Whether I am on vacation or at home, I try not to undertake anything with the goal of meeting men. That is not to say that my mind never goes in that direction, but I am intentional about looking at my motives. I try to be sure that I am doing things for the right reasons and living as God would have me to. So, last week, I shared that I didn’t think Christians should do and say things which would encourage their single friends to have a mindset of looking for a spouse around every corner. Please note that I do not want to discourage people from praying for their single friends to find a mate. Pray that God will give them wisdom and help them to guard their hearts. Most importantly, pray that God’s will is done in your friends’ lives. By refraining from playing matchmaker, you will also help them to guard their hearts and keep their minds focused on God’s will for their lives.
If there is one thing that I have learned, that I want to share with other singles, it is “Do not seek.” Over time, I have realized that the best and most joyful way to live is to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) I am so thankful that Elisabeth Elliot recorded for us her love story with Jim. For those who aren’t familiar with her book Passion & Purity, I feel it is a must-read for singles of all ages (Or read Jim’s biography, Shadow Of The Almighty #leahsreadinglist). Elisabeth and Jim Elliot were an example of the fact that we do not need to be seeking a spouse in order for God to provide one. One of the reasons that the Elliots’ story is so powerful, is that their courtship was greatly prolonged while each of them sought God’s will for their lives. Neither had been seeking a mate, and they kept their relationship with one another secondary and surrendered to God.
I think in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. . .I want you to be free from anxieties.
I Corinthians 7:26-27, 32b
I am sure that there are some who would think Elisabeth and Jim Elliot were foolish, and that they wasted time that they could have been together. Some might even suppose that Elisabeth regretted it, when Jim died so soon after they were married. But in all of Elisabeth’s writing about Jim and her life with him, there was no hint of regret, just a trust that God’s purpose and timing for everything was perfect.
I am not saying that it is bad to desire to be married. I, myself, cannot seem to eradicate from my heart the longing to be married. I refuse, however, to allow this desire for a husband to become the focus of my life. We cause ourselves so much trouble with all of our spouse-seeking. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, focusing on men always causes me to take my eyes off Jesus.
Seeking is dangerous because it can lead to compromise. When you seek something, you tend to find something. It is easy to think that we see God’s plan in whatever (or whomever) we are chasing after, because we are seeking that object more than we are seeking God. As humans, we are so easily deceived by our longings. Before we know it, we are writing our own script, while trying to convince ourselves that it is God’s will. I doubt that I am the only one who has done this in life. My goal is to learn from the mistakes I’ve made, so that I don’t make the same mistake twice. If possible, I also want to help others avoid the bad choices that I made.
One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.
A mindset of seeking can also lead to assuming that God needs us to take action in order for His plan for us to unfold properly. When we suppose that God needs our help to make things happen in our life, we become like Sarah, when she gave her maidservant Hagar to Abraham as a second wife. The result was grief for all of them. It was God’s mercy alone that relieved them from their misery. In love for Abraham, God promised a blessing for Ishmael, too. After they had been sent away, God lifted Hagar’s eyes in the wilderness to see that she and her son were not forsaken (Genesis 21:8-21).
Genesis 21 shows us that God is full of mercy and grace, even when we do stupid things and make bad choices. I know this first hand. That is why I am so determined not to seek anything but Him in my life. I never want to presume His grace or put Him to the test. Instead, I want to ask Him to test my heart. I want to put my own plans to the test, holding my life up to the light of Scripture, as best as I know how. Prayerfully, I seek His will before my own. I am not saying that I do any of this perfectly, but one day at a time, I am striving for this kind of surrendered life.