Singled Out for Him: Pursuing God
- Friday, October 10, 2003
Marriage cannot be my pursuit. I must pursue God (Ps. 62:5). If God has chosen me for a life of singleness, then I will delight in His goodness and His ability to meet all my needs, and will seek to cultivate a relationship with Him that will cause others to thirst for Him.
Intimacy with God is cultivated in many of the same ways that a close relationship is developed between a husband and wife or two friends. No relationship will thrive for long if it is not nurtured-if, for example, the two parties rarely speak to each other. Our relationship with the Lord will be deepened and strengthened through such habits as daily prayer and Bible reading, praise and worship, confession, fellowship with like-minded believers, and telling others what it is that we admire in Him.
The Lord spoke through the prophet Isaiah to give an encouraging promise to eunuchs (a term that includes those who have voluntarily foregone marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of God-Matt. 19:12):
For thus says the Lord,
"To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths,
And choose what pleases Me,
And hold fast My covenant,
Even to them I will give in My house
And within My walls a place and a name
Better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off" (Isa. 56:4, 5).
The psalmist reminds us that God is a "father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, . . . [He] sets the solitary in families . . . But the rebellious dwell in a dry land" (Ps. 68:5, 6). Notice that God does not promise that we will never be needy or lonely. But He has promised to be to us whatever we need. When we find ourselves living in a "parched" land, plagued with chronic feelings of loneliness or discontentment, it is likely that we have allowed a seed of rebellion to take root in our hearts, that we are unwilling to let God do what He has promised to do in meeting all our needs. We have determined that He is not enough, that we must have something or someone in addition to Him.
For many years, Dr. Helen Roseveare has been one of my "heroes" of the faith. A skilled surgeon, Dr. Roseveare spent 20 years of her life serving as a single missionary in what was then Belgian Congo. Her book, Living Sacrifice, is one of those books that I find myself needing to reread every once in awhile-especially when I start feeling sorry for myself, claiming rights, or resenting some weight that God has placed upon me.
Now an elderly woman, Dr. Roseveare, who has never married, knows what it is to have unfulfilled longings. But she also has learned how to surrender those longings to the Lord, trusting His wise, loving heart to grant her that which is truly best:
To be a living sacrifice will involve all my love. My emotions and desires are to be actively dedicated to the Lord, with one burning desire, to worship Him more worthily and to serve Him more wholeheartedly. I relinquish the right to choose whom I will love and how, giving the Lord the right to choose for me. . . . Whether I have a life partner or not is wholly His to decide, and I accept gladly His best will for my life. I must bring all the areas of my affections to the Lord for His control, for here, above all else, I need to sacrifice my right to choose for myself. I dare not trust myself in this area. . . . I will ask no questions: I relinquish all rights to Him who desires my supreme good. He knows best.
He truly does know best! And He can be trusted to satisfy the deepest needs and longings of our hearts.
Marriage is not a "right." And singleness is not an "accident." As we have seen, according to God's Word, both marriage and singleness are gifts from our gracious God who knows us, loves us, and gives only good gifts to His children. All His gifts are to be received with gratitude and used to bring glory to Him. His Word promises that God will not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly (Ps. 84:11). That means that if marriage is a "good gift" for a particular unmarried individual, God will give that gift. If He withholds the gift of marriage, it means that, at least for this time, it would not be a "good thing."
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