Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.— Psalm 51:1-12
Today is a beautiful day – literally and figuratively. Turns out, last night was not a mope; it was a wonderful, freeing calling.
God is calling me to be single. That’s something that we talk about as a hypothetical, but rarely as a concrete reality of someone’s life. In single Christian circles, it’s the holy thing you’re supposed to say: “If God calls me to be single, then I will accept it …” But no one talks about receiving that calling, and what it might be like; there’s always kind of an assumed “… but I’ll also be ready when He brings me my mate.” If we do say someone is or was called to be single, it’s more something that kind of happened to them over time, as the hoped-for mate did not appear and they resigned themselves to their situation.
I suppose I could also fall into the category of someone whose hoped-for mate hasn’t appeared, and maybe some would describe my current mood as merely resigning myself to the facts of the case. But it doesn’t feel like resignation … it feels like revelation, a moment of clarity when I am understanding what God has for me – and when I am looking forward to what that means for me, not trying to accept what I’m leaving behind. A friend today was also referring to it as my decision; and I guess it is a decision in some ways, but it’s not like I just laid in my bed last night and decided that celibacy for the rest of my life was the best option I could come up with. The decision is to follow the leading I received, not from within me, but from a Spirit beyond me.
It’s a decision to be obedient to what I heard, and it fills me with excitement. I think of the disciples, when Jesus came to them and called them. They immediately got up, left what they were doing and what they had, and followed him. I imagine them tossing aside their nets and their money boxes and springing up, only looking at Jesus, knowing something amazing was ahead.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
— Matthew 16:24-25
These verses have a very real and tangible meaning for me today. I always interpreted them as the ongoing work of taking up your cross as a Christian every day – and I still believe that is a valid and helpful interpretation. But I also now understand how one can have a specific cross given to you to bear, a particular thing that you must be willing to take on or give up as part of God’s path for you. Amazingly, I also understand how one could take up such a cross with joy and expectation of what you will find, instead of with fear and weariness at the thought of the long road before you.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
— Matthew 11:29-30
This passage describes how I feel today: light, and free. When I was praying and crying yesterday, I told God I wanted to be free from having to keep going through this cycle; but it was more of a wish than an intentional prayer, and I figured I was destined to keep slogging through with the burden of a spirit that was so untoward. I never imagined He would answer me!
It’s not that I don’t expect there will be times that I wrestle with this calling, or that there’s not still some transition and ongoing formation of my mind in this area. But I feel so happy, and peaceful, in a way that I could not have thought possible, at the notion that I don’t need to worry about pursuing relationships and marriage for fulfillment, that I can just take that off the table. In the past, the mere thought filled me with dread at a lonely life stretching on for decades; but now, I am overjoyed at being unbound to do His work and to enjoy all that He is doing in my life. It’s a wonderful, inexplicable, powerful change.