What If God Says No?

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I’ve gotten to the point where most days I’m okay with waiting to get married. I understand the importance of this season in my life but I still can’t help but excitedly anticipate the coming day when I hope to be married. But what really scares me is the thought of: what if it’s God’s will for me to be single forever? What if God decides I would glorify Him more in my singleness than in marriage? What if I will never have that dreamed of wedding, never have that hand to hold, never have a man to love?
Not being married for years and years seems hard enough. But…never? Could I do it?
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”
Okay, God, if it ends up being part of my destiny, then you must have decided I was strong enough.
We’ve all heard the story of David and Goliath. We all know this Philistine was a giant. But I looked up how tall Goliath really was: 9 ½ feet. Wow. On top of his height and his strength, he had armor and a sword, a spear and a javelin. This was a man to be feared. In 1 Samuel 17:8-11 Goliath speaks to the Israelites: “He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid…” After this terrifying speech, David comes into the picture. He hears the words that Goliath says. He hears Goliath defy the Lord’s armies. But for some reason, these same words impact David differently than they did the rest of the men. Instead of hiding, he takes action as seen in verses 32-49: “And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine. And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth,that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.” When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.”
I find that often the Bible stories I’ve heard since I was a kid don’t usually mean as much to me unless I actually sit down and think about what each verse means to me. I can recite the details, quote all the verses, but they don’t sink in and take root until I study them carefully. Looking at these verses, you may wonder how this story has anything to do with not ever getting married. Think about it. David had no sword, no armor, no height, no strength to help him. He only had God. He didn’t rely on anyone or anything but God for the courage and the strength for this victory. In the same way, you can face any challenge, no matter how large, when you have God on your side. It may not feel like it. It may feel like an empty hand or an unadorned ring finger is too much. But with God at your side, there is no such thing as a defeat.
I think about all the letters I’ve written to a man who I’m not even sure exists. All the prayers I’ve prayed for someone who may not have ever been born. All the hopes I have that include a cozy house, some kiddos, and a future with the man I love—and I wonder…could I give all those up? Could I live the rest of my life without someone by my side?
Really, does it make sense for me to choose to be miserable if God doesn’t give me what I want? I would be like a child in the candy aisle whose mother just said no to a treat. The child throwing the temper tantrum feels like they have ever right to do so. It makes sense to them. They really, really wanted candy. They thought they could get their mother on their side so they had already decided what they’d get or what flavor they’d start with. But mom said “no.” Whining and kicking and screaming doesn’t help anything. It doesn’t change the situation for the child. Perhaps mother knows about something even better waiting at home, a dessert or surprise treat she’d made just that afternoon. Or maybe mom knew that her child had already had enough sugar for the day. Mother had her reasons. Mom knows what’s best for her kid. You already know where I’m going with this one, don’t you? If God decides that marriage is not part of His will for your life, He has a reason. We may not ever see or know or understand the reason. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t have a purpose for your singleness.
If that time comes for me, it will be a rough road. A hard choice. I can choose to be bitter, living as if the purpose for my life was to get married. But that’s not true. I was created solely to glorify God. Instead of choosing the negative approach, I can choose to be filled with the joy that only God brings even though He didn’t give me the man I dreamed of, the marriage I prayed for, the love I desired. God promised one thing: eternal life. He didn’t ever promise me a diamond ring or a houseful of kiddos or a handsome guy. I don’t think it’s wrong to tell Him your heart (He already knows how you feel so it’s not like it will be a surprise to Him). I don’t think it’s wrong to pray that He will bring someone into your life. But I do think it’s wrong to expect Him to do so. I compare this to Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Lord, not as I will but as you will.” “God, this is what I want. Since I was 12 years old, I’ve longed for the kind of love that never stops loving. But this is what I want. Do as you want.” That’s a scary prayer to pray. Relinquishing my hopes and my desires and my dreams. Giving up the only thing I’ve ever wanted.
I don’t know if this is God’s plan for me. Or for you. It’s just something that sneaks into my mind sometimes and scares me a little. I know I should not worry about this. Even if it is part of God’s plan for my life, there is nothing to fear. Especially because He will always be with me, He will never give me more than I can bear, and He will provide the strength and courage I need at the time.

