A Single Purpose

It hasn’t always been easy being single.  Even in learning to rely on Jesus, and truly seeing Him as my beloved, there are some times of loneliness that still come up.  I am at the point in my life where I can really resonate with what Katie Davis Majors wrote about singleness, and just really being happy (maybe a bit stubbornly so) with the thought of life being just me and Jesus, together forever.

But what is a single person supposed to do?  Each of us has an individual calling from the Lord, but it can seem like married couples have a clearer map to follow than single people.  There is so much to learn about caring for and considering another person even before children come along, and then life is a whirlwind of keeping them fed, loved, and in one piece through terrible twos and teens years, and then teaching them to be adults and parents for themselves.

That’s certainly an oversimplification of the process, but to a single person, it can be hard to figure out where to focus your energy if not on finding a way to get married and start a family.

Culture tells us that this is this is the season for self-love and self-discovery, but, as Tai and Anna have written before, that way of thinking never gets us very far. We can do all “twenty things to do while you’re in your twenties” and still come out more confused than before we started.  What is easy to overlook is that all of culture leans this way.  A focus on “me time” is more noticeable in the lives of singles because they seem to have less of an obligation to take care of others.  God’s people were not meant to live this way.

In Matthew chapter twelve, Jesus said that “whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (verse fifty)  And in the book of Acts, “not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.” (Acts 4:32) 

God’s people were made to be a family: a family that extends beyond our blood relatives.  As Tai wrote, that does not mean that we have to be stay-at-home daughters until are married.  But it also doesn’t mean that our lives must be mainly focused on our own interests or on our work lives.

One profound way I have been learning to be a part of God’s family is by using the time I have to support my brothers and sisters who do have greater family commitments.  I am still at a stage of life where there are not many variables that would make it hard to change up my schedule if I need to do something.  I cannot imagine how great a responsibility it is to support a family at work, go home and make sure they are fed, loved, and doing well in school, maybe staying up with them at night when they are sick, then getting them up for school in the morning and doing it all over again.  Some of my colleagues do this sort of thing every day, and it is a huge blessing to me to know that I can help them in it by picking up odd tasks (turns our I love doing certain kinds of paperwork), or filling in if a sick family member needs care that day.  An added bonus is that I have also been learning many things that will be a huge benefit when I have a family of my own.  And that is just my own experience.  There are so many people who could use a little more family support.  The elderly might need a chat or a hand with the heavy lifting.  Maybe a single mom could use a friend stopping by for some girl time, a grocery shopping buddy, or a babysitter for the evening so she can wear jewelry again.  A dear pastor or leader might appreciate the lawn mowed so he can spend time with his family or take care of some of God’s other family members.

As a single person, I also have fewer complications if the Lord calls me to the mission field.  It might not be your call, but it is a reason to be in prayer.

If you’re not yet called to sell everything and move into the jungle, think about how you do use your resources.  If you have a good job and a family support network, you might have the opportunity to splurge on hobbies and hanging out with friends more often than others people who are supporting families. In what ways could you be supporting God’s family?  What are some of the dreams, needs, or wishes among your friends, church family, or community?  Is there a woman at church who could use some flowers today?  Is there a younger person who might need a big sister to take them for ice cream?  Has an emergency come up for a friend, making it harder to make ends meet?  Would it really make a friend’s day if someone caught the check at lunch?  This can be a tricky subject, since some people find it embarrassing when when another person meets their financial needs.  There are also cases where giving money might encourage a harmful lifestyle.  Always been in prayer about how the Lord can best use what you have, but don’t be afraid to overcome your inhibitions when He shows you how to bless His family.

Be especially generous with your prayers.  Just knowing that someone else is willing to take a few minutes out of their day to intercede for them really touches so many people’s hearts.  So many of these things can be great random acts of kindness, but take it a step forward and get to know and love the hearts of your family in Christ.   Don’t be afraid to adopt someone!  Take the love Jesus has given you and show His family how He cares for them.  He’ll use His family to take care of you too.

by Stephanie H.

Why Clothing?


 

Guest post by M. L. Detwiler

 

Have you ever stopped to wonder why humans even wear clothes at all? I mean, there is literally no other living creature on the planet that takes so much time and expense just to cover their bodies. Of course, there’s no other creature that can compare to humankind at all. The differences between us and animals are really too huge to grasp fully.

