Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Before I Become a “Mrs.” Day 1

Leslie Basham: Marriage can be very hard. Singleness can be very hard. Nancy Leigh DeMoss gives perspective on both.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: God loves you too much to ever let you get to the place, married or single, where you don't need Him.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, November 11, 2015.

This Saturday, Nancy will exchange wedding vows with Robert Wolgemuth. You're invited to watch the LIVE stream of the wedding. For details, visit www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, before getting married, Nancy wants to share some perspective in her last audio series as a single woman.

Nancy: Well, for the past fifty-seven years I have been Miss Nancy Leigh DeMoss. And three days from now, I will be standing at an altar where I will become Mrs. Robert Wolgemuth. Do I hear any cheers for that?

I am grateful—so grateful—for the encouragement I have received from many, many women over the past months, women who are married and women who are single, who have rejoiced with me, who've been supporting and praying and sending sweet notes.

A couple of weeks ago, I met at a gathering we had for some of our ministry partners. She's a dentist in her early forties, never married. She came to me, and she said,

I'm so thankful for the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. I hope as you get married you won't forget us single women. I hope you'll keep ministering to us. To be today a single woman professional in the church is a lonely place to be. 

And I think she spoke for other women as well. There are a lot of single people today.

According to the 2012 census, over 44% of all U.S. residents ages eighteen and older are unmarried—44%. And virtually every woman in this room will spend some extended portion of our lives single. In fact, I'm marrying an older man, and statistically speaking, I may end up being a widow someday. We have widows in this room, and we have those who have never married. Over the years, have ministered to married and single women, but I've particularly had a heart for single women and to minister to them out of my own journey.

And now, totally unexpectedly, later in life, the Lord is giving me a new gift—the gift of marriage. And I am confident it, too, will have its blessings and challenges. And my heart and my intention is to embrace those as much as I have the blessings and the challenges of singleness.

But through this process, through this journey of the last few months, I have had a burden to do exactly what that woman said to me a few weeks ago: "Don't forget us single women." And I've wanted to bless and to minister grace to my single sisters, many of whom—some in this room, some of them who serve on our staff—many of whom have deep, unfulfilled longings for the gift of marriage.

I suspect (I've never done a survey, but I'm pretty sure I'm right) that many, if not most, single women feel that the challenges of singleness far outweigh the gift and the blessings. So when we talk about the gift of the blessings and the challenges of singleness, I think the part that many single woman would highlight is, "Yes, it's challenging! There are hard things about it."

What I want to do in this short series, just before I walk to the altar, is share some thoughts that have been on my heart about the gift and the blessings and the challenges of being a single woman. I've called this, "Some Thoughts for My Single Sisters . . . Before I Become a Mrs.".

Now, I'm probably not going to share anything that most of us in this room don't already know—no great new revelations or secrets or insights. But what I want to do is call us all, married or single, to always be in this journey of counseling our hearts according to truth that we already know.

Most of us know enough about God's Word and God's ways that if we would just live it out, we would be happy, holy, humble, satisfied women of God for the rest of our lives. Right?

Most of us know enough about God's Word and God's ways that if we would just live it out, we would be happy, holy, humble, satisfied women of God for the rest of our lives.

The challenge for most of us isn't knowing the truth. It's knowing how to put it into practice in the warp and woof, the laboratory of everyday life. And that's what I want to call us to.

As I was thinking about what thoughts I would want to share with my single sisters before I become a Mrs., I sent an email to some of my friends, mostly single, a few married, and I asked for some input:

  • What are some of the challenges you deal with?
  • What are some of the challenges you dealt with as a single woman?
  • What do you think our single sisters might be helped to hear in this short series?

I'm so thankful for the women who took time to write and share their thoughts, their heart with me. There were some really touching, thoughtful, and honest responses. And some of these posed some tough questions.

One of the women said,

One of the hardest things for me is wondering why God gives me the desire to be married (to share, serve, and do life in an intimate way with someone), yet I have prayed faithfully for years and still see no prospects. This is one prayer that I have prayed the longest, and yet I wait.