The Love I Want Someday

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Will anyone ever love me? It’s a question I ask myself often. I’m not talking about the family/friend kind of love. I’m talking about the mushy, gushy fall in love kind.
The kind where a guy makes a total fool of himself because he thinks you’re more beautiful than anyone he’s ever met and so he gets speechless or tongue tied or exceptionally clumsy around you. The kind where he just wants to be with you—ALL the time, ALL his life. That’s the kind I’m talking about here: forever and always love. Where you’d rather die than live without them.
I used to read romance novels ALL the time. Love stories made my heart soar. But what I cherish even more now are the real stories. The 75 year old gentleman with the crooked back who still opens the car door for his high school sweetheart. The couple that just celebrated their 60th anniversary but still hold hands all the time like they’re newlyweds. It’s the young dad who takes the crying baby out of the sanctuary Sunday morning so his honey can sit and relax for a second. I love to see real love in action. And I can’t wait until one day I’m that elderly lady clinging to my husband’s arm.
I volunteer at a nursing home a couple Saturdays a month. The residents I assist have alzheimers. I have begun to form a connection with some of them. I’m sure the staff there sees the handful of teenagers and thinks we’re blessing the residents when we play bingo. But it’s quite the opposite actually.
Sure I have to remind the lady in the purple sweater to use the bingo chips and not her food to mark the numbers. Sure I have to help the elderly gentlemen as each number is called because his brain confuses what each number looks like. Sure I have to be patient when one of the ladies tries to talk to me but her words slur together and she forgets what she’s saying. But I always walk away feeling so blessed to have been there and to have gotten to spend time with them.
This last time I visited, my family came with some of our friends from church. One of my friends asked one of my favorite ladies what was her Christmas wish. This lady often didn’t seem to be there mentally when we played bingo. She would parrot whatever someone said. Over and over again. She was adorably sweet but you could tell that alzheimers was slowly wearing her down, she was fading away. But this question…oh I cried when I heard her answer: “My christmas wish is that my husband would come back to me from heaven so that we could live happily ever after.” Tears came to her eyes at the same time they came to mine.
This was the kind of love that brought her back to reality. Her husband was so deeply rooted in her heart that it seemed that not even alzheimers would cause her to forget him. She couldn’t remember my name but his…she would never forget. This is the kind of love that I dare only dream of one day having. The kind that doesn’t die with death or disease. The kind that lasts forever.

Dear Future Husband

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I write letters to my husband all the time.  I hope that once I’m married and I give him everything I’ve written, that he feels special.  But his reaction, his response, is NOT why I’m writing these.  Each and every letter helps me more than it will ever impact him.

Yes, he will realize that I’ve loved him for years and years without even knowing him.  But each word I write connects my heart to him in a way that nothing else ever could.  Each page reminds me that I may be alone now but someday this wait will be worth it.  Each thought that I put on paper reminds me to trust God because this guy is going to be absolutely amazing.  Sometimes writing him helps me understand my feelings or recognize a sin issue that has been hiding deep beneath the surface.  I think these letters are more beneficial to me than they will ever be to my husband.

Normally I wouldn’t share a letter like that with anyone.  It would be like letting all of you read someone else’s mail.  But I decided to make an exception just this once and give you a taste of a letter I wrote late last night, hopefully it will help you start writing your husbands some of your own:

“I woke up today and missed you.  Well…it was happening long before that I guess.  I went to sleep missing you.  And dreamed of meeting you and woke up missing you more because the image of you and I together faded as my eyes opened.  While I slept, I pictured us holding hands.  Now all I’m holding is my lonely heart.

“But loneliness isn’t why I miss you.  Because just about any guy could solve that problem.  Hello, boyfriend.  Buh-bye, loneliness.  But that wouldn’t fix anything because I don’t just want a guy who will take me out to dinner on a Friday night or tell me I’m beautiful.  I want you.