But what is the reason behind clothing? We are relatively hairless and unprotected compared to most other land-bound mammals. So is the primary purpose of clothing to serve as a protective layer from the elements?

Or what about the fact that we are sexual beings? Is the primary purpose of clothing to serve as a protection against lust and sexual immorality?

The answer to both of those questions is, I believe, a firm negative. Although protection against the elements and against sexual immorality are two significant reasons for clothing that cannot be ignored, both of them tie back into the primary reason for clothing. If you think about it, the only reason that there is any weather or thorns or destructive sun-rays to protect against in the first place is because of the fall. In addition, the only reason that lust and sexual immorality are problems is also because of the fall. In a perfect world, there would have been no need for protection from anything at all, and indeed, the Scripture states at the end of Genesis 2 that, “the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

In a perfect world, there is no need for clothing. But when the fall comes, and with it the shame and separation that sin brings between us and God and between one another, the first and most obvious ramification is… you guessed it: clothing. Or, more properly speaking, a faulty, hurried attempt at covering nakedness. Genesis 3:7: “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”

The very first reaction that Adam and Eve had after sinning against God was putting up a barrier. This was a barrier between them as individuals and also between them and God. Before sin, there were no barriers, and no need for any symbols of separation. But with guilt, fear, and blame comes shame and a desire for separation. Sin builds walls. No longer did Adam and Eve feel unashamed around one another. No longer could they feel unashamed before God. The safe atmosphere of complete openness had been shattered by sin, and for the first time, their shared experience and joy was splintered into egotistical shame – an immediate change of focus from outward to inward. They both became more concerned with the shame that they had to hide from one another than with the joy and love that they could bring and show to one another, and the worship that they were to bring to their Creator. For the first time, they set out on individual paths of fear and sin and doubt, instead of continuing to share a common path of holiness and happiness. As those who walk in darkness do not want their deeds to be brought to the light, so they did not want their most intimate body parts to remain any longer in the open. The parts of themselves that most revealed their vulnerability, trust, and openness with one another were the very first to be covered up.

The significance of this is huge. It tells us that the primary reason and purpose of man’s desire and instinct for clothing is to provide a tangible symbol of the separation that sin brings. Clothing exists to cut ourselves off from one another in a visible way, a physical outworking of the massive separation that sin causes between each and every one of us.

However, I believe it is key to our understanding of God’s design for clothing that we don’t stop here. The second time that clothing is mentioned in the Scriptures comes several verses later in Genesis 3:21: “And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”

In the single act of God providing Adam and Eve clothing, we can glean three very important truths. First of all, God reaffirms that clothing is right and needed now that the fall has come. He ordains and requires it by giving clothing to our first parents. Instead of rebuking Adam and Eve for attempting to cover their shame, God provides them with even better clothing. He affirms the truth that sin does indeed bring separation and shame between us – even between those in a marriage relationship, like Adam and Eve – and that that separation properly shows itself in clothing. Covering ourselves is not simply the natural response to the shame and division that sin brings, it is also the right response.

Secondly, more than simply affirming clothing, God improves it. Adam and Eve did the best they knew how and in their fallen state covered only their sexual organs. They made themselves loincloths. Out of fig leaves. God, however, made “garments of skins and clothed them.” Doing a word study of “garments of skin” reveals that the Hebrew word in the text here refers to a tunic – a long shirt-like piece of clothing that extended from the shoulders to the knees or toes. In any event, regardless of the exact length, these garments of skin were far more extensive than the fig leaves that Adam and Even made for themselves. God presents quite clearly that the need for clothing is more extensive than a few fig leaves thrown together. The garments He presented Adam and Eve with extended from the shoulders down to the knee or longer. Although Adam and Eve had the right idea in covering themselves, they did not understand just how much they needed to cover. God, however, quite clearly revealed how we are to cover our bodies.

There is a clear distinction here being made between the inadequacy of man’s efforts, and the full sufficiency of God’s gracious provision. This extends all the way from the area of good works to the area of proper clothing. Man’s works will always fall short, but God’s provision (in Christ!) is more than enough. Man’s clothing only covers the genitals, but God’s clothing covers the whole body.

