I wrote this originally on June 15, 1990. I have long-turned thirty, then forty and for some reason I stopped having birthdays at 43. Anyway.
The Cross of the Single
As I write this I am days away from my 27th birthday. I haven’t taken birthdays too well since I turned twenty. I don’t know what it is. It’s not that I haven’t accomplished anything in my short years. It’s not that I am old or even look old. Yet birthdays continue to come and I continue to hate them. Just wait until I turn thirty!
Birthdays cause you to reflect. Never in a million years did I think that at the age of 27 that I would still be single and at days before this pending birthday I am not any closer to getting married and joining the rest of my age group. To add to this, last Sunday God once again called me to that supposed high calling of singleness Paul wrote about in I Corinthians 7. Just before my birthday!
So many times I have heard that message on the high calling of singleness. This is a favorite message at most single events. Sometimes I think they preach it to make us feel better and to hold us over until we can join the “real world” when we get married. How I hate that message. I’m sure that everyone in the room joined me in that sentiment. Who wants to accept that cross? Certainly not the majority of believers–they all got married. And certainly not I and I told God that. I would rather pick up a different cross–a heavier cross as long as I have someone to walk beside me.
It is a cross that singles carry. This cross does have its good moments, namely freedom. The older I get, more and more I enjoy that one. It will be hard for me to share my space with someone. After all, this is my bathroom, my unmade bed, and my dirty dishes in my dirty kitchen. The only one affected by this is me and I like it that way. Where would I fit a husband into my life?
Then there are the times I would gladly make the bed if I could have a permanent someone in my life to support me, share my fears with, comfort me, and dream dreams with. It would be nice to have someone in this married couple world. In the set up of a table for a dinner, we, singles, always throw the pattern off.
If this call to singlehood is such a high calling, then why are we perceived as “not yet whole”? In the ministry, so many churches will only take resumes from married couples. I don’t get it. If this is such a high call, then why are we treated like second class citizens? No wonder so many singles have as their only goal to get married and check out of life until they can enter life again “complete.”
Are we, the church, missing our potential by our treatment of singles? Just a thought for church leaders to dwell on.
So now before my 27th birthday the Lord is asking me to once again surrender to this cross of singleness when it makes absolute sense to me to be married at this point in my life. Despite what seems to make common sense to me, and I’m sure to countless church leaders, the Father has these great unknown plans for me as a single.
I once heard one of “those” sermons from a pastor who felt the Lord had asked him for another five years of singleness. A year later he was married. He preached that the Lord saw how deep his commitment was in his walk and thus he was blessed with a wife.
That message has bothered me. Does that mean if I surrender this time that soon I will have my husband because God will reward me for my faithfulness?
Maybe, but that cannot be my reasoning to surrender. I need to surrender for the sheer purpose that God has this purpose for my life at this time. That should be exciting. This is new territory for singles and I’m sure God is anxiously waiting for more singles to forsake the drive for marriage and enter this untouched territory.
“An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs–how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world–how he can please his wife–and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world–how she can please her husband.” (2 Corinthians 7:32-34). Can you imagine what the Lord could do if even a few singles would surrender to this high calling of singleness?
I joined the ranks of that married couple world at the age of 33. This has been a good thing. We just celebrated 18 years of this good thing.
But something happened between age 27 and age 33. I continued on in full-time ministry. It was in this time span that I made the greatest decision of my ministry life which was the raising of a group of teens I met because I continued to put myself out there. That is quite a story. I lived those great unknown plans the Father had for me. Taking on “my kids” was the second greatest decision of my life. The first was accepting my call into ministry.
Because I was living, John found me in that life and pursued that person. Not a person “on hold” but me loving and living for God to the fullest.
Singles, please do the same. Live. Serve. Do. These are good years. These years will tell the story of your life.