When God shakes a local assembly...
Rachael HillMemorial Website
Male and Female Created He Them
IX. Until We Know His Will - The Single Years
[continually] Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be
added to you.
- Matthew 6:33
But I say to the unmarried...that it is good for them to remain even as I.
- I Corinthians 7:8
One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord....but the
one who is married...his interests are divided.
- I Corinthians 7:32-34
Let each of you remain in that condition in which he was called. . .
- I Corinthians 7:20; 24
It is good for a man to remain as he is. . .
- I Corinthians 7:26
Do not seek a wife. . .
- I Corinthians 7:27
All that was discussed in the previous chapter about marriage was simply for one reason: to dispel many of the childish and worldly illusions of what marriage is really about and give a true perspective of what God is after. But, one naturally asks,
The thing I hear most from young single Christians is, "I need to get married." With all the compassion from one who was single until almost 28, I must be candid from my heart.
If you feel that your need is to get married, I can almost unequivocally say that you are not ready to be married! WHY?
Because you feel that way indicates a couple of things:
1. You think that there is a need that only marriage can meet.
2. Christ is not presently enough to meet all of your needs.
Both of these assumptions are false. First, there is not a human alive that can meet your needs. You are far better off facing that now rather than in the midst of a marriage.
Unfortunately, many Christian couples encounter this reality with disaster after marriage - only because they have been under this incorrect assumption for many years. They find out that the one they have married cannot meet their needs. Needs for love. Needs for affection. Needs for attention. Needs for emotional support. Sexual needs. Whatever. You see, they have been under the world's delusion that a husband, or a wife, will meet our needs. What a gross lie of our enemy and his world that is. Believe me, there is no despair like being locked in a marriage where you find that the one you married cannot handle your problems nor meet your needs.
I would probably not be far from the truth to suggest that almost all serious problems in marriage, and all divorces, are a result of one or both of the spouses finding that their mate could not meet their needs.
I would even say that if you are presently, "desperately needy", and you expect any human to meet that need, you are setting yourself up for a fall, a heart-shattering disappointment. I would also guess that you've already had enough disappointments in your life. The Lord knows you don't need extra ones!
The reality is this: Only One can meet our needs - the Lord Jesus Christ.
I'll even go beyond that. Only One is meant to meet our needs.
I want to make it clear to the reader that this truth is one of the primary burdens that the Lord gave me in writing this little work - this is one of the central truths of our faith. But so few know anything about it, especially as it relates to the marriage relationship.
Actually, these single years are a precious gift from the Lord so that you can develop your relationship with Him and discover how deeply and how wonderfully He can meet your every need. Please read Psalm 23 and Psalm 91 before reading further.
First of all, in His death, burial, and resurrection, our Lord Jesus completed for us a finished work that lacks nothing. There is nothing lacking in your salvation. It is a full and complete provision. And His Life in you can convey to your inner man all that you need. He is your Life.
This is intensely practical, and not super-spiritual. Further along I will give you some practical advice on how to begin to experience His All-Sufficiency.
God tells us to seek only one thing. He is jealous. He knows that anything else that we seek will disappoint us, even hurt us. The seeking of the Christian is always and only to be for the Lord Himself. It was at the end of Paul's life that he said, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death . . ."
I realize that the context of these passages in I Corinthians 7 are regarding a specific situation, but I believe the principles in these words go beyond the context. What are the points of these words? They do not say, "do not marry"! But they do say, "Do not seek a spouse". What could be wrong with wanting a spouse? Nothing in and of itself. As we've already stated, you are created with this God-given longing. However, as believers we are instructed that there is only one thing that we are to actively, continually, passionately seek - the Lord Himself.
What is the issue? Simply this. Because of the way God has made us, if we give ourselves to "seeking" a spouse, the search itself will most likely detour us from our life's call, which is seeking and knowing the Lord Himself! We cannot be "double-minded". We will seek one thing or another. We cannot seek two things simultaneously . . . it is impossible. One will dominate. One will rule. One will control. A moving object cannot go in two different directions simultaneously.