In which clothing, therefore, ought we to walk? The kind of clothing that Adam and Eve mistakenly created for themselves out of fear and shame? Or the kind of clothing that God provided for us out of love and grace?

In the third and last place, we see an affirmation of the assertion I made at the beginning, that the prevention of lust/sexual immorality is not the primary purpose of clothing. God gave clothing to Adam and Eve, who lived in the context of marriage. There were no other individuals present who could lust after either of them, so it becomes clear from this that the primary purpose of clothing is to serve as a reminder of the fall.

In light of the truths that we learn from God’s gift of clothing to Adam and Eve, we have a firm basis on which to understand the theological significance of nakedness in a post-fall world. To begin formulating this understanding, we need to recap that the primary purpose of clothing is to serve as an effect of the fall – a necessary and God-ordained result that is a practical and symbolic representation of the separation and shame that sin creates.

What then is the significance of nakedness – the opposite of being clothed? Nakedness represents the curse being lifted, the separation removed, the walls torn down, and complete unity and harmony being restored once again. In short, the theological significance of nakedness is that it is an expression of the reversal of the fall. Now where things really get amazing is when you ask the question: In what context is nakedness (and the accompanying activity) blessed? Marriage. The only context in which nakedness is considered a good thing is in the context of marriage. Why?

Because marriage is a picture of the reversal of the fall: the union between Christ and the church! See Ephesians 5 for proof of this. Marriage is a full-color painting of the complete and total lifting of the curse. The interconnectedness of all of these truths blows me away every time I think about it.

Clothing reflects the fall and nakedness reflects restoration, so nakedness is only proper when it points directly towards that final restoration.

Nakedness only does that within the context of marriage.

Outside of marriage, full or even partial nakedness represents a blasphemous rebellion against the God-ordained effects of the fall. It is, in essence, saying that sin and the fall have no effect on us and we can regain the communion and intimacy that we had before sin separated us apart from the redemption that Christ brings. In essence, nakedness outside of the context of marriage is a rejection of Christ as the one who lifts the curse brought upon us because of sin. It is a rejection of Christ and His sacrifice, saying that we don’t need Him, that we can bridge the gap on our own.

To the degree that we are naked/less-than-fully-clothed, then, is the degree to which we have symbolically rejected Christ’s salvation! My point in saying that is not to hold guilt over anyone, but to show just how important and necessary it is that we get this right.

I have approached this topic of clothing in the way I have because I believe that the truths in the above paragraphs form the necessary foundation which absolutely must be firmly in place before we even dare to have a conversation about modesty in clothing. It is these truths – primarily theological in nature rather than practical, pulled directly (I trust) from the Scriptures, which give the proper shape and character to our beliefs and standards.

Beginning this discussion with an understanding of the Scriptural and theological context keeps us from creating our own individual standards and attempting to impose them upon one another as less or more holy depending on how far the hems of skirts and shorts are from God’s good earth. We will steer clear of trying to find the exact letter of the law, obsessing over inches and appearances and personal ideas of ‘legality’ and propriety. And on the other hand, we will not be left with the mushy, Scripture-less, tasteless conclusion to let every man do as his conscience bids.

The bottom line that I’m trying to make here is that we have not been left without a standard. We don’t have to create our own personal standard because God already gave us one.

God clothed Adam and Eve with tunic-like garments made of animal skins. Therefore, underwear are sinful, wearing anything other than leather is sinful, and we must never wear anything that isn’t a tunic.

Obviously. (Please understand my sarcasm…)

On the contrary, the simple and unadorned truth is that God clothed his people – fallen but still beloved – with an article of clothing that (according to the meaning of the original word as it is understood by Hebrew scholars) extended from the shoulders to the knees or lower. As the second mention of clothing in the entire Scriptures, and in direct contrast to the loincloths that Adam and Eve crafted for themselves, I believe that it is safe to say that we can take that as our standard – as we do with much of what is found in the first chapters of Genesis. Marriage, procreation, gender roles, earthly dominion, work… we trace our beliefs in all of these areas back to the first chapters and verses in Genesis.

I believe we ought to do the same with regard to our standards of clothing.

To my mind, it really makes everything simpler – as following God’s Word almost always does.

