Henry David Thoreau has been attributed to the following quote: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” While most of my life is behind me now, the song in my heart still sings out loud and clear.
Jesus stated the following near the end of His “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7): “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). The Message Bible states it like this, “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.”
Leading a life of “quiet desperation” results from following the world’s “formulas for a successful life” that include all the trappings that kill us in the end: love for money and all that it can buy, lust for power and recognition, running after fame and fortune (and most of us never achieve anything even close to that in our lifetimes though some may constantly strive for it), being a “people-pleaser” and seeking the approval of the masses whether small or large, and being “accepted” and/or going along with the crowd (whatever “crowd” we happen to follow and, yes, that can even be a “church” crowd), etc. I John 2:15-17 (MSG) states, “Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father (God). Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”
What I have discovered over the course of 60 years is that following after Jesus Christ is, indeed, not a “popular” path, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything this world has to offer. It is not so much the actual material things in the world that keep us from God, but not being content with what we have and the constant desire for more of these things. As I John 2:16 states, “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.”
I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn’t see how every sign pointed straight to you
If you read one of my previous posts titled, “Incomparable,” you’ll know that I was raised by a mother who loved the Lord Jesus Christ with all of her heart and taught me about Him from the time I came out of her womb. As a result, I accept Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord at the age of ten, and I’ve been walking that “narrow road” ever since then.
My first love has been and always will be Jesus Christ. Without Him I’m pretty sure I’d have been dead many years ago (after all, I know the many times I’ve escaped the clutches of death starting back at the age of five when I almost bled to death from surgery). But as a woman, I have also longed for the love of a man who could be my soulmate here on earth. You know . . . “and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one” (Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:8). Now, mind you, I’ve always enjoyed being single, and even though I was engaged twice to men I didn’t love (and broke it off both times), I never felt “desperate” enough to marry someone just to be married. No, single is much better than being married to the wrong person, at least it is in my book.
I have a little story to tell you that happened to me when I was in my mid-20’s. My military experience was already behind me and I had broken up with my first fiancee whom I met while serving in the U.S. Army in South Korea when I was 22. It turned out that he was still married to his first wife but he failed to mention that little detail. After that experience I returned home to Iowa and started college on the G.I. Bill and was attending a weekly Bible study in the home of one of my mother’s dearest friends who had a passion for finding husbands for the single women who were a part of that group.
I don’t remember how long I attended but, sure enough, one by one, her prayers were answered for most of them (I don’t actually remember the details regarding all of the women in that group). However, I remember one meeting in July I was feeling somewhat “left out” of this whole “husband finding” adventure but I also felt that God had placed in my heart the idea that I would not marry until I was old and that my husband and I would be in some kind of ministry together (whatever “ministry” meant–mostly I believed it meant that we would be serving God in some capacity). Well, you have no idea how devastating that was to me as a “20-something” single woman. And I wondered what He meant by “old.” How old??? Up to that point, I always figured I would get married and have children like most other women.
I’m not sure I gave it much thought as the years passed. Occasionally I wondered if that thought I had was really from God or was it just a bit of “acid indigestion.” However, even though I dated and had a couple of serious relationships, nothing ever felt quite right.
By the time I reached 40 and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to accept a one-year doctoral fellowship at Nova Southeastern University, I realized that it was most likely too late to ever have children of my own because I had absolutely no desire to have children at that age. However, I never counted out the fact that I might eventually be married, and at 40, I felt that was old enough to count as being “old” to my way of thinking.
That first year in Fort Lauderdale I was very infatuated with one of the professors in my program who was kind and witty and divorced, but he was also involved with someone. So much for that idea. Then a few years later I met my male mentor friend who, to this day, is one of the kindest men I’ve ever known, a committed Christian, and very happily married to his wife of many, many years. He is truly a mentor in every sense of the word and a dear friend, and it has always been my hope to find someone single who is very much like him. And, I thought I might have found him (though I actually stopped looking in my early 50’s) when I moved to Houston, Texas, in September 2008 when I accepted that job that lead to this very long time of unemployment. I was 56 at the time and this fellow was 60 (and a Christian and divorced) and worked at my place of employment and seemed to be rather infatuated with me for the first three or four months before my work situation got increasingly worse and I was fired in April 2009. He did not work in my division. Anyway, he must have lost interest after I was fired. Again, so much for that idea.
I remember at some point after I returned to Florida from Houston as I was praying I told the Lord that it was okay with me to stay single for the rest of my life as I’d been single for this long and what was the point in getting married now? After all, He clearly stated in Hebrews 13:5 that He would never leave me nor forsake me if I kept my life free from the love of money and was content with what I have (which at this point in time is far less than I had when I was living in Houston as I lost all of my furniture and most of my possessions at that time when I returned to Florida)–and I have been content. He has never left me in need; however, He is fully aware that I am bored silly and would like to be a productive member of society again after almost three and a half years of unemployment.
So, as you know if you’ve been reading my blog posts, I went back to Houston for a week and a half on August 25, 2012, to considering moving back to Houston since the job prospects there are better than they are here in Florida. I didn’t go back with anything else in mind but finding employment and a life again. And then I met “Red” at the Red Roof Inn near Katy, Texas, on my first night back in Houston on August 26th (see my blog post “Rock Steady” for details) . . . .
And now I’m wondering if 60 is finally old enough according to God’s timetable.
We’ll see . . . .
YouTube Video: “Not the Only One” by Bonnie Raitt: