By LESLIE LUDY
Probably the biggest fear that single women deal with is that if they don’t take matters into their own hands, they will miss every opportunity to be married. Today’s guys are not often well-trained in the art of winning, pursuing, and cherishing the heart of a woman. And oftentimes, women feel that they are in a game of “survival of the fittest” in which the available men quickly get claimed by the most aggressive women, while the ones who guard their feminine mystery and focus on Christ alone get passed over.
Modern voices and the urgent whisperings of the enemy don’t make this battle any easier. An all-too-common error floating around out there goes something like this: Because God created the majority of us for marriage, it also stands to reason that we as women are supposed to pursue marriage, to be strategic and intentional about finding a husband, and to “give God a hand” in finding our spouse.
But here is the truth that many of us hesitate to really believe: If and when the time comes for us to be married, God will orchestrate the love story. In the meantime, our focus is to be on serving Him and pouring our life out for Him, not on desperately seeking a spouse. The timing is up to Him, not us.
Why am I so convinced that we are to remain fully dependent upon Christ in every area of our life, including this one? Because Jesus left us an example that we should follow in His steps. (See 1 Peter 2:21.) And as part of His example to us, Jesus did nothing of His own accord, but only what the Father told Him to do, and only when the Father told Him to do it:
Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner” (Jn. 5:19).
It’s not that Jesus was actually helpless – rather, He deliberately chose to be completely dependent upon His Father for every word, every choice, and every action. He said:
The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works (Jn. 14:10 NASB).
As Ian Thomas so eloquently explained:
“The Lord Jesus acted at all times on the assumption that His Father was handling the situation, and Jesus simply took care to obey His Father’s instructions. Even when He was being reviled and tortured, ‘He left His case in the hands of God’ (1 Pet. 2:23) By this submission to His Father, Jesus ‘learned obedience’ (Heb. 5:8) as a Man, and the obedience was total; ‘He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death – even the death of the Cross’ (Phil. 2:8) Now, as God, He asks the same of you and me.”
Certainly it is a great idea to pray for our future spouse and to be obedient to God’s voice as He guides our steps in the process of finding a mate. Trusting God to orchestrate our love story doesn’t mean shunning men or avoiding friendships with the opposite sex.
But during the single years, we are not supposed to build our lives and thoughts around the pursuit of marriage. Sure, it might seem logical and appealing to spend your single years chasing after romance, but God prescribes a different pattern. The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms what we are called to pursue: “Flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace…” (2 Tim. 2:22). When Paul speaks about single young Christian women, he says, “the unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit” (1 Cor. 7:34). He does not say “the unmarried woman is called to pursue marriage,” but rather the unmarried woman is called to pursue “the things of the Lord.” While Paul is certainly not against women marrying (he even encourages younger women to marry in 1 Tim. 5:14) nowhere does Scripture say that marriage is what single men and women are called to pursue or chase after.
Some Christians use the argument that since God created us for marriage, He has no problem with us being impatient, unhappy, and discontent until we find a husband. It may be easy to believe that He applauds us when we take matters into our own hands and try to help the process along, since marriage, after all, is good and God-inspired.
But that’s not the pattern of Scripture.
When God promised a son to Abraham in his old age, Abraham did what seemed only natural to do – he tried to give God a helping hand. After all, God had said that He wanted to give him a son. What was so wrong with using the good common sense that God had given him taking matters into his own hands? It was the only way, as far as Abraham could see, that God’s desire for him to be a father would ever happen. The thought of just waiting around until Abraham and Sara were both on death’s doorstep seemed laughable. So Abraham did what countless single young women do – he tried to help God out, speed things up, and use the resources he had to make God’s plan happen. And he ended up not with the son that God had promised him, but with his own solution … Ishmael. Ishmael was not God’s perfect plan for Abraham’s legacy. Rather, God said of Ishmael that, “He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him” (Gen. 16:22).
God told Abraham that He would establish his seed through a child named Isaac that would be born to him and his wife Sara in their old age. Abraham’s response was, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!” (Gen. 17:18). Like so many of us, Abraham longed for his own handiwork to be blessed by God, rather than having to wait for God to fulfill His promise in His own time and way. God challenges us to let Him write our love stories in His own time and way, and our immediate response is, “Oh, that I could just create my own story and have You bless it!” That’s what our selfish nature craves. But our Lord has something far better in store, if only we will trust Him.
Allow the Spirit of God to search your heart. Are you trying to create an Ishmael of your own making? Are you attempting to give God a hand in finding a guy and getting married? Do you really believe that Christ can fulfill you at the deepest levels of your soul? Are you willing to make Him your first love, even if no earthly love story comes your way?
These are difficult questions to face. But remember that God cares more about this area of your life than even you do. He wants first place in your heart, not to make you miserable, but to bless you beyond all you could ask or think. Just read the rest of Abraham’s story – when God’s promise of Isaac actually came to pass – and be reminded of the loving, faithful, awesome God you serve! A heart centered upon Christ is not a sentence of death – it’s a doorway into abundant life, into the most glorious relationship you could ever imagine; a daily romance with the One who loves you more than you can ever comprehend and tenderly cares about each and every detail of your life.
“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Ps. 118:8).