I’m a Christmas movie addict! Of all the holiday films ranging from tear-jearkers to downright cheesy, A Christmas Story is one of those classics that’s still funny year after year. Poor little Ralphie spends the entire time pining for a Red Ryder BB gun only to be given bright pink bunny pajamas…it never gets old.
We may not be trying on any homemade rabbit suits, but many of us have been given a gift that we didn’t exactly write down on our wish lists when we were little. Unlike the gift we’d been asking for, anticipating and maybe even assuming we’d get someday, this is one gift that we probably weren’t planning on getting – and it’s non-returnable! But just like getting a pink bunny suit for Christmas, this gift can leave you feeling disappointed, awkward, and like everyone’s staring at you!
Recognizing the Gift
If you, like me, are somewhere between hearing, “Congratulations, Class of 2003” in the past and “You may kiss the bride” in the future, God says that you’ve been given the gift singleness. Whatever your season and whatever your future, if you’re an unmarried believer God intends for your singleness to be so much more than just waiting for life to start. As Elisabeth Elliot said, “Having now spent more than forty-one years single, I have learned that it is indeed a gift. Not one I would choose. … But we do not choose gifts, remember? We are given them by a divine Giver who knows the end from the beginning, and wants above all else to give us the gift of Himself.”
But how can we even truly serve Him if we’re still stuck on the part where we can’t choose the gift? When we look at our unmarried life and ask, “For how long?” we’re probably asking the wrong question. The real question in light of God’s sovereignty is “For what purpose?” As Jackie Kindall answers in her book Lady in Waiting, “Rather than resent your many single hours, embrace them as a gift from God – a package that contains opportunities to serve Him that are limited only by your own self-pity and lack of obedience.”
Accepting the Gift
The Apostle Paul understood how the single life was not only valuable, but also a freedom to pursue the things of God with an energy that can’t be given within the married life. “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him…I want you to be free from anxieties.…the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit…and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” (1 Cor. 7:17, 32-35)
Paul says that the single woman is freer from anxiety and distractions and can give undivided devotion to Christ (who, by the way, is the only Man that will ever be able to fulfill those deep longings in your heart!). God intends for this season of your life to be one of incredible freedom. But notice that, unlike our Sex in the City culture, greater freedom doesn’t mean greater independence. We’re not freer so that we can have more “me-time,” or spend more weekends casually dating men we have no intention of marrying. Instead we are free to live out a more purposeful dedication to serving our God. We are free to redeem the time as “slaves of Christ.” (1 Cor. 7:22)
So my single sister, here’s something to ask yourself: Are there opportunities for meaningful ministry and time-investing service that God has placed on your heart, but that you are neglecting and putting off out of the fear of a) venturing them alone or b) prolonging the time before your married…or c) being so wrapped up in snagging a man that you’re too miserable to do anything of value for Christ? If so, then isn’t the real fear that God is less than good, trustworthy, loving, and for you? (Ps. 56:9, 84:11, Eph. 2:1-10)
Living the Gift
If you’re single, it’s your gift! “Until when,” you may wonder? Until God is more glorified in making you more like Christ as a married woman than as single woman. In his book Redeeming Singleness, Barry Danylak offers this perspective on the single life: “Like Christian marriage, Christian singleness lived in its fullest expression is a powerful testimony to the gospel…(It) is a testimony to the supreme sufficiency of Christ for all things.” In our unmarried lives, you and I are declaring the worth and completeness of our Savior in a way that we couldn’t if we were married.
Before you ask the Lord to give you a return receipt for your gift of singleness, remember that the God who wrote down all of your days before any of them came to be has determined that – for today – His best life for you involves staying single for this season (Psalm 139). Author Nancy DeMoss, who is not unfamiliar with the ache of loneliness throughout her single life, offers this advice. “Don’t try and figure out how you are going to live a lifetime as a single. Focus on receiving it today, just today. Receive it today.”
Will you quit waiting for your life to start and receive your gift with joy?