There's a woman who just turned fifty and is living with unfulfilled longings. She's a precious, godly woman. She's a servant of the Lord. She's a faithful woman. She's made a zillion right choices and has counseled her heart according to the truth, but she's saying, "It's still a mystery. It's still perplexing to me why God would give me this desire. I would pray for it, and I wait, but it's not been fulfilled."

Others say it a little differently. This one I'm reading from is a comment on the True Woman blog. This woman said:

In 2 weeks I will turn fifty-one. I have never been married, and as a result, I don't have children. Truly, I want to believe God has a plan for me and that's why I am still single. Still, it's easy to fall into thinking that maybe He knows I'm not good enough to be a wife. Or maybe I've sinned so many times, being alone is my punishment. Even as a Christian, I find it hard to look forward to the future. I don't understand why so many are blessed with families and husbands. Does God love these women more?

Maybe you've never said those words, but maybe your life circumstances, whether it's unwanted singleness or something else . . . Maybe it's the desire for a child that's never been fulfilled. Maybe it's the desire for a different kind of husband than the kind that you have, or for a more intimate spiritual relationship with your mate. Whatever it is, do you ever find yourself in the deepest part of your heart wondering, Does God love other women more than He loves me?

Well, let me just say about those, and other questions that I've been asked as I've been prepared for this series, I have way more questions than I do answers. I don't have the answers to most of those questions. And I'm also aware that there is nothing that I can say that can make the pain and the difficult emotions vanish.

But I would love on this week leading up to my wedding, in some way to be of an encouragement and to offer hope to women who are feeling weary or lonely or struggling in the race. Again, it may be the race of singleness, but for others it may be a different kind of race, something that you're weary of. You say, "I want to throw in the towel. I just don't think I can keep going. Does God really love me? Does God really care? Does God even know about what I'm walking through?"

I just want to offer some words of encouragement that I pray will bring you hope. And, Lord, I do ask for that, even as we launch into this short series. I pray that it would be Your words, Your heart, Your wisdom, Your ways, Your Spirit that would minister tailor-made grace to women who are listening to this series, and that they would come away with hearts filled with hope. For You are the God of all hope, the God of all comfort, the God of all peace, and the God of all grace. And would You be that here in this place and to these women's hearts this day. I pray in Jesus' name, amen.

So over today and the next couple of days, I'm going to just share some reflections. I don't have three points for this series, but just some reflections as I look back on the first fifty-seven years of my life, and as I look ahead to what only God knows will be the journey for the rest of my life.

These are things that I would say to any woman, married or single, because our issues are generally not issues so much derived from our circumstances as they are issues derived from our hearts. And our hearts don't change a lot on either side of the marriage or the singleness divide. I find that what's true of our hearts before we're married is generally true of women's hearts after they get married.

So what we need to deal with is not so much how to change our circumstances, but how to let God change us in the midst of our circumstances, whatever they might be.

I want to just start and tell you the bottom line of this whole little series and my reflections on this subject. It's the theme of my life as I look back on these years of walking with the Lord, and this is what I want to say to women as I make this transition from being a single woman to being a married woman. Get it down. Here it is: God is good, and He can be trusted to write your story. God is good. He is wise. He is loving. He is everything that is good. God can be trusted. He can be trusted to write your story.

You see, when we're little girls, we think what we would like the script of our lives to be like. And that's why for little girls raised on Disney and Disney princesses, so many the longing is for marriage, a certain kind of marriage, and a certain kind of romantic relationship, and certain dreams.

For you, the dreams may have been different. You had this vision for your life. You had this script you hoped it would follow. And maybe from the time you were a little girl, it was off script. It didn't unfold the way you hoped it would or thought it would.

Maybe you thought you'd get married and have six children, and you got married and found out you couldn't have any children.

