With Valentines coming up next week, I'm sure most of you single gals are starting to get a little dreamy. From someone who really does know what it's like, I'd like to encourage you to put down that "romance" novel and consider the blessings of being a single servant.
This is an article I wrote last year on our old blog, "It's A Loveless World." It's mostly just my own testimony, but I hope it will be an encouragement to you. If your not single, I hope it will help you see things through the eyes of a single person.
Now, I know what all you single guys and gals are thinking... What does a couple of married people know about being single? Well, I would like to tell you our story. I turned 27 on April 28, 2003. A few weeks later in May, I arrived at the airport to meet up with the rest of the mission team I was joining. We were taking a month long trip to Quebec and Manitoba, Canada. There in the midst of the girls was a guy. Something about him struck me right away, maybe it was because he was the only guy in the group. My initial thoughts were "I wonder if this is why God wanted me on this trip?" Not too spiritual I know.
Let's back up a little. I was born into a Christian home. My dad entered the pastorate when I was seven. By the grace of God I was gloriously saved at a very young age, 5-yrs-old. You've heard it said that hind sight is 20/20. Well, looking back I can see that God was preparing me for a life in the ministry from the beginning. I knew it was in my heart as a teenager, but I put those thoughts on the back-burner and replaced them with my life's plan. My plan was to meet a handsome dark-haired man at the "mature" age of 18, then we would date until I was 20. After a year engagement, we would be married and after a few years of honeymoon we would start a family, maybe four or five kids. I figured he would probably be going into the ministry and that would solve my need to surrender myself. Well, 18 went by, then 19..., 21..., 24..., One day I woke up and found out I was almost 26 and life hadn't gone as planned. What happened next was a foolhardy thing to do and not something I am proud of.
Late one Saturday, in January 2003, I found myself at my whits end. I was empty inside, except for a nagging feeling that a relationship with God was what I was missing. You see, God never left me, but I had pushed Him out and replaced Him with shattered dreams and a broken heart. That night, I didn't sleep much. Finally, as morning dawned, I slipped out of bed and got on my knees. Mine was not a heart ready for prayer. With tears pouring down, I brazenly told God that He had my soul, but if He wanted the rest of me, HE would have to do something that day in church. If He didn't, then I would stop fighting and go on with my career, being just like most every other christian I knew, service on the outside, cold on the inside. NO feeling would be better than the conviction that was tearing me apart. When you get to that state of spirit, you are completely unaware that you are dangling over a precipice spiritually and God in His mercy is the only thing keeping you from falling. Oh, I could never lose my salvation, but as I have witnessed, a child of God who rebels to this level of a stiff-necked heart is most often taken home.
Let me say here that God is a merciful and gracious God. He wasn't willing to let me go. That morning in church a missionary arrived. Somehow there was a mix up in the schedule, and Dad wasn't expecting him until the next Sunday, but Dad had him preach anyway. Before he preached, I was scheduled to sing. And wouldn't you know it, the hymn I had chosen before this happened was, "I Wonder Have I Done My Best For Jesus." I could barely finish. After I left to hide in the restroom, my Mom met me. I told her that God wanted me, but I was so afraid that He was going to call me into missions alone. After I cried for a moment, I composed myself and went back to service.
That morning the missionary started his sermon by asking, "Do you really want to be like Christ?" Of course I'm sure most of the congregation would agree that we did. He went on to give example after example of what it meant to be like Christ. Christ was willing to leave His home, Christ was willing to be ridiculed and persecuted, Christ was willing to die so that men could be free. It was also during this sermon that he mentioned how we are so often willing to pray for God to send laborers into the field, but how many of us were willing to be the answer to that prayer?
Be careful what you ask God to do. When God does something, He does it well! When the invitation was given, I had already been broken. Yet, I still didn't understand. That is, until God showed me that the reason I couldn't give him my dreams was because I was saving my heart for someone that may not exist. That morning, I surrendered my broken dreams, my fears of serving alone, and finally, I gave God all my heart. It was then that God could show me that He was truly All I needed and that He wanted me to prepare for the mission field.
