Desiring God 2012 National Conference

Act the Miracle: God's Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification

Well, there was the first goal for today: walking up the steps without tripping in new shoes. So that was good. In the interest of reality and honesty in my bio, I should say that I don’t maintain my blog. I am severely neglecting my blog. So I do apologize for anybody who has been reading it and wondering, “When are you ever going to post again this year?” We’ll get around to it at some point.

But I am honored to be here. I’m honored that you all took time out of your conference schedule on a beautiful day to come and listen to me yap about singleness. In fact, I will be honest with you all, when I told my pastor that I was preparing this message, I just sighed and looked at him, and I said, “I have been talking or writing about singleness for ten years, and I’m tired. I’m done.” And he said, “Well, that’s what you should do. That’s how you should start out and let everybody know exactly where you are.” I thought, “Okay.” And you know what? If you want to get up right now, walk out the back door because I’ve alarmed you, go ahead. There’s great books out there.

But actually what I wanted to start with was that point of honesty with you all because that viewpoint colors our perspective of sanctification when it comes to singleness, and especially when we use the word season. So I’m going to get to that in a moment. But first, I kind of want to know in this room who is single? Can you raise your hands so I can have a perspective? Great. Now who’s married? Oh, good. All right. So I’m really bad at math, but I would say two-thirds to one-third maybe.

And so thank you for you all who are married, who’ve come to listen to this talk. I appreciate that, that helps to build unity in the body. And it’s helpful to understand the experience of one another. So before we begin, as we talk about sanctification, this is a journey with our Lord, and so I really want to pray toward that end with everyone.

Well, today I want to talk about a number of things that are a hindrance to the pursuit of sanctification when you’re single. But I really want to start with the first word. Now, I am guilty of framing my entire message through alliteration. And I kind of laugh when other people do it, and here I am doing it myself. So we have four ‘S’ words to discuss today.

1. ‘S’eason

We are here about singleness, but the first word is season. The reason why I want to talk about the word season is because it affects our viewpoint of how we consider our singleness.

Oftentimes people who use this phrase think back on it because they’re married, and they do remember singleness as having been a shorter time period in their lives. But some of us who are single are kind of wondering whether this is going to be a single season, like a really long season, or is this going to be a life sentence? So you’re like, “Really? We’re going to talk about the life sentence of singleness. Don’t waste your life sentence of singleness.” (Thank you for that little Piper joke.)

Embracing Singleness

So it can seem that way, and it can seem like there’s this sensation of waiting and hoping that you get to graduate into something bigger and better. And singleness can kind of feel like kindergarten graduation where everybody’s like, “Oh, isn’t that cute? You’re putting on a little robe and there you are going, but wait till you get to the ‘real’ graduation. That’s what matters.”

So where we start talking about this season of singleness, I want to stop right there with even considering the concept of season. Because you know what, we’re all in this little kindergarten warm-up exercise of graduation. None of this in our lives matters in terms of the light of eternity.

I mean it does matter how we walk through it, matters. But in the sense of the way we measure ourselves and compare ourselves among each other, it’s not as important as the fact that we are not going to be left out of the major graduation. By the grace of God, we have been rescued, we have been redeemed, we are being conformed, and we will be glorified when we see our Savior face to face. That major graduation glorification is not dependent upon our status.

And so when we think about the season of singleness, I don’t know about you, but I’m often tempted to be like, “Come on, how long am I going to be stuck in this thing? Let’s move on.” But that is simply a process that the Lord is using in our lives to move us toward bringing greater glory to him, bringing us greater sanctification and conformity to him, and ultimately to the point of looking at him face to face where he will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

If I say one thing in every message, it’s always that because that’s the one nail I want to pound. All the things that have happened to us in our lives are ordained by him. He has said, “These are the trials, the temptations, the successes, and everything that I will give you in order that you understand me better. And everything that I will one day reward you for, I gave to you through my grace in order to reward you.”

So how we view this season is really important. It’s a starting point for sanctification. Because every moment that we’re in it, like, “Get me out, get me out, get me out,” builds toward not appreciating what the Lord is doing in our lives.

Marriage and Contentment

Now, to be honest, most people are going to end up getting married. I have seen this over the course of my life. And I want to encourage you that marriage is not something that’s handed to you because of something you deserve, you merit. And many people, well-meaning people, will say to you, “You know what? The moment you get content, that’s when your spouse is going to come along.”

