Our Calling in Singleness

Calling in Singleness

Purpose. Calling. Mission. These words get thrown around and we don’t always know what they mean or how to differentiate between them.

When God created us He designed us for a unique purpose – one that is different from anyone else who has ever lived or ever will live. It is part of who we are – who He created us to be. It is something we can fulfill no matter our age or physical ability. As long as we have breath in these earthly bodies, we can be living our purpose. I’ve observed that when people know their life purpose and consciously live it, they experience freedom, fulfillment, and contentment. And that feelings of loneliness, defeat, and discouragement make only fleeting appearances, and usually only when one loses sight of their God-given purpose.

So what, then, is a Calling?

While our purpose has more to do with who we are, our calling or mission has more to do with what we do. Our purpose is lifelong and doesn’t change, from the time we take our first breath until we take our last. A calling or mission is God’s assignment for a specific period of time or to a certain group of people.

Lately, as I’ve written about before, I’ve become aware through reading Barry Danylak’s excellent book, Redeeming Singleness, that single Christians have a unique testimony to give the world: that a relationship with Jesus is all-sufficient and all-satisfying.

After reading Redeeming Singleness, I knew this intellectually and it excited me. But I didn’t actually own it until one night I woke with a jolt and a feeling of aloneness overwhelming me. I hadn’t felt that in a long time. Immediately I asked the Lord, “Why this feeling now, and why DID You choose singleness for me when I would have enjoyed the companionship of marriage?”

Immediately He replied, “So you could demonstrate to others that I am all-sufficient. That I am enough.” His presence was so real, and the feeling of aloneness disappeared. I was satisfied with His answer, and soon fell contentedly back to sleep.

Sometime soon after I wrote this in my journal:

My calling in singleness is to give witness that a relationship with Jesus is all-sufficient and all-satisfying and provides immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine!

 In reality, this is God’s calling to every Christian, single and married alike. Expecting anyone or anything else to provide what we need, rather than God alone, is idolatry. God alone is our Provider. Sometimes – in fact, often – He uses another person as His instrument to meet our needs. But our needs being fulfilled isn’t dependent on the person God is using as His instrument, but rather on God Himself. If that person would disappear for whatever reason, God is still our Provider and will provide our needs by some other means.

But while all Christians are called to rely on God alone, single Christians have an especially effective testimony when they demonstrate that Jesus truly is all-sufficient in the absence of what most of the world considers to be a necessity for a satisfying life: a romantic or sexual relationship. When Christians remain celibate without a spouse or family and live joyful and purposeful lives sold out to Jesus, they give witness that Jesus is truly is all-sufficient and all-satisfying. Those who have lost spouses by death or divorce have incredibly powerful testimonies to Jesus’ all-sufficiency when they continue joyfully onward with the life purpose God has given them.

This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t grieve, or that never-married singles shouldn’t grieve over what never was. Grief is a God-given process for healing and it’s important we walk through it when we lose someone or something significant to us, including dreams that never come true.

Does Jesus Being All-sufficient Mean We Don’t Need People?

I know this can be a bit confusing, because we do need people! We don’t need marriage, but we do need relationships with others. After all, God said in Genesis 2:18 that it’s not good for man to be alone. At the time Adam had a face-to-face relationship with God, so he truly was experiencing God’s all-sufficiency, but God said he also needed other humans. Some think God meant it wasn’t good for Adam to not have a spouse, and if that were true for Adam in a perfect relationship with God, it’s true for all the rest of us, too.

But that’s not what God said. Adam was the only human being on the planet at the time. He needed another human to converse with and relate to in ways he couldn’t with the other creatures God had already created.

