By Thom Mollohan
“But I’m almost done with college and God still hasn’t done anything,” protested the young woman across from me in the campus coffee shop where I often held unofficial office hours as a campus pastor. Her voice was louder than she had intended and people at nearby tables cast a glance in our direction. Heedless of what others were thinking, she continued.
“You say that God has a plan for me, but I don’t see it. I want to be with someone so badly, but it feels like God doesn’t care,” she said.
“But He does care,” I replied. “Don’t forget His promise to us in Romans 8:32: ‘He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?’”
“Well, I don’t know,” she responded. “I feel like I’ve got to do something.”
We talked a little more, prayed together, and then parted company with her only resolution being to pursue a relationship that was not Christ-centered—not exactly the kind of resolve she needed.
My heart hurt for that young Christian woman, partly for the pain of her loneliness, but mostly for the pain she was planning for herself as she forged her own path outside of God’s plan for her. Even then it seemed her life was about to take a turn in a tragic direction.
Sadly, in her case, the result was the same as it has been for other men and women I have known in the last 20 years who traveled down this dangerous avenue rather than waiting on their loving God. Those chosen paths have been lined with heartache and brokenness, although in some cases, God brought some good out of tragedy.
In the last issue, John Buri, Ph.D., asked the question “Why wait to get married?” But for many of us, that question isn’t really applicable. Instead, we’re wondering why we have to wait. We’re eager to jump the broom, tie the knot and seal the deal—we just can’t find anyone to jump, tie and seal with!
Trusting God with our relationships seems to be a tricky thing. The world—the devil’s megaphone—likes to make us think that if we are single then something is wrong with us, either physically, or with our personalities. Then there’s impatience. It seems everyone around us already has that “someone special” making their life complete. Impatience can easily mutate into desperation which, in turn, can lead us astray from the walk of faith designed for us.
On the flip side, we fail to realize that going without romantic love can be an excellent pipeline for us to experience the love of God. We are better able to celebrate something which can be called the “centrality of Christ,” the understanding that no relationship is remotely as critical, or as fulfilling, as our relationship with God. Solitude can also help us to practice the first part of “the greatest commandment,” which is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind,” (Matthew 22:38). As Revelation 2:3 says, our souls long for our “first love,” who is Jesus Chris our Lord. It can be easier to focus on Him when He’s also our only love.
It’s common to look to a partner to provide that which only God can provide. However, unconditional love and acceptance cannot be consistently found in any human relationship—despite what we see in movies or hear through the messages of popular songs. Unless we are first grounded in the One who has already loved us unreservedly and approves of us with all our faults—demonstrated to us by the death of Jesus—we will fail to find another person who is able to complete us as we desire.
In addition, being single can be an opportunity to exercise the faith to which we have been called, as we consider what is at stake. God has a unique plan especially crafted out of the depths of His immense love for each one of us, but our spiritual enemy would like for nothing more—and wants nothing less—than to derail us from this perfect strategy. This is an attempt to steal our joy and peace, but also an attempt to sabotage our fruitfulness for God.
King Solomon’s life illustrates this. Renown for his wisdom, Solomon undermined his effectiveness by giving his heart away to women who did not share his love for God. From a worldly perspective, these marriages made sense, but as a consequence, his heart turned away from the Lord. He failed to realize part of God’s blessing in his life and his actions negatively impacted his children and the entire nation of Israel (1 Kings 11).
If we resist the tendency to act impulsively and foster desperation, we can be infinitely better positioned for God to use us and to increase our joy and peace. This doesn’t mean we have to give up the idea of marrying, but it will make our waiting more bearable.
It can help to ask the following questions: If the Lord has in His plan for us a “special someone,” then wouldn’t she also share our calling? Wouldn’t she share our vision to know God and make Him known? As we attempt to answer these questions, the author of Hebrews encourages us with His words in chapter 10 verse 35, “So do not throw away your confidence: it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”