Majoring in Life
Learning the secret to contentment in singlehood from Manfred's personal experience.
Lesson 27: Still Waiting for Miss Right
(a lesson in contentment)
Text written and copyrighted © 2002 by Manfred Koehler. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)
I was twenty-two, on my way to reach tribal people with the gospel—and still painfully single. High school had seen one serious-but-wasn't-meant-to-be relationship. Bible school gave me a similar lesson or two in heartbreak.
And now I was in missionary training, where the three single ladies who sat with me in class had no intentions of breaking my heart. They were all older than I. One of them was sixty-seven.
So I spent many a spare moment gazing at the training center's bulletin boards, checking out photos of all the missionary babes spread throughout the world and wondering where God would send me.
I think one of them was named Pamela. Nice hair, cute face. I clearly remember that she worked in Papua New Guinea. Wow, did I feel divinely guided to go to Papua New Guinea.
The need for new missionaries in PNG was indeed urgent.
Fifteen months later, still single, I was getting desperate. I still had visions of going to PNG, but a dose of reality had knocked Pamela clear off my radar screen. In fact, my screen was completely empty. I knew without a shadow of doubt that God wanted me in missions, but I was shedding torrents of tears at the thought of going it alone.
It didn't help that I had just wasted three months chasing a relationship with a pretty girl who sort of loved Jesus and had no interest in missions. What was I thinking, asking a wannabe stewardess on a date? She sure was nice to be around, though. Walking away from that one almost disemboweled me.
One day I was hobnobbing with a bunch of missionary candidates, all of them married and with a gaggle of kids. Suddenly there she was, standing in the hallway. Single. Tall. Blonde. Cute nose. A voice that purred. Big eyes. Blue—both of them. And like the others, she was preparing to go to the mission field.
I shook her hand. We talked. I asked her name, offered mine. She smiled. I died. We exchanged another sentence, then checked our watches. She said bye. So did I.
It was over.
The forty-five-second encounter was too far from home to casually pursue, too short to follow up at a distance. I didn't even know her last name. That girl popped into my life only long enough to torture my already bleeding soul.
It was midnight—in more ways than one. And I had a three-hour drive ahead of me.
Her face stared at me the whole way home. Snow swirling around my vehicle, tears gushing out of my eyes, I beat the steering wheel in agony.
"Father! Why?" I screamed into a cold windshield that didn't seem to care. "Why did you even let us meet? That was so mean. What are you doing to me?" I beat the steering wheel some more, my palms aching, my deranged thoughts surprised I hadn't snapped it in two. "Do I have to be a wretched eunuch the rest of my life? Is that what it's going to take to make you happy? Oh, God, you're killing me!"
My rantings threw me into a fit of coughing and weeping. With slush piling on the road and emotions exploding in my soul, I was in a dangerous way. I didn't care. Right now, the dead end of a snowplow seemed like a great place to be.
Somehow I survived that night, but the questions kept coming: Is there just one girl out there for me? What if she died at birth? What if she lives in the Ukraine? If not, where is she? Show me! Point me in the right direction. You know I can't go this alone. Send her my way. Throw me at her feet. Please, God, I'm dying.
The answers I demanded simply wouldn't come. Finally, my heart too weary to rant, I was ready to listen. I think the conversation went something like this:
Child, is my love not enough?
I had to chew on that one. "I'm not sure, Lord. I know it's supposed to be, but every time I imagine myself single for the rest of my life, I want to die. So, no, it's not enough."
I'm not asking you to be single for the rest of your life. You're the only one asking that question.
"You mean I don't have to be willing to be forever single to make you happy?"
That's right. I've never demanded that willingness from anyone.
"Well, then, what are you asking?"
I'm only asking you to be single for the rest of this day.
"You mean, you'll throw me at her feet tomorrow?"
Forget about tomorrow. Just enjoy my love today. That's all you need to worry about.
"In other words, no promises about the future."
Not on this subject, no.
That thought needed digesting. Taking the time to accept it, I made another cautious step.
"Okay, let me see. I've tortured myself worrying about tomorrow, envisioning the existence of an unhappy old man who's never known a woman—rather than simply enjoying your love today. Is that what you're saying?"
You're catching on. Now try putting it another way.
It didn't take me long. "I've been asking you for a lifetime of singlehood grace, when you only dole it out in one-day doses."
Exactly. You're there. So, how about it?
"How about what?"
Can you handle being single until the end of today? I ask no more.
To accompany the burst of understanding that flooded my soul, God overwhelmed me with an assurance of his love. Sweet tears in my eyes, I nodded and smiled.
Take a long look at Matthew 6:34. Chisel it in stone. It's the principle you've just come to appreciate. I love you, Manfred.
Opening my Bible, I read these words: "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." My mind had seen that line many times, along with the verses that surrounded it. Now it was my heart that was looking.
I was still single, with no guarantees. But the tomorrow questions were gone. Really. The tears didn't stop completely, but the ones that followed were a mere trickle. Jesus replaced the rest by taking me to a whole new level in my relationship with him.
His love is enough. Really. One day at a time.