On my birthday, the Lord gave me a verse: "The Lord will provide." (Gen 22:14) The verse comes near the end of the story of Abraham and Isaac, after Abraham has laid his son on the altar and God spares his life. "The Lord will provide" is what Abraham named that place, for God had provided an offering, and spared Abraham from sacrificing what he cherished most in this world...his hope for his future and the fulfillment of what He believed God had promised him.
In the weeks preceeding my birthday, this passage of scripture came to mind often, along with a sense that my own most cherished hope for my future - marriage - also needed to be put on the altar. It has become more and more evident to me that my desire for marriage, my certainty that it is coming, my insistent and, at times, burdensome, hope that it will soon be reality and my devotion to God cannot co-exist. Something has to die.
As I've waited, though, something has been dying. My confidence in God to give good things, to hear and answer prayer, to bless those who are called by His name, to satisfy our souls has withered and has long been languishing on this bed of despair called "singleness". Because of this one thing, this one hope, this one dream, this one expectation, this one desire - which is neither promised or guaranteed or necessary - my view of God has become small and a bit resentful.
So, like Abraham, I've tied my future hope and joy to a person and not to God. Abraham had his son, mine is a phantom, but it is nonetheless wrong, sinful, and faithless. When God led Abraham up to the killing stone, he was saying "Isaac is not the fulfillment of my promises and purpose for your life...I am." Had God not provided a ram in a thicket that day, he would have provided another offspring...His promise to Abraham would have been just as sure.
God hasn't promised me marriage. He has promised me Himself, peace beyond understanding, joy unspeakable, a very present and constant help, and all things necessary for life and godliness. I keep insisting on putting "marriage" in that list of "all things". I keep insisting that God must fulfill this "desire of my heart". But the truth is, he doesn't. He may not. He has not. And that is what I am left with now. Thus far, God has said "no" to marriage for me, but He has promised that He will provide, that He will not withhold any good thing from me, and that He will never leave nor forsake me.
I am single. I am not forsaken. Now to the living...
As with any death, there is grief. Though this is "just" the death of a hope or dream, the grief is no less real. My tears are real. The heavy, squeezing and rending of my heart is real. But God...
Yesterday morning, in my quiet time with the Lord (my first in a while) he led me to a particular, and favorite, devotional book. It said: "As for God, His way is perfect. (Psalm 18:30) ...the love of God is searching...He is partiently teaching us truly to mean [this]. ...he does not hurry us, but He does wait for us...till we can look in His face and say - not with a sigh, but with a song, 'As for God, His way is perfect!' This is victory; nothing less can be called by that shining name!"
This is what I want. This is my new hope, my new dream. This is the promise I am claiming, and trusting that God will hear, and answer.