We were talking with a 30 year old single woman who has a desire to be married. As we prayed with her, I was impressed with the words: before and after. As we finished praying I shared with her what I felt the words meant and that perhaps it might encourage her in the present situation.

Before I found my beloved bride, I pressed into God with great zeal, due to her current “absence” in my life. After I was married, I found myself pressing into God with great zeal, due to her “presence” in my life.

In our first book, Longing for Eden, I said something similar:

“Married couples are thrust in the crucible because they cannot possibly avoid the death to self that living intimately with one person entails. Singles are thrust in the crucible because they cannot possibly avoid the death to self required in surrendering their desire for marriage into God’s sovereign hand.”

Being in the “crucible” is akin to being on the potter’s wheel; an experience that every believer, single or married, is destined to partake of on a regular basis.  Transformation is the invite to each of us and I have learned over forty-one years of being a Christian, that the key is a consistent aspiring unto personal growth.

Being single doesn’t cause the need for refinement, nor does being married. They are simply “contexts of life.”

The “before” is not a prison to escape, nor is the “after” a permanent carefree resting place. Encountering Jesus on the journey is paramount in every season and will result in the stamina needed for ongoing renewal.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Prov.13:12)

I desired marriage from the time I became a believer at age twenty-one. Six years later my desire was met. As of this writing, I am 35 years into a wonderfully fulfilling marriage.

Continuance of fulfillment is derived from the pruning of the tree.

The guardrails of living in the “now” include reflection and anticipation. Hopefully, wisdom gets stockpiled on the journey, while the horizon up ahead beckons us with fresh promise. This to me is balanced, kingdom living.