Now, I think it’s important that we cultivate contentment because that glorifies the Lord, but in no other area of our understanding of gifts do we ever have to merit that gift, do we have to work toward improving ourselves in order to earn something. That’s contrary to the gospel.

Now, if people around you are bringing you an observation saying you’re not content, well then work on that because that dishonors the Lord. But don’t work on it so that you can receive your little prize. That’s not how God works. So most of us will get married and some of us will not. And by the way, I’m still in the holding-out camp. So hey, don’t let that word get out just because I chose a really stinky book title and I’ve had to live with this. People are like, “So you wrote the book I Kissed Marriage Goodbye?” I’m like, “No, no. No. That was a question. Question, please. I’m wondering, but it’s still a question. I wasn’t making a statement really.”

Singleness and Sexual Desire

And another way that people often think about their singleness is through the refraction of your sexual desire. If you wrestle with longing for sexual intimacy, then they’ll say you don’t have the gift of singleness. And I would caution you on that thinking because that puts us in the place of evaluating the Lord’s sovereignty in our lives through the way we feel about something. And Scripture would tell us we are to align our feelings with his truth, not to be evaluating his truth and his work through our feelings.

I, in all my years of wandering around to several countries talking about singleness, have only met maybe three people in my entire life who have not wanted to get married, really felt like they were called to singleness. The vast majority of people found themselves single, still desiring for marriage, but still trusting that God has not held out on them. And that’s a really important point. You have an opportunity in your singleness to experience what Paul talked about in praying for something to change but discovering that God’s grace is sufficient for this situation. And that tension in which you live is the point at which you will grow in your sanctification.

God’s Grace and Unforeseen Paths

I’m very, very glad that the Lord does not tell people, or me in particular, “This is your future.” I became a Christian at thirty. I lived like the world until then. And then if you had told me at thirty, “By the way, you’re going to be talking for a number of years about singleness and still existing in that” — which is really interesting math since I’m publicly still only “29,” I’ve beaten that joke to death for so many years, but thank you all for laughing every time. And so if he had said to me, “This is your path,” I would’ve rebelled because I would not have known that God’s grace is sufficient.

And I know I stand up so often to other women, and I’m like the ghost of Christmas future. They’re like, “No, please, no. I don’t want to still be single at 29.” And so I would not have known experientially, nor even theologically, at that point in my life how God’s grace operates, and how you can still be happy and fulfilled and contented in him even as you desire something different. Or even if you had something different once and you find yourself unmarried once again.

The Prize Is Christ

So the first concept of thinking about singleness and sanctification is to adjust our ideas of the season. The prize is not married to another human. The prize is Christ. And married or unmarried, if we trust Christ is the reason for our justification before the Father, we have not one thing, not one iota less than anyone else in the kingdom.

So, every time we counsel one another, that’s where we need to land. Every single time. We should not counsel each other in terms of one day this will affect your marriage. One day this will affect your position as a wife, whatever. Although those things are true, they are not the landing point. The landing point is Christ.

Now, I do have a suggestion for those of you who are in the room who are married. I understand. I have observed this, that when you get married, it’s a huge wake-up call to discover the extent of your selfishness. But as rough an entry sometimes as it can be to sanctification when you get married and you realize, “Oh my goodness, my selfishness is being revealed on every single level.” Marriage is not the only path to maturity. Nowhere in Scripture is that laid out.

And sometimes when we hear that, as single adults, we can be like, “Great. Not only did I not get chosen by anybody else, I’m not forever condemned to immaturity because I didn’t get married.” And that is not a Scriptural viewpoint. In fact, that’s where I’m going to land today. All of this message is built around Hebrews 5:13–14, and its promise of how all of us, each of us, no matter what role we play in the kingdom, can attain maturity, and what it says is,

For everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Maturity, as described here in Scripture, is described as a process of training for discernment, and discernment is to understand the difference between good and evil, and good and evil is measured by the plumbline of Scripture. All of that is available to us whatever life experiences we have.

Challenging Stereotypes of Singleness

Now, I do understand the intensity, the daily in and out of caring for other people in marriage and family will reveal a whole lot. And we’re going to talk throughout this message about how we as single adults can apply some of these concepts of pursuing intimacy and loving others sacrificially so that we too grow through the investment in other people. It takes more forethought, it takes more planning, it takes more purposefulness, but it can be done.

So we are not condemned to immaturity as single adults simply because we’re unmarried. And often our culture makes fun of singles, right? Single men are forever in the basement playing video games, and single girls are forever shopping. And our lives are often portrayed as those who are frittering time away.

