When I was a young girl I dreamed often of what it would be like to be married and have a family of my own one day. As most young girls do, I dreamed of being a wife and mother and though it was never on the top of my priorities list through my teens and my twenties, it was always a deep desire. I never thought that I would hit my early thirties without discovering either of those dreams.
A few years ago I read an autobiography by a woman named Dr. Helen Roseveare. She was a medical missionary in the Congo throughout the 50’s and 60‘s and at one point During the Simba rebellion of the 60’s she was captured and endured rape and torture by the Rebel Soldiers. She was nearly killed several times yet escaped with her life and still served faithfully in the years following. I read her book in one sitting and was in tears for most of it. Undoubtedly her story was extreme and very different than mine but at the same time I could resonate deeply with her because she talked often about her desire to be married and the struggle of surrendering that desire for the sake of following God’s call on her life. She never did get married, and up until just a few years ago she was still traveling around the world sharing her story, training missionaries, and inspiring hundreds of thousands of people.
In light of her story and the call that I feel God has placed on my life I’ve had to ask myself recently – What if marriage never happens for me? What if that is not God’s will for my life? Of course I hope it is but at the same time I acknowledge that the moment I gave my life to Christ I chose to surrender my will to His. I gave up my right to anything and everything for the sake of His call on my life. I truly believe He sees my desire for a husband and a family of my own but at the same time I know that He knows best what capacity I will be able to be of most service to Him. And if I can bring God more glory single than I could as a married woman then I have to trust that He will change my desires for both marriage and motherhood…and will give me the strength to live this life as a single woman. For too long I’ve lived everyday assuming that my next relationship will be “the one”. But I’ve reached a time in my life where I’m realizing I’ve been waiting for the wrong thing. I’ve been realizing more than ever before that God and His goodness no matter my circumstances is the only promise I have in this life. And that if marriage never happens for me, my life is full and complete just as it is, without a man by my side.
I love the way Dr. Roseveare puts it in her book…She analogizes the life of a faithful servant of Christ to an arrow. She says, “To be thus transformed, was I willing – am I willing – for the whittling, sandpapering, stripping, processes necessary in my Christian life? The ruthless pulling off of leaves and flowers might include doing without a television set or washing machine, remaining single in order to see a job done…. The snapping off of thorns might include drastic dealing with hidden jealousies and unknown prides, giving up prized rights in leadership… The final stripping of the bark might include lessons to be learned regarding death to self – self-defense, self-pity, self-justification, self-vindication, self-sufficiency, all the mechanisms of preventing the hurt of too- deep involvement. Am I prepared for the pain, which may at times seem like sacrifice, in order to be made into a tool in His service…. To love the Lord my God with all my soul will involve a spiritual cost. I’ll have to give Him my heart, and let Him love through it whom and how He wills, even if this seems at times to break my heart.”
And that is exactly what the call of God does often to our hearts… It breaks them in the most beautifully paradoxical way. The call of God is not always easy… It is beautiful and painful all at once. But the one thing that I have learned after all of this time is it is worth it. It has been worth it. And it always will be worth it simply because God is worth it. In this I am reminded of one last quote from Dr. Roseveare. It is revelation she came to in the midst of being raped and beaten by the rebel soldiers. She asks, “Is it worth it? Is it really worth it? Eleven years of my life poured out in selfless service for the African people and now this? She goes on to say, “The minute I said that God’s Holy Spirit settled over that terrible scene, and He began to speak to me, and this is what He said, ‘Helen, my daughter Helen, you’ve been asking the wrong question all your life. The question is not, ‘Is it worth it?’ The question is: ‘Am I worthy?’ Am I, the Lord Jesus who gave His life for you, worthy for you to make this kind of sacrifice for me?’” And by her own tearful testimony she spoke of how God broke her heart in that moment…She looked up into the face of Jesus and said, “Oh Lord Jesus, yes, it is worth it, for thou art worthy.”