Things were so easy when you were 10.
Things were simple. Shoot, even at 16 it was easy. I remember sitting in a small Bible study at my sister’s house when I was asked the question everyone loves to ask to teenagers: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I don’t know how you answered that question when you were 15 or 16 but for me, I knew exactly how my life was going to turn out. The plan was set. I would grow up, graduate high school, go to college, compete in the Olympics, win a gold medal, find a husband, get married and have babies.
Eventually I would trade in the cool car (more like the clunker) for a mini van and life would unfold with grace, the Gospel, and the happily ever afters I always dreamed of.
Well, here I am. More than 10 years have passed and on my list of things I “knew” would happen by now, only three have actually come to pass. I grew up (maybe?), graduated high school and graduated college.
So what if life doesn’t happen the way we dreamed when we were teenagers?
What if you graduate high school and college and you still haven’t met the one? What if your story hasn’t quite played out the way you anticipated and you find yourself single when you thought for sure you would be married by now?
I have a lot of thoughts on this and only a tiny space in which to say them, so I want to quickly tell you a little bit about how God has worked in my life and how He’s helped me through the shattering of my dreams and plans.
First off, I want to address a common misconception that is especially prevalent among single Christian women, and that is that singleness is an inferior status.
That is absolutely not true. And pining after a time or a marriage that may or may not come is a waste of our time and a direct attack on God’s character because it’s subtly saying that in this status, this season of singleness, He can’t use you for His kingdom and that He isn’t sufficient or good, but He’s holding out on you. Because if God were really good, you would be married by now and just like Disney promises, all your dreams would come true.
This is a subtle thing, but it’s incredibly dangerous because it slowly and surely eats away at and erodes our confidence in the Lord.
There is so much to say about that, but I have to move on.
The second thing I want to address is that when God shatters our dreams and plans it’s for one purpose: to replace them with something better, namely Himself.
I’m going to say something that’s extremely obvious but something we often forget: we’re not God. We’re not sovereign. And we’re not designed to be satisfied with anything apart from God.
So what do we do when we want to be married but we’re not and there are no potentials in sight?
We do what we should do every single minute:
We fix our eyes on Christ continually and intentionally.
I’ve found that if I don’t fixate on Him, my ADD heart will wander to a thousand lesser things. And when I began fixating on Him and opening my heart to Him, do you know what happened? A realization dawned. A realization that God is indeed enough for my lonely heart.
But I want caution us. Just knowing God is enough is not a magic potion that makes all traces of loneliness forever vanish. It is not my intention to make singleness look like a sunshiney walk in the park, believe me, I know the longings that flare up sometimes. This isn’t easy.
This is a fight.
A fight to believe the Gospel and all our Savior says. A fight to believe that if God has given you this cup to drink it’s not only right but good (and that applies to way more than singleness).
So, what keeps me going after 26 years of singleness?
Heaping spoonfuls of grace and a knowledge that there is a more important marriage than the one I’ll (possibly) give myself to on this earth.
In one of my all time favorite quotes, Jonathan Edwards said this:
“God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of Him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.”
Marriage on this earth? Shadows. But the substance is coming.
Let me remind us of the substance:
“Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
The Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult;
And give Him the glory,
For the marriage of the Lamb has come,
And His Bride has made herself ready
With fine linen, bright and pure” -Revelation 19:6-8
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away,” and He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”” -Revelation 21:1-5a
Let’s live for that marriage, that day, that city.
That’s the substance.
This temporal marriage on earth? It’s just the shadows highlighting a true and better Groom. A true and better wedding. A true and better Bride. A true and better marriage.
Let us purpose to live for the substance not the shadows.
The reality not the expression of it.
The song that never stops not just the echo of it.
As singles, we have a unique opportunity to live wholly to the Lord at this point in our lives (and for some of us maybe the rest of our lives, we don’t know what God has in store). Let us not waste this time or wish away the gift we’ve been given, but let us seek to use this undivided time to cultivate our hearts, serve the Lord and others with an undistracted spirit, and seek to glorify God and make Him known to all peoples as we deny ourselves and live to Him, our Supreme Treasure, and the ultimate Husband.
6 comments on “Shadows, Singleness and a Greater Substance”
Just as good to read as it was to hear. Lots of truth to be applied in other situations as well.
❤ ❤ ❤
I always feel like we’re the same person and we should be friends 🙂 Love this. Thank you for your words.
Girl. You don’t even know how often my best friend and I say, “Oh my word, can we her best friend?” while reading your blogs. So let’s just go ahead and make it official. Okay, great. ❤ Thank you for taking the time to write this—it's so appreciated!!