Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: MARRIAGE (08/25/16)
- TITLE: A Marriage Made in Heaven
By Lillian Rhoades
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Where I came from summer’s heat had never been like this. Nature’s furnace must have reached the max for human endurance. Its blast hit my face full force, as I stepped from the plane and gingerly navigated the steep steps that led to the runway.
The hotness also wrapped itself around my heart. Joy bubbled up within me with the intensity of swirling waters in a hot tub. Everything inside and around me testified. I was home where I belonged. I’d left the land of my birth for the country of my calling.
My traveling companions, Roger and Barb, quickly joined me. After three hours of a slow, methodical check of every piece of our baggage and boxes by custom officers who spoke “broken” English with amplified, high on caffeine rapidity that could definitely be heard, but not so definitely understood, we caught a taxi (locals called them “tap tap”) to a place to eat that Roger and Barb had visited before.
Chickens that strolled leisurely along the dusty, dirt roads barely escaped with the feathers on their back. And I wondered how goats and other sundry livestock withstood the threat of vehicular annihilation.
Did this driver pass his driving test? Did they give one in third world countries?
I couldn’t hold my breath for long, but I almost lost it several times before we reached the place that served American fast-food without the possibility of contamination. We had barely sat down, given our orders and checked the silverware when Barb popped the question.
“How come a young girl like you never married?”
Why here, a thousand miles away from a coercive culture where failure to marry by thirty doomed you to permanent membership in the Old Maids Club? Didn’t you know that I am responding to a higher calling? And besides, my idol is an unmarried, woman missionary named Amy Carmichael whose life and writings I devour. Okay, since you asked, get ready for the pat answer?
I put on my most happy face.
“Well…I guess God had other plans.”
It’s been fifty years, but I still remember the hamburger. Its succulence absorbed my temporarily soured emotions. The thrill of being in God’s will cannot be stilled by a probing, stinging question that assaults your singlehood. Not for long.
But thoughts come out en masse to play at night. As I lay in a bed that I would soon discover was a haven for bedbugs, the question frolicked around in my head.
So, how come a young girl like you never married? Never married…Never married…
The inaudible echo taunted me and tried to discredit every vow of commitment I’d ever made to serve on the mission field. I chided myself for not being glib enough to respond with a more decisive answer, a response that a majority of Millennials living today would most likely have made.
I thought of a myriad of answers I could have given.
You know, not everyone chooses to marry... I’m quite happy doing what I feel is God’s plan for me... When you marry just because society says you’re supposed to marry, that often creates problems... Sometimes you marry the wrong one, and if there are children involved, they suffer the most from a bad choice... If you marry because you’re afraid you’ll be the only one among friends who remain single, then you’re marrying for the wrong reasons...Look at Jesus, He never married. And as far as I know, neither did Paul, nor millions of others around the world... If I believe that God determines my life’s path, then I can never be disheartened when I’m asked to live the single life.
I could have expanded my answer, but I didn't. Peering back into the past, I realize my first answer was the best answer because it included all of the above.
Just before dawn, I was awakened with the sound of singing. Here in this distant land where food was scarce, disease denied longevity, and good housing meant a hut with a dirt floor and thatched roof in many communities, Christians arose at 4:00 a.m. for prayer and praise. With the voices of the redeemed ringing in my ear, I determined that this single lady would give thoughts of marriage no further audience. I had work to do.
After all, it’s the marriage supper of the Lamb that really matters.
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