I know countless girls who have expressed frustration because they simply don’t know what is appropriate to wear in what context, because everyone seems to have different standards, every guy has a different level of maturity, and on and on…

I have been confused by those who seem to have very different modesty standards depending on who they are with, seemingly cow-towing their clothing standards to the most conservative of those around them to avoid giving offense or causing a stumbling block, and then demonstrating very different standards in other situations.

I have seen the damaging effects of creating an artificial standard of inches and lines and applying that standard to others in a judgmental fashion.

I have seen the discussion of modesty be completely taken over by whether or not it’s the guy or the girl who bears the greater responsibility: …whose fault is it if a guy lusts? …how short is too short? …how low is too low? …and many other largely irrelevant questions like that.

I have almost universally seen the discussion dominated by the belief that clothing is really only there to prevent lust and sexual immorality – instead of primarily an effect and reminder of the fall.

I have heard the complaint that guys have it easy and can basically wear what they want, while girls are held back by social stigmas wherever they turn.

I have seen, heard, and experienced all these things. But really, when you look at the issue from the perspective I outlined above, it’s not a complicated issue at all. God gave both Adam and Eve the same type of clothing: shoulder to knee (or lower). That is the divinely sanctioned standard. We have no reason to deviate from that. We have no reason to change that standard depending on who we are with, or where we are – because we can be confident that God is pleased. We have no reason to ask if we’re going to be a problem to some people, because we are doing all that God expects of us. We have no reason to judge others by any standard other than clear Scripture. We have no reason to ask complicated questions of responsibility in the case of lust – quite obviously, it is a sign of immaturity on the part of the guy. We have no reason to complain that guys have it easier. God didn’t give Eve a burka and Adam a pair of jean shorts.

He gave them both tunics because His standard is the same for everyone, regardless of gender, age, race, time period, activity, or location.

It’s simple. It really is.

Stay-At-Home Daughters?

Beautiful blonde girl outside in a field with sunlight on her hair.

 

There has been a widespread movement in the last 10 years or so, mainly stemming from the “Patriarchy Movement”, which, summarized, is all about fathers stepping up to lead their families. That is a very noble goal, and I heartily endorse fathers taking the leading of their families in seeking the Lord more seriously. However, there were a number of things attached to this movement that were full of errors…and there is one in particular that I would like to touch on right now: The “Stay-at-Home Daughter”. 

I have an interesting angle of viewing this issue, because I am personally very glad for what the movement did for me, while, at the same time, being very aware of its faults…which can be very seriously destructive to those who might otherwise be fruitful for the Kingdom of Heaven.

A number of years ago, when I was about 16 or 17, I read a book by the Botkin sisters, called, “So Much More”. It opened up a whole new world to me, which I had previously not even considered could be possible. Through the book, the sisters were encouraging girls, instead of leaving home as soon as possible, to stay at home and learn how to be a home-maker, help their fathers with his work, be active in helping their siblings and serving at their churches, and to grow their intellect by personal study and pursuit of the arts at home. There was a lot to the book (it was about 3 inches thick), but the basis was, you stay at home until you marry, and serve your father.

Now, for my own life, this was an important book for me to read at the time, because I was being told I needed to go to college because I had so many “talents and gifts”, and was looking at getting into debt about $100,000. But I count this book to have been a mercy of God for me at the time, because I was able to present it to my parents and talk about the very real possibility of NOT going to college — something I’m not sure they really seriously considered before. And having a precedent of someone else having done it was a real help and encouragement to them that maybe I wasn’t totally crazy. And now I look back and am only thankful that I never went to college, never got into loads of debt, never wasted 4 years of my life, and never got sidetracked from seeking the Lord as so many Christian kids do when they head off to college.

However, after this is where it begins to fall apart. While, in many cases, it can be a good, and right thing for girls to stay at home, and help their family…it is NOT something that the Bible says MUST happen in order for us to be walking rightly before the Lord. Many people mistakenly hold onto these “stay-at-home-daughter” teachings as being akin to the 10 commandments. But they’re not. Not even close. In fact, there are many times that NOT staying at home until you’re married, and learning to be a home-maker can be BETTER! Here are some reasons that I personally feel this movement falls short of what Jesus’ heart is for us.

