Run The Race
- Friday, September 26, 2003
Many people assume that to not be married is to miss out on the best in life. Being single means being short-changed.
When I was in college, I did a fair job of attending classes regularly. At times, however, I weighed my options and class attendance lost. This occurred frequently during the winter quarter of my sophomore year. By then, as a declared education major, I was taking some classes that applied directly to education. One such class was scheduled for two o'clock every afternoon for ten weeks. The focus of the class was something like "effective assessment of student learning."
It took me two weeks to figure out that if I attended class on Monday, I'd get the bulk of the week's notes. Tuesday through Friday were spent in laborious explanation and application of Monday's concepts. By the third week, I'd established my routine: attend class every Monday, pop in on Wednesday or Thursday to catch up, and carefully follow the test schedule.
One of the skills we spent too many days working on was test writing, being able to accurately assess student learning. Dr. Andrews taught us how to write multiple choice tests that didn't scream obvious answers; he taught us how to glean the most information from essay questions; and he taught us about matching tests--you know, the kind with 20 questions or words that must be correctly matched with the 20 choices.
Dr. Andrews was insistent that a good test always has more options than needed. This helps prevent students from getting answers right simply because there are no other choices. There should be a handful of answers left over, unmatched.
Sometimes it seems that God has written a cosmic matching test, pairing men and women with each other. And, true to effective test writing, He's included some extra answers, options that don't really fit on the test. Without the other half, they are incomplete. They are missing something.
In this faulty assumption, Satan has rephrased the lie of Eden: "If you are single, you are missing something wonderful. God can't be good if He withholds something so desirable."
Like Eve, we ponder the lie, and given space, it settles in. It begins its insidious mission, robbing us of God's richest gifts. We entertain the thought that God is unfair, withholding marriage for no good reason. Singleness becomes a curse instead of a gift from His gracious hand. Being alone is a cross we must bear instead of a powerful position He can use. And while we'd never admit it, we doubt Him. Like Eve, we then set about the task of making God's plan fit into our plan. We focus energy on solving the problem of our singleness, going in search of God's "better gift," marriage.
My church, like most across the country, runs a week of vacation Bible school for kids every summer. Several years ago, our program centered on a kids' musical entitled "G. T. and the Halo Express: Winning the Great Race of Faith." The story followed a group of children competing in a bike race. A flat tire, a huge hill, a tired teammate, and a big bad bully named Billy Baxter nearly eliminated the group from the contest. Midway through the race, the map they were following seemed wrong, and they narrowly escaped getting off course. Crisis after crisis bombarded the team, but they managed to press on to the finish line and win.
Much of their encouragement during the race came from a host of singing angels, the Halo Express. Bible verses set to music provided just the right words at just the right times. The theme verse, Hebrews 12:1, set the tone for the entire race. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
The last part of this verse, especially, offered three encouragements to the weary bikers. First of all, the race was marked out; simply follow the map. Secondly, persevere; things will definitely be tough, but you can do it. And finally, run; keep moving forward and give it all the energy you have. It was a recipe for success in the bike race, but it's also a pretty clear formula for success in life, especially as a single adult. It's the truth that combats Satan's lie.
My race has been marked out. I must follow God's map. Right now the course has me running solo. Maybe a teammate will join me around the next bend, but maybe not. I just don't know the terrain of God's established route.
Persevere--things will definitely be tough. There will be loneliness, rejection, and uncertainty. There will be difficulties unique to singleness. Press on anyway.
And perhaps most importantly--run. This race demands the best energies I can give. I can't afford to meander along the course, looking around for a better route. I have to quit waiting for life to happen to me. This course requires proactive living--setting my sights and running.
Excerpted with permission from "Living Whole Without a Better Half" by Wendy Widder, copyright © Kregel Publications, 2000.
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