Now, let me ask you, is that true? Stereotypes exist for a reason. But if you go through Scripture, and if you go through the history of Christianity, you see some really powerful people who were single adults and made tremendous differences for the cause of Christ. So we don’t have to live up to that stereotype.

2. ‘S’hame

So let’s take a look at different ways that we can pursue sanctification as single adults through my little alliteration of S’s, and so point two is shame.

Rejoice with Those Who Rejoice

There are times in which it can feel very shameful to be solo. You upset the numbers at dinner parties, you’re the awkward extra guest at weddings. There are times when people don’t know how to fit you into their lives. There are times when it’s very difficult just to show up for other people’s events, right? To rejoice with those who rejoice when you are in a season of like, “Is this going to happen?”

And I will tell you, this is a point of perseverance. And as you persevere through it, you will see that God is changing you bit by bit, bit by bit. I have found it to become increasingly easier to rejoice with those who rejoice as I do it. Just like any other skill in life, from basketball to piano, to ballet, to whatever it is, the more you practice something, the better you’re going to be. And practicing being outward-focused and not wallowing in shame is an important aspect of our sanctification.

And the reason for this is there’s no reason for shame when we are actually centered and grounded on our identity in Christ. If you feel like a walking advertisement for failure, you’re not skilled in the word of righteousness. You are believing lies and you’re not believing truth. So getting our thoughts in right alignment, and I know how difficult it is. I know how difficult it is.

The Universality of Loneliness

There have been times when I have literally packed up, gotten everything ready for a wedding, and I’ve dragged myself there, and I’m like, “Rejoice with those who rejoice. Rejoice with those who rejoice.” And you get there and you’re like, “Hi.” I have forced myself into that because, you know what, everyone feels lonely. Everyone.

And you can walk into a wedding, and you think because you’re single, everybody else is like, “Oh, look at that loser.” And there’s a couple who are having a conflict. They’re married, and they’re thinking, “I’m so lonely in this marriage.” There’s a mother who feels isolated because she’s nursing, and she never has fellowship with anybody else. There’s a grandmother who feels like everyone in my church is a young mom, and I’m a grandmother, and nobody relates to me.

Everyone feels lonely, and everyone feels lonely because loneliness is a result of the fall. We are separated from each other, and we’re separated from Christ because of our sin. We’re separated from God because of our sin. But Christ has come to redeem that aspect, and the more we press into him, the more we’re like, “Help me by the power of your Spirit to accomplish what you’ve called me to do in the lives of people around me.” He will meet that need. So, cultivating our proper identity in Christ is very important.

And I think my first book came out in 2004 just as the blogosphere was starting. And I have seen this effect of the carefully curated life on social media, and how it affects all of us when we’re tempted to compare one another. Because Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest, they show that carefully curated life — the “Here I am with all my friends and my loved ones and my children who happen to look very agreeable and happy right now.” And it’s the highlights reel, right? It’s not the behind-the-scenes effort where you see everybody fighting.

There are so many pastors who I have heard talk about the big conflicts they get in on the way to church when they’re trying to be the holy family. And they’re like pounding each other in the car. And they get there and they’re like, “Hi, good to see you.” The Lord is always trying to help us, and the enemy is always trying to trip us up. And when we come to the church, which should be the place of refuge to one another, we often find ourselves comparing ourselves to one another, which Scripture says is absolutely foolish.

The Role That Never Changes

But this feeling of shame often comes because we have put a huge emphasis on roles. Now, don’t misunderstand me. In a time period and a culture so much has changed in my life alone, that in a time period and a culture that has radically denigrated marriage and family, the church is right to stand up and to say marriage and family is very important.

But there are times when, for the sake of pastoral administration efficiency in a church and for the sake of making useful illustrations for everyone, we end up living a very segregated life in the church. So illustrations will be like, “You dads, you moms, you singles.” You’re like, “Oh, okay.” And you can feel more divided at times unless you’re listening with ears of discernment.

When you realize I don’t need to take offense at being segregated here. I will make more effort to reach out across because I have more in common with those who are brothers and sisters in Christ. That is the eternal identity that never changes. Please remember that. Whatever roles God gives us here, they are roles to accomplish his purpose in advancing his kingdom for the glory of his name. His, not ours.

And everyone who gets married or doesn’t get married, or has children or doesn’t have children will learn things about God and his grace through those experiences. But we all end those roles in this life, and we move forward in the one role that never changes, being an adopted child of our heavenly Father by unmerited favor and brothers and sisters to one another.