 

1.) When you have no siblings and your dad works in an office…um…what do you do??

I had one brother. My dad had a 9-5 office job. So for me to be at home “helping” my mom, and learning to be a home-maker meant…well…I was at home, spending a lot of time in my room doing whatever I wanted, and reading good books about good things that I hoped someday I would be like, but doing nothing actually really worthwhile with my time. I folded some laundry and washed our few measly little dishes. I had my checklist of meals I wanted to learn how to make. (Don’t even remember what they were now.) I vacuumed. I did most of these things only half-heartedly. I tried to think about how glad the person who married me someday would be. But you know what? I just wasted a lot of time focusing on myself. Can I just say something straight out?? Ok, here it is: You do NOT need to learn how to be a “home-maker”!! All you need for that job is a willingness to do what needs to be done, and the ability to read directions…and maybe a few basics on how not to burn water, and what to do with a hunk of raw chicken. It comes naturally after you are married. I’ve learned the most important things I know since BEING married, and having my own home. Not that I didn’t learn good habits and such from my mom…but I wasted a lot of time thinking I couldn’t do anything until I got married, when I could have been out serving the Lord…or even simply being a LOT more serious about my relationship with HIM.

 

2.) All these things keep your heart always dwelling on marriage and relationships instead of seeking the Lord and being able to selflessly seek His will and direction for your life. I know…because I was there. Everything I did was in order to make myself more “marriageable”. Every time I did something to help out it was only because I wanted to get married someday, and I wanted my parents to think I was “prepared” enough (and of course, to impress the guy too, whoever he was). It also gives you a rosy picture of what your “perfect dream” family life will be like — that thing that becomes what you seek after and look to later in life for your happiness. But…what if God calls you to be a missionary? What if you never have a place to call home? What if you never even have a proper oven? Will your heart be crushed to pieces…or will you embrace these things as being just normal acts of denying oneself in the course of duty and service to our King Jesus?

The purpose of our lives should not be to “get married”. What happens when you get there?? Does everything cease? Do you magically become a different person? No, the purpose of our lives should be to be wrapped up in seeking Christ, and proclaiming the gospel. The things you spend your time on now are what you will be 20 years from now.  You can so easily waste a lot of time “perfecting” yourself in many useless pursuits just to simply be able to say you are accomplishing just as much as someone who has gone to college, without having gone yourself. You wind up filling your time with things that really have no bearing on your spiritual state, and are of no real use to anyone else, time-fillers that are just empty fluff. But that is not the point of life! Do you really want to spend your life playing the harp or being able to read latin? We need to be careful that we do not waste our single years sitting around waiting to be married, or filling the years with the pursuit of things that seem “fun” or “praiseworthy”, but don’t last – and we need to be equally careful that we are not putting marriage and/or a relationship in such a high place in our hearts that we would jump out of the course of serving Christ in a heartbeat, simply to be “in love”. Our priority must be first and foremost to use our time wisely, saving the lost while we have opportunity! Singles — serve God TODAY. Don’t spend another day without throwing yourself at the feet of Jesus, and asking Him to use you however HE wants. Pray until God gives you the strength to say, “I want to do whatever you want, Lord. I want to go wherever you want. I want to pour out my life for others. I want to rescue the perishing. EVEN if it means that I am never married. Giving my life to YOU is more important to me.”

You do NOT have to wait until you are married before you can serve God. You do not have to wish your parents were serving God so you could too. You do not have to resign yourself to simply washing dishes and folding laundry for the rest of your life.

Now note that I am not saying that these things are bad, or aren’t necessary. They are important for keeping any household running — even if you are single forever. But there is also more to life…and God has MUCH work to be done, and is so glad for any who will lay aside seeking their own gain in order to serve Him and reach the lost. There are stories of many ladies who laid down their own pursuits in order to follow the call of the Lord…and God was able to do AMAZING things with these ladies – most of whom were single! Read about Mary Slessor, Gladys Aylward, Jackie Pullinger, Amy Carmichael, and Katie Davis, for starters! You will be SO encouraged and inspired! All it really takes for God to use you is a mustard seed of faith, and the determination to not look back or hesitate when He calls.

