The Ultimate Love Story
This post has taken me a long time to write. I’d been praying about it for quite a while, but there just seemed to be no inspiration. I would write something out and then delete it, unsatisfied with my efforts.
Then a few days ago, I went to a Youth Conference in Austria called GYC (Generation of Youth for Christ). It was an incredible (and intense!) few days of teaching, fellowship, prayer, outreach… and some really great vegetarian food (as well as a few late night pizzas!). Christ was lifted up as He drew so many to Himself. The city of Linz was impacted by around 800 young people seeking to tell those who lived there about their Saviour, and God really was glorified in an incredible way! Amongst all of this, a small observation began to seep into my thinking. I began to notice that many of the young people there were either married or in long term relationships, a growing theme since graduating from university.
So far, singleness has not been the greatest struggle for me. Of course, there have been times when it has played upon my mind, but so far, it has not presented the greatest stumbling block. And anyway, often life is so busy that it lends no time to dwell on my singleness! But at GYC, I saw the beauty of Christ-centred relationships in action. The way that mission was done together. The way that her mouth turned up into a secret smile when she talked about him. The way they prayed together. The way he strived to love her like Christ does His church.
I thought to myself, ‘I want that’.
A competing voice answered.
‘You don’t have it’.
Both sides drew arms as the internal battlefield began to open. But God, through one of the evening devotions, reminded my heart of Paul. Acts 20:24 is part of Paul’s farewell to the Ephesian Elders. As he departs for Jerusalem, where imprisonment awaited him, he states,
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (KJV)
The battlefield inside of me calmed as the still voice of the Almighty God whispered, ‘Do not let this move you’. Why? Not because it is unimportant, and not because it is not a valid struggle, but because in Christ, there is a higher calling.
There is a call to testify of the gospel of grace.
Throughout the book of Acts, Paul’s circumstances were continually against him. And whereas I’m not comparing singleness to shipwrecks or imprisonment (Check out 1 Corinthians 7:7-8 for singleness as a gift from God!) it still can be a struggle for many Christian men and women today. The circumstance of our relationship status can define our identity, rather than our identity in Christ defining how we react to our circumstances. Paul knew who he was in Christ, and it was this identity that shaped his mission.
But what does this mean practically? Personally, I feel most alive when I am giving my all for and to Jesus. Not as some kind of distraction technique, but because of the Biblical commission to tell those who have no hope that there is something to hope for, to show those who are afraid to trust that there is someone who will not fail them. Pray about your mission, your gifts, the ways in which you can serve your local church and be a witness to your friends about the blessed hope which you have. Ask God for opportunities to serve Him and seize each one He gives. Simply put, go for it! We are all called to be radical disciples of Jesus whether we have been single for 3 years or married for 40. As Christians, our hope need not rest in anything but Christ and his soon return (Titus 2:13).
Not only this, but the message of the Gospel displayed in the cross of Christ is an objective truth, no matter how you feel. It is a fixed point in history that demonstrates you are both unconditionally loved and worth everything. When our hearts present us with a thirst for love, the cross presents us with the source of Love that will fill us so that we never run dry.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not wrong to want a God-centred relationship. But if your hope begins to rest upon it, your thoughts are consumed by it, and your actions begin to reflect it as your heart’s intention, it can easily become an idol and replace the rightful position of Christ as the Lord of your heart and life.