20171018

An Open Letter to My Single Female Friend

Dear Elisabeth,
I ask for your forgiveness. I have not been a good disciple, nor a good friend to you in the ways I press and groan and guess about possible times and dates for when the Lord will bring us husbands. Talking too much about “if” and “when” and “how” Mr. Right comes is not beneficial to either of us. I distract you from the Lord, feed my idolatry of this gift, while eroding our trust in the Father’s sovereignty.

Times and Dates for Marriage 

I read this passage today, and it encouraged and challenged me:
He [Jesus] said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth...” 
“This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:7-8, 11)

Jesus is about to leave his disciples, and you can imagine the questions going through their minds! Why? When will he return? How will we go on? But Jesus tells these men that times and dates don’t belong to them. They are not theirs to know, manipulate, or work around. So times and dates don’t belong to us either; they are set by God the Father and will come to pass as he ordains.

Jesus gives his disciples freedom to let go: The thing they worry over and grasp for is not in their hands. They don’t control what they so desire, which in this case is a good desire – to see God fulfill his promises to their people, his people (see 1:16)!

The times and dates of our wedding days are in the hands of our Father, and the “if” question is already answered by this verse in Acts: He has set the circumstances, whether an earthly wedding or seasons of waiting. The details are not for us to know. To think we are lords over this good desire we share is a lie. Only our Lord is truly sovereign. Let’s submit to and delight in our King’s reign.
Treasure Better Than Marriage

Jesus tells us that God replaces what we wrongly clutch with a gift. Like the loving Father he is, it is a good and perfect gift (James 1:17) that he knows we can – and commands that we will – cherish. That gift is his name, and a couple other gifts come with this.

We are given the Holy Spirit and the authoritative Word of God so we can bear witness to his name rightly and with power. We are bearers of the name of Jesus to the ends of the earth. That is no small treasure to possess and profess.

We carry this treasure of the gospel into our work places, homes, churches, schools, and circles of influence; what a gift we have the privilege of proclaiming! It’s no trivial perk that God says we have his Spirit and his power — we desperately need both and cannot bear this responsibility without him.
Turning from Our Sin

Yet, the devil, the world, and our sinful hearts would take our focus off this treasure and instead fix us on what we don’t have: a dating relationship or a future spouse. These desires can give way to sin: discontent, fear, anger, bitterness, envy, pride and idolatry —

But God promises that his Spirit will help us put to death those sins surrounding our desires:

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:9)

I so often believe the lie that I’ll never be free from mixed motives in relationships with Christian brothers, impatience with God’s timing, and doubt in his sovereignty. But such sin can be destroyed! God says it cannot live on in our hearts; that’s a promise. He is our help.
The Glorious Wedding Day

We desire godly husbands, so we look to the wedding day! God’s Word here tells us what to desire: the name of Jesus to be proclaimed because the Wedding Day is coming. Jesus is coming back for us, and then time will be up for this side of eternity. Earthly marriage will pass away. The wedding of the Lamb of God and his prepared Bride, the church, will arrive in its place (Revelation 19:7).

When Jesus comes back, we will have the real version of which earthly marriages are merely shadows. We are members of his Bride. Yet we can keep the desire for earthly marriage; perhaps it is God’s design that we have it. Jesus didn’t tell the disciples to stop hoping in the restoration of Israel. He told them to lift their eyes to their ultimate hope.
Truths as We Wait

What’s going to help us remember these truths? What will remind us that we don’t need to know times or dates for dating or engagement or marriage?

The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)

Our greatest help is from the Lord. The Spirit of power given to us will work in our hearts. He, our faithful friend, will endlessly bear witness to the name of Jesus and go with us to the ends of the earth. Our corner may be small, but our call and companion are not.

Maybe instead of talking about our earthly dreams for dating and marriage – “what if’s” and worries over the “how’s” – let’s ask each other, “What will the day be like when Jesus returns?” What do we have to look forward to? And how can we creatively, sincerely, and boldly bear witness to him now as we wait for that day?

Let’s anticipate the coming of our true Husband better, together.

Grace and peace in the Lord Jesus.

- by Eden Parker

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