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I’m in the middle of writing an article on loneliness as a means to drive us deeper into God’s heart and was just struck by the passage this nugget came from. The context is distress and anguish, feeling the grip of death’s crushing pull. Maybe you can relate. But the author of this psalm lifts his eyes above his circumstances and prays for deliverance. He meditates on the character of God; how He is gracious, righteous, and merciful. He remembers what God has done; how He preserves the simple and rescued him when he was flat on his back, hopeless and alone. Then comes verse seven. Circumstances haven’t changed for the author but, then again, God’s worthiness to be worshipped has never been contingent on ideal circumstances. No matter what our lives might look like right now, no matter how uncomfortable or excruciating our circumstances might be, if we have been redeemed by Jesus, we have every reason to “return to our rest;” for the the Lord INDEED has dealt bountifully with us. And He is worthy of our praise and confidence right here. •••• [Also, 1) this is not a staged photo and 2) you should go read all of Psalm 116 for yourself.]
Happy birthday to the best big sister! 🥳 You are as genuine and intentional as they get; you love deep and feel big, and I’m so thankful for your heart and life. 💜 Additionally, I’d like to know how much you were paid to hug me in this photo.
“Do not despair, dear heart, but come to the Lord with all your jagged wounds, black bruises, and running sores. He alone can heal, and He delights to do it. It is our Lord’s office to bind up the brokenhearted, and He is gloriously at home at it.” -Charles Spurgeon
“Theologians who limit the means of grace to overtly redemptive religious practices miss something about the God who speaks without words in the theater of His creation.” -David Powlison

Follow me as I follow Jesus

Treasuring Christ in Singleness

As I look back on the last year of my life, one thing stands out above the rest: a shift in mindset and a refocusing of the heart, will and emotions.

Just nine months ago you could have found me at Murray State University borderline  obsessed with my future marriage. This was made obvious by my conversations, thought patterns and constant planning of the wedding of my dreams (made especially easy by Pinterest). Just one glance at my Pinterest ‘Future’ board shows what I was constantly thinking about, and if the mason jar decorations, barn wedding photos and unique ceremony ideas pinned carefully for future reference didn’t give it away, my journal entries did.
But then it all changed.

The Shift

At National Conference with Campus Outreach in January, God met with me during a worship song by Matt Papa in a way that rocked my walk with Him.
The song was “Open Hands” and one line said:
“To finally let go of my plans,
These earthly kingdoms built of sand
Jesus, at Your cross I stand
With open hands”
I began praying, searching my heart and asking God to reveal what I was holding onto that hindered the pursuit of holiness, knowing He would answer. And answer He did. He answered with three words in a whisper that resonated louder than a scream:
Your future marriage.
Despite Pinterest, my conversations, journal entries and emotions that often led me (and not the other way around), I truly believed I had become neutral in the aspect of marriage. But in a sweeping, overwhelming billow of grace, God showed me it was still an idol I was clinching with grimy hands and hadn’t surrendered to Him.
Don’t get me wrong, marriage is a beautiful, God-designed representation of Christ and the  church and He gives desires to His children including the desire for marriage, but I was past the point of desiring it—I was consumed with and even idolized my future nuptials and wasn’t even dating anyone (not that it would have made a difference).
But Godbeing rich in mercy and overflowing with unfailing love helped me once again surrender to Him, laying down my potential future marriage and lifting up open hands to Him. With that surrender, the realization and belief came that God is enough for me whether I ever say “I do” to a man or not, and along with that acknowledgment came a fountain of freedom that I’ve been swimming around in ever since.
He has replaced my obsession for a future marriage with an intense desire for Him, stronger than ever before in my life, and I’m so thankful He loves us so much that, like the husband He is (Isaiah 54:4-5), He pursues our heart until He captures and captivates it fully.
He is a jealous God, One who will not compete with other idols for our attention and affection and thereby proving He is the only One who can fulfill and satisfy even the deepest of desires.
“And I lift my hands, open wide,
Let the whole world see
How You loved, how You died,
How You set me free;
Free at last, I surrender all I am
With open hands, with open hands.”

New Focus

Over the last couple months, the Lord has so filled my heart that I don’t even desire marriage at this time. Instead urgency has flooded my soul: we must redeem the time.
I don’t want to waste these days of singleness by pining for a time that may or may not come.
As Elisabeth Elliot wrote in her classic “Let Me Be a Woman”:

“Single life may be only a stage of life’s journey, but even a stage is a gift. God may replace it with another gift, but the receiver accepts His gifts with thanksgiving. This gift for this day. The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived—not always looked forward to as if the “real” living was around the next corner… It is for today we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow.”

I want to live today and everyday showing the world that Christ is my supreme treasure. He is my fulfillment, not a man or relationship status. God sustains. He uplifts, satisfies and quenches the thirst of the heart that yearns for a man’s approval, affirmation and acceptance.
God, not marriage, family or kids, guarantees my future, and by living life not for an earthly marriage but an eternal one, single people can show others all around them that Jesus is enough.

The Call

Paige Benton Brown, in her article “Singled Out by God for Good,” sums up my heart:

“Let’s fact it: singleness is not an inherently inferior state of affairs… But I want to be married. I pray to that end every day. I may meet someone and walk down the aisle in the next couple of years because God is so good to me. I may never have another date… because God is so good to me.”

There’s the balance.
Singles, we have a unique opportunity to live wholly to the Lord at this point in our lives (and for some of us maybe the rest of our lives). Let us not waste this time or wish away the gift we’ve been given, but let us seek to use this undivided time to cultivate our hearts, serve the Lord and others with an undistracted spirit, and seek to glorify God and make Him known to all peoples as we die to ourselves and live to Him, our supreme Treasure.
“My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness.”

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