“A man who is eating or lying with his wife or preparing to go to sleep in humility, thankfulness and temperance, is, by Christian standards, in an infinitely higher state than one who is listening to Bach or reading Plato in a state of pride.” – C.S. Lewis
I found my world spinning out of control. Panic oozed from me in the form of hot flashes. Fears from the past threatened to choke tears out of me. The overwhelming feeling of not wanting to waste my life (this season of me and the Lord) and building back to a better, more established routine brought on the deluge of these emotions. Added to the mix: congested sinuses and lack of sleep. I had to collect and sort out my whirlwind thoughts and desires. Don’t lose site of the goal, I kept thinking to myself. But with that thought came the question: What is/are my goals? And why? I then proceeded to have a “lost” feeling. That horrible sinking feeling of being directionless. First things first, write a list down. I type up a list as quickly as my fingers will go to give my brain some relief. I look down the list and at sit back and think, “Ah, responsibility and progress. Good things. Now to do them and realizing I don’t need to do them all in one day.” I then did a double take (took a deeper look) at my list. While these are necessary and perhaps worthy things to do I realized to my horror that it was mostly about me and myself.
I remembered back to the night before while running the KT. The question that kept drumming in my head in rhythm to my pounding feet against the pavement was: Yes, I’m single and really enjoying this season of life. It’s been given as a gift. But it’s been given to me for a reason (There’s a reason for the season – oh, come on, it’s a funny pun. No? Moving on). How do I best use this time, not for myself and my own self-improvement (not evil goals/ambitions in and of themselves and like I said, often necessary) but for God’s glory and the furthering of the gospel (taking it in and living it out and what that looks like in my life). Am I challenging myself to dig deeper into His Word to pursue His goals and desires for me or am I too focused on myself and letting panic/worldly pressures cloud what He desires? I woke up this morning praying Psalm 51:10 over and over again as I washed my face and brushed my teeth: “Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. I know you’ve empowered me to embrace and pursue you. Put opportunities in my life and show me Your desire. I know and am convinced You will fulfill my desires because they are right.” Tears welled in my eyes, both in joy and sadness at His overwhelming grace and my own sin. Then comes the timely message of JR Vassar called, Intentional Singleness. He talked on the four “P’s” of living intentionally as a Christian single person. He joked about that. I had to laugh. I took notes and wanted to share them with you all as something for you both to enjoy and examine your hearts:
PERSPECTIVE. Marriage is not our hope for a better life (refer to 1 Cor. 7:28). Those who marry will have worldly troubles. It is a good gift from the Lord and he desires we should marry but with that responsibility comes hardship. Two sinful human beings equals sin, conflict and on top of that you throw in in-laws and holiday travel. Kids! More added conflict. If you’re single and you’re not living out of today; not even enjoying the day because all you can think about is this “preferred future” of yourself, you’re going to be sadly, sadly disappointed when you get married because it is not your hope for a better life.
Marriage is not bad. It IS an inadequate savior. It can’t save you from your fears and loneliness. It won’t give you joy, identity and security. Christ is the only one who can do that. You will CRUSH your spouse under the weight of that identity. You need a bigger story than a marriage to live in. Jesus provides that. There are benefits of being single. There’s a sense of independence, there’s freedom to spend your time and money in how you deem best. But also singleness can become an idol: when you worship your own independence, out of a self-absorbtion that seeks to find identity and joy in your own personal freedom. Dependence in your own strength; then you have an idol. It’s an idol of self and you’re going to be sadly disappointed. Singleness is worshipped as a functional savior. So don’t treat marriage as an idol (wanting it too badly) and don’t treat singleness as an idol (wanting it too badly). We’re not to be defined by nor enslaved to our marital status. Christ has died to give us a new identity.
Singleness is not to be excessively loved or to be excessively loathed. It’s to be leveraged for the kingdom of God (refer to vs. 32 of 1 Cor. 7). Don’t waste this time on yourself and for your own selfish ambitions but spend it on the kingdom. Serve. Give. Go. Where can I go to leverage my time to serve the purposes of God in this church and this city? Singleness is not a curse to bear, it’s a gift to steward. Have a proper perspective
PREPARATION – Get your life ready for it (marriage). Build character. Build finances. Men, get over your daddy issues. Focus on those things. Get some counseling if you need it. But get focused on becoming the kind of men that can actually love and lead a wife. Women, focus on your character, focus on your finances…so that you can prepare yourself to be the type of godly woman a man would want to marry. So men, you have to be intentional in growing up; the little boy sitting down and the man standing up. You have to become focused. Quit wasting your time. Become fiscally responsible. You have to become a man that God would entrust one of his daughters to.
PURSUIT – Men are to be the pursuers in the relationship. Husband is to love and lead the wife. He’s accountable for the relationship. Initiate. If you’re a godly man you should pursue a godly woman at the right time under the wisdom of the Spirit, being led by Him. God’s desire and command is that you wouldn’t pursue multiple women as a consumer but that you’d be a one-woman man. Women, if a man is pursuing you and other women at the same time you can guarantee he won’t be faithful in his heart if and when you get married. He’ll always be thinking of other women, lusting after other women, flirting with other women, unless for the grace of God he’ll be doing that in your marriage. (refer to vs. 39). Men, don’t overlook available women. I have met numerous godly women who date godless men because godly men are blind and lazy and don’t pursue them. Women, appropriately present yourself as pursuable. Be sure you have the affirmation of godly friends when pursuing or being pursued.
PURITY – the whole tone of this passage is that sex is for marriage and being single requires self-control. It’s laughable to our culture but it is the way of Jesus. Our casual culture of sex has cheapened sex and robbed it of its sacredness and made it simply a common thing. Don’t give away the ultimate act of affection when it’s not accompanied by the ultimate commitment (which includes exclusivity and permanence). The mentality of our culture is that sex is a screening process (refer to 1 Cor. 6:16).
Vassar made some good points back both by experience and Scripture (HIS words). I found my own heart challenged, convicted and encouraged. Download and listen to his message: click here.
Take a good look at yourself, your intentions, your heart. How are you leveraging your singleness for the One who gave it to you?
Rachel B. Duke