 

3.) Perhaps the most fatal twist of this movement is its strong but subtle undertow which drags our hearts into seeking after all the same things of this world that every non-Christian is striving for: money, praise, power, dominion, acclaim, storing up an earthly “heritage” for future generations, and building yourself an earthly legacy. When we spend our time dreaming about marriage, preparing ourselves to be marriageable, and and trying to prove to the world that we are just as successful as the person who went to college and got $200,000 in debt, we will inevitably have our hearts drawn after the fleeting benefits of this present world. But friends, Jesus IS going to return soon! All of our 100-year plans, and storing up wealth for future generations is going to look very trivial. “Set your mind on things that are above and not on things that are on earth…”; this is where God wants our hearts to be dwelling. What are we doing to invest ourselves in ETERNITY?? What are we doing to make sure as many people as possible are going to be there with us?

“Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39)

The most important thing we can do with our life is to “lose” it (meaning: it will have none of the acclaim and praise of the world for what we invest ourselves in — it will look ridiculous to those who are chasing after their “best life now”.) for the sake of the gospel, and for the sake of the call that Jesus Christ Himself has put on you. Yes, being a wife and mom are noble things indeed…but what is more noble? Laying your life at Jesus’ feet. Throwing away earthly success and praise for the sake of following the call of the Lord to reach the lost. Acknowledging and embracing the shame that will inevitably come from family and friends who had other plans for you. And yet…your obedience to the call of God, may in fact BE what God uses to alert them of His soon coming as well, and to get them to think further than just the fleeting success of this world.
Katie Davis obeyed the call of God on her life to leave everything she knew and loved in America to go to Uganda and share living water with the poor and destitute there. Her family resisted, were angry, and would not support her or give her their blessing. But God. God used her obedience to soften their hearts…and now they are partners together in this amazing work, reaching the orphans, and the destitute. Because of Katie’s obedience, now her whole family will receive an eternal reward for the work that is being done.

The thing I most desire in all the world is to hear Jesus say to me, “Well done,” when I see Him face to face. That is worth more to me than all the riches of every treasure in this world.

So daughters, please honor and respect and love your parents. Please serve them all you can, pray for them without ceasing, and keep your hearts always soft toward them. But please…please pray; earnestly seek the Lord for HIS guidance and will for your life. Parents are humans too, and even our best intentions fall short. Your parents’/family’s/friends’ plan and dreams for your life very well may not be what God has been calling you to do. God always wants the best for us…but He wants the best for everyone…and He cares about each individual who is slipping off into hell because no one reached them with the gospel. Could you be that person who will reach them? Ask God, and really take the time to seek Him until He makes it clear to you. And then, take the first step, whatever that is. Don’t hesitate, because the longer you hesitate, the harder it may be for you…and you may find yourself years down the road, with nothing changed, and no fruit in your life…and by then, the door that was once opened may be closed. Or Christ may have come back by then. So please take these things very seriously…and ask God to give you the power of His Holy Spirit to do what He sets before you to do.

You will never regret “losing” your life for Christ. Those that lose their lives for His sake WILL find them. They will find that every loss, and every surrender is their gain, both in this life, and in eternity.

Bridal Preparation (for the King of Kings)

young beautiful bride with wedding bouquet on the grass
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” [Rev. 19:7, 8]
All over Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, magazines –even helpful little old ladies– rings out the advice of what every bride (or anyone who wants to be married) should do before the awaited day. Eat well. Exercise to drop those pounds you have recently noticed. Do-It-Yourself to save money. Don’t choose to Do-It-Yourself–let everyone else do it. Make sure you have monogrammed napkins. What side will your boutonniere go on? Will you wear shoes? Who doesn’t wear shoes?! Have you thought about your children’s college fund? Does he have any brothers for your “spinster” sister? And on they roll. For every bride, the details never end — while for the single girls, those are the magical details which are endlessly day-dreamed about.
But even now, (yes for you who are single too) another Groom eagerly awaits His Father’s word to come and receive you–His Bride. Jesus Christ Himself is your Beloved Groom. Just as a man anticipates the day when he can finally receive you as his wife, Jesus is waiting for the day when He may finally take you into His Kingdom. The day you committed your life to the Lord, you entered into an engagement. You do belong to Christ. Did you know that although He has given His desire on certain things for your outward appearance–He has also allowed us to know what the character, heart and mind of His Love –His beloved Bride–should be.
So what does this Bride actually look like? Let’s take care of the “outside” first in one simple point:

