“Often a Christian man or woman falls prey to that cruel and vexatious spirit, wondering how to find marriage, who, when, where? It is on God that we should wait, as a waiter waits–not for but on the customer–alert, watchful, attentive, with no agenda of his own, ready to do whatever is wanted. ‘My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.’ (Ps. 62:5 KJV) In Him alone lie our security, our confidence, our trust. A spirit of restlessness and resistance can never wait, but one who believes he is loved with an everlasting love, and knows that underneath are the everlasting arms, will find strength and peace.”
― Elisabeth Elliot,
A few weeks ago, I was talking with a young woman around my age about courtship, marriage and being a single Christian woman. I have seen many Christians put a huge emphasis on marriage and relationships, telling young men and women about how wonderful it is and how important it is. And yes, finding a Godly spouse is one of the most important things you will ever do. It is incredibly important, one of the biggest moments of your life if you do end up marrying someone. But I have seen so many people, women especially, put this emphasis on marriage and create a huge weight and place it on their backs, suffering because of it. I have seen women struggle so badly with longing; we as women naturally desire things, and some of those things are love, companionship, and so on. We want to feel loved. The idea of a relationship for most women sounds like a perfect thing. To have someone bound to us forever, to have a partner in this life, to love and be loved in return, to have someone there for you..there aren’t many women who would hear about this and not desire it. A couple years ago, I suffered so much with this longing. I saw so many of my friends start dating. Most teenagers start dating early nowadays, and I was alone in this. I had never felt like anyone was interested in me in that way, let alone had someone act on those feelings. It made me feel like an outcast, the odd one out. And I began praying about it, asking God to allow this to happen to me so I could feel normal, so I could fit into society and experience what every other girl my age seemed to be experiencing. It wasn’t until a few months ago that God revealed something to me. He convicted me about these feelings, and I realized that I had been holding back so much of myself for when I was in a relationship, for when I was married. But God can call us to do something even if we’re not with someone. God could call you to be someone great, and we have to slay that longing and focus on God no matter what society says is normal.
In Elisabeth Elliot’s book Passion and Purity, she talks about her time as a single woman, and then, later on, she talks about her relationship with Jim Elliot. In one of the early chapters, she talks about what kind of life we owe Christ. We owe a debt to the Lord, and we have to be willing to pay it, even if that means sacrificing the things that we want most so God can work in us. Sometimes, the things that we want most aren’t what God wants for us. Sometimes, He has much more in mind.
“When obedience to God contradicts what I think will give me pleasure, let me ask myself if I love Him.”
― Elisabeth Elliot
The ultimate question is this; do we love Him? How much do we love Him? What are we willing to sacrifice for His sake? For His will? Are we willing to set aside our natural desires, which aren’t necessarily bad until they become an idol or an excuse, in order to follow God’s plan?
Amy Carmichael was one of the most incredible missionaries that this world has seen since Biblical days. She was also a single woman until the end of her life. She put every ounce of her focus on Jesus Christ and the calling that He placed in her life. At times, I’m sure she asked God why He put this specific calling in her life, like Elisabeth and Jim Elliot struggled with whether or not God was calling them to be single as well. Paul said in scripture that it is better for a man to remain unmarried so that his focus is on the Lord and not his wife, and that it is good for others to follow his lead unless they feel that God is calling them to do otherwise. I realized that it was time for me to put relationships, love, and guys on the backburner so I could put every ounce of myself into God and what He is leading me towards. Women, you do not need a husband in order to serve God or be a part of a ministry. Men, you do not need to be married in order to follow God. He can use you whether you are single, engaged or married as long as you are dedicated to serving Him in all that you do. Carmichael wrote this years ago, and I find it extremely fitting;
“And shall I pray Thee change Thy will, my Father,
Until it be according unto mine?
But, no, Lord, no, that never shall be, rather
I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine.
I pray Thee hush the hurrying, eager longing,
I pray Thee soothe the pangs of keen desire—
See in my quiet places, wishes thronging—
Forbid them, Lord, purge, though it be with fire.”
― Amy Carmichael
God’s will has to be more important to us than our human will. We must blend our will with His until they are just alike. We must pray that He will hush our longing, our desire, our wishes, and step back and allow Him to purge them with fire. We can not serve God until He is everything to us. More than our desires, more than our relationship status, more than what we want from this life. What is He calling you to do, and what are you letting get in the way? What is your excuse for not following Him? Maybe, it’s not a relationship or a desire for one. Maybe, it’s friends, or the desire to be popular and in the midst of every social gathering you could possibly be in. I’ve suffered from that, too. It’s easy to play the comparison game. We look at what every other girl, or guy, is doing right now, and we find ourselves wishing, imagining, that we are with them, doing what they’re doing, because they seem so happy and carefree. When we are comparing ourselves to others we are missing out on what God wants to do with us. Us, as we are, not as what we want to be, but what He wants us to be.
God can still work through your life when you’re single. This is harder for women to get, I think, because so many people want to think that women can not be powerful tools for God in the mission field. Even when they are married to amazing Christian men, doing everything God has called them to do, they seem to be put in the background. How often do we hear about Spurgeon’s wife? About Oswald Chamber’s wife? But remember, just because they are in the background doesn’t mean they aren’t being used greatly for God like these amazing women were. Those women, those wives, were the reason that we know who those men are today. Just because they aren’t at the pulpit preaching on Sunday does not mean that they can’t be used. We women can see this, can see how often good, Godly women are put in the background, and perhaps, we feel as though we are worth a little less in God’s eyes. But we aren’t. God uses Godly women. God uses meek, humble, loving women. And He wants to use you now. He doesn’t want to wait until you’re married, or a mother. He wants you now. That’s why it’s important to strive to be that Proverbs 31 woman, that Titus 2 woman, and remember your Creator in the days of your youth. God can’t use you if you’re looking back at the world, sighing with longing to be like them. He wants you to sacrifice. He wants you to strive to be Christlike, to make Him your first priority, not guys, or friends.
Keep your soul on God. Don’t be hurried, don’t be pressed to make a list and complete everything now. Don’t say, God, I want to be married by this certain age, I want to have kids by this certain age, then when I have everything on my list that I feel is needed before I serve You, I’ll serve You. No, God does not need the things on your list in order to use you.All He needs is a believing heart, a willing heart, a meek heart. All He needs is a woman who looks to Him and says, Lord, here am I. Send me. Send me to Africa, send me to India, send me to this city in America that the Gospel is desperately needed in. Send me towards any door you wish to open for me, whether a husband is behind it or not. Whether children are behind it or not. He needs a woman who will see her desires and know that sometimes, our desires are not God’s desires, but He will never leave us feeling unfulfilled or unhappy when we are serving Him more and more each day. There will be hard days, hard weeks, hard months, maybe even hard years, but He will bless you. He will use you. He will sustain you. All you need is God, and He doesn’t want to wait to use you. We’re the ones who have come up with this idea, but God needs nothing but His disciples.