One of the first things I learned when I began exploring faith in Jesus in my early 30s is that no one person, church, or program could answer all my questions. This was especially true regarding romantic relationships. This was THE life issue that led me to consider Jesus. I sensed that Christians did dating and marriage differently, and I wanted to know what that looked like so I could give it a shot. I had a lot of questions.
My church, which was fabulous in so many ways, was not at all helpful in this area. Married pastors, I discovered, are either terrified to talk about marriage prospects to singles, or do so in such strident/random/irrelevant/borderline offensive ways as to generate more fear than hope. (If I’d heard one more married person talk in longing terms about the fantastic freedom I should enjoy as a single, I would have screamed.) I quickly learned to keep my questions to myself.
In lieu of pastoral guidance, I read books. This one was incredibly helpful. I liked this one, even though it seemed a bit old fashioned. This one made me consider the possibility that a guy could love me enough to wait to have sex until after we were married. (I didn’t use his extreme dating advice about never being alone together, but was grateful for the level of integrity he introduced to my “things to look for in a husband” list.) This one reminded me (again) to be honest about a guy’s character, rather than inventing a narrative in my head of how wonderful he could be someday.
I devoured this practical, candid help. I needed it. But I also wanted someone to say, clearly and without hesitation, “The entire Bible is a wedding narrative. God reveals Himself to us through romance. The gift of celibacy is given to a select few, and if you have it, you’ll know. If you don’t have it, don’t worry about it. God has a husband for you!”
I wrote a book to say that. Not to replace the other books, but to add a giant dose of encouragement to the conversation. I took some flack for being desperate to get married, for not being “fine” on my own as an independent single. Whatever.
At Greenhouse Mission, we believe that the desire to be married is a Holy longing. We support it through prayer, friendship, honest conversations, and standing together as we wait in joyful hope. We are convinced by the Bible that God loves to create marriages, and that if you want one, He’s got one for you.
We have some artists in our community, and during our Sunday gatherings, we give them supplies and ask them to listen to God and draw as He leads. Yesterday, one of our prophetic artists drew this:
She said “It’s people, standing on the rock receiving water from God. And there are fish…” Looking at it, I thought of a saying I used to hear after a relationship ended: “Don’t worry…there are other fish in the sea.” In this picture, it stood out to me that there were EXACTLY the same number of fish as there were people on the rock. I sensed God prompting us to believe that He knows how to count; that if you are praying for a fish, He has one for you.
There may be additional interpretations of this picture. As you look at it, ask God if there’s something there that’s uniquely for you. And then respond to what you hear.
Psalm 68 reminds us that God places the lonely in families. We believe this means something really exciting.
Here’s to faith, hope, love…and to Jesus, who offers to start our story of happily ever after right now, today.
A prayer from Psalm 68
Rise up, O God, and scatter your enemies. Let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with joy. Sing praises to God and to his name! Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the LORD – rejoice in his presence. Father to the fatherless, defender of widows – this is God whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.