I read a quote the other day, from a title or an article, saying “You should spend every moment of your waking time as a single readying yourself to provide for your future home.”
And I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t actually read the article. And that’s not a direct quote. That’s simply the best I remember of it, though I do remember being shocked at how specific “every moment of your time” was. I did fully intend to read the article, willing to give the author credit for having an explanation, a caveat. But sadly, somehow its page was closed, and I couldn’t find where it came from or where it went. So I shall assume the best of the author, and believe that they intended to explain themselves, and place preparing for our future home in its proper order of importance.
Yet the fact remains, I know of teachers who might just accept that quote as it now stands.
I know of girls who believe that quote just as it now stands.
I know of people who live that quote just as it now stands.
I used to be one of them.
When I was about 14, I adopted the idea that if I learned how to be the perfect keeper at home, how to do laundry and speak Greek, and how to just be the good little Christian girl; I could get the fast-track to what I wanted — marriage. Looking back now, I’m not even sure how I picked up that earning-what-I-want thought, as it’s something neither my parents nor church taught me. But my temptations have always been more towards the Pharisaic side. So since I was the ‘good girl,’ I lived with this assumption that I’d be married at 18 (or at the latest 19), having a little home and little family soon after. My subconscious clung to this idea as long is it could. But then my 18th year came and went. And nothing happened. And I went into a little bit of shock. Fast-forward a bit, and here I am, going on 20, with no signs of my singleness changing anytime soon. But I’m wiser now than I was then.
Because then I was seeing all the others about me who did have my perfect little dream being fulfilled. They were in a serious relationship, and they graduated and got married, and they were expecting their first child in a few weeks, and they were expecting their second in a few months.
And there fresh-from-the-waking-to-reality, I wondered, “Why not me?” This was my dream. This was what I had prepared for. This was my thing which I had poured myself completely into, my plans, my coveted goal, my one thing that I desired so greatly, my longing I would pour everything into, my —
Because that’s what marriage becomes when you put it on a pedestal. That’s what anything becomes when you make it a prize to be obtained. That’s what happens when you make finding Mr. or Mrs. Right your end goal.
Anything I put before my God, is an idol. Anything I want with all my heart, is an idol. Anything I can’t stop thinking of, is an idol. Anything I give all my love to, is an idol. ¹
Even if it is a good thing.
Because marriage is a good, beautiful thing. The Bible affirms it. And we should defend it against the attacks of the world. But when Good becomes better than God, it’s an idol.
Now, I understand what people mean when they say spend your time preparing for your future home. They want young people to avoid wasting their teen years; they want to warn us away from the idea that we can live as self-centeredly and rashly as we want while we’re single, and then transform into the perfect spouse and parent the instant we say “I do.” And there’s certainly a time and place for that lesson.
But when we devote all our time to something earthly, we’re treading on shaky, transient ground. When we spend all of our time looking for something coming within time, we’re being a bit short-sighted.
Because here’s another part of it. God has already given us His plan for singleness. Regardless of whether or not we ever get married. (Because that might not happen.)
His ultimate calling to us isn’t to us as single or married. His ultimate plan for us isn’t to us as teenagers or adults. His word on how to spend every moment of our time isn’t to us as pastors or businessmen, nor as scholars or athletes, nor as men or women, nor as young or old, nor as Gentile or Jew, nor as rich or poor — it’s to us as Christians.
What is the chief end of man? (All of us, regardless of positions, relationships, or jobs) To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.²
What is our true job, whether we work in a cubical or in sunshine? Glorifying Him. What is our true focus, whether we have three little ones running around or all our big ones flown away? Glorifying Him. How should we truly spend every moment of our time doing, whether we are single or married? Glorifying Him.
Now, in the course of doing so, do we become better prepared for marriage? Certainly. Good Christians are good spouses. (Just as they are good parents and good workers and good citizens.) But the imperative, defining state here isn’t married. It’s Christian.
So no, my job as a single isn’t to spend every moment of my waking time preparing for my future home.
I should spend all of my time learning to love God better. I should spend all of my time learning to become more like Him. The whole of my life should be dedicated to growing holy. My every waking moment should be spent glorifying Jesus.
Because when we focus all our time on preparing for our earthly happily ever after, we forget about the ultimate one. The throne of our heart should be occupied by one Person, one Man alone, and it isn’t prince charming.
Our job is readying ourselves to be like Jesus.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure. (1 John 3: 2,3)
So perhaps, in a sense, we are to spend every moment preparing for our future home. Because our true future home isn’t some farmhouse or apartment in the city, it’s no beach-house or cabin, it’s not in the country, suburbs, nor metro.
Our future home is a mansion, in a country where the streets are paved with gold.
I’m single, yes. But that’s not what defines me. And marriage isn’t what I’m spending my time readying for.
I am a Christian, first and foremost, now and forever, that is what defines me. And I’m readying myself for the Happily Ever After of all of History, where all is made new, and the Bride is married to Christ.
How about you?
¹ Clear the Stage, Jimmy Needham
² Westminister Shorter Catechism