I once heard someone say, “ You aren’t really single until you are 30 and single.” Well, guess what folks, this year I officially turn single. I keep reminding myself that “the big 3-0” is just a number. It’s not that I’m afraid of getting older. I mean, I’ve always thought people who freak out about their age are foolish. God ordained the day you were born and you should be grateful for every year He gives you, right?
It’s just that I thought I’d be married by now.
There I said it.
I’ve waited patiently over the years as I’ve seen friend after friend find their mate and marry. I’ve been a bridesmaid in so many weddings that I’m starting to think the film 27 Dresses was written about me. Through all of this, I’ve made it my chief objective to honor the Lord by pursuing purity, guarding my heart, and honoring my brothers in Christ.
Somehow, I thought that if I did things the “right” way then one day God would reward me with this amazing godly husband. And so I waited, year after year, and continue to wait. To be honest, it wasn’t that hard at first. I was busy discovering, developing, and using the gifts God gave me to reach our lost and hurting world. I threw myself into ministry and ran after God with all my heart.
But it got a little harder when I started seeing my single friends dwindle, when kids I once babysat started dating; when all the baby announcement pictures hit Facebook; when family and friends kept asking, “So…are you seeing anyone?”
That’s when somewhere in the back of my mind a dangerous thought took root. This was on a Friday night as I sat alone in my room feeling like the only lame-o single person in the world. I’d had more than one well-meaning friend tell me that God had someone special for me because I deserved it. That’s when the notion hit me:
“I do deserve it. I’m doing this God’s way.” I thought. “I’m running from temptation, I’m turning down relationships that would displease Him. So where is my husband? Where is my reward? God owes me.”
“Wait…what?” I asked myself. “Is that really how you feel?” I’m ashamed to say it was.
That’s when conviction swept over me. How could the God of the universe who created me and gave me life owe me anything? Hadn’t He sent His one and only Son to die for me because of my sins which made me as dirty as filthy rags? How could I sit here thinking that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords owed me a single thing?
I think this is a trap many Christians fall into- not just singles. We think that if we serve God, He will reward us with an easy life here on earth. But that’s just not true. When you think of some of the people who have served God the most ardently, it didn’t actually go well for them in a physical sense. Consider John the Baptist. Jesus said that among those born of women, there was none greater than John the Baptist (Mathew 11:11), and yet what did John get for leading a life committed to righteousness and godliness? He got his head chopped off (Mark 6:14-29).
It was then that I realized I’d been treating God like a vending machine. Pay in righteous acts and then press b5 to get a husband. That’s not how God works and I knew it. I bowed my head right there and began repenting.
Had I really been doing all of this to get a husband? Or had I just gotten carried away and forgotten the real reason I’d started on a path to pursue holiness? When I gave Him my life years ago, I gave Him everything- no strings attached. I promised to serve Him no matter what.
I remember one specific prayer when I was in my teens. “God, I’ll obey you and chose purity even if I don’t get married till I’m 30!” I’m not kidding. I actually prayed that. Why had I put a cap on obedience to God? Honestly, it was because at the time I couldn’t imagine God taking longer than 30 years to bring me a husband. But could I still serve, love and trust Him if I was 31 and single? What about 32? What if I never met the right person? Was He still worth it?
“I love you, Lord…” I prayed silently as the hot tears ran down my face “Even if you never give me a husband, I trust you. I will obey you no matter what. You are my reward.”
Something in my spirit resonated with those words. Yes, that’s it! God is my reward! All those years of waiting, all the lonely nights, every wedding, every birth announcement, hadn’t God been with me? Hadn’t His peace and His presence been enough to sustain me? Hadn’t it been His Spirit in me giving me the power to choose obedience rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time (Hebrews 11:25)?
The reward for obeying God was the presence of God in my life. To disobey Him would have meant to put distance in our relationship, to allow sin to come between us.
If you’ve never felt what it’s like to be in the presence of God, I know it’s hard to imagine what I am about to say, but it’s worth it. It’s worth every and any sacrifice you could possibly make. Jesus' parable in Matthew 13:44 demonstrates this well,
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
I would trade everything for just five minutes with Jesus. His love really is enough to satisfy the weary soul. I can’t tell you how many times in my life He has proven to be more than enough.
The reward of time spent with Him is also the fruit of the Spirit produced in your life. Get close to God and you will find yourself experiencing more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Yes, I turn 30 this year. But I’m not going to let it phase me. Instead, I’m going to praise God for 30 years of showing me His faithfulness and steadfast love. I’m going to put my trust not in what I want Him to do but in what He’s already done. I’m going to run with perseverance the race marked out for me, fixing my eyes on Jesus the Author and Perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).
I’m going to close with a few lines from the song Enough by Jeremy Camp. It’s an oldie but goodie. If you resonate with what I just said, let this be your prayer:
You are my supply, my breath of life
Still more awesome than I know
You are my reward, worth living for
Still more awesome than I know
And all of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough