Last year, I wrote a blogpost called Dear Past, Present and Future (A Letter to my Single and Non-Single Friends). To my astonishment, it resonated with a lot of people. I’ve had this blog for six years, and in one year, it has become my most read blogpost. By a 400% margin. On average, at least one person a day has read it in the last year. If you’d like to read that post first, check it out here.
All of that to say, I knew that I had to write another blogpost on this subject. As addressed in the title, this isn’t just a post for my single friends. Because, if there is anything we must understand, it is this: Before I am a friend, a spouse, a parent, I am first and foremost a child and servant of the King. The same principles that apply in singleness apply in marriage. So, without further introduction, let’s dive in. I hope this post can be an encouragement, whatever your relationship status.
A couple years ago, at a young adults conference, Talitha Rivera spoke on relationships. What she spoke about, though, can be applied to so much for our lives, for whatever we are believing God for: for our families, our careers, our churches, etc. She stated, “He knows what’s better for you than you do. He’s closed the doors and will open the right one. God has a future for you. God filled me with such a confidence in Him. Everything I thought I needed didn’t matter anymore. He filled the void. I don’t have to fear, because He has me and He knows the plans He has for you.”
Whatever you are praying or believing God for, you don’t have to figure it out. The one thing you do need to do is focus on Him. When your focus is on Him, everything else in your life comes into clear focus. In this part of my story, where I don’t know what comes next or what God has for my future, I get my eyes fixated on Him. Everything that I’m worrying about begins to fade. The Scriptures tell us, “Do not worry about tomorrow.” Truthfully, we have nothing to worry about because we know who holds tomorrow. As long as you are walking with Jesus, no matter what type of waiting room you are sitting in, the void will be filled.
“Christian life is a journey toward love, growing in love, expanding in our ability to love, surrendering our hearts to love, increasingly becoming a person who is motivated by love.” -Gary Thomas, The Sacred Search
The two greatest commandments in the Bible are to love God+love our neighbor. I want to stay here for a little bit. Whenever I’m studying the Bible, I do some digging to figure out what the Greek and Hebrew languages are saying here.
When the word love is mentioned in The Greatest Commandment, it comes from the greek root agape. A lot of us already know this. However, in this particular verse, the verb form is used and that word is agapáō. When translated, it means to actively do what one prefers, so as to do what the Lord prefers. It means to lay aside our own desires and serve the Lord and one another without any personal interest. Another way put, love is selfless.
The Hebrew word for love is ahava (אהבה), which is made up of three basic Hebrew letters: aleph (א), hey (ה), and vet (ב). From these three root letters of a-hav-a, we get the root word, hav (הב). This root word means to give. Love is giving.
God’s love towards you and I is the most giving kind of love. This can be summed up in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
In every relationship that we are in, when we choose to love one another, it is from a place of selflessness+giving. This comes by way of the Spirit of God. Which takes me back to my first point. We have to daily seek first the Kingdom of God+get our focus on Him. Through such, He will give us the ability to love the people in our life that we can’t do by our own human will and strength.
Today’s title was taken from Ben Stuart’s book, Singleness, Dating, Engaged and Married. I read it earlier last year and it’s a great read. I highly recommend. With that said, I want to focus on a few key points that he mentions in his book.
Ben Stuart writes, “You do not need to spend a single moment of your life trying to earn the love or esteem of others. You have His.”
You do not have to try to earn love from other humans to feel as though you have value on this earth. You are already loved by the King of Kings. Isn’t it interesting that we try to find our worth and value through other flawed human beings, rather than recognizing that we are already valued by the One who is perfect and blameless before man? It’s incredible, really. This truth has helped me when I have been rejected or where my own feelings haven’t been reciprocated with another. Because my value isn’t placed in any relationship here on earth, I can walk in confidence. You+I. We are loved by God. There is so much joy in this absolute truth!
Secondly, Ben Stuart points out, “God ordains singleness in order to secure an undistracted devotion to the Lord.”