It's the maybes. It's the you-thoughts. It's the we-thoughts. It's, "I had this script for my life. I thought my kids were going to turn out this way. I thought my marriage was going to turn out this way. I thought my health was going to turn out this way."

But it's turned out really to be different than anything you ever dreamed of. And I want to say: God is good, and He can be trusted to write your story. He can be trusted to write the script for your life. And whatever God writes for your life and for mine—looking back, looking forward—the script God writes, the story God is writing is a good story. It's a beautiful one.

Romans 12 tells us), "The will of God is good, and acceptable, and perfect."

I've often said . . . it's been attributed to me. It's not original with me, and I don't know who said it originally, but I love the quote, "The will of God is exactly what I would choose if I knew what God knows."

The will of God is good. God can be trusted. You can trust God to write the story for your life.

And I've heard so many stories as I've been on this journey. I walked into a store the other day and met a woman. She said she had heard about my engagement. She said, "You give me hope!" And she, I think, is seventy years old. I can't remember what she said. "Maybe God still has someone for me!"

And then I heard a story recently about a seventy-four-year old woman who married for the first time, after adopting and raising three children. That's quite a story God wrote for that woman's life!

But you say, "My story may not end up that way. It certainly hasn't ended up that way yet."

Well, first of all, let me tell you: It's not the end of your story yet. I'm here to tell you that.

But also, no matter how it ends, if you let God write your story, if you let God write the script for your life, it will be good. Joy comes not from writing our own story or having the story go as we would have scripted it. Joy comes from saying, "Yes, Lord," to whatever story He writes for our lives.

Joy comes from saying, "Yes, Lord," to whatever story He writes for our lives.

Psalm 84 tells us: "The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly" (v. 11).

And let me say, by the way, nobody can walk uprightly apart from Christ who is our righteousness. Right? That's not saying, "If you don't have a husband, therefore, you must not be good enough person."

That's not what it's saying at all. It's saying, "Those whose faith is in Christ—who lean on Him, who count on Him for their righteousness—God will not withhold one good or needful thing from you. And in the meantime, He will be to you a sun and a shield. He will be your warmth. He will be your protection. He will be your covering. He will be your energy. He will give grace, and He will give glory.

The woman who longs to be married, who has this unfulfilled longing for marriage, is not relegated to spend her life in misery, in despair, being discouraged, being downcast. She has a sun. She has a shield. She has grace. She has glory. And she has assurance that not one good or needful thing will God withhold from her life.

Now, in 1 Corinthians chapter 7, the apostle Paul talks about this whole issue of marriage and singleness, and a few other things related. And he says. . .(I'm just summarizing this passage really quickly. Maybe someday we'll do a whole study of this.) He says that both marriage and singleness are a gift, both are a calling, both have blessings and benefits, and both have challenges.

Marriage and singleness are both a calling from God.

And then here's what he says in verse 17 in 1 Corinthians 7: "So let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him."

Verse 24: "So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God."

Now, I'm not going to exposit this whole text. There's lots in it. There's a lot of confusing parts in it. But this much is clear: First of all, in the bigger context of this passage, Paul gives freedom to the people of God to choose to marry, if God provides that opportunity, or to remain single for the sake of serving the Lord with undivided devotion.

He says, "Marriage is a good thing; singleness is a good thing—in the will of God. If you can stay single, and you can do it consecrated to the Lord, that's what I recommend. I will spare you some difficulties that married people are going to face." So there are some advantages to being single.

In the bigger context, he talks about some advantages of being married. And he says, "You are free to marry as long as you marry in the Lord. Or you're free to remain single if God has gifted and equipped you to do that."

But the point I want to say in the verses I just read is that marriage and singleness are both a calling from God. "Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him and to which God has called him. In whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God" (v. 17).

Marriage and singleness in their time and in their place as God unfolds the story, as God unfolds the script, they are a calling. They are, if I can say it, an assignment from the Lord. Now, not an assignment in the sense . . . Robert doesn't want to hear me say, "I've been assigned by God to marry you." He'd like to know that I love him and that I really do want to marry him—and I do.