In Redeeming Singleness, Danylak writes:

Paul is not affirming [in 1 Corinthians 7] that it is good to be alone but only that, in appropriate circumstances, it is good not to marry. Conversely, when Genesis 2: 18 affirms that it is not good to live alone, marriage is given as a provision. But this does not imply that marriage was designed to be the sole provision for one’s aloneness. We recall that Jesus was a single man but not a man alone, one devoid of family and relationships. Although Paul may have had some extended time of solitude immediately after his conversion, he, like Jesus, was a man immersed in new family relationships. We are struck by how many different companions, partners, co-laborers, and underlings are mentioned from the period of his Gentile ministry. His use of family language is robust as he addresses those in his church constantly as “brothers” (Rom. 1:13; 1 Cor. 3:1; Gal. 4:12; Phil. 1:12; 1 Thess. 1:4), and “sisters” (Philem. 2), “children” (Gal. 4:19; 1 Cor. 4:14), “legitimate sons” (1 Tim. 1:2; Titus 1:4), and “kinsmen” (Rom. 16:7)…. Though Paul did not have his own wife and family, he experienced profound familial intimacy within the spiritual family of God in which he had utterly invested himself. [1]

Danylak goes on to explain the difference between these intimate relationships and the intimacy of marriage:

As men free to invest all their time and energy in advancing the kingdom of God, neither Paul nor Jesus lived a life alone. This is not to suggest that the relationships that come through the new family of God are a substitute for a spouse, a way to fill the relational gap of not having a spouse and family. There is something unique in God’s joining man and wife in “one flesh” that is never replicated in other types of human relationships. In remaining single, one sacrifices such physical intimacy.

But intimacy has other dimensions, beyond the physical. A bond of spiritual unity as brothers and sisters in Christ can emerge through a oneness of mind in corporate prayer and worship, a shared eternal hope, and a common mission of proclaiming the gospel and making disciples that also powerfully transcends human day-to-day experience. The freedom and flexibility of the single life will often open access to levels and opportunities of spiritual intimacy with other believers that those who are married do not have available in the same way and to the same degree.[2]

This, I believe, is part of the “immeasurably more” part of the singles’ calling (to give witness that a relationship with Jesus is all-sufficient and all-satisfying and provides immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine). It is in reference to Ephesians 3:20-21 that says,

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Of course it means so much more, too! “Immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” means it’s not definable, predictable, or measurable. After all, the Sovereign God is our Provider, who has the resources of the universe and beyond at His disposal to provide all that we need – in abundance!

How to Experience the All-sufficiency of Jesus

You may be wondering, “This all sounds wonderful, but I’m not feeling it. How do I make it a reality in my life?”

I totally get that! We often understand things in our heads, but can’t feel them in our hearts. Faith, after all, is not knowing things intellectually but experiencing them.

The key to experiencing the all-sufficiency of Jesus is simple, but it may be one of the most difficult things ever: full surrender to God – your will, your plans, your desires given in exchange for His. We can’t experience Jesus to be all-satisfying until we relinquish our goals and dreams in exchange for His for us. The incredible thing is, no matter how wonderful we think our goals and dreams are, His goals and dreams for us are incredibly more wonderful – immeasurably more, in fact!

Oswald Chambers says it this way in My Utmost for His Highest:

‘If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself.’ The surrender here is of my self to Jesus, my self with His rest at the heart of it. ‘If you would be My disciple, give up your right to yourself to Me.’ Then the remainder of the life is nothing but the manifestation of this surrender. When once the surrender has taken place we never need ‘suppose’ anything. We do not need to care what our circumstances are, Jesus is amply sufficient.[3]

Amply sufficient. Can you give witness that Jesus is amply sufficient and more? That He is all-satisfying? If you haven’t yet experienced this abundant life in Jesus, take a look at what you might be holding back. Are you hanging onto a specific dream or goal? Perhaps one you’ve had since childhood? I know I was! The abundant life is found in relinquishing those dreams and saying, “God, I don’t know what You have planned for me, but I KNOW that it is good, and that it is ‘immeasurably more than all I could ever ask or imagine!’”

[1] Danylak, Barry. Redeeming Singleness (Foreword by John Piper): How the Storyline of Scripture Affirms the Single Life (pp. 201-202). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

[2] Danylak, Barry. Redeeming Singleness (Foreword by John Piper): How the Storyline of Scripture Affirms the Single Life(pp. 202-203). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

[3] Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest, Classic Edition (Kindle Locations 4142-4145). Discovery House. Kindle Edition.


