A friend of mine has been posting some “Only x days until I get married to my amazing husband-to-be” updates and I’m afraid my internal response hasn’t been sharing her joy in quite the way she’d like. If she reads this, I really don’t want to offend her and I hope she has a wonderful day, and a fantastic marriage. I won’t be attending the ceremony as she’s an ocean away but even if I could, it wouldn’t be without some degree of jealousy or sadness at my own single state. I don’t generally find weddings that easy and am not that pleased to be approaching another birthday as a single woman. I didn’t think I’d have to wait this long.
I was talking with a good married friend the other day about believing that God has a plan for my life and whether it would be any easier if I knew I for sure that I would eventually get married or whether I could accept being told that it would never happen for me. I don’t feel a call to be single although in some ways it might be easier if I did. At the moment I feel like I would struggle to obey such a call if it came, even though I know that my life is easier being single than being in an unhappy marriage.
We sang a song at church this morning which ends with a verse about the church being the bride of Christ, and being welcomed on the last day to heaven by our beautiful bridegroom Jesus. It was good to think how on that day we could all be part of the ceremony; that God welcomes everyone who will receive Jesus to be united with him for eternity. The wedding bells will be for everyone, and whether we had been married or single or divorced or lonely or betrayed in life, we will be able to rejoice and live forever with him. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.
As I sat thinking about all this, I wondered if I could be satisfied with that. Whether I could let go of my desire to be married and just be content with knowing that I am part of the bride of Christ who will one day be united with him in heaven. Honestly, I couldn’t say that at the moment. I know that other Christians have reached that point and perhaps they’re much more spiritual than me or I’m being stubborn or driven by ‘the flesh’. When Paul said it is better to marry than to burn with passion he makes it sound rather more straightforward than it seems in the 21st century UK church where eligible Christian men seem rather few and far between.
But I had a further thought which actually did comfort me rather more, and which I felt was worth sharing with the rest of the congregation. I realised that on that day that we’d been singing about, when the earth as we know it comes to an end and when I meet Jesus; on that day I will be satisfied. It will be enough. Whether or not I get married in this life or spend the rest of my life waiting, in whatever degree of content or discontent I manage, eternity with God will be amazing. That hope is there for everyone, whatever trials or pain or suffering we are currently experiencing and whatever more we will face in the years to come. While I’d love to have a wedding on earth to invite you to, I guess I’d rather have eternity with you. If you need a more specific invitation:
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.