But there's another sense in which I realize that my love for him is in response to an assignment and a calling I've received from the Lord. It's a joyful one. It's one for which I'm deeply grateful. But is a calling. It's not something that I decided in my life that I'm going to be single for fifty-seven years, and then I'm going to get married at age fifty-seven. I didn't decide that. How could I have decided that?

How could I have known what would best honor the Lord with my life? I don't know what He knows. That's why I've had to look to Him all these years and say, "Lord, what would please You? What would honor You? What do You want to do with my life?"

And for these years, up until this point, God's assignment for me, God's calling for my life—and it's been a sweet one—has been to serve Him as a single woman. And now God's saying, "I have a different assignment for you. I have a different calling. It has its own challenges and blessings and benefits. Now is the time."

And my heart is to say, "Yes, Lord." My heart was to say, "Yes, Lord," as a single woman. My heart is to say, "Yes, Lord," as a married woman. It's a calling.

Human nature, our tendency, is to want a different calling than the one we have. It's to want to be in a different place, in a different pasture, in a different field, in a different condition than the place the Lord has assigned to us.

And so the exhortation Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 7 is to remain where God has placed you until God changes your calling, and if He does, then you go with joy and contentment into that new calling.

But the challenge is to be contented, to choose to remain where God has placed us. And he says, "In whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God." I love that because it means if you're single or single again-divorced, widowed, never married, unwanted singleness, or in a difficult, painful marriage-God says to you, "Remain in the condition to which you have been called, and remain there with God."

He doesn't put you there to be by yourself and to fend for yourself. He says, "I will be with you." It's not just you and your singleness. It's not just you and that difficult husband, or that prodigal child, or whatever the circumstance is, the circumstances that you cannot change. But He says, "Remain there, continue there with God, because it is a calling."

During the months of our engagement, I think one sentence that perhaps we have heard more times than any other, what people have said to us: "Marriage is hard!" Now, every person who said that to us, to the best of my recollection, is married. They said, "Marriage is hard."

We've said to each other, "We wish that more who were married would say, 'Marriage is wonderful!'"

But I've noticed that more singles say, "Marriage is wonderful," and more married people say, "Marriage is hard." What is that? It's a reflection of how we tend to think the grass is greener on the other side. Right?

The fact is, life is hard, whether you're married or single. Married or single, it requires dying to self, sacrifice, dependence on the Lord for grace and enabling. Let me just say that God loves you too much to ever let you get to the place, married or single, where you don't need Him. And so that's one of the reasons sometimes He makes it hard.

Now, I'm not saying, if you have a bad marriage that God made you have a bad marriage. But I am saying God creates circumstances in our lives to make us realize how desperately we need Him.

So if you find yourself with an unwanted gift or calling—singleness or marriage—unfulfilled longings, what do you do with it?

One friend wrote me and said,

From a young age, I dreamed of being married and having children of my own. I expected it would naturally happen when I finished college, and when it didn't I had to wrestle with that unmet expectation. Some years, I would dream for it more than others. For me holidays were especially difficult being single. There were seasons when I elevated that yearning to an idol. An idol in the sense that I would tell myself, "If only I was married, then I would be happy, and life would be great."

By the way, people in all seasons and situations of life use that "if only" line.

"If only I were married to someone different."

"If only I had more children."

"If only I had fewer children."

"If only I had ________, then my life would be different. I would be happy, and life would be great."

Well, she said,

After a canceled engagement, I realized that I was placing the wrong emphasis on marriage. God intended marriage to be a good thing, but singleness was also a good thing. I had to learn to take my thoughts captive, 2 Corinthians 10:5, and remind myself of truth found in God's Word. The reality is nothing can bring us happiness apart from Jesus Christ.

And I would say, "Nothing and no one can bring us happiness apart from Jesus Christ."

He is the one who brings meaning and redemption to this broken world."