“So I’ll wait for the day that God decides your heart is ready for mine.  The day our lives will intersect in the beautiful arrangement God has orchestrated.  But honestly, love, I hope that day is soon.  Because any second without you is a second I could have spent with you.  Every day that passes leaves me with 24 hours less of memories with your name on them.  Every week that crawls along brings me 1/52 closer to another year without you by my side…

“I can’t wait for you to be here so that I can hold your hand all the time. So that I can have a screaming war with you at Six Flags. So that you can be my chauffeur to new places because I hate driving when I don’t know where I’m going. So that you can beat up anyone who makes fun of me. So that I’ll always know that at least one person on earth values my opinion. I can’t wait to sing to our favorite songs on the radio. And maybe even make up some of our own. To lay out back and stargaze on a clear, cloudless night. Get stuck in the rain while we’re out on a walk. Cuddle up on the couch some chilly Saturday and turn it into a movie day. To bake new recipes. And then wash all the dirty dishes together. I can’t wait to steal one of your sweatshirts so that I’ll always be able to smell you even if we’re miles apart. I can’t wait to spend a whole weekend with you and not give a thought to college or work. To be able to dress up and do my makeup and go to a fancy restaurant. To have someone who will help me make decisions like where we should go to dinner or what I should order because I just never seem to be able to. I can’t wait for you to tell me if you like my hair long or if I should cut it short because I just can’t decide what I like better. I can’t wait to hear the word beautiful and have it refer to me. To be able to snuggle close to you with your arms wrapped around me as I shiver in an attempt to get warm. I want you to push me to try new things, to overcome my fears, to be the best me possible. I can’t wait to be pampered. To have doors opened for me and drinks refilled. To be dropped off at the front entrance while you go and park and run through the rain. So that I can stay warm and dry and loved. I can’t wait to have fun with you. To be able to have tickle wars and pillow fights and inside jokes. To laugh at every little thing and enjoy each second together.

“But you know what I’m most excited about? The love part. I can’t wait to know that someone loves me. And it won’t matter if I have spinach stuck in my teeth or ketchup on my face. It won’t matter if my hair is sticking up all over the place or if I have a stain on my shirt. You’ll still love me even when I’m cranky or grumpy or nasty or annoying or immature. On Sundays and Mondays and Saturdays and all the days in between. Each and every year for the rest of my life. But it’s not even just that part… You’ll be voluntarily offering the rest of your life to me. That blows my mind. You won’t just love me. You’ll love me for forever and you won’t ever, ever stop. Just the thought of that makes me feel so valuable, so precious. Why you would pick me is beyond my ability to comprehend. But I guess that was your decision and I’m so glad….

“Someday I’ll be able to hold your hand.  I’m already excited so don’t be surprised if I never let go.  Someday, I’m gonna wear your ring.  And don’t be surprised when I squeal.  Because I will.  And even if I hate it, I’ll love it because it’s from you.

Your other half”

 

Pray For Your Future Husband

   

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 If God has destined you to one day be married, then your future husband is out there somewhere—right at this very moment. Isn’t that something? You may not yet know who your future husband will be, but at this very moment he’s living and breathing. He could be on a ranch in Texas, in a Starbucks in Michigan, working at a Christian camp in New York, or going to college in Missouri. He could be attending classes at the Dallas Theological Seminary, he could be an intern pastor at a church in Mississippi, he could be in Alabama working at Burger King’s, or he could be a farmer from Pennsylvania. You may never have met your future husband but he’s out there . . . somewhere.

     There are so many different ways that you can pray for this special man that you will one day fall in love with. Pray that God continues to grow your future husband into the likeness of Christ. Pray that God protects him and holds him tightly in the palm of His hand. Pray that God gives him the strength to save himself for you. Pray that he pursues whatever God is calling him to do. Pray for his physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Pray that he is continuing to become the man that God wants him to be. Pray that he falls in love with God’s Word and meditates on it.

