Last week I was speaking with an old friend of mine. "Sally" is one of my dearest friends whom I have known for twelve years. She is one of the most spiritually mature women I know, and highly sensitive to issues concerning motherhood. You see, Sally was adopted as an infant. If there is anyone I know who truly appreciates the beauty of parenting, it is my friend Sally. Yet Sally remains childless, as one by one, everyone around her is becoming pregnant.
I can identify with Sally. I came from a place of selfish feminist philosophy, thinking marriage was stupid. God changed me so radically, I not only understand the concept of marriage, but I have come to desire it. Last year, all of my friends started relationships. Then one by one, all of my friends' relationships successfully ended in either engagement or marriage. I am the only one who had a potential opportunity last year that ended, period.
Sally and I were surveying the people we knew and placing horrible judgments on them. We marveled over the immaturity of some of these individuals. Some were devastated to learn they were pregnant, complaining about how they were going to get "fat." Some were obviously not prepared for marriage, not wanting to give, but only expecting to receive. Together, Sally and I proudly asserted that if anyone desereves a child, it is Sally, and if anyone deserves for a relationship to work, it's me! I have done everything God has asked me to. I have studied all the scriptures and been more obedient than the rest. I did everything "by the book." I even followed God down roads I didn't want to in order to serve a man I wasn't attracted to at first, only for him change his mind, and that was that. What gives? How can God give a baby to these selfish, stuck up women, and a husband to these immature women who have no idea what they're in for, when Sally and I are prepared for and so well "deserving" of these gifts? Doesn't God trust us with these gifts? Haven't we rightfully earned them, moreso than these younger, foolish, less mature Christians? If you are a woman who has ever entertained these types of thoughts, allow me to point you to Luke 15, the story of the Prodigal Son.
In this story, the father represents God. The prodigal represents the immature, foolish Christian who has squandered his time with God in pursuit of worldly things. However, there is a third character in this story -- that of the elder son. Note that he is not just any son, but that he is the older of the two. Why is this important? Because in Biblical times, the older son always got the largest portion of his father's estate. In this story, the older son says, "Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him." (Luke 15:29-30). The father responds, "Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.” (Luke 15:30-31).
This message was preached at my church this morning, and as I sat there and listened, I began to survey my life. As I reviewed everything I have, I realize that God appears to have given me much more than He has given any of my friends. Yet here I am, complaining about not getting a goat, and stating my case that I am more deserving of a goat because I have always obeyed Him and followed Him more closely than my friends. Immediately I grew ashamed of my attitude. On one hand, it is unbiblical in the sense that I am viewing any gift from God as a "reward" for my good works, which is not a doctrinally sound way to view the God of the Bible. On the other hand, I am comparing myself to others and coming to some very self-righteous conclusions. God has not withheld anything from me and Sally. He does not love us any less than His other children. In fact if Sally and I look closely, we will see that much like the elder Son, God has bestowed upon us far more blessings than many of our friends.
How about you? What is God doing in your life? Is it possible He will call you to lifelong singleness? What if He never allows you to have a child? Will you be as the elder son in the story, refusing to rejoice with your friends because they have something that you don't?
It was Keith Green who wrote, "He's brought me here where things are clear and trials turn to gold." Only in God's Kingdom can trials turn to gold. You may never marry. You may never be a mother in the biological sense. But if you submit to God's will, those tears of disappointment will one day water and bring forth much fruit. God may give you the opportunity to nurture and help in ways that you never could imagine if you were a wife and mother in the earthly sense. If God has not yet given you your heart's desire, perhaps He is simply reminding you, "You have been with me always, and all that I have is yours."