This is a guest post by Betsy Childs Howard, author of Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams Are Delayed. Betsy and eight other trusted authors have contributed to a 14-day email devotional for women called Refresh. Sign up for free today on Crossway.org!
Embodying the Gospel
I spent many years of my life wanting to be married. Sometimes I didn't know if I’d ever get married. During this season of singleness it was very helpful to come to the realization that living with an unmet desire, such as wanting to be married, did not mean that I was living in sinful discontentment.
I came to that conclusion, in part, by looking at the biblical picture of Christ as the Bridegroom and his church as the bride. I recognized that just as marriage was a picture of Christ and the church, waiting with a longing for a husband could be a picture of the church waiting in expectation for the return of Christ. I realized that I could be a living embodiment of what the church was meant to be in this life even if I didn’t have the marriage that I longed for, and even if I was still living with that deep desire within. These realities actually helped me portray that the church is meant to be watching, waiting, and praying for the return of Christ.
Realizing this truth invested my longing for a spouse with theological significance. When you wait for a spouse, you’re not sure if those longings are going to be fulfilled in this life. Likewise, as we wait for Christ, we’re not sure whether or not he will return in our lifetime. Yet we know that this longing will be ultimately fulfilled in the life to come when the Bridegroom will be reunited with his church forever.
Serving in Singleness
The other realization that was very helpful to me during my season of waiting for a spouse was recognizing that it was not wasted time. Whether or not you ever get married, you are living the life that God has for you right now. It’s not just preparation. So be fully involved in the church and fully live out your gifts now. If God has not given you marriage, he has given you everything you need to live in his will and serve the body of Christ in your singleness.
Of course, it’s true that serving God as a single person is different than serving God as a married person, and serving in singleness may not be your first choice. But it was very helpful for me to recognize that this life is not my only shot at happiness and this life one day will seem very short. So I need to use my time as a single person, whether it’s a few years or life-long, to fully engage in the body of Christ and to serve and glorify him with every day that he’s given me.
Written by Betsy Childs Howard, author of Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams Are Delayed. Originally appearing on Crossway.org.
Betsy Childs Howard is an editor for the Gospel Coalition. She previously worked at Beeson Divinity School and Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. In addition to being a regular contributor to the Gospel Coalition website and First Things, she is the author of Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams Are Delayed.
Publication date: July 21, 2016