Single Devotion

Today's guest blogger is Emily Duffey. Emily is a staff member of Reigning Grace Counseling Center, my assistant, and my friend.  I know you will be very blessed by her post today. 

“It’s hard to wait around for something that might never happen. But it’s harder to give up when you know it’s everything you want.” ~Anonymous

Along with countless other young women, I grew up dreaming about my wedding day. I would look through the wedding magazines, picking out my dress, selecting colors, coming up with theme ideas and décor for each of the four seasons (just in case!), but set my heart upon the fall. I would write these lists of what everyone would be wearing and create the seating arrangements. I had planned the perfect honeymoon vacation spot. I had the wedding music set, the first dance, all of it. While I didn’t go as far as some of my friends did, the dreams were set, the plans thoroughly thought out, and the event firmly settled as future reality. I was waiting for my Prince Charming to come along to put “the plan” into action.

After high school, the first wave of friends got married. Then there was college—round two. Round three came somewhere around 25; round four was right about 30. I’m waiting on round five to show up. Each time a friend gets married, that mental wedding day planning list I first mentioned comes back to mind—I would suggest ideas I’ve always wanted to use for myself, but find the hope of every using them for myself fading. While I was joyful for my friends and their upcoming nuptials (humming along while she walks down the aisle to the song I had planned on using), the quiet ache in my heart continued to grow. Tears of joy have, at times, been mingled with tears of personal sorrow. I’ve often asked that eternal question that has no satisfactory answer in the moment: Why?

For quite some time I believed I would not desire to marry, were I to remain single. I believed that those who remained single were desirous of this state, and did not seek out marriage. I just knew that since I wanted to be married, I would be married. I just wasn’t ready yet—I had something I had to get right in my personal life first; I had to sin less; I had to do all the things God wanted me to do first, of course. But I believed, deep in my heart, it would happen one day. Perhaps you can imagine my surprise when I learned this truth:

Just because you desire marriage does not mean you will get married.

Learning this truth exposed how I had fallen into a common to man problem, and I know I am not alone! 

There are a lot of singles (men and women) whose focus is solely upon marriage. It is what they talk about, research, consider, ponder, dream about. What you may not realize is that while marriage is a good and desirous thing, it can become too important. When your life’s passion is to get married and you have placed the desire for marriage over the Lord, you have created an idol.

Elyse Fitzpatrick, in her book Idols of the Heart, explains that “Satan will strike at the heart of your idolatry. He’ll observe your words and actions, and he’ll know what you long for more than holiness. He’ll know what you fear. And it’s there he’ll attack you. He’ll frighten you with the thought that you’ll never be happy without your longed-for desire.”

Fear is a powerful thing. The fear of being alone, of the unknown, is enough to cripple the struggling heart of a woman longing for marriage. The reality that marriage may not come in spite of the heart’s desire for it can be an excruciating realization. The greater the pain you experience as you begin to change your hearts focus, the deeper the idolatry. A great part of the pain is the realization that there has been a deep, grievous offense against the Lord, your Maker! 

I was crushed when I realized this. The reality that I may never marry because that is what would most glorify God AND be the best thing for me (Romans 8:28) overwhelmed me. This certainly didn't feel good or right! I felt crushed and betrayed. I struggled with understanding how God could give me a desire for marriage and not fulfill it. It was a very difficult period of time for me, and I still struggle at times. I had to learn more about God and respond biblically in spite of my feelings. If you find yourself here, I encourage you to do the same.

So, how do you this? 

You have to put your dreams, wants, and desires on the altar as Abraham laid Isaac, his promised child, on the altar of sacrifice. Abraham believed God, knowing that the death of his son would obliterate his dreams. His greater desire, though, was to honor and glorify God. He believed God’s promise, that Sarah would bear him a son (Issac) through whom the covenant would be established and his descendants would be blessed (Genesis 17:19). Therefore he placed his faith in God to keep His word (as He cannot lie, Titus 1:2) and did what the Lord asked of him. He was willing to sacrifice his only son for the glory of God, believing in Him.

What promises can we bring to mind, focusing our thoughts when we are asked to give up our dreams? Where should our thoughts go when sorrow like sea billows roll over us? How can we, like Horatio Spafford, proclaim, “It is well with my soul" and genuinely mean it? 

Remember . . . all things are for our good and His glory:
(Romans 8:28 NASB) - And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Remember . . . Jesus is truth:
(1 John 5:20 NASB) - And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us           understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Remember . . . to take an eternal view:
(1 Timothy 1:17 NASB) - Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Remember... To rejoice through suffering 
(Romans 5:3-5 ESV) Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Remember . . . Everything that comes to us is first filtered through the Lord's hands:
(Job 1:8-12 NASB) - The LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil." Then Satan answered the LORD, "Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face." Then the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him."

Remember . . . You must realign your heart’s desire to be that of God’s desire—delight in Him! 
(Psalm 37:4 NASB) - Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

When your heart delights in God, your desires become His desires, and they are pure, righteous, and holy. But what does it mean to delight in God? The Hebrew word means to be happy about or to take exquisite delight in. I like that—to take exquisite delight in God.  This level of attention is to be consumed with God, what He wants, what He desires, and the things that honor and glorify Him—when this is where our thoughts are focused, you will have a difficult time focusing on yourself. It becomes less and less about you and what you long for (in this writing, a spouse) and more about how to live out life to glorify God. In doing this you are delighting more in the gift Giver than the gift. He must increase; I must decrease (John 3:30). 

This doesn’t apply only to the desire to be married. Your desire might before a godlier or more attentive husband, for children, for better children . . .  any number of things! When your heart is consumed with His glory, it becomes your driving force, your heartbeat. It is the reason “why” you do what you do.

Changing your desires is a work of the Holy Spirit, a supernatural act of God. It is a change of heart. It may not come naturally or easily. Spend time with God, and bathe yourself in the Word of God. Seek His face, asking Him to change your heart to desire Him above all things. Pray for a single devotion, undivided, to Him and Him alone.