 

1) She is Modest
Don’t skip this one, even if you have heard this “a million times”! It is the truth.  “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body,” and in what you wear (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ). I am going to shoot straight with you –modesty is important. It is not merely a length of skirt or a certain way to do your hair, but a heart attitude. It is an overflow of what is going on inside your heart. To be “modest” merely means that you do not draw unnecessary attention to yourself. In other words, shirts, skirts, tank tops, shorts, skinny jeans, bohemian pants, leggings, jeggings, (the list scrolls) are to not distract people by mere physical appearances. When we are not walking close with the Lord, the more prone we are to wanting people to see us (and approve of us) not HIM. However, the closer we walk with the Lord, the more we do not want anything we do or wear to distract people from Him! I don’t know about you, but I want people to be redirected to God by what I do, not distracted by what I wear and applaud my physical form.

What It Looks Like: First off, ask the Lord to grant you the humility to dress in a way that honors Him. Imagine Jesus looking at you and saying “Oh! Look at my daughter! Isn’t she lovely? Not only does she value my thoughts on her outward apparel, but even more her heart is for me!” Pretty sweet, huh? 🙂 Secondly, take a moment to think about what your wardrobe looks like. Is there anything right off the top of your head that would be distracting to the person behind you in church (really short “skater” dresses, shirts that show a little bit of your stomach)? When you bend over, do your pants ride low or shirt neckline show unnecessary skin? Camisoles easily fix neckline issues, plus a splash of color looks great underneath that cute shirt. There are also some really neat Skirt Extenders (a slip with shabby chic lace) that are AWESOME and actually make wearing those cute little dresses possible, but also are not distracting. Remember, if you are dressing with a certain person in mind, make sure the person you have in mind is the person you have committed to–to Jesus.

[If you need more advice or even some suggestions about how to piece together a great, but also God-honoring wardrobe, join the forums on our new website to ask the Unshakable Girl staff and other girls just like you!]

 

2 ) She is Willfully Pure
What on earth does THAT mean? The word “pure” you’ve heard–possibly quite frequently– but…willfully? It is simple. Despite what has happened to you in your past, physically or emotionally, you want to be different. You want to be pure. Purity is not overrated, nor is it unattractive! What would you think if you saw a girl walking beside her fiance, but double taking at every shirtless ad, every attractive guy, snickering over innapropriate inuendos, sighing wistfully over steamy fiction novels? You would think that maybe her heart was not actually won or that she actually did not give her whole heart to her groom. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27). Purity is not only a physical form, but also a willing decision to not have a mind consumed with lust (girls, this is an issue for us, too), dirty jokes or even really intimate scenes in books.

What It Looks Like: Jesus knows our past. He knows what we have done, or what has happened to us. Did you know that despite the fact that you may not be “physically” pure in the world’s eyes, the Lord can make you pure again? When we ask Him, He begins to craft into us a thirst for the innocent things–the simple, sweet things. But we have to be ready to let go of the things we secretly (or not so secretly) like. We can only let go by the strength of the Holy Spirit, and by spending time with the One who is completely without spot or blemish–Jesus Christ. It is crucial. We have to make time for the Lord, girls. It’s not a pretty option or a good “staged picture” for Instagram. If we want to see God, we have to be pure in heart (Matthew 5).

 

3) She is Lacking in Arrogance
Also known as humble. I have been to a lot of weddings. By “been to” I mean in, throwing showers for, baking cakes for, cleaning up after, directing, pointing, assisting, decorating, bride prepping–you name it. In doing so, I have seen a variety of attitudes as brides get dressed  in their waiting room. I have seen “I’m attractive, so of course he wants to marry me” brides, as well as the sweetest brides which glow from exquisite joy because they cannot believe the man God is allowing them to marry. They truly are still astonished at the great blessing  that God has bestowed upon them–a man that loves the Lord with his entire heart. May I just state that it is the brides which do not think much (“I’m attractive, obviously” attitude) of themselves which cause me to be continually praising the name of the Lord?