And when you center yourself, your identity, on that concept, then it’s easier to move through the different seasons of life. And I will tell you, as younger women here, it’s not a monolithic season being single in your 20s, your 30s, your 40s, very different to the men who are here, I’m assuming the same thing, but I haven’t walked in your shoes, 50s, 60s, 70s, beyond our lives are fluid and they change. And so when we experience this thing, we can think, “Oh, our identity’s always going to be like this.” No. Even in singleness, it will change, and sometimes it changes into more difficult seasons.

Some of my long-term single friends have found later in life that they’re battling health issues, and that compounds any issue of loneliness. But you know what? Some of them are flourishing in the Lord because they practiced the idea of who I am in Christ and centered their lives on that. So even when illness would come later on and shake them, as hard as it is, and it is hard, they had worked hard at building their foundation in Christ.

So the important part of our identity is eternal and it will never change. And therefore, it’s important to take our thoughts captive in every situation where we tend to want to gravitate towards self-pity. “Oh, nobody ever chooses me.” As you find your thoughts gravitating that way, you are responsible for grabbing them back.

And then sometimes all you can do is the thought will fly by and you’re like, “Okay, Lord, I tried to grab that one. Help me. I mean, sometimes that’s all you can do is just say, “Help me think right thoughts about you and right thoughts about me.” Because you know what? Isn’t it true that that moment of depression, the circulation, it ends in “God’s not good, God’s holding out on me”? That’s where those thoughts spiral. And that’s exactly where our enemy wants our thoughts to go. His job is to make sure that we are accused and that we are accusing God.

Dating Relationships in Light of Identity in Christ

And so, as we maintain our identities in Christ, as we continue to say, “I have no less than anyone else, and I can rejoice with those who rejoice, I can weep with those who weep. I can overcome my self-centeredness (which is epidemic to every human being). By the grace of God, he will help me.” We are loved by the supreme King of the universe. And as wonderful and exhilarating as the love of another human being is, it’s only a reflection of the love of our God because we are his image bearers.

So training yourself to recognize good and evil in these situations is often starting exactly with your thoughts about your identity in Christ and your identity within the body. And this is actually a subpoint, and it’s an entire other message that I’ve developed, but this also affects our dating-courting-relating, whatever you call it, situation in your life.

And I think it’s more pronounced now with online dating, which allows us to view one another as consumables. And I am as guilty as the next person, okay? But when we start to look at one another as consumables, as people, we either measure and go, “Yes, no, yes, no,” especially within the church, we’ve forgotten that we’re actually dealing with brothers and sisters in Christ.

And some of the most painful aspects of sanctification, I think, for a single adult is to walk through the breakup process to the glory of God. Because that process says my unmet desires are not going to trump my treating you with the courtesy and consistency that is required as siblings who will be forever bonded in Christ.

There’s always tests before you get asked to speak on something. Always tests. And early on, they’re always around somebody breaking up with me right before I was to stand up and speak about the glory of God in singleness. And I’m always like, “No!” And it could be really rough.

But I remember this point being so clear to me because I wanted to treat this man like speak to my hand. You’re dead to me, move away. And I realized that the Lord was saying, “No. No, I redeemed him too. I died for him too. And right now you’re more aware of your offense toward him than you are of your offense toward me. And the fact that I rescued both of you. And so right now you want to say, speak to the hand, move away. But one day you’re going to be standing around me, the Lamb, in heaven forever and ever joined. And that’s not just a one day, that’s an actual truth now.” And I’m like, “Ugh.”

So sometimes the best that you can ask for is, “Could I have some time, and then we can be friends again. It hurts right now. But because you’re a brother in Christ, I don’t want to push you out of my life forever.” That doesn’t mean you have to be bestie friends. It’s probably a bad idea to be bestie friends. But it means that when you see that person, you don’t treat them as though they’re dead, speak to the hand, don’t make eye contact, move away.

So this identity, it plays out in our dating relationships. And like I said, it is an entire other message. But in times of breakup, and in times of birthdays, which are often a milestone for single friends of like, “Oh no, another year.” I have a habit of writing one verse in people’s birthday cards, which is Psalm 34:5: “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”

You do not need to be ashamed as you look to Christ. He has ordained your life, and it may be different from the way he has ordained the lives of others. And just like he said to Peter, when Peter inquired about John, “What are you doing with him?” Jesus said, “What does that matter to you? Follow me.” And that’s the banner over our lives: follow Christ. And as we do, we replace the shame of our labels of singleness with the radiance of his love.

