As a kid, there were a few things I really wanted to be when I grew up:
A husband, a father and a dolphin.
I’m still not a husband or a father and as for the latter, a boy can dream; although, let’s just say I won’t be winning any “who can hold their breath underwater the longest” competitions.
Yes, it seems that the dolphin ship has sailed, leaving me crushed and broken, filled with “what if” questions, pondering where I’d be now had I somehow managed to turn into a dolphin.
Okay. On a serious note, let’s talk about why I’m still single.
It’s a question that I’m asked all the time, often by new friends trying to “figure me out” or by those who love me and would like to see me settle down with a nice girl. Every now and then there will be a hopeful matchmaker who would like to connect me with their single daughter, sister, or friend. I don’t mind it though because it allows me to answer the “Why are you single” question with a life changing response:
I believe it’s God’s will for my life, at this time, to remain single for His purposes.
People don’t always understand that. My response is often met with criticism, misunderstanding and more questions.
“George, don’t say that. God wants you to be married.”
“God doesn’t want you to be alone.”
“God created men and women to be together.”
“God doesn’t will for anyone to be unmarried.”
“God gave Eve to Adam and told them to be fruitful and multiply.”
Okay, cool. Let’s talk about the apostle Paul.
In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul makes it clear that he is single and unmarried. He points out that for some, it’s a good thing. Paul knew, based on his own experiences of being a traveling missionary on both the road and behind prison doors, that being single gave some advantages of flexibility for the advancement of the Kingdom.
Imagine how different his ministry would have been if he had a wife and children back home! I suspect the Bible would read a lot differently had he been married.
Paul also makes it very clear that singleness and marriage are both equal gifts from God. He sees the advantages of singleness for the ministry in which God placed him in, while also praising the beautiful gift of marriage. There are many other examples of single Christians in the Bible, but I believe Paul’s story best explains why being single, for any amount of time, can be a powerful thing.
And this is where I am in my journey through life. For many years I have believed that I would remain single and celibate for purposes and plans that only God could give. I wholeheartedly believe that what our Creator has planned for me will require a life of singleness and if I’m honest…
I’m okay with that.
Now don’t get me wrong. I still love the idea of being a husband to a beautiful, Godly woman and raising children with her, but those things are not the things I think about daily. They’re not things I even desire right now. There isn’t a daily longing in my heart for fatherhood or marriage.
My mind is elsewhere, focused on the here and now. My eyes are set on what’s ahead, yes, but only if it’s what God, my Father is leading me to. And it’s not that I don’t want a family in the future. I just want what’s right in front of me more: the calling on my life to constantly be available to people in need.
I was created for this moment to serve people, feed the hungry and clothe the naked—to serve the people I encounter today, to feed those who hunger today and to clothe those who are naked today (see Matthew 25:35-36).
As I write this, I find myself in an abandoned church classroom in Houma, Louisiana. This place has become my home for the foreseeable future as I do my best to ease the burden of the victims of a recent category four hurricane.
I’m surrounded by hungry and thirsty people who’ve not had electricity in days and won’t for weeks to come. The Lord leads a sea of tired, scared faces to me and my team of pastors. These people are in need of a hot meal, a shower, some clean clothes and a safe place to lay their heads while they wait for life to get back to normal.
More than anything, they need to be shown the love of Jesus, and while I’m just as wretched as the next man, my prayer is that by us being here, these people may come to know Jesus. That’s the overall hope, that through offering tangible gifts, they may come to know an everlasting God.
When our work is complete here, God will lead me to another group of suffering people and the process will continue on and on until the Lord takes me on a different journey or calls me home. Over the last 16 months, God has taken me through 15 different states and three different countries, including the US, for ministry purposes. I’ve been in my own home for only about six months in total, and I’m okay with that because I know that wherever I am, God has called me there.
I’m confident that my story would be just as different as Paul’s would be if I were married.
I celebrate my singleness and the GIFT of celibacy because I’m able to fully focus on God and the ministry He has entrusted to me. I believe for me, this isn’t just a season but a lifelong journey of singleness.
Sorry potential matchmakers, I’m off the market.
Your story might be completely different than mine. Maybe your daily longing is for a God-fearing knight in shining armor to come sweep you off your feet and love you forever. Maybe you’re a single father healing from the hurt of your last relationship but now have the desire to move on and fall in love again. Maybe you’re just waiting on that perfect person with your eyes fixed on the calendar and your voice lifted to God asking Him to send you someone.
Your desires are noble. You are worthy of love, and more than anything else, I’m reminded of what the Psalmist said in Psalm 37:4:
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
I believe those words to be true, absolutely.
If you’re currently single, whether you’re anxiously waiting for your spouse to be revealed or you find yourself content in your singleness, my hope is that you’ll recognize this time in your life for what it is—a true gift from God.