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Waiting on God, Not a Mate

Elisabeth Elliot: If you are a woman, I would say to you, "Are you waiting patiently for God's will? Not for a man, but for God Himself?"

Lisa Barry: We wait for a lot of things in life: stoplights, tax funds, and--husbands. Some things, however, are harder to wait for than others, however. If you're single today and longing to be married, you've come to the right place, because all this week and next on Gateway To Joy, Elisabeth Elliot is devoting all her talks to the trials of singleness. Let's join her now as she reminds us that waiting is to be on God and not a mate. Here she is.

Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That's what the Bible says, "And underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, talking with you again today about the trials of singleness. Anybody listening to me, that regards singleness as a real bummer, as a major form of suffering and trial?

Well, I don't make fun of you, because I know what it's like to be single. I've actually been single many more years than I've been married; nevertheless, I have been married. So I'm not in your position.

Yesterday I gave you a definition of a trial. Let me repeat it. It means, "subjection of a person or thing to a test or examination; the state or fact of being tried by suffering; especially a test of one's virtue, faith or patience by being subjected to affliction or temptation." A cross.

How many of my listeners have been subjected to temptation and they have flunked the test of virtue? I know that there are many who have not flunked that test. I want you to be encouraged to continue to stay out of bed, to keep your hands off and your clothes on, and to wait for God's timing and accept the fact that God may want you to be single for life. Remember that the Church has been blessed throughout all the centuries by single men and women. I can think of a number of single women who have been spiritual mothers to me.

James 1:12 says, "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him."

Yesterday I told you the example of one man's trial of faith and obedience. Now I have the sad story of one woman's trials. She said, "I found your broadcasts on finding the love of your life very difficult." Did I ever say that a woman should look for the love of her life? I certainly hope that I never did. The world would encourage women to do this, of course. Christian women need not put themselves in so vulnerable a position. Jesus Christ is the Lord of our life. He certainly should be the love of our life. Only He knows whether marriage is a good thing for any given individual.

This lady said that I appeared to be saying that love is easy to find and reasonably easy to recognize. Well, I've been scratching my head to try to think, where in the world did I say that. Maybe it was a moment of weakness. Maybe my brain really sort of cut out for a bit if I said that. Love is not easy to find and I don't think we ought to be looking for love. We ought to be giving love. We ought to be loving according to 1 Corinthians 13, which has absolutely nothing to do with Hollywood's version of romance. We are to be giving ourselves in love to other people, but not going to bed with anyone who does not happen to be our husband or our wife.

I don't think I ever said that love is easy to recognize, or reasonably easy to recognize. It shouldn't be too difficult to recognize if someone else is in love with you, but I get so many letters from people saying, "How do you know when you really are in love?" Oh, that's a tough one.

Anyway, this woman writes a long letter, tells me a long story of how she had to care for family members from an early age. At the university, she went to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She did become engaged at one point, then that engagement was broken. She had to return home to care for her father and mother. Through that rigorous job her own health broke. Her father died and her mother is now in a nursing home. She is wailing with sorrow and telling me that there are no single men anywhere.

I can't help but feel quite sympathetic for many of these women, because we meet an awful lot of single men who have reached their thirties, some of them their forties, and they haven't even given a thought to getting married. That's why I wrote my book, Quest for Love, to encourage the men that God knows all kinds of ways to bring you together with the right woman at the right time.

It's a book full of stories, true stories, of how God does that. But you know, you men are meant to be the wooers. We do meet far more single women in our travels. But unfortunately, it seems to be that when we encourage a 35-year-old man that it's time for him to get married, he doesn't pick a 35-year-old woman. He picks a 21-year-old. So there are many sorrows.

Here's the letter from this lady that I told you a little bit about. "That was January of 1987, and I've had one date since. That fine widower died, so I simply don't meet single men. You say, 'Be active.' I'm on three positions at church. No single men over 25 in the church. I'm city clerk. Only one single commissioner, and he's 21. I take classes at the local college. I travel. I've taken another class. Again, no singles. My neighbors are all married."

She says that I said, "Be active." I really don't think that I could have said that you are to be active in looking for a man, and it sounds as though she has taken these positions at church and as a city clerk and in the local college possibly for the purpose of meeting men. Well, that may work, but it may not. Apparently, it has not worked for her so far.

She says, "Sometimes I get depressed over not being married. Much of my life there simply hasn't been any chance to meet someone. What hurts most is the attitude I find directed toward me and the other single women I know, that 'You aren't worthy of full status as a woman. You couldn't get a man, so don't even talk to me. Something is wrong with you, or you would have married.' 'These activities, tables, price breaks on lodgings, meals, transportation fares, are for couples, families. Singles don't qualify.'"

Those are all quotations from things that people have said to this lady, and I really am floored to hear the rudeness with which single women are often questioned. One of the most common questions I guess is, "How come you're not married?" There are some interesting replies that you might give.

You could say, "Well, my husband died in infancy." Or you could say, "For a perfectly good reason that's none of your business." Of course, they might push your teeth down your throat if you said that. Or you might say, "I haven't been able to find a man who is worthy to be as happy as I could make him." But I wouldn't recommend any of those. You can just smile and say, "The Lord knows what He is doing." Then of course they'll put another label on you.

She goes on to say, "I'm very busy. When I feel well, I'm not too sad. Good things do happen and the Lord gave me a beautiful home and furnishings for it. I've had 120 missionaries stay here. I support others with small amounts. My guest book got full in just under nine years, so I have started another one. But in every measure the world measures success, I have failed and I do get very lonely at times."

Psalm 1 says, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree, planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does, prospers. Not so the wicked. They are like chaff that the wind blows away."

I would suggest that you simply let the wind of God blow away all the chaff that you are so hurt by. It is mere chaff. It is not the wheat. Close your ears to the world's voices. Open them to the voice of the Shepherd. Never mind what the world's measure of success may be. "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners." "The Lord watches over the way of the righteous," says verse 6, "but the way of the wicked will perish."

Do you believe that God knows how to give you a husband or a wife at the right time? If you are a man, I would ask, "Are you aggressively seeking the will of God in this area?" If you are a woman, I would say to you, "Are you waiting patiently for God's will? Not for a man, but for God Himself?"

All you have, remember, is today. You might be dead tomorrow. We could all be raptured. We do not know what a day may bring forth. So it's in this present moment that God is asking you to trust Him. Can you do that until the sun goes down? He is not asking you to trust Him for the next twenty years. He is only giving you today. It is this day and only this day in which you can glorify Him, because the past is gone and the future is not here yet. We don't know what the future holds, but we do know Who holds the future.

Lisa Barry: If you think you might need a little help with that suggestion, let me recommend purchasing a copy of this two week series. It's called The Trials of Singleness. And if this is a program that you draw strength from, then we hope that you'll consider bolstering our strength in reaching out to others. We love the responsibility that God has given us to preach the gospel, and it takes teamwork to make that happen. Will you join with us in bring this message of hope to the darkest corners of society? You can do that by offering your prayer and financial support. To send a gift address it to:

Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, NE 68501. That's Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, NE 68501. Or, call toll-free 1-800-759-4JOY. That's 1-800-759-4569. If you're an Internet surfer, why not give our Web page a glance? We're at gatewaytojoy.org. You'll find program schedules, transcripts and daily devotionals.

Gateway To Joy has been a production of Back to the Bible, but it really wouldn't be possible without the response of people like you. Tomorrow, Elisabeth talks about finding true joy in singleness, so be sure and join us then for the next Gateway To Joy.

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