3. ‘S’elfishness

Oh good, fifteen minutes left. I’m on point three. I’m going to start speeding up here. A second hindrance to the pursuit of maturity is selfishness.

Maturity Through Sacrifice

Now while some unmarried adults have children, while some are foster parents, while some are caring for dependent siblings or elderly parents, a lot of us don’t have that inner core of intimacy, which means we can choose to withdraw and indulge our selfishness. This, apart from understanding our identity in Christ, may be one of the hardest things for us to overcome.

Because the idea that we can default to making everything all about us permeates our culture. Every advertising message, “You’re worth it. Have it your way.” You know these illustrations, everyone’s used them, and I remember one time hearing a singles pastor say, “I actually feel sorry for you all.” And we’re all like, “Okay, how is this going to go?” And he said, “When I wake up in the morning, I know that I am a pastor, I am a father, and I’m a husband. And that pretty much clears out all my options. I know what I have to do because of these roles. But you wake up with unlimited options, and sometimes can be paralyzed by those options.”

And I appreciated his empathy there. But I think it’s important that we understand that maturity comes through loving others sacrificially. The reason why many people illustrate this concept of maturity through the experience of getting married and having children is because of the daily grind of, “I have to serve someone else.” Whereas we can kind of dip her toes in and out of the water depending on the season of life going, “Today, I’ll serve; today, I’m tired; I’m going to go home. I’ve had a rough day.”

And so marriage and family, while it doesn’t guarantee maturity, and we all know and we’ve seen people who are still immature and not using the word as their plumb line for maturity who are married, nevertheless, it creates a context that’s really important. And so therefore for us, as single adults, training for maturity involves pursuing contexts where we can be intentionally selfless in the boundless opportunities to be selfish.

Now, I’m a task-oriented person. I often call myself a human doing, a type A, rather than a human being. And one of the hardest things I have is to sit down and think about how to serve the things that are eternal rather than the things that are urgent. If you all have ever had a chance to read this little booklet, I think it was published in the ‘90s by Charles Hummel called The Tyranny of the Urgent, it was an eye-opening experience for me because I realized I do gravitate toward the thing that’s buzzing the loudest, making the biggest demand. But those things aren’t always eternal.

And one of the ways that we can combat this issue of the temptation towards selfishness is to expand our identities in Christ. Now, I’m not changing my earlier point, but what I’m saying is you have this identity in Christ, and he has given you roles. Even if you’re not married and even if you’re not a mother, you have roles that are biblically defined. You are someone’s sister, aunt, daughter, friend, church member. You have these things that you can line up against and say, “How am I investing in those roles? How am I investing in the gifts that God has given me? If people say, ‘You have such a great gift of mercy,’ or administration, or whatever else they see God’s grace flowing through your life, how are you sowing to that?”

The parable of the talents is really important for us because so often we look at our singleness. It’s that one talent gift. Well, everybody else got the two, five, ten, whatever it is. And we’re like, “One. I’m just going to put it here in this ground. And you can have it back when you come, God, because I didn’t want it in the first place.” But God says the faithful servant is the one who takes whatever is given because we’re not in charge of what we’ve received. What do you have that you did not receive? You just have it because you’ve received it. But the way you invest it is to his glory, the way you multiply it.

So you may desire to be a wife or a mother. But what you have right now is still worthy of investment. So that when you see him again face to face, and you can hear that, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” because you’ve been faithful to multiply what he’s given for the sake of his body and for the glory of his name. So being proactive in those things is important.

Stillness and Prayer Kills Selfishness

And for me, one of the most challenging, and you’d think it would be easier, but one of the most challenging things is to sit still and pray for other people.

I actually sometimes go on prayer walks just so I can move. Because sitting still, I find my mind wandering. And I’ll keep a pad of paper for all those thoughts that interrupt. I’ll just write it down and go back to praying. But actually planning to intercede for others, noting on my calendar when it’s somebody else’s big milestone, test, due date, whatever it is, writing it down and planning to make myself available around this to serve them is an important aspect of cultivating selflessness, being for others, and killing our selfishness.

So our prayers, oddly enough, can be a good barometer of our selfishness. Do we start with glorifying God and petitioning for others? Are we just immediately walking in like, “God, this is what I need.” I’m very guilty of that, and I have to stop and think how can I intercede for others? How can I use this extra time that theoretically I have as a single adult, and sometimes that’s debatable.

