t want to get ahead of himself, or God. Since he believes God’s sovereignty works for our good, he’s learning how to be patient.
Even when the next wedding rolls around with Sammons in the wedding party—but not as the groom. He’s come to take the irony—and the attention—in stride.
“Remember: those ladies at church, that continue to try to set you up with folks?” Sammons exhorts, recalling the experience of practically every single adult in church. “They really love you, and that's why they do that.”
He knows nothing can compare with trusting in God for your potential future spouse or, for that matter, your potential future as a single. Sammons speaks from experience.
“Trust God. His design is best, yet everywhere you look there is an opportunity to think otherwise. Don’t grumble about it, but continue seeking to know him better. That is how a successful, God -honoring marriage or single life is accomplished. Not by trying to follow a formula. It all goes as a whole; it's not a magic potion for just one part of our lives, but the whole.”
He believes God can equip people to be single their entire lives, but he’s not convinced God has equipped him that way. Physically and emotionally, he takes the Apostle Paul’s endorsement for marriage as a biblical provision for earthly yearnings. Yet both paths require trusting in God.
Sammons is emphatic: “I will, by the Spirit's enablement, be single or married. Faith is at the core of it.”
*Not his real name.
From his smorgasboard of church experience, ranging from the Christian and Missionary Alliance to the Presbyterian Church in America, Tim Laitinen brings a range of observations to his perspective on how we Americans worship, fellowship, and minister among our communities of faith. As a one-time employee of a Bible church in suburban Fort Worth, Texas and a former volunteer director of the contemporary Christian music ministry at New York City's legendary Calvary Baptist, he's seen our church culture from the inside out. You can read about his unique viewpoints at o-l-i.blogspot.com.