Many of us know that when we marry it will be to a man who is a strong Christian who shares our beliefs. But we too often overlook that HE MAY NOT BE A CHRISTIAN YET. Right now, as you read these words, your husband may be searching for truth. Pray for him. Pray that God brings the right people into his life to bring him to a saving knowledge, if he doesn’t already have one.

I know it may be hard to start out. It may feel awkward at first—praying for someone you don’t even know. But it gets easier in time and I have found that lifting him up in prayer makes me feel closer to him even though I don’t even know his name. I find that it’s easier for me to express myself through pen and paper and so I actually keep a journal of my prayers for him. Here is one from that journal:

“Dear God,

. . . I pray that my husband does less and loves more. I pray he does not live a busy or hectic life but instead one of selfless love and service. I pray he is not concerned with his own comfort—propping up his feet as he lounges lazily—instead, show him others’ feet that need washing. I pray his love is not just shown through words but also through actions. I pray that this love is not a self-love but a love of and for You, poured out and proven by his life. I pray that he understands the importance of love—that without it his accomplishments mean nothing, they lose value, and are empty, vain, and meaningless. Instead of seeking prestige, help him to seek You. Help him to understand that fame in this world is not what is important—living a legacy for You is. . .

I pray that his life is not described by his accomplishments—what he is doing—but what You are doing through him. Help him understand that this life is not about him but about You. I pray that his treasure is not of this world but of You. I pray that his eyes are not fixed on himself but on You. . . I pray that his every thought, his every action, and his every step are all pleasing to You. I pray that he shines so brightly with Your love that others can easily see You evident in his life. I pray that his life is marked and characterized by a heavenly love. I pray that his life is not about what he can get but about what he can give. I pray that he is not focused on taking in but pouring out. I pray that his heart is not cold or hardened or closed but warm and softened and open. . .

I pray that Your hand is obvious in his life. I pray that his every step is determined by asking if it is something You would do. Help his life not be full of deeds of darkness—instead help him to live like a child of the light. Help him revere You so greatly that he understands that You—the One who matters most—are always watching. . .

I pray that he surrenders all of his life and all of himself to You. I pray that his feet follow You wherever You lead. I pray that his hands are always ready to serve You. I pray he understands what he does “for the least of these” he is actually doing all of it for You. . .

God, I’m waiting for a big, strong man of You. I’m sure this world feels that this man of mine does not exist. But I’m waiting for You to bring this guy into the picture and prove otherwise—defying their beliefs and expectations. . . I’m confident that You didn’t mess up with this dude of Yours—I just know he’s going to be totally awesome. And I’m just tickled pink because one day, I’m not only going to meet him. . . I’m going to marry him!”

And one other example:

Dear God,

I pray not that You give me a man who will complement my weaknesses, but a man whose personality will challenge me to growth. I pray not that You give me a man who will never butt heads with me, a man whose personality will never clash with mine but for a man who will stay by my side even though it will not always be easy, a man who always points me to You, and a man who encourages me to pursue sanctification. I pray not for a man who will fulfill my will and desires but one who will fulfill Yours. . . I pray not for a man who will give me pearls, red roses, or chocolates “just because” but a man who will love me always “just because.” I pray not for a man who will buy me an expensive diamond ring but a man who will give me something more valuable than all the riches in the world, something I will treasure more than the largest diamond on earth, something I long for more than all the gold money can buy: his heart. . .”

Girls, please don’t think of this as a small thing.  Praying for him is HUGE.  James 5:16b reminds us that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

     Dannah Gresh, in her book “And the Bride Wore White,” shares a story about a woman named Dolores Cummins: “The air was cold that December night. Church bells reminded us to pray for boys trapped in the Battle of the Bulge. I was 15, but I remember hearing a voice saying, ‘Your future husband is in that battle—pray!’ A year later, I met my Robert. We started dating, and later we married. To my amazement, he related his experience of lying facedown in a beet field during that battle. The Germans bayoneted nearly all of his fellow soldiers, but they simply stepped over him, sparing his life.”

     You do not understand how greatly God can use your prayers for His glory. I highly recommend Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer’s book entitled “Praying for Your Future Husband” for more ideas on how to pray and also for more testimonies on the power of prayer.