In Christian circles, the topic of singleness tends to be sensitive and controversial. Singles who are considering serving as missionaries may have additional fears and doubts that affect their willingness to follow the Lord wherever he leads.
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul talks about singleness as a gift, facilitating undivided devotion to the Lord. But the freedom from anxiety that Paul talks about seems to elude most singles in the church. Why do Paul’s words sometimes seem to be a commendable-but-distant concept, rather than a reality? If Paul won’t convince us that undivided devotion to the Lord outshines all other things, neither can I. We must trust that the Holy Spirit-inspired words of Paul are good news.
We Need an Undivided Heart Before God
For years, I have reflected on D.L. Moody’s famous words: “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him.” It amazes me to consider how a life and heart like that would look. Both married couples and singles succeed and fail in serving the Lord wholeheartedly. An undivided heart is not dependent on one’s marital status, but rather on knowing our Savior as more precious than everything else.
Indeed, there are blessings that come with being single on the mission field such as availability, freedom, opportunities to serve, time, deep relationships, flexibility, and more. However, I realize these likely will only be seen as opportunities if our will is gladly bowed to his. None of these will resonate with us until we treasure him as our pearl of great value, to which nothing can compare.
The Best Part of Being Single on the Mission Field
The best part of being single on the mission field is God himself. This season has opened my eyes to behold his infinite wisdom as he orchestrates circumstances my finite mind would not have planned, using them to draw others to himself.
I have grown to know God as a friend, counselor, father, refuge, provider, and helper. I have experienced God’s unconditional love, mighty power, sense of humor, eye for detail, unending grace, permanent presence, constant care, faithfulness, and patience.
As I have grown closer to God and begun to understand who he is more fully, I have learned that I am not my own. My home, car, time, and gifts are not my own. They have been entrusted for the One whose glory is worth any and all of them. Indeed, there is freedom, joy, and peace in knowing that all things are from him, through him, and to him. This realization fuels my desire to serve God and obey the Great Commission.
We are Quick to Lose Sight of Who God Is
Why is it that Paul’s words frequently do not resonate with our desires?
I recognize that as honorable as all these sounds, it may still feel like a distant reality. Why is it that Paul’s words frequently do not resonate with our desires? Why do we see loss where there is gain? Why are our hearts divided? Because we have lost sight of who he is.
We have lost sight of
The adoption we have been granted;
The salvation we are gifted;
The counselor we are given;
The hope to which he has called us;
The promises we are assured with;
The love that surpasses knowledge;
The task we are entrusted;
The brevity of our days;
The immeasurable greatness of his power;
We are so quick to forget the cross, the empty tomb, and his imminent glorious return. We have allowed the withering world to steal our attention away from unfading truths. We will not be able to understand Paul or to serve God freely—whether single or married—until he becomes our greatest treasure.
Being a single missionary is a gift because it frees you to prioritize God.
Being a single missionary is a gift because it frees you to prioritize God as he reveals more of himself and draws your heart to himself. Our devotion will grow as we embrace whatever his portion for the day may be, as he is best known in the path of obedience. David Livingstone, the 19th-century Scottish missionary in Africa, understood his will as the one safe and happy place, and I have found this to be true. It is safe to follow the One who rules over heaven and earth, and it is a matchless gift to play a role as he reconciles the world to himself.
May we never make eternal choices based on temporary circumstances. May we taste and see Christ as infinitely better than anything else. May we remember that this world is passing away and that only his kingdom is worth investing our days.