Our passion should be no less. In fact, anything less is not of God.
For some, it is the mere reality of being alone that is the greatest difficulty. Even torture. We shout at the Lord, "You are the One who said, `It is not good that man be alone'!" "Help me!"
And it seems that He does not hear.
But He does.
He longs to be so near to us that we know His very presence and find that with it that we are not alone. How can this be? Oh, to find solace in His presence in prayer and in His word - it is such joy to the soul. Do we know His presence thus? It is a presence that no situation can deny or steal.
Do we realize that there is no loneliness greater than being joined for life to one who is not God's choice? Locked in an apparent prison of loneliness? No fellowship with the very one we should be closest to? This is really being alone. And we should guard against this happening by wanting His will, and only His will, even over our desire to deal with our aloneness.
I must also point out that every married person sometimes feels incredibly alone with an aloneness that the marriage relationship cannot prevent. If we are experienced in knowing how to replace that aloneness with the presence of God, we will not suffer from this, but gain. But if we try to satisfy that need ourselves, the result will most likely be the exact opposite of what we seek.
The best way to satisfy this need as a single is in fellowship with like-minded saints in the body of Christ. Get hooked into all the Lord is doing with the believers you meet with. We will discuss this more later.
And I can share this without reservation: When we ask God to reveal Himself to us as our All-in-All, when we say, "Lord, I want you to be all I long for and need", He will hear us and answer our prayer. And an amazing thing will happen. I have experienced it. And I know many, many others who have as well.
When we find after all, that He really is all that we need, we no longer are ruled by the need to find a spouse. We can rest. He is enough. And if He wills for us to marry, we will be prepared to be a giver, instead of a taker. And if He wills for us to remain single, we are content to be His bride - longing for His return!
I think this wonderful poem on the next page, which a precious sister sent to me during a very dark time of my single years, and which was a key part to my coming out of that darkness, says it all far better than I ever could:
CHRIST Who Is Our LIFE
|"I Am" Who art Thou, Lord?
I Am - all things to thee;
Sufficient to thine every need;
Thou art complete in Me.
I Am - thy Peace, thy Joy,
Thy Righteousness, thy Might.
I Am - thy Victory o'er sin,
Thy Keeper day and night.
I Am - thy Way, thy Life;
I Am - thy Word of Truth,
Whate'er thy lack, I Am - to thee
El Shaddai, Enough.
I Am - thy Life within,
Thine Everlasting Bread;
Eat of my Flesh, drink of my Blood,
I Am - What dost thou need?
- Adah Richmond
We are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body,
being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each
individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
- Ephesians 4:15,16
When I was in my early 20's, the Lord revealed many of these things to me and spoke very clearly to me that I should stop dating (I started dating when I was 15 and specialized in it). It was a very personal word to me, and I do not lay it upon any others. I had a past of abusing relationships with sisters and I had much of which to repent.
The way the Lord approached me on this was gentle and full of mercy. It was something like this: "Would you intentionally get involved with the wife of another?" The answer was obvious. The next question wasn't. "Do you realize that almost every time you get involved with a sister, you are getting involved with another's wife? They just aren't married yet - in your eyes."
Then, later, it seemed as if the Lord asked me another question: "RAH, if you marry some day, then where will you find all of your fellowship - with many different sisters?" I realized suddenly that if I ever did marry, to continue to have relationships with many sisters would be disastrous! "I guess not!", I answered the Lord. And then He seemed to ask, "And where will you find your fellowship?" It was obvious. With my brothers in Christ. And so it will be with each of us - brothers with brothers; sisters with sisters.
Indeed, I discovered that the fellowship I found with my brothers was far deeper and purer than that which I previously had with sisters. Not that I hadn't known godly sisters - but there were no "extraneous" distractions! How wonderful was this fellowship with those of my own sex -and how I grew from it. And it greatly prepared me for my fellowship with my brothers in Christ now which continues to this very day, more than 20 years later.