Related posts:

An All-Satisfying Relationship – Is it Possible?

Relationship with Jesus: all-sufficient and all-satisfying!

“But you – you get to show what Jesus is like without depending on anyone else!” my friend’s eyes shone as she excitedly pointed out the beautiful message that a single Christian is privileged to give to the world: that a relationship with Jesus is all-sufficient and all-satisfying!

Months before she had given me the book, Redeeming Singleness by Barry Danylak, and urged me to read it (which turned out to be a life-changing book for me). Married but childless, my friend knows the stigma that accompanies those of us in the Christian world who don’t fit into the idealized (and dare I say too-often idolized?) married-with-children category, and knows the encouragement we need to be to each other.

I would venture to say that most people long to have an all-satisfying relationship with someone, and for good reason: we were created to experience and enjoy such a relationship. Adam and Eve had it before they sinned – both with God and with each other. It was perfect.

Today, many imagine that a romantic relationship will fulfill this deep longing. And once that relationship is consummated in marriage, they eagerly anticipate – and sometimes go to great lengths to make happen – the next relationship they believe will complete them – having a child and forming a family. The child comes and perhaps another and another. But the experience of satisfaction is hardly all-encompassing or permanent. It is marred by the imperfection of each being that forms their family unit – beings that come with the sinful nature fully intact.

Still, the family is God’s perfect design for continuing the human race and nurturing children to adulthood, and it’s a good one. But He never created it to be what many anticipate and assert it to be: an all-sufficient and all-satisfying relationship unit. In fact, such claims and attempts to find that all-sufficiency in marriage or the family is idolatrous.

God has already given to each person the opportunity to experience an all-sufficient and all-satisfying relationship, and that is with Him because of Jesus. While sin destroyed that perfect relationship He had with Adam and Eve, Jesus restored it, and offers it to everyone, single and married alike!

But what’s that part in Ephesians 5 about marriage being like Christ and the church? Doesn’t that indicate that if we’re single we’re missing out?

Absolutely not! We’re not missing out on the real thing (relationship with Jesus), just the symbolism of the real thing that earthly marriage is meant to portray.

And that is what my friend was pointing out to me from her perspective as a married woman: yes, it is a beautiful thing and a privilege to be able to portray the covenant love between Christ and His Bride the Church, but because it involves two imperfect human beings, it isn’t always easy to do. The Apostle Paul said something similar in 1 Corinthians 7 – marriage doesn’t come without trouble and difficulties.

And that’s when she said to me, “But you – you get to show what an all-sufficient and all-satisfying relationship with Jesus is like without depending on anyone else!”

“Yup, just me and my imperfections, which are plenty!” I’ve often thought as I’ve pondered her words. And singleness certainly comes with its own set of trouble and difficulties. I’m not interested in trying to determine who has it easier and who has it worse: married people or singles. God has a purpose for both, and as long as we’re in this fallen world with sinful natures, neither will be perfect and each will have its set of troubles.

But each also has a purpose to give witness to the world what a real relationship with Jesus is like: the covenantal aspect that marriage exemplifies; or the completeness in Jesus alone that singleness portrays. This witness, whether married or single, doesn’t come automatically. It only comes as we grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus and surrender ourselves completely to Him.

Knowing Jesus More Fully

I haven’t always experienced the all-sufficiency of Jesus, and to be fully honest, I don’t always now. It is there for my taking, but I don’t always take it. As I was reading the book of Philippians, a letter written by the Apostle Paul (who was also single) to the church at Philippi, I realized he didn’t always, either. But learning to know Jesus fully was a continual goal of his:

 “I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…. My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings …. Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you. In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.” (from Philippians 4 HCSB)

I love this passage because while Paul is telling about his own personal goal to know Jesus and encouraging his readers to have the same goal, he’s also pointing out that it is a journey as we mature in our relationship with Jesus and realize He has already “taken hold” of us!