But sometimes you think I don’t have an infant squalling at me right now. So how can I intercede for somebody who does and who isn’t getting any sleep, and who is wondering if they will ever, ever form two sentences together? I wonder about that too and I don’t even have children. But anyway, we have to pursue prayer, and prayer and accountability with other people so that grace and truth are equally present in our relationships with one another.

Evaluate Your Time and Treasure

Now, another thing that I do also, and these are just practices, I don’t want to make them into rules, but they’re just illustrations to help you. I’m sure some of you have much better ideas, but one thing I do is I evaluate my calendar and I evaluate my bank statement. Because both of those things are pretty good reflections of what I’m actually doing with the time and treasure that God has given me. And you will see a lot of massage and spa and things in there. And I’m like, where’s the giving? Where’s the meal for somebody else? Where’s the time?

I’m in a season right now of writing a book, which means I’m very isolated. I work all day on film projects, and then I write. Isolation is difficult for single adults, so I have to be purposeful to pursue fellowship while still trying to make my book deadline. Did you hear that, my editor? I’m still trying to make my book deadline. And I have to actually schedule in time to be transparent with others because that can drift if I’m not being intentional.

4. ‘S’ecrecy

And so that segues into my fourth point here, which is secrecy. Secrecy is the tool of darkness. Single adults have to choose to live life in the light.

And I don’t have time to go into it. I wish I did. But I have so many poignant stories of people who thought they could manage their secret sin and kept it hidden. And that’s exactly what the enemy wants. Because when you don’t pull it out into the light, when you don’t avail yourself of the ability to confess and repent and seek the grace of God, there is a great danger in this. And the Lord loves his children enough not to be mocked. And he will expose it, and it’s horrifying to watch it happen.

And this is not necessarily just an issue for singles, but I’m just saying we have a greater ability and a greater context to hide and to shade the truth, and to not really share our lives with others if we so choose. And as believers are consistently described as children of the light, and as truth is consistently described as light breaking into the darkness, we need to take this aspect of secrecy very seriously.

And in talking about the hypocrisy of the very religious people of his day, Jesus said in Luke 12:2–3,

Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

In the internet age, we actually have a little bit of that experience: worldwide public shaming. It’s nothing in comparison to when the Father lays bare everything and we give an account to him. Nothing.

So I want to encourage us to be eager to live in the light as John 3:20–21 says,

For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

There are two people who see everything we do, or two entities — theologically diverse here — but God and Satan. One wants us to bring everything into our light, and the other one wants us to keep everything in the dark so that he can entrap us and disparage the name of God. The spiritual warfare that’s a very real reality that’s present right there.

This happens in the very mundane choices of our lives sometimes. What am I watching on TV? What am I taking into my eyes and my ears? What is going to become part of the overflow of my heart out on other people? How am I really speaking of people in the privacy of my house? Am I cultivating charitable judgments of others, thinking the best of them, or am I wandering around like that guy better never, ever call me again? Which happens, right? And sometimes you need to get it out so that you can hear it, confess it, and repent, but not nurture it. Not nurture it.

Now, all that I’ve said is applicable to every believer in every stage of life. It’s not unique. But I think what is unique to single adults is the temptation to drift and not to be serious and proactive in every single day of our lives. To recognize that because of who we are in Christ, we have these great responsibilities to glorify him with our lives.

So Hebrews 5:14 reminds us that maturity is not conferred upon us because of marriage or motherhood or family. Maturity is conferred upon us as we train ourselves to distinguish good from evil so that we can discern things by the word of God. And that is available to us in every season and every stage of life. So I want to encourage you with that and applaud you.

And I also want to encourage you that if you are saying right now, I don’t have a vision, please take time to go back and read some biographies. In my research of my book currently, I’m in the 19th century. I’ve had my head in the 19th century for months. And I am amazed by the purposefulness of the way people lived in that time period because they saw that God was really advancing. They’d had come out of the Great Awakening.

They were in the midst of the Second Awakening, and it seemed like Christians were taking just the world on many fronts. They could change lives with abolition, they could change things with child reform laws. They could do so much. And people had the sense of, I have to live to make every moment useful.

And I read that stuff, and I think I’ve drifted a little bit more than I was aware of into the culture of entertainment and self-satisfaction that defines our current era. So I want to encourage you. Run the race with perseverance with faith.