Now, I could truly understand the meaning of Psalm 37:4. We so often read it like this, "Delight thyself also in the Lord and He shall "GRANT" thee the desires of thine heart." But, you see, It doesn't say "grant" it says "give." If I delight in the Lord, if He is the most important thing in my life, then He will place within me His desires and only then will He grant those desires. That day I fell in love with God.
Through a series of events, I found myself in that airport in May of 2003 wondering if the chubby guy (sorry, Honey) in the back was the reason I was there. After a month of serving together, we both knew that something was happening. Later, Keith told me that when he gave his church, (a very large church compared to what I was used to), a presentation of our trip, he showed my picture in his slide presentation. When it came up, he told Second Baptist Church of Festus, MO,"...and this is the girl I'm going to marry!" Faith or audacity?
To make a long story short... we spent the next few months courting on the telephone and by mail since I was in Ontario and Keith was in Missouri. We saw each other in June for a week, August for three days, then in October he came up for Canadian Thanksgiving. That is when Keith proposed to me. We got to spend Christmas together and that was it, until the day before our wedding. We were married April 2, 2004. Eleven months later we had our son, Jerry, then Jocelyn, then Kaylee, then deputation, and then ... well, that's up to God now. (Note: since I first wrote this post, God graciously led our family to minister in Kenora, Ontario at Victory Baptist Church.)
So, back to the beginning of this post. I was almost 28 when we got married and Keith was 35. We know very well what it is to be single and we pray that we will never forget. I know that many of you are single right now. Take it from two people who regret the wasted years, give your heart to God. Here are some things I wished I did:
1. Trusted my Heavenly Father to do what is best for me.
2. Stretched my wings and found fellowship with other singles of like faith and practice.
3. Served God while I had complete freedom to do so. -- Paul knew what he was talking about when he told single servants to be content. A single man can serve God and go anywhere without the burden of a family. A single gal can give her heart to God without thought of a husband or children. I do not regret being a wife and mother, just that I didn't give more of myself when I had more to give.
4. Finally, to spend my time becoming the person that a godly man would want to marry. I had dreams of a wonderful, surrendered servant of God, you know, the kind you find in books. But was I the kind of girl he would even consider? Are you the kind of person that the kind of person you would marry would want to marry? (Did that make sense?)
Don't let broken dreams and loneliness push God out of your heart. I didn't say life, because you can serve God without being controlled by Him. If God fills your heart, then there will be no room for loneliness. Find a place that needs you and give God all you've got. Do you realize how many small churches need a pianist, a music leader, someone to start a bus route, or someone to teach? Could you go? It takes a lot less to support one than five. If God blesses you with a spouse one day, then you will be far more prepared than I was. If you are already living a life of true contentment, then be faithful and don't let Satan wear you down.
For those of you who have never experience true singleness because you were blessed to be married young: Be careful how you treat these most valuable servants. Far too often, I felt like others didn't value me as a "real" adult. I felt incomplete. I know I'm not the only one, Keith also had these same thoughts. Single servants are taken for granted far too often. "They don't have a family, so let them do it." Or worse, they're ignored because everyone is busy with their own families.
Where would the Bible be without single men? Jesus was single. The only Apostle we know that had a wife for sure was Peter. Remember that Paul was single, would you give him the same honor if he was part of your church? Or would you think, "Who is he to give advice? He doesn't even have a family." Seriously, how many single adults are in your church? How many would be there if someone believed them to be a valuable part of the family?
If you are a woman, find time to invite a single lady over when your husband isn't around and just have some girl time. Ladies, encourage your husband to take the single guy out for coffee. Include these single servants with your family activities occasionally.
Single servant hood can be a wonderful thing. Don't waste it. God bless. Keep on a prayin'!