7 Ways the Enemy Wants to Poison Your Singleness

(Part 2 of this incoherent rambling can be viewed here.)

desert-dry-path-track.jpgIn The Screwtape Letters, as he narrates a fictional demon teaching a protege to draw humans away from God, C.S. Lewis takes a fascinating turn in his view of love:

Leave them to discuss whether “Love”, or patriotism, or celibacy, or candles on altars, or teetotalism, or education, are “good” or “bad”. Can’t you see there’s no answer? Nothing matters at all except the tendency of a given state of mind, in given circumstances, to move a particular patient at particular moment nearer to the Enemy or nearer to us.  …this state of falling in love is not, in itself, necessarily favourable either to us or to the other side. It is simply an occasion which we and the Enemy are both trying to exploit. 

Fascinating. Maybe a bit of a downer to we who dream of “God writing our love story”, but Lewis’ view – that sometimes things just happen, and God and Satan engage in a cosmic tug-of-war to turn it to their uses – does carry one marked advantage. It opens our eyes to Satan’s involvement. It keeps us from being “unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11).

Bringing Satan into our travails sounds unpleasant, certainly inconvenient, and possibly melodramatic. I understand. (I also would say that that’s his first line of attack – “I’m not here”). But we need not be disturbed or worried by his operations in our lives. (That fear is his second line.) We need only be informed, and respond with the truth of Jesus Christ.

You’ve probably heard that Satan attacks marriage. That’s easy enough to believe – just look at the institution now. The divorce rate, the poor reputation – it looks like Mordor. You, Christian single, have already committed yourself to beating the odds there. You know a God-centered marriage will thrive.

What you might not have heard is that the enemy also attacks singleness. I’ve seen this to be true in my own celibate journey and that of many others. Basically, he’ll use anything he can get his hands on. I say this not to frighten but to equip. God has given us everything we need to resist Satan. But you can’t resist an attack you don’t see.

My testimony: I allowed Satan to poison my singleness for many years before I let God open my eyes to the symptoms. I want you to avoid the same traps. Here I will list three of them, four in the concluding post, and I agonize that I have only two blog posts’ length when each of these could merit its own book.

But the occasion for joy and relief and bouncing off the walls? Each of these lies has an antidote, formulated straight from God’s Word.

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How God Is Not a Magic 8-Ball (And How to Know If You’re Treating Him Like One)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do— He reveals to you who He is.” – Oswald Chambers

So I’m sitting at my desk years ago, slowly eroding a mountain of math papers and waiting for God to do something. You know the feeling. I have to change jobs in the next month; I’ve got applications out in the wind. As I wait, a dark knot has taken up residence in my stomach. I know God’s moving. I sense the electricity in the air – the “God space” I sometimes call it with my students, those junctures where he likes to step in. But I don’t know where or when he’ll do so. And I’d really, really like those details, rather than daily silence as the end of the school year looms.

Finally, a call comes in. My applications have been seen. “Are you available to interview next week?”

Sweetest words ever.

Immediately the pit of anxiety lifts. Someone once said, “All happiness is the release of internal pressure”, and right now such quotes seem sage. It occurs to me that I’m happy just to have prospects; they offer a few days’ vacation from anxiety, a few days of effortless peace.

But the interviews go nowhere. The gnawing pit returns.

I’ve known couples who must bear the question of “Will our baby be healthy?” for an unavoidable season. Technology has given us marvels, but absent from them is the ability to fully diagnose an unborn baby. While the couple waits, the knot feels like an unavoidable companion.

Or there’s the myriad of singles who repeatedly drag a parent, mentor, or friend to coffee over the honest question tugging at their heart: “Will God ever bring me a mate?” After talking their latte cold, they walk away with renewed hope from their well-meaning friend that God has someone out there for them. It feels so good. But after a few more months or years pass and nobody shows up, it appears that God wasn’t listening to the chat, and the pit returns. (So they arrange another chat.)

After years of this all-too-familiar cycle, the Holy Spirit popped his own question to me. Through conversations over many years, it ultimately came down to this:

Why do you need to know the outcome to get rid of the knot?

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On God, Doors, and Enemies: The Story of a Friend’s New House

AClosed_door_01 while back, a friend of mine was trying to buy a house.

At first things were falling into place. Then, as so often happens with a home purchase, they started stampeding south. Renovation needs were discovered. Her loan officer bolted. Inspection after inspection failed. It became a drawn-out trial, and the burden was greater than living arrangements. She was trying to escape a demoralizing roommate situation; she needed to get out of her apartment for the sake of her heart.

But as the obstacles stacked up, Christian friends and advisers in her life started falling back on a familiar refrain: “These obstacles are probably God trying to stop you. You should let go of the house.”

Deep breath.

Okay. Let’s start at the beginning.

As Christians, we know God does place obstacles in our path to turn us aside from unforeseen dangers and bad decisions. Given our limited visibility in life, we should always keep a weather eye out for these signs.

But it was striking how these Christians in my friend’s life arrived at their assumption – that it must be God doing the blocking – so quickly and naturally. It’s a sign of another assumption, one shared by a lot of believers, especially in the last few generations of the church: the idea that God is the only source of opposition in this world.

It’s not a true assumption.

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