It was a bright sunny summer day when the contractor came to our house. Although we’d never met him, we were aware of his reputation---prominent businessman, strong believer, leader in his church. When we answered the door and invited him to sit at our kitchen table while he worked out the estimate for installing our windows, we were expecting to make a new friend. That did not turn out to be the case.
Instead of being friendly, he turned out to be very opinionated and rather insulting. Rather than giving us an estimate for the job and going on his merry way, he graced us with over an hour of his pontifications about everything---but mostly, single women.
Turns out that the contractor’s son had not yet married. Apparently, he was the big fish in a very small pond of eligible bachelors in his church, and all the single ladies were swooning (actually, he had a much cruder and degrading way of describing the situation, but we’re keeping it classy here so I won’t repeat it.)
After spending a considerable amount of time bragging about his son’s conquests and his advice that his son take his time and ‘play the field’ before settling down, he turned his attention to me. I was in my mid-twenties at the time and not in a romantic relationship. In his opinion, this was not acceptable.
His solution: I should make a connection with one of his cousins. (I guess I wasn’t good enough for his son). Having previously met his cousin, I was well aware of the fact that he did not meet the standards I’d set for myself---so right there I was insulted.
Still, he went on…and on, and on, and on. By the time he left, I felt like someone had just dumped a truckload of shame, embarrassment, and worthlessness all over me. The contractor made it quite clear: I was nothing and my life would amount to nothing until I get married.
Needless to say, he didn’t get the job or another invitation to our home.
Still, I had to deal with the damage he’d done to my heart when he basically sat at my table and said that my life was meaningless until I married. Feeling completely beaten, I knew I had some business to do with God. I needed to get alone with Him and find out if He felt the same way our contractor felt about me being unmarried.
Because it was so long ago, I don’t remember most of what I said to God that day. What I do remember clearly is the answer the Heavenly Father gave me. It came in the form of a Scripture:
Acts 21:7-9 provides a window into one of the places where Paul and his companions stayed while they were on their missionary journeys. It says,
“We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed with them for a day.
Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven.
He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.”
That day as I was seeking God for answers, those words seemed to literally jump off the page screaming, “Look---these women were SINGLE and yet God had a special place for them in kingdom.”
Think about it: The gift of prophecy isn’t a talent or gifting that is inside of you when you are born. It isn’t a skill that can be learned and developed. It was the Holy Spirit living inside of them that enabled them to prophesy. That means that God chose these unmarried ladies to be the vessel that He used to share His words with His people. How awesome is that?
God didn’t just allow them to minister; He chose them to minister.
What I learned that day is that God doesn’t see singleness as a mark of shame or disgrace or as being out of his favor. He didn’t criticize Philip’s daughters for their lack of a husband or say they needed to get married and “get a real life” before they could fulfill their purpose in the early church. Instead, He honored them by mentioning them by mentioning their spiritual gifts and their contribution to the kingdom of God in the Bible for all people everywhere to read.
It wasn’t just these young women. Turn back in the New Testament to Luke 2:36-38 and meet a widow named Anna. She had only been married for seven years when her husband died. Knowing the standard marrying age at this time, you can assume Anna was no more than twenty-one years old when he died and she was single for the next 64 years.
Widowhood in that society was very difficult. It virtually guaranteed a life of extreme poverty. Still, Anna didn’t use this tragedy as an occasion to be angry with God. Instead, she devoted the rest of her life to serving God. She literally moved into the temple and devoted her life to prayer, fasting, and teaching other women the Bible.
Don’t think her years of sacrifice and devotion to God went unnoticed! One day while Anna was praying in the temple, the Holy Spirit led her to the exact place where Mary and Joseph were dedicating Jesus.
What an honor this was for Anna! What a privilege God gave Anna in allowing her to see Jesus and tell her story to other people who were also waiting for the promised Messiah. Among all the great priests, religious leaders and kings in Jerusalem who would have been more than happy to tell you how important they were, God chose Anna—a poor widow---to play a significant role at Jesus’ dedication.
Once again, this Scripture made it clear to me that God values single women.
He isn’t waiting for us to “find a husband” before He starts fulfilling His plan in purpose in our lives. Instead, today, His desire is for us to find our value and purpose in Him and following the plans that He has for each and every day of our lives.
That day was a turning point for me. Even though it started off with a lot of pain, it ended with me knowing that like the single women in the Bible I was loved, valued, treasured, and chosen by my Heavenly Father. Like these amazing women who’d gone before, God had a place for me, and He had a plan for my life.
Married or single didn’t matter to Him. I was His daughter, and as long as I was dedicating my life to following Him, He was proud.
In the end, that’s all that really matters.