Do you ever feel like Someone is really going out of His way to tell you something? You notice the same theme showing up a few times in the same month. Or you hear a recurring comment from different people in your life multiple times the same week. Or you even pick up the same message being repeated over and over multiple times in a single day. Like that new Adele song on the radio.
When Ashley and I took that road trip to visit our alma mater earlier this week, going on a Tuesday was intentional. A bible study that really impacted our college years still meets every Tuesday night on campus. Well, I call it a bible study. It’s more of a weekly conference now, with literally thousands of students gathering in the basketball arena to listen to the speaker, Ben, share his wisdom, insight and hilarious anecdotes.
So on Tuesday night, after visiting our favorite college study spots and coffee shops (and singing in the Globe Room!), Ashley and I made our way to the basketball arena to get good seats for the bible study session. After about thirty minutes of amazing worship music, Ben took the stage and announced that the topic for that night would be…. (wait for it)…. Singleness!
I seriously laughed out loud. And then groaned. And looked at Ashley with an expression that surely communicated my internal, “Really?! Ugh.”
Just that morning, I had drafted my blog post on how I want to use the freedom of my singleness to make a positive difference babysitting foster kids. “I want to enjoy this season of singleness,” I’d written. “There is so much I can do in this chapter of life where I have freedom from spousal responsibility… I am freer than I will ever be. The world is my oyster.” I get it, God! I know singleness is a gift of a season! So why do I have to sit through another message about it?!
I knew it was going to be a good message – Ben never fails to deliver amazing, inspiring, goose-bump-inducing messages – but I was internally (and externally) groaning at the thought of having to listen to yet another person tell me how “wonderful” singleness is.
Sure enough, Ben started off by reading from 1 Corinthians 7, describing singleness as a “gift.” But out of genuine respect for Ben and his teaching (and, you know, God… and the apostle Paul), I stayed tuned in. Ashley and I had driven all the way into town for this, after all! Here’s what Ben had to say:
What we want isn’t always what’s good for us. And what’s good for us isn’t always appreciated. Sometimes it takes love and wisdom to recognize the benefits of certain blessings. Like a 7-year-old boy getting 100 shares of stock instead of that slingshot he wanted. Or a 28-year-old girl getting another few years of singleness instead of that husband she thought she’d have before age 30. You know, hypothetically speaking of course…
According to Scripture, singleness is a gift, and God is good and loving. If we believe the bible is the inerrant Word of God, we must accept that – painful as it can be – singleness is a gift to us from a good and loving Father.
Singleness is a gift God gives because He wants to secure in us an undivided attention to Him. Dating is distracting. Marriage is distracting. And God doesn’t want us to be distracted in church; in bible study; in life by looking at or for a significant other.
God desires our good, and since He knows He is the only one who can truly satisfy our deepest longings, He grants us the gift of a season of singleness so we can learn to zero in on Him; to focus on the One who can meet our needs so that, in marriage, we don’t lean too heavily on a spouse who will inevitably disappoint us. We must stop pursuing the satisfaction of our souls in the arms of other people. They were not created to satisfy.
“There is a tendency in humanity to downplay the circumstances of your current season and play up the benefits of other seasons,” Ben went on. As a married man himself, he reminded us that marriage is great, but it is taxing – mentally; emotionally; financially. Marriage is a beautiful season in its time, but there is SO MUCH POWER in singleness!
In seasons of singleness, you are unencumbered. You have freedom. Time. Resources. You will never have this same amount of free time and resources again in your life, and the most content single people are those who understand the purpose of singleness. Don’t spend hours of your life living in fantasy worlds when the real world is burning up. You have opportunities afforded to you in singleness that will dissipate when you get married.
Ultimately, singleness, dating and marriage are not the main story of your life. They are not your primary purpose, and they should not be your life’s focus. There’s not a lot of time left in this world. We are living in the last days, and life is short. Why do we not care more about the state of someone’s soul than their relationship status (including our own)?
If you are single, God has given you the gift of singleness in order to glorify him with undistracted devotion, not to fill your life with distractions to pass the time until you get married. Which of these defines your singleness? Are you living your season of singleness with purpose and intentionality? This is the million dollar question.
God will give you grace to endure singleness for its season. Make the most of this time! Pursue an undivided devotion to God. And, in the words of Jim Elliot, “Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.” Amen.