Saturday, April 25, 2009

A sermon for single Christians/missionaries

My friend Melissa recently posted a link to a John Piper talk directed towards singles. There is an audio here, but no transcript. http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TitleIndex/3448_Q_and_A_on_Singleness/

From that website:

Questions include:

  • How is singleness better than marriage?
  • How can singles help foster a relational culture at church?
  • How do I deal with the intense longing to be married?
  • What are the trials unique to singleness, and how do you recommend combating them?
  • What would you say to someone who thinks their sexual sin has disqualified them from ministry?
  • What do you think about masturbation?
  • Is it OK for a single woman to pursue a career?"
Early on, Piper makes a good point that singles should seek out mixed company (varying in age, gender, marital status, life experience...) as far as friends, Bible study, etc. I agree with this.

Nevertheless, he goes on to grant some good advice for singles specifically, as well as to answer questions from the audience.

I was struck by what Piper said about loneliness and idle thoughts. I love my alone time, but thoughts of peace and contentment can so quickly turn to something unedifying. Even when I'm reading the Bible or praying, I find myself looking out the window and thinking of something else entirely. Then I look at the clock and a significant amount of time has passed in this idle state.

I don't think the answer is to avoid being alone, or to simply keep busy (although Piper suggests that pouring oneself out for others makes some of our own troubles disappear). I've noticed that in orphanages kids are often kept busy at all hours so they'll stay out of trouble. This may work for a time, but once they graduate and don't have anyone making sure they stick to their schedule, they quickly get lost. We all need the discipline to manage our time and thought-life wisely.

I wouldn't want to live alone, but I am very productive when by myself, and find it refreshing. But what about the temptations? Piper's main advice is to draw close to God.

If you need something to fill the silence, I suggest putting on a sermon. Then you can engage your intellect more than you would just listening to music. In addition to John Piper, there are some Elisabeth Elliot talks online. http://www.blueletterbible.org/audio_video/comm_topic.cfm?AuthorID=44&commInfo=40&GroupID=0
And I'm sure there are lots of other resources.

I also find it helpful to write things down. I suppose blogging is part of that. But God is the only one who really understands and can meet every need. It's important to go to Him first. When I find myself daydreaming about something, I try to stop and tell God my dreams. And likewise with cares and worries. If I write it down, I'm forced to form coherent thoughts rather than to go on and on. I can be finished with that thought and move on with my day. In addition, when I address God in writing, I can look back and see that I have already trusted something to Him, and need worry about it no longer.

3 comments:

  1. liz, i love your wisdom. thanks so much for sharing this blog. i think it is much-needed and challenges even me. even though i am married, i still need to hear about self-discipline and my thought life. we can always grow!

    love you!

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  2. Thank YOU for sharing! :) Wish you weren't so far away...

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  3. Liz, if you ever have time, check out Graham Green's "A Burnt Out Case". ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Burnt-Out_Case ) I read it when I first became a Christian, and I tell you, it is more adequate to our Christian faith, than anything else you can find. It's a very serious reading though, not some contemporary boo-ha-ha.

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