Many view singleness as a limitation rather than an advantage. I’d say it’s a fairly common perspective among Christians and non-Christians alike. It’s funny how we collectively forget that Jesus was single, and certainly nothing held Him back. And we forget that the second most prominent character of the New Testament was also single, the Apostle Paul, and it doesn’t appear singleness held him back. In fact, Paul made it clear in 1 Corinthains 7 that he found singleness preferable to marriage because it gave him the great opportunity to serve God without the distraction of a spouse.
This morning I was reading Paul’s travel plans in 1 Corinthians 16, which were obviously not set in stone:
I will come to you after I pass through Macedonia—for I will be traveling through Macedonia— and perhaps I will remain with you or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way wherever I go. I don’t want to see you now just in passing, for I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord allows. But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, because a wide door for effective ministry has opened for me
Note his terminology which indicates extreme freedom and flexibility: “perhaps I will remain or even spend the winter,” “wherever I go,” and “If the Lord allows.” It’s doubtful he would have had such flexibility in travel, or even the opportunity to travel at all, if he’d had the responsibility of a family. Singleness allowed him to introduce Jesus to people far and wide. And because of Paul’s extensive travels to share Jesus, Christianity spread to the Gentiles, which includes most of us reading this right now.
Last year a good friend of mine was going through Beth Moore’s study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Children of the Day, and she shared with me an excerpt:
“What if, instead of fixating on taking the hurt out of our hindrance, we prayed for God to take the hindrance out of our hurt?”
And then she listed several equations where “hindrance” is removed from the various types of hurts individuals experience. I’ll list the ones that most pertain to those of us who are single:
Heartbreak – hindrance = depth
Breakup – hindrance = breakthrough
Singleness – hindrance = a gospel globetrotter
Celibacy – hindrance = sexual purity
Childlessness – hindrance = mother of many (Isaiah 54:1-2)
Disappointment – hindrance = faith
My pain – hindrance = my passion
My life – the hindrance of all my hindrances = my God-ordained destiny
Pretty awesome, isn’t it, to be able to see the most difficult aspects of our lives in a new and positive light once we remove the hindrance aspect? It’s pretty powerful!
Paul was certainly the epitomy of a “gospel globetrotter.” His open-ended travel plans show evidence he had removed whatever hindrance he may have felt from his single status to share Jesus far and wide.
We miss out on so much when we fail to remove hindrances from our perspective. We feel “stuck” because of our singleness, because of our lack of education or finances, because of our personality, because of our parents’ health, because of our own health, and so forth. We say to ourselves, “I can’t do that because … “ and then we fill in the blank with what we perceive is a hindrance.
What if we removed the hindrance aspect from our perspective? What if we saw our lack of education or finances as a means of relating to those who won’t be intimidated by our “lack”? What if we saw our personality as how God strategically designed and equipped us to fulfill His specific purpose for us? What if we saw our parents’ need for us as an opportunity to serve them and relate to their friends, thus enriching our lives and theirs? What if we saw our health issues as a means of identifying with others, or as opportunity to spend time in prayer and develop deeper insights? What if we saw our singleness as a freedom to accomplish great things for Christ’s Kingdom?
The possibilities are endless when we remove perceived hindrances. God is bigger than any hindrance we have. Not just slightly bigger. Not just barely able to handle our hindrances. Immensely bigger. He is Sovereign over all. Can we trust Him to overcome our perceived hindrances and accomplish all He has created us to do?
What perceived hindrance is holding you back? What if you remove “hindrance” from the equation? What powerful freedoms and opportunities for good would result?
I’d love to hear your answers in the comments below.