Don't Live Your Life on Hold

If you've ever taken a raft trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, you've probably heard the head boatman give you a list of warnings and safety tips.  "If you are thrown into the water," he says, "the currents will likely take you very deep into the river.  You will lose your sense of up and down, and if you try to swim to the surface, you may well crash into the bottom of the river.  Relax, hold your breath, remain calm, and your life vest will eventually raise you to the surface."

Have you ever found yourself deep in a confusing relationship or circumstances only to discover your frantic struggles just took you deeper and deeper?  When you wait patiently for the still, gentle voice of the Lord, that's when you will discover which way is up.  Nothing about your life as a believer is an accident, including your marital status.  If you are living a godly, single life and still want to marry, the important thing is not to live "on hold" until you finally tie the knot.  Let the Lord know your desire and then go on fully with your life as His man or woman. A  seed must die before it can grow; so it must sometimes be with our hope for marriage.  Many times we must die to the idea of marriage before God will bring it to life.  Learn "to go to sleep" (Adam went to sleep and God made Eve) over the issue of marriage so that you're not constantly concentrating on the gift instead of the Giver by looking for a life partner.

If you let yourself live in the "what-ifs" of the future, you'll find yourself missing God's purpose in the here and now.  It helps to remember that there are a great many circumstances worse than not being married.  One of them is being married to someone who does not share your love and desire for God – someone whose commitment divides your commitment.

The life of Hudson Taylor is a powerful lesson in the value of God's wisdom regarding marriage.  Taylor was an English missionary who died in 1910 after spending more than fifty years as a missionary in China.  When he went there in 1854, nearly 380 million people in the country's vast interior had never seen a Westerner nor heard the name of Christ.  With a heart for God, Taylor penetrated deep into Chinese culture.  He dressed like the Chinese, learned their language, and lived among them.  By the end of his life, 205 preaching stations, 849 missionaries, and 125,000 Chinese Christians were a testimony to a life surrendered to God.1

Hudson Taylor wielded a spiritual influence far beyond China.  Even today, the ripple effect of his ministry is part of our lives as Chinese Christians number in the hundreds of thousands worldwide.  Taylor was single when he left England, but he eventually married another missionary in China.  A small sentence in one history book has always intrigued me:  "In England, Taylor had left behind his unfinished medical studies and the girl he had hoped to marry.  She had refused to come with him."2  What would the world have missed if Taylor had stayed home to marry someone God had not chosen?

God tested Taylor when He made him choose between God's will and his own desires.  The day came in Taylor's life when he had to decide if it was more important to be in God's will or be married – the God choice over the good choice.

God still tests us today.  We can't assume that the woman Taylor left behind was ugly, irritable, or contentious.  He was a man of character who probably kept the company of a godly woman.  Many people may have thought it was a good match, and perhaps the couple could have had a good marriage.  But every good choice isn't God's choice.

If God gives you the gift of singleness, He may use that quality in a special way that would not be available to you as a married person – for a season or a lifetime.  God's sovereign will is always meant for your good and His glory.  If and when God decides you can best serve Him as a team member with a life partner, you won't need to change Sunday school classes, search the singles ads, or join a dating service.  He will work out the circumstances.  "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD" (Proverbs 18:22).  This favor of the Lord is what God extends to His children in arranging the circumstances for them to meet their life partners.