Yesterday was Valentines Day–and on that day I spoke with a friend about a number of things, but one of them was about how it is hard to be single on this day. While I have been married for ten years, I am not a stranger to this struggle. Thirteen years ago I had a fairly devastating breakup with my high-school girlfriend. We had dated for two years straight and I was happing looking toward marrying her, when out of the blue she broke it off. While I am glad today that she did, it was difficult at the time, especially trying to figure out what direction to take with my life without her in it. The short version is that I decided to pursue God above all else, including not to date, expecting that if I sought Him, he would bring the wife along. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” I took this at face value, deciding that I would not pray for her, look for her, or date. Three years later after doing just that, I had an unexpected six hour conversation with a friend, at the end of which I proposed to her, and within fourteen hours of beginning that conversation we were married. Fast forward ten years and I have been happily married to my very best friend whom I didn’t search for.
This isn’t the method for everyone, but it is for some of you. However, this word is for everyone—that as we continue to pursue Him, we will receive all else. I shared this word with my friend last night, telling him that God is wooing him, and how He wants to spend time with His love on this special day. I felt the Spirit nudging me even as I was giving this word to my friend, that God wants to draw nearer to me–and likewise wants me to do the same. James 4:8a says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” God is calling each of us to a higher level, to a deeper relationship, so He and we might know one another better.
My friend shared how he used to spend time praying and just enjoying being with God, and that after some funky church-related things happened, he lost that spark–not because God was any different, but because he was, and because life was. We talked about how we have both been in that place–deeply and frequently engaging in that God-relationship, to the point that we have each had our own encounter where Jesus appeared to us. While neither of us actually physically saw Him, Jesus revealed to us at those times that it was Him. And those are the kinds of encounters we both long to experience again.
People sometimes talk about the “gift” of being single. To those who are unmarried it usually doesn’t feel much like a gift, and the married ones are usually the one saying it. I found in my own time as a bachelor that yearning for that “someone” can be just as distracting as having that someone present, and whether married or single the possibility always exists that life can pull us away from the depths of relationship with God. This Valentines Day I have sensed and responded to the call to re-engage God. It’s not that I ever stop, on the one hand. He is in me and I in Him, and I talk to Him often enough. But there is a depth that I sense missing–a level to which I sense His Spirit calling me, saying:
My beloved responded and said to me,
‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along.
‘For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
‘The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,
And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.
‘The fig tree has ripened its figs,
And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.
Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along!’” (Song of Solomon 2:10-13)
I encourage you that wherever you are, whatever level of relationship with God, seek Him and everything else will follow. Let Him touch those places of worry and fear, and silence the nagging doubts that spending time with Him simply isn’t enough. Yes, there are things to do, places to go, and people to see, and we will certainly do those things. But is life really richer without love? Is life really better-lived without the conscious presence of His love filling us? How can we expect to transform a world, much less our own families, if we won’t take time to come away and sit awhile with the One Who Is Above All Things, the lover of our souls? Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Take time to engage that relationship. Purpose in your heart to know Him above all else, for even as I have said, if we seek the Kingdom, God has promised that He will give us everything else. Happy Valentines Day, and may God richly bless and touch your life in a new way.