Well, when this particular woman was in her mid or late thirties, God brought a godly, older man into her life. She got married. (I didn't know her at the time, but I've met her since.) Two years later and a child later, she sat with me in my office, and I listened to her share some of the challenges that she had never anticipated as a married woman.

The good news is that the solution for her now is the same, exactly the same, as it was before she was married. That is to anchor her heart in God's Word and ways and to realize that no man can meet needs in a woman's life that only Jesus can meet. She had to look to Him to fulfill her deepest longings when she was single. Now she's married to a wonderful man, and she's still needing to look to Jesus to meet the deepest needs and longings of her heart.

Our correspondence team has told me recently that on the True Woman blog, we're finding a lot of bitter, angry responses from frustrated, older, single women. And I think what is being expressed is this view: "What I desire, I have a right to obtain or experience." People in the Bible days did that, too.

Jeremiah 2: "Thus says the LORD, 'What injustice did your fathers find in Me, that they went far from Me and walked after emptiness and become empty?" (v. 5)

I think there are women who believe that God has done an injustice in not providing a spouse for those who so long to have one.

Here's the issue: If you believe that God is unjust, that He has wronged you in some way, then, as the prophet said, you won't draw near to Him. Rather, you will walk away from Him. You won't want to be close to that kind of God. You will want to walk away. But you'll not walk away into fullness. He says you "walked away after emptiness and become empty."

So to find fullness, you need to walk toward the very One that you think is making you empty. He's not unjust. He's good. He's wise. He's loving.

And so the challenge here is to recognize that there's a fine line between a longing and a demand. When it becomes a demand, then it becomes an idol. And the idol can be marriage. The idol can be singleness, for that matter.

Let God determine which gift you have and when and how long the season should be. Then respond to His calling, whatever it is, in the way that Mary did in Luke, chapter 1: "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as You have said" (v. 38).

Let me remind you that regardless of your marital status—married, single, divorced, widowed, whatever—you can experience freedom and fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. Do you believe that? Do you really believe that, in spite of this unfulfilled longing for marriage, or for a different kind of marriage, or for something else, that you can still experience freedom and fullness and fruitfulness in Christ?

If you find yourself thinking you could experience more freedom and fullness and fruitfulness if God would give you a husband, then my challenge to you is to counsel your heart according to the truth, and to realize that freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness are not found in a man. They're not found in marriage. But they are found in the Man Christ Jesus and in an intimate union and communion with Him.

So, Father, how I thank You for Your good and wise and loving plans, and that You can be trusted to write our stories. Thank You for the amazing way You have been unfolding my story. I could never have written this script, but I thank You that I found You to be good before I found marriage, and that You have demonstrated to me again and again and again over these decades that You are good and that everything You do is good, and that freedom and fullness and fruitfulness are found in You. And for that we give You thanks. In Jesus' name, amen.

Leslie: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss in day one of the series called, "For My Single Sisters . . . Before I Become a 'Mrs.'"

Nancy will become Mrs. Robert Wolgemuth this Saturday. You can watch the ceremony at www.ReviveOurHearts.com. The live stream should begin at 12:30 CT, with the ceremony itself at 1:00 p.m.

Maybe today's message from Nancy brought up issues you've been thinking about, and you want to think and pray more about devoting your whole self and your relationships to Christ. We'd like to send you the book, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? by Carolyn McCulley, a good friend of the ministry.

Carolyn is very honest about struggles that she and other single women face, and she shows you how to turn over your entire life to the Lord, trust Him with your future, and embrace the gift of singleness for His glory.

We'll send you a copy of Carolyn's book when you support the ministry with a gift of any amount. The number is 1–800–569–5959. We'll send one copy of Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye per household for your donation, or you can visit www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow, Nancy will continue to show you why contentment has more to do with your heart than with your circumstances. She'll return for part two of the series, "Thoughts for My Single Sisters . . . Before I Become a 'Mrs.'" Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.