The Bride of Christ is engaged to the most humble man to ever walk the earth. Remember, “although (Jesus) existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped” and allowed Himself to live a life of great servanthood, laboring, but also demonstrating what LOVE is. If Jesus set the example of humility, would it not also be logical to assume that it is a desired trait within His beloved Bride? “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Col 3:12).

What it Looks Like: By spending time with the One who is actually worthy of honor and “bragging on”, we begin to understand the truth of who we are. We are created beings–we are under the mercy, grace, protection and hand of an incredible God. When we spend time with the Lord, our lenses get cleaned on our outlook of life. We do not deserve the precious gift of a relationship with the Lord, nor the mindblowing blessing of promised hope and life after we finish our time on earth. Humility comes when we spend time with Jesus.

 

4) She is a Servant
There are a lot of beliefs and attitudes floating around in this generation. One, I am noting, is the “no woman should ever be a ‘servant’ to anyone–especially a man” attitude. “I don’t owe anything to anyone,” is right there behind it. I have been considering these points of views. May I gently venture to say that these are not godly attitudes, my dear friends? I am also aware that the root of these opinions can grow from having been truly hurt by the men in one’s life. For that, may I actually apologize for the hurt you have received? I pray that you will allow the balm of Gilead to soothe and comfort the scars you have, as well as fully restore the Joy of serving HIM. Let me continue by first telling you what servant-hood (in the context of what I am referring to) is NOT. It is NOT a ball and chain, being at the beck and call of everyone. Servant-hood, in the context of a Christian’s life, is a JOY.

Again, going into a relationship (even a friendship) with the attitude of deserving is wrong. Hear me out. Jesus HIMSELF “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Jesus served men AND women–day and night. He healed a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years (Luke 8), women who were sick (Matthew 8, Luke 8), and the list scrolls. He is the only person who could actually say “Why isn’t everyone doing things for me?” Serving is NOT what the world would call slavery. It is merely letting go of pride and actually wanting to do things for others in order to show the love of Christ.

What It Looks Like: It is as simple as scrubbing down bathtubs for an overwhelmed mom, making time to pray on the spot for a person in need, or even just putting off things you want to do in order to be a blessing to someone else. If we try to do things to make people happy or just because we are free, eventually we will run out of joy and eagerness to serve. To have a heart that matches your Groom–a true servant’s heart–it has to be done for the Lord. “Lord, I may not always enjoy this task, but today I am doing this to honor You, and so that others might know Your love.” Then, dear sisters, that is when serving becomes a JOY.

 

4) She is His True Friend
One of the sweetest privileges about being in a relationship is that you are able to form a friendship–not just a romantic relationship. Someone to talk with, laugh with, and just enjoy being together. Did you actually know that you can sit in the Lord’s presence without speaking and just enjoy being with Him? Jesus wants to be our friend. Did you know He loves to laugh? Did you know that He can tell you, Himself, all about the things He has made? Did you know that He knows the depths of your soul? He made you. But, like any good relationship, it takes effort and care. When He comes back to receive you, don’t you want to know Him so well that you are both laughing with elation at just finally seeing each other?!

What It Looks Like: What does a relationship look like here on earth? Spend TIME with Jesus. I cannot emphasize or italicize that enough. Learn to hear His voice. Learn about the things He has made. Stand up for Him when others put Him down. Talk to others about Him–Your Groom. Read His Book, inspired by the Holy Spirit, which is still living and active. It is your weapon against the enemy who would love nothing better than to separate you from the One who loves you so much, friend. Cherish, protect, and honor Jesus. Put the Lord’s desires above your own. “It may not be easy, but it is simple”.
That is what Jesus is looking for in His Bride. She may not be perfect, but she is spotless because of what the Lord has done for her and what she let Him do for her. She is humble, radiant with joy, eager to serve others, intentionally ignorant about dirty jokes, and she clothes herself with dignity and grace–all because she loves the One who has chosen her above all others.
Today, whether you are making plans to prepare for marriage or you are still waiting on the Lord, remember that there is a Groom who is eagerly waiting to receive you. Spend time with Him, get to know Him. Delight in Him. He is the One who calms your anxious heart, who hears every thought and desire, who fights your battles for you, and who wants to use you for His glorious name.

“In many-colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions following behind her. With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king. “ [Psalm 45:14-15]

Written by: Anna Faith