As long as I’ve been of marriageable age, one of the most common responses I’ve seen to struggling singles is some version of God’s waiting on you.
God’s waiting for you to be fully satisfied in him.
God’s honing your character.
God has work for you first.
The upshot being, move! Get in the Word! Go through your character with a fine-toothed comb! Hit the mission field! Be the best you! And for the love of God, learn to love God already!
“I love that stuff and I hate it,” a single friend of mine said.
That’s where I land. I’ll never object to doing all those things. But I’ve come to hold serious misgivings about God’s Waiting On You theology where it pertains to singleness.
For one, G.W.O.Y. has too many exceptions. God allows the worst people to marry. He pairs off believers to mature together(!) from age 19. And fortysomething singles like my friend spend years on international missions but still find nobody with their last name waiting when they get off the plane home.
You can get your neck twisted trying to reverse-engineer God’s ways from all this. Outside of express Scriptural teachings, God actually doesn’t exhibit a lot of patterns to how he shapes lives. Jesus never healed people the same way twice; Joshua’s battle strategies kept getting divinely switched up. Many saints have believed that God stays somewhat unpredictable so that we must seek his guidance firsthand. If all his ways could be guessed so easily, what need would there be to talk to him?
God could be waiting on you to clean something up. But get that from him directly, in prayer.
Never try to make your experience a principle for others, but allow God to be as creative and original with others as He is with you. – Oswald Chambers
For another, G.W.O.Y. can offer a false sense of control. Some singles actually kinda light up when they find a problem in themselves: Hey, maybe I’ve uncovered That One Thing that I can fix to finally open God’s hands! This can look like holiness, but it’s mixed with an attempt to control God. That makes it an idolatry – the same one lodged in any worldly philosophy of If you don’t like your life, change it!
We know better. At a wedding last weekend, as the maid of honor told the couple’s story, she reminded us, “We’re not in control of any of this.” Yes. That’s what we must remember. Mixed motives and a spirit of control? Avoid them.
But most of all, “God’s waiting on you” knows little of grace.
Singleness can already feel like a graceless state. You don’t get as much help with life; everything relies on you; you have not (yet) been chosen by another. To add insult to injury, countless singles are exhausted from running around like beheaded chickens, worrying subconsciously over any character flaw or unfinished work that might be The Thing over which God is holding your future hostage. I’m not sure worry meshes with the fruit of the Spirit.
Push towards holiness. Always. Relentlessly. But tying blessing to your works is how Islam and Hinduism operate. It’s how the pagan religions surrounding Israel operated (and how the Mosaic covenant operated until God replaced it). It’s not discouraging, and you’ll never arrive anyway.
Instead, we have grace – the grace of the Cross and the Empty Tomb, single or not. The very foundation of our faith is God giving when we’re not deserving. I would argue that this should be the foundation of our prayers for a mate as well. After all, marriage is a reflection of Christ’s relationship with his church (Eph 5:21, 32), and that’s all grace.
Consider the Canaanite woman with the possessed daughter (Matthew 15). She had nothing to plead before Jesus – no works, no cleanliness, no national identity. But she said, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table!” She was appealing to Jesus’ character.
Marvel at his generosity, but also, don’t miss that we are not dogs! We are the children Jesus spoke of, the adopted heirs, the kingdom citizens. How much more shall we receive?
Switch things up. Next time you pray for a spouse, pray not out of your own merit, but out of God’s grace and fatherhood.
I make no promises about how God will respond. Remember, we’re not seeking formulas here. But we’ll be praying correctly, out of knowledge of God’s character and our true position before him.
Like any grace, this is actually a relief. It’s not all up to us. He gives freely without finding fault (James 1:6); he keeps no record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13:5). Dump your stingy views of him and pray out of that.
I’m glad you tuned in today. If you found this post to be of value, please feel free to share it on social media. Thanks a bunch!