I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)
This post is a hard one to write. Even as I type these words, they are latent with conviction and trepidation.
I was doing some cleaning this morning in our home office (aka JUNK ROOM), when I came across my prayer journals from a few years ago, from when I was single and in seminary. I spent some time flipping through the pages and reading over the cares of my heart and mind from that time, and I immediately began thinking of these words from Paul in 1 Corinthians 7. Because as I read, I realized that my consistency in prayer and other spiritual disciplines looks much different now than it did then.
When you’re single, I think you read over these words of Paul a little flippantly. Maybe you don’t, but I’m pretty sure I did. Much like many young women, I loved love and earnestly desired to find a man with whom I could share my life and pursue Christ together.
But now that I’m married, I can echo what Paul’s subtext is in this passage: marriage ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, y’all.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being married. My husband brings me SO MUCH joy and laughter and love. Our little trio of a family is the fulfillment of so many of my heart’s desires. And we seek to glorify God in our marriage and our home as best we can by the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, I have to fight for “undivided devotion to the Lord” now. If I want to be deeper in the Word and more consistent in prayer, I have to carve out time for those things in a day that is already full from waking to sleeping. And, I fail at it often. More often than I care to admit.
There’s diapers and laundry, meals to cook and dishes to wash, not to mention ball games or homework or club meetings and church activities. And on top of that, we need to be intentional about nurturing our marriages, too, because healthy marriages don’t just happen by accident.
So maybe you are right there with me. Maybe your prayer life or your time in the Word is lacking because of the worldly concerns that often crowd our anxious hearts. To you I say: His grace is sufficient for you. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, so don’t examine your spiritual life with the lens of judgment.
If you are single, to you I say: enjoy this season. You may be longing for marriage or embittered with your relationship status, but I hope you hear me when I say this season of your life is special, truly. Marriage is a sanctifying work, and the time you have available now to nurture your relationship with the Living God is vital to your relationship with Him later, when your heart will be divided and your time will be crowded.
Married or single, we all need to pursue grace. Pursue is an active verb, which implies intentional movement from the subject to seek to attain or accomplish something. Thankfully, grace has already been accomplished for us, when Jesus lived a perfect life, died a death we deserved, rose again three days later and now intercedes for us at the throne of the Father. Thus, to pursue grace, we pursue Jesus, intentionally and actively.
Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, once said that if he faced a particularly busy day, he would need to spend an extra amount of time in prayer because he was too busy not to pray.
Even if my spiritual life doesn’t look exactly like it did 4 years ago, when I could often devote time to write my prayers on tangible materials, I can still pursue a deeper relationship with my Lord through prayer and study of God’s Word. I can listen to sermons as I fold laundry. I can sing songs to my daughter that teach about God’s attributes and truths from His Word. And I can pray as I cook, wash dishes, or take a shower.
What about you? In what ways can you pursue grace to deepen your relationship with God?