The phrase “waiting for my ship to come in” is familiar to most of us, but I never thought about how it originated until I was working on this presentation. A few hundred years ago people would invest their money in merchant shipping companies where you could buy a share of the ship or in the cargo that was to be bought. When the ship returned from its voyage, if it returned, you would get your money back plus a return on your investment. In addition to that usage, the phrase also referred to lovers waiting for extended periods of time for their suitor to arrive by ship. Today we use the term to mean more generally a long expected or desired positive event or development that finally happens and changes the recipient’s life.
Most of us, especially if we are not in our 20s anymore, have asked ourselves the questions, “What if I never get married?” “What if I never find someone to spend my life with?” “How come all of my friends get to be married and I don’t?” “What if my ship never comes in?” The first time I seriously asked myself that question, the thought of it was so overwhelming and frankly, so depressing, that I never followed the thought all the way to its conclusion and actually answered the question. If you were brave enough to answer that question when the thought first came to you, then you deserve many kudos!
The Word Did Not Become Flesh!
If you are like me, then you have people in your life, predominantly married people, who really love you and want the best for you. These folks have this one problem that impacts the relationship they have with you. The problem is that they LIE! Now, they don’t mean to lie, they don’t lie about other stuff, and most of the time, they don’t even think that they are lying. But they LIE! They say things like, “You are a wonderful person and you are going to find a great man/woman someday”! Or this, “God is going to bring you an awesome person soon, just be patient”. Or some variation of that theme. In my younger days, I actually believed them and treated those words as if those who spoke them were the sons and daughters in Joel 2:28 who had had the Spirit poured out on them and they were seeing visions of my wedding! The most obvious reason for this is that their words validated my own thoughts. At that time, I couldn’t imagine that God would withhold marriage and children from me. Not my God! I held onto those declarations as if the words would become flesh and dwell with me. (Bible humor, John 1:14). So I floated through my 20s knowing that it would happen before the big 3.0. Then I got to 30, and though I was minimally taken aback that I was still single, I shrugged it off because I knew it most definitely was going to happen in my 30s, probably early 30s! When I was 32yrs old, my father died and among many other things, I specifically grieved the fact that he would not get to walk me down the aisle. But I sped through my 30s, getting more and more anxious with each passing year, until before I knew it, I CRASHED into 40 still unbelievably and utterly single! After the crash, came the shift.
CHECK OUT “MY STORY” ON THE ASM WEBSITE TO READ MORE DETAILS OF WHAT CAME BEFORE 40YR CRASH!
It was at this milestone that my thinking and my attitude began to change. It was at this time that my response to well-meaning friends began to change. When they declared that I was surely going to meet Mr. Right someday, I would challenge that. “How do you know that?” “What if I never get married?” “What if I am single for the rest of my life?” And it was interesting and kinda funny because those questions would make them feel more uncomfortable than it made me. They would stutter and stumble and try to find their footing, but at the end of the day whether they were willing to admit it or not, it was very possible that I would never marry. It was in fact more likely than not that “my ship would never come in”. This does not just make single people uncomfortable; it also causes questions for married people who care about us and want the best for us. Why would God NOT allow you to be married when He himself declared us to be social beings and hardwired for that kind of intimacy? The only thing that he identified as “not good” in Eden was that man should be alone. That seemed like a cruel joke from a God that could not really love me and still watch me hurt and struggle alone and do nothing about it. These were some of the ideas that were coming as I was facing this reality head on now. I was starting to think about those questions and follow through to the answers without becoming completely overwhelmed or depressed because I finally acknowledged that it was a very real possibility for me.
Let me be clear on the fact I was not ‘delivert” yet though. Even though I was now able to think it all the way through to its logical conclusion, I still was nowhere near ready or able to actually accept it as a reality and still walk with God with gratitude and praise. I still had some growing to do.