While this point might be targeted towards the singles, it’s also for those who are dating or married. Because, I’m certain that throughout life, there are moments where God ordains a particular season (also known as the wilderness season) to secure an undistracted devotion to Him. Augustine put it this way, ‘We are restless until our hearts find rest in Thee.'”
John 15:11 states, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
We can be so fixated on the future, on the hope of a season that we may never enter, that we completely miss out the joys of this season that God has given us. I have some news for you: You can’t live in both the future and the present. You have to surrender the future into God’s hands so that you can step into God’s purpose in the present.
As much as I tell people that I am not a fan of living alone, this time has been so sweet. It may not be what I wanted for myself, but it’s been a time in my life that has taken me to places in my relationship with the Lord that might not have happened otherwise. If you had told me five years ago that I’d still be living on my own today, I would have horrifically looked at you and asked if there was an option B? But, Option B isn’t God’s best. Letting go of our expectations for how we thought our life was supposed to look like opens doors that we would have never thought possible. Like Talitha spoke of, it is during this time of devotion that I have gained such a confidence in Christ. In the Greek, the word devotion means the combination of two concepts-the word good, or well, and the phrase “to be close besides.” As Ben Stuart writes about in his book, the idea of devotion, “suggests both a passive element of sitting and listening to someone and an active element of tending to his or her desires.”
This is true of all of us, whether single or not. Devotion to God is our priority. It is in our devotion to Him that we not only come to know who our God is, but understand better what He is asking of us, what it is that He desires from us in this season of our lives.
In his book The Sacred Search, Gary Thomas writes, “Marriage is a wonderful, even glorious reality, but it is secondary to our spiritual identity as children of God, and something that won’t even exist in heaven (Matt.22:30). Our search for a life mate, then, isn’t one of desperation, but rather one of patiently looking for someone with whom we can share God’s love and live out God’s purpose.”
Our purpose in both singleness and marriage is to live out God’s purpose for our lives. It is important to recognize that your purpose and my purpose are two different things. Last year, God reminded me about the fact that while we are all on the same mission, we have been given a unique purpose in the Kingdom. Don’t look around at what everyone else is doing, because if you aren’t careful, you’ll be living out someone else’s purpose instead of your own. Wow. This is where your personal walk with God is so important. God will reveal your purpose as you walk with Him. When the disciples first followed Jesus, they didn’t know their exact purpose. They didn’t sit Jesus down and ask for the three year plan and ask what their position or role would be. No. They simply followed Him. And, as they followed Jesus, revelation of their purpose began to unfold. This is the same for you+I today.
The third and final principle that I want to share from Ben Stuart’s book is this, “You have more freedom and more time now than you will likely have in the future. I want you to maximize it. You may not be in vocational ministry, but you know the pain and awkwardness of being young. You can invest your time in the next generation. That would be an amazing use of singleness.”
So, whether you are a young or older single, whether you are dating or married, I want to remind you that this season is the perfect season to invest into someone else. Ministry is all about relationships+mentorship. Invest in your local church and community. God has placed people in your world that you can personally invest in+make an impact for the Kingdom.
Sometimes, the season that we are walking in can get discouraging, but I want to remind you that as long as you are walking in obedient faith to the gospel, you will always be exactly where you are meant to be. For both my single and non-single friends, keep walking in the joy of the Lord+search for your confidence in Him alone. No relationship, career, leadership position, will fulfill you like only His love alone can do. And, for just my single friends, I’m going to end this with something my previous pastor’s wife had once told us when teaching on relationships. “You walk according to the plan of God, and He will open doors. It is not a question. He will. It may not be in our timing, but He will open the right door.”
Dear single, dating, engaged and married friend, keep your focus on Jesus. When He becomes your focal point, every other area in your life gains clarity. When you+I keep our focus on Jesus, we are better able to love the people in our lives in the way we were created to love others. It is a love that is selfless, giving, and ultimately, brings glory to God. That is my hope for you+I, that in every relationship in our life, it would point to the glory of our King. What an incredible gift it is, that through relationships, God’s Greater Love for us may be revealed.