If you feel like you haven’t yet experienced the all-sufficiency and all-satisfaction of a relationship with Jesus, let alone fully given testimony to the world what a relationship with Jesus is like, don’t despair! It truly is a journey and a process of sanctification by the Holy Spirit within us. But as we surrender everything to Him more and more, the satisfaction in Him deepens, and so does out witness to those around us.

In the meantime, let’s get a vision for the beautiful privilege we have as singles of showing the world that Jesus alone completes us, and that it is only in Jesus that anyone can experience an all-sufficient and all-satisfying relationship!

Related posts:

Community open 24/7

Join the 24/7 Community for Singles

The need for single Christians to have fellowship and connection with others is very real, but often lacking. I’m excited to be able to provide this 24/7 Community for Singles! A modest monthly fee of $4.97 will help cover costs for running the community, developing future exclusive content, planning possible in-person events, and insuring that members interact under their real identities, enabling genuine and real friendships. You may cancel at any time if you feel the 24/7 Community is not for you. 

Join the 24/7 Commmunity!


Singleness – Burden or Blessing?

When the Good Shepherd speaks to His own ...

Singleness – is it a burden or a blessing?

Each of us who are single would likely give a different answer to that question depending on when we were asked. And both answers would be correct. Singleness, like marriage (and almost every other aspect of life), has its burdens and its blessings.

When I feel my singleness is a burden it’s often because I’m not seeing it from God’s perspective and design. At other times it’s because I haven’t been connected enough with others and it’s time to pick up the phone and call a close friend or plan for interaction with others.

In general, I’ve found that …

Singleness is a BURDEN when I:

  • focus on what I don’t have.
  • squander my freedom on self-pity.
  • view being single as being “less than.”
  • complain about my life.
  • think my life doesn’t have purpose.
  • think I’m a failure.
  • spend too much time isolated from others.
  • don’t invest enough time in my closest relationships.
  • am not focusing on how all-satisfying my relationship is with Jesus.

Singleness is a BLESSING when I:

  • focus on the abundance I have!
  • use my freedom to relate to God without distraction.
  • view my singleness as being a valuable asset to me, to others, and to the Body of Christ.
  • express gratitude about my life and all I’ve been given.
  • know and live God’s unique purpose for which He created me!
  • realize how much God has accomplished through me!
  • spend time relating to others.
  • invest in my closest relationships.
  • grow in my relationship with Jesus and in experiencing how all-satisfying He truly is!

Perspective is the Key

Perspective is an amazing thing! Many times in my life the “blues” have lifted simply because my perspective changed, even though nothing else in my life changed a bit. I have learned that the enemy of my soul loves nothing better than to get me to view my life negatively rather than positively. Negative feelings will bring my pursuit of life and purpose to a grinding halt quicker than anything, and prevents me from living a joyful life to the full!

There’s a quote by Roy Lessin I have gone to again and again over the years to remind me when my perspective isn’t coming from God and needs adjusting:

“When the Good Shepherd speaks to His own, He never uses words of despair, hopelessness, frustration, defeat, discouragement, fear, confusion, or failure. Instead, He gives His sheep words of hope, rest, victory, peace, power, joy, triumph, and love.”  —Roy Lessin

When I am feeling in despair, hopeless, frustrated, defeated, discouraged, fearful, confused, or that I’m a failure – I know my perspective is not God’s. Even if I need correction in my life, His correction always comes with hope, never with despair. Truth – which is God’s perspective – always brings freedom, as Jesus said in John 8:32: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus also said that Satan seeks “to steal and to kill and to destroy,” but that Jesus came so that we “may have life and have it in abundance.” Satan wants to steal, kill, and destroy our joy and peace. He is the father of lies and makes his perspective appear to be truth so we’ll take it to heart. But when we do, we end up with negativity that sends us on a downward spiral. When we change our perspective to God’s, we are freed from that negativity and instead experience hope, rest, victory, peace, power, joy, triumph, and love!

How are you viewing your life, whether it is being single or some other aspect? Is it a positive view or a negative view? What helps you the most to change a negative perspective into a positive one, or to change a burden into a blessing?

Related posts: