Normally, my “singleness” isn’t something that bothers me too much, but recently it’s been on my heart a lot. I was listening to some Bible teaching programs and the view I heard from one teacher discouraged me greatly. Let me share a few of the things that troubled me. He said:
* It’s better to get married young – you have less baggage.
* God calls us all to marriage and family - only a few have the true gift of singleness.
* He believed there could be several “right” people for each one of us.
Immediately, I thought, “Well, I’m certainly not young anymore and I’m not married and I don’t have a family. Does that mean I am not “called” to have a family? Am I sinning by not being married by now? If there is more than one potential mate for me, why have I not met just one of them?”
I understand where the speaker was coming from and I even agree with what he said, but as a single person in my late thirties it hurt me greatly to hear his thoughts. However, I did take his words to God in prayer and with tears running down my face I asked God to show me what I could do differently and I asked whether or not I was still in His will. Here are the thoughts that came out of those hours in prayer and Bible study.
I was reading the passage of Scripture regarding Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 24). It starts out with Abraham asking his trusted servant to go to his people and find a wife for Isaac (I guess this could be considered the “online dating” of their day!) There were four points I observed about this.
1. The servant prayed. He knew how important this was and he took it seriously and saw it as a spiritual matter.
2. He observed to see if God was working in one of the women.
3. Once he saw God at work the servant took action.
4. After seeing God bring up the right woman the servant took time to praise, worship and thank the lord for His provision.
This is such a good reminder for how I should be treating my search for a spiritual partner. One, I need to be praying – praying for God to be working in my life and praying for God to be working in my potential spouse’s life. Finding a spouse IS a spiritual matter – we are called to marriage so that together two people can grow to be more Christ-like. This is one of the biggest spiritual decisions we will ever make.
Two, I need to observe and see if God’s hand is on my relationship or potential relationship. What qualities am I looking for in a potential mate? Physical qualities only or spiritual qualities too? The servant was looking for a Godly woman and didn’t look on her just for her beauty. These days there is such emphasis on external beauty, weight, and fashion…but those are not the qualities God says will make a good spouse. Internal, spiritual beauty is what lasts. We need to take a step back and see if the person we are pursuing has those types of qualities in addition to the outer attraction.
Three, I need to be taking an active part in my search for a mate. Am I doing all I can do to “put myself out there”? I don’t feel this should be the entire focus of my life, because as a single person I have time to serve the Lord and to be used by Him that I may never have again. But, I do need to make an effort in looking for a potential partner – whether that’s getting involved in activities I am interested in, using online dating sites, or participating in community events.
Four, I need to praise and worship God once I’ve found a potential spiritual partner. That person needs to be someone you can minister alongside of. They need to be someone who prays with you and for you. They need to be someone who will encourage you in your walk with the Lord. If you’ve found that – than praise God indeed!
This passage of Scripture spoke so much to me that day and even as I sit here typing my summary I have tears – but tears for another reason. God touched my heart and reminded me that even though the servant did the searching, it was GOD who orchestrated the meeting. It’s like God was asking me, “Bridget, don’t you trust me to find a mate for you? If I can orchestrate a meeting like this for Isaac and Rebekah I can work in your life as well.”
An aspect of this passage that never really sunk in before was the fact that Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah (side note here – Jacob was almost 50 when he married Leah and Rachel!!). What – someone in the Bible was that old when they married – for the first time?! The tears really flowed after that. God was just reminding me that marriage could indeed still happen for me and that’s it’s not too late. Whatever timing God has for me and my potential spouse, is the right timing.
Just because society might look at me and make judgments doesn’t mean they are right. It’s more important for me to work on my relationship with God and serve Him with my time and skills than it is to constantly worry about being single. I need to take an active part in the search, and leave the rest up to God. And all the while, I need to see where God is at work and join Him!