Not a Parenthesis
Sing to God, sing in praise of His name, extol Him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before Him - His name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, He leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
Psalm 68:4-6 NIV
“He’s perfect!” my friend exclaimed and continued, “A couple years ago I made a list of all the character qualities I wanted in a husband and he has every one!”
“So what’s the problem,” I asked. My friend had just graduated from college and her boyfriend was a couple of years behind her in his education, an education that would include traveling to another country for a year.
“Do I accept an opportunity to travel abroad for a six month mission trip while he is also traveling, or do I wait at home for the brief weekends when we can spend time together? My heart says stay but I don’t know if that is a productive way to live the next year of my life.”
After discussing all of her options I responded, “Singleness is not a parenthesis – a waiting room until you get married. This season of life is your life. This is God’s plan and you need to soak up every opportunity to serve and fall deeper in love with Jesus. Don’t look at your singleness as a waiting room. Look at it as a unique time to experience life in a way you can’t if you’re married.”
My friend accepted the short-term mission call and married her boyfriend two years later. She said the Lord used that time in a foreign country to help prepare her for the life she would share with her military husband.
Another young friend described a relationship that she thought was God’s answer to the desires of her heart. Instead, when her boyfriend broke up with her she concluded the breakup was her fault, and that God didn’t think she was ready for the man of her dreams. So she spent much of her time learning homemaking skills to “become the perfect woman for her perfect man”. I challenged her with a different purpose: “This season is not a parenthesis where you are just waiting for something to happen. This is your life right now. Instead of preparing for that man you may never meet, spend this time falling deeper in love with Jesus and discover the sufficiency of Him as your completer. That intimacy will not only sustain you in this season of life but also for whatever God’s future plans are for you. Learn new skills for your own pleasure and growth. Choose to see this break up as God’s protection for both of you and a new beginning that opens up new opportunities.”
This friend struggled to accept this challenge. We connected a few years later and she lamented that she had wasted time waiting for the perfect man instead of seeing adventure and opportunities in the challenges of her daily life.
Anna chose life. She did not see her widowhood as a parenthesis, i.e. a waiting room until something better happened. When the dark clouds of death invaded her life, she saw that God made those clouds His chariot. What looked fearsome to Anna, God used as a vehicle to make His presence known to her.
What are you waiting for before you choose to fully live your life?
For children to grow up
For children to be potty trained
For a mother or father to change
For the loneliness to go away – for people to go away!
For better health
For grief to subside
For the right boy to like you
For leaving home and going to college
For depression to lift
For friends to include you
For broken relationships to be redeemed
For Prince Charming to sweep you off your feet
For your spouse to love you the way you want to be loved
What are you doing as you wait? Are you just marking time until something better happens? We can’t always avoid those places, but we can decide how we live life during these waiting periods. Instead of just waiting, start giving it your all, in order to experience intimacy with Jesus. Be intentional about seeing this as a time to build strong disciplines into your life that will act as weight bearing walls of grace, when life comes crumbling down. Look for a way to serve others instead of waiting for others to serve you. God makes the dark clouds His chariots. What a picture! When circumstances shove you into a waiting room, look for the Lord triumphantly rushing toward you in those dark clouds.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the interview "Hope In Uncertain Days: A Young Woman's Story Of Overcoming"so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
A young woman, beginning to see her career as a recording artist start to take off, hears the diagnosis no young person ever expects: “You have an inoperable brain tumor.” Listen as Caitlin describes her battle to find a cure and then just when life seemed to be turning around, the news that shook her world once more. Caitlin Jane’s story is a light in the darkness for all who face uncertain days, but especially young women and young men as they struggle with the challenges of walking by faith when life is turned upside down. Caitlin’s response to a life-threatening medical diagnosis, disappointments, even to standing against the tide of cultural pressures is a remarkable and a unique journey that will encourage other young people that they have choices in the way they respond not only to typical teenage pressures, but life crises and a culture that challenges their core values. Caitlin’s story will “raise the bar” for those who struggle with similar circumstances–in that they will realize they, too, can walk by faith when life seems to be a mess.