So began a new phase of my thinking, a phase which was mercifully short-lived. I started trying to trick God into giving me the husband that I wanted. The Bible says in Psalm 37:4, “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart”. So my selfish heart came to this conclusion: The desire of my heart is a husband, so what I need to do now is start delighting myself in the Lord so that He will have to give me a husband. (If I could put emoticons in the book, the one here would be side-eyed with pursed lips shaking its head) Seriously? So I managed to do this delight thing for about uhm…one day. Maybe not even the whole day. Probably not even the whole day. Ok, so I will try again tomorrow. Again, seriously? So I added Matthew 6:33 which says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” Now I am going to delight and I’m going to seek. Yep, this is the ticket. Not only will I get a great husband, I’ll have all that other stuff too. So this is the plan: delight and seek, delight and seek, delight and seek. And I was. Delighting in my flesh and seeking first the kingdom of self. And my Heavenly Daddy was looking at me and shaking His head, like what is wrong with this chick? Doesn’t she know that I see her? Not the “her” that her family, friends, and church members see, but HER…her heart, her motives, her stones, her needs, and her craziness. And I love her with every breath that I have and every thought in my mind, but I ain’t getting ready to give this chick no husband cuz she down there wilin out. (Depending on the situation, sometimes God sounds like my best friend Ebony in my head) I was trying to manipulate God into giving me what I wanted by “giving” Him what He wanted…an intimate relationship with me. But unlike humans, God isn’t fooled by our DOING. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 And He knew that my heart wasn’t all His. Yes, I loved Him and I still love Him, but it was not with all my heart, mind, soul, and spirit. I was double-hearted. I loved Him, but I loved ME more. And my phony delighting and seeking was nothing but spiritualized selfishness.
The Real Deal on Delighting
When God asks us to delight in Him, He is asking us for our full heart, undivided by our fleshly desires no matter how good those things are. He is the Creator of marriage so it is not that He is saying that marriage is a flesh thing or a bad thing, though for some of us it can be. God is saying go back to the ideal. Adam had Me first before he had anything else. Before Adam had a home, purpose, boundaries, a mission, a wife, or children, Adam had Me breathing into him.
In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus teaches about choosing between good and best. “Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus feet, and heard His word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, ‘Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me’. And Jesus answered and said unto her, ‘Martha, Martha, thou are careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’”
Jesus is THE ONE!
As singles, we are careful and troubled about finding the one. But if you have accepted Christ as your Savior as I have, you already have the ONE. The scripture declares that Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. She recognized that she had the ONE. We are so many Marthas and so few Marys. As husband or wife can be taken away from us in a moment. Jesus is asking us today to choose that good part which can’t be taken away.
So I finally got it. In my heart, I got it. I do not want a husband, at the expense of my Daddy. If He says yes, then He will provide, but He is number one, He is the ONE and no husband can satisfy me like Him. Once I started really delighting in Him, seeking Him, and genuinely believing in and accepting the depth of His love for Lorraine Lezlie Sherma Edwards, I realized that I wanted that more than I wanted anything else. And when I started believing and accepting that love, I was reminded of something else about my Daddy. Psalms 84:11 says, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly”. There were many times in my life that I was not walking uprightly. That is a fact. So that answers the question about why God did not provide a husband then. Praise God He did not! Now I am not perfect, but the text does not say you have to be. I am learning every day how to be fully surrendered to Him and I am more and more each day. Yes, there are areas of my life that are more in line with His will than others, but my heart desires to follow Him wherever He leads. God knows that. Because I know that He knows that, then I believe that if a husband was good for me right now, then I would have one. Point. Blank. Period. God does not make promises that He cannot or will not keep. I cannot explain why marriage is not good for me now, but I finally believe and love and trust my Father enough to say that “no good thing will He withhold from Lorraine because she walks uprightly”. Yes, I still get lonely sometimes! Yes, I still cry out to God for a husband at times! Yes, at times I even still struggle with envy of my married friends! But I do not live there anymore, I just make short visits on rare occasions. And then I remember that Jesus loves me this I know and when or if He determines that it would be “good” for me to have a husband, He will provide the right one. I have seen what it looks like when someone other than God provides your husband. I am happy to wait on Him. Are you?
Soooo, what if my (relation) ship never comes in? There are five things that we should do before we get married or if we never get married! So if our ship never comes in we still need to make sure these are done. Over the next five blogs we will break those down. Do not miss even one or you will be out of balance!
Let us help you develop the first pillar of creating a life you love by growing and strengthening your relationship with God before anything else!