The Lord spoke to me that above all I was to cultivate my rela-tionship with Him, to get to know Him as my All-in-All, that if I ever married, I would be better prepared to lay down my life for my wife (not that I have succeeded in that!).
Oh, the problems I was freed from! Oh, the liberty! And oh, how I grew to know Him! I wouldn't trade those 3 special years of not dating for anything. Indeed, I think they may have been the best years of my life.
We have seen that there is only one way God will get what He is after in any marriage, and that is through the working of the cross deeply in the lives of the husband and wife.
How can we prepare for this? God has provided a wonderful way. It is the House of God, the Church, the brothers and sisters that we find ourselves gathered with.
It is our brothers and sisters who give us many opportunities to "die to self", and "lay down our lives" for them. All we have to do is look around us and ask the Lord, "How can I lay down my life for my brothers and sisters?" He can open your eyes to thousands of ways.
It may be picking up an elderly sister for every meeting and mowing her lawn every week. It may be showing up early for every meeting to set up chairs and staying late to take them down. It may be noticing a brother who is overworked, burnt-out, and offering to help him do some thing around the house so he can be with his family. It could be many things. If you cannot see anything, just ask!
Go ask a brother or sister, or family, or church leader what you can do to help them - and then help pick them up off the floor from their shock!
The key is, it is taking your time, and sacrificing it for another - your energy, and using it for another's gain, not your own. Learn to serve Christ with all of your heart right where you are, right now. You will find your reward will be great, "in this lifetime."
You see, we do not learn the way of the cross instantly. It takes time. There is no better time to learn to die to self than right now. The sooner we die to self, the sooner we gain Christ! Indeed, we need to prepare for the day that if we should marry, the cross is our friend, and we know it well.
Here is the key: If we give our heart to wholly and fully seeking Him and serving Him, IF it is His will for us to marry, He will, in His glorious time, in His glorious way, bring us together with the one of His choice - He will not let us miss that one, nor let that one miss us! And how wonderfully we will know for all of our earthly days that it was not our doing, but His. And how He will get all the glory!
And if it is His will for us to "remain as we are," we shall be totally satisfied in Him. And He will still get all the glory.
Earlier I quoted Galatians 5:24:
Now, those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
God desires that we be a pure, holy people, with no defilement of the flesh or its passions. I also quoted, "Flee youthful lusts..." Oh, that God in this age would find again for Himself young people not defiled in any way, who have kept themselves pure, and holy, first for Him, and also for a spouse if He so chooses. This absolutely must begin when we are single.
To surrender to the flesh in this area is to sacrifice the glorious ONENESS that God has for His saints in the marriage relationship, even to destroy it. May God help us.
I am convinced that even in this evil day, He can have such a gener-ation that is faithful to His original purpose. The key here is to absolutely avoid, to run from, any situation in which there could be the slightest defilement or impurity.
This was a great concern of mine when the Lord began to speak to me. I was very discouraged and felt I was condemned by my past. But then the Lord led me to II Corinthians 11:2 -
I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.
Praise God! Who did Paul say this to? Who had been more immoral than the Corinthians with their temple prostitution? None! But how complete and wonderful is the work of our Lord Jesus on the cross, where He paid for every sin with His precious shed blood, that we might be cleansed, forgiven, made like new.
The path is a familiar one: I John 1:9.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
And then we hold fast to our cleansing, Christ as our Righteousness, following Romans 12:2:
Do not be conformed to this world [immorality] but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. . .
When the Lord showed me this, I felt I now had a period in which He could restore in me at least the mind of a virgin, of one pure, by the work of His cross. May He do so wonderfully in you also, if you too need this new start in Him.
So, by His grace, we have this fresh start: to start anew, "as if we never sinned," to walk in the purity and holiness of His ways.
May many be recovered with this truth!
And from this point on, may we flee every situation that would even tempt us to repeat our sins of the past.