I grew up with a view of God that was centered less on His grace, and far more on His judgment. I figured if I did something “right” that God would reward me with blessing, and that if I did something “wrong” He would send some sort of punishment. I was afraid to misinterpret anything God might be saying to me for fear of falling out of favor with Him yet again. What I learned from one scenario, in particular, caused me to revisit what I was believing about wrong and right.
I was cleaning my apartment and listening to White Owl, a song by Josh Garrels, when the line “you will never be alone” hit me differently than it had before. I immediately took that line as God saying to me “you’ll never get married, but don’t worry, I’ll be here,” and it struck fear in me. I can’t tell you why that was my interpretation that day, but my guess is I was in a fragile emotional state. It bothered me for quite a while.
Things continued to trigger me after that point—like a comment made in my small group about how “we’re not all called to marriage, but we’re all invited to serve.” I was fearing singleness and the message I believed I was hearing about remaining in that state. Despite this, I still had the desire to marry. I started believing my desire must be sinful if God wanted me to stay single, and I let these thoughts swim around in my mind for weeks. I finally got so upset I got on my knees and prayed.
I told God I wanted to do whatever He wanted me to do, all the while crying my eyes out. But, as has been the case before, I was surprised by what came out of my mouth next. In the middle of my sobbing, I told God I didn’t want to make a wrong decision—I didn’t want Him to be disappointed in me. I started to realize this has been one of my issues for a long, long time. I was afraid of making a decision that He didn’t want me to make—in this case, the decision to marry.
After I finished praying, I pulled out my Bible to dig in and discover what God really had to say about marriage. I wanted to know if my desire was ok with Him, and I found no passage or verse prohibiting it. There’s a passage in the Bible where Paul says it’s better for a person to remain single, but that’s just Paul’s opinion, not God’s (1 Corinthians 7: 6-7). Jesus said not everyone can accept the fact that remaining single is best, but if they can, they should (Matthew 19:12). For the most part, this set my mind at ease. The truth of what God’s Word had to say on the matter alleviated a lot of the anxiety I had been feeling. I knew with absolute certainty that my desire to be married was not sinful or wrong.
Satan can mess with us in some pretty subtle ways, like getting us to question God’s Word and ignore the desires God has put in our hearts. I can say from experience that the less time you spend in God’s Word, the more susceptible you’ll be to these attacks. Conversely, the more time you spend in scripture, the more knowledge you’ll have of the truth. Truth is a powerful weapon. In fact, it’s one of the pieces of armor we are called to put on when doing spiritual battle. Truth is symbolized as a belt to be put on before all other armor to secure loose garments and allow a soldier to fight effectively. It was the foundational piece of equipment.
Don’t let the lies of the enemy become stronger in your mind than the truth of God’s Word.
Here’s another important truth: God does not give us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). A supposed message from God that creates anxiety deserves a closer look. I need to find the thing that’s causing the fear, rather than focusing on the message that brought it to the surface. Is the anxiety rooted in a decision that I know goes against God’s Word? Or is it rooted in some other fear? Without truth, we end up trying to interpret “signs” instead of seeking God. At this point, we can be easily led astray. Don’t let the lies of the enemy become stronger in your mind than the truth of God’s Word. Only He can be trusted.
I was afraid of being wrong because I didn’t have an accurate grasp of the matter. Since finding God’s thoughts on marriage in the Bible, I’ve never again had that particular fear creep up and grab ahold of me. I no longer interpret things through a lens of punishment. Instead, I put on my armor, take the matter to Him, and wrestle with it until He blesses me with His peace.