I've been reading the book of Acts, as my Connect Group & I are doing a Bible study on the book. Each individual takes a chapter and presents their study on it, if you struggle with Bible Study - don't worry, I'll write a blog post on that and send over a free resource so as to help ;-), but I digress. So as we're going through the book of Acts, in order to best understand, teach, correct, contribute, ask questions I read the chapters ahead of time and make my own bible annotations. Enter Acts 27.
Acts 27 follows Apostle Paul being taken to Rome (as a prisoner), to stand trial in front of the Roman Emperor due to false accusations laid against him by the Jewish Leaders at the time, due to Paul evangelising. Paul is making the journey to Rome by boat (because it's like AD 35 or something and Uber/Bolt/public transport, planes, cars, ferries and bicycles aren't a thing yet, sooo boat it is) and along the way there is a storm - it's the Bible, if there isn't a storm it's not the Bible. But where does this lead me to?
Singletons! Whilst reading this chapter, I couldn't help thinking and comparing the storm in Acts to singleness, and quite aptly found the Lord leading me to the title 'Singleness - The Storm of Life'. I think it's such an apt description when you think of it really, as what is involved in a storm? What do you do in a storm? Do you worry? Do you wish it would end? Do you enjoy watching the storm from a distance? Or do you relive the days of your youth and grab your wellies to jump in the puddle? I don't know why you are shocked, because some people actually like being in the rain, I am not one of those some people for your reference. But in any case - what do you do when your in a storm and do you see those same patterns apply to your singleness?
Singleness - The Storm of Life
I've broken down the storm in Acts into 7 Parts, 3 parts I'll cover in this blog post, and the next 4 in the next.
Part 1 - The Warning- Acts 27: 4-11 - The sailing conditions are proving tricky because it's windy, the sailors have faced delays and Paul warns his security envoy/head guy in charge of his journey/prison warden Captain Julius not to sail, as it's too risky - not only will cargo be lost but so will lives. Julius ignores him, listens to the captain & owner of the ship and orders it to sail on.
Part 2 - The Storm Starts - Acts 27: 14-17 - When winds have a name, you know it's a problem, and that was exactly that with the wind that features, it's called "Euroclydon" otherwise known as the "Northeaster" and it stirs up...a storm ;-) This leads the captain to strategising how to sail the ship, during the storm.
Part 3 - The Storm Rages as per Paul's I told you so - Acts 27: 18-20 - The storm get's worse, so bad that as per Paul's suggestion in Acts 27:10, the crew have to throw cargo and gear overboard. In fact the storm is so horrific that in vs. 20 Luke states For several days we could not see either the sun or the stars. A strong wind kept blowing, and we finally gave up all hope of being saved.
(In case your wondering, yes the above is a rather skimmed down overview of part of the chapter. I encourage all to read Acts 27 in your own time, or even now if the Spirit is stirring you to that.) But what this chapter really reminds me of, is the many different aspects of Singleness that are reflective in this storm.
Part 1 - Listen.
Paul's objection from the outset should have been listened to, but instead Captain Julius listens to other individuals. The result, they head into a storm that takes days to get out of, a loss of cargo, potential murder and a shipwreck. When it comes to where we are in our singleness journey, whether that be newly single, intentionally single or unwantedly single, we can get too busy listening to other voices that aren't God's, that feed us what we want to hear, about what we want to do, with our singleness right now, and actually head into a storm that takes far longer to deal with.
Drown the voices out. Let the word of God float in.
The only way to deal with the storm of singleness, is by enabling God's voice to steer you, to help you avoid certain winds, waves and so forth. You have to drown the voices that aren't matching up to how God navigates a situation, and instead let the voice of God float to the top. Let it float through direct communication with you, and also through those around you who speak in line with the word of God. John 10: 27-28 says My sheep know my voice, and I know them. They follow me, and I give them eternal life, so that they will never be lost. Do you know God's voice? Do you know how to listen to it?
We need to actively be listening to God, to understand His direction, His reasoning, His response. We are single for a reason, and instead of trying to listen to other voices on how to navigate it, why not listen to the voice that gets why we're in it? For me, I find God speaks to me through his word, which is why I set time apart to read it, but also through personal worship or prayer time. So spend at least 5 minutes a day, in silence, listening - not talking but actually listening to what God has to say. If total silence isn't your thing, no biggie I lurve a bit of light Christian instrumentals during my devotional/prayer time, and I strongly recommend those by Soaking in His Presence, a label founded by producer William Augusto which has soft instrumentals that really resonate with the spirit. I am warning you now, you may cry.
Part 2 - Ride the Wave.
When we get ourselves into a situation, it can be so easy for us to try and fight it. For those of you who wanted to be married like, yesterday, the storm is here and we are trying to so hard to fight it - but realistically how can you fight what God has enabled? Your single for a reason, so change strategy and as they did in Acts 27: 15 -...let the wind carry the ship. Surrender your singleness to God and let Him carry you through it, because He will. If God is a strong tower, (I love you, Lord God...You are my fortress, my protector..., Psalm 18: 1-2) He protects. If God is a shield, (I love you, Lord God...You are...my shield, my powerful weapon..., Psalm 18: 1-2) He deflects. If God is Lord over the winds and the seas, (You rule the roaring sea and calm its waves, Psalm 89: 9.) He saves.
What you need to be riding on, is the wave of faith.
In Matthew 8: 23-26, Jesus chastised the disciples for having so little faith, After Jesus left in a boat with his disciples, a terrible storm suddenly struck the lake, and waves started splashing into their boat. Jesus was sound asleep, so the disciples went over to him and woke him up. They said, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” But Jesus replied, “Why are you so afraid? You surely don’t have much faith.” Then he got up and ordered the wind and the waves to calm down. And everything was calm. He was so calm when the ships were riding those waves he was sleeping, he knew how to surrender to God because he had faith that the storms of life wouldn't overtake him.
You need to enable channels that allow you to grow in faith. What can you do that will help your faith grow?
You yourself know when you're holding on tight to something, whether that be a person, ideal, object, product, value, desire, thought, job etc that you aren't surrendering to God. You have to surrender that to God! allow God to help you with that situation, so you can grow in faith, and willingly surrender more and more situations over to him. The more you surrender the calmer you will be, in the midst of the storm of singleness.
Part 3 - We Give Up!
Let's be frank, when it comes to singleness how many times have you given up? We see no hope that our singleness will end, or that we will find joy in our singleness. We get depressed, unhappy and we get further into an abyss of fear surrounding what our singleness means. For some, that fear stems from believing that they will be single forever when they don't desire it, for others it's believing that they'll be unhappy if they are single forever. Either way we can't imagine that the storm will pass, and that it's not just hiding the sun and the stars. But as vs. 20 states For several days we could not see either the sun or the stars. A strong wind kept blowing, and we finally gave up all hope of being saved, the sun and the stars hadn't gone, they were just hidden but when we are in the midst of the storm of singleness, all we see is the cloud and all we can feel are the strong winds of our pain and upset.
Why have you given up? Why have you given up all hope? What has led to you believing that the storm is endless? Storms do come, and storms go - they can be rage, but they do pass. Ultimately, we have to assess where this lack of hope is coming from, often I find it comes from an expected result. With singleness we expect to be married by a certain point, or we expect to be able to deal with being single - we allow a 'grace period' when things don't go to plan, but when things still aren't going to plan that expected result is blown out the water, and the lack of hope sets in, Proverbs 13: 12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
Re-adjust the expectation.
If hope deferred makes the heart sick but receiving the desire will be a tree of life, start planting. Your single right now and so what? Life hasn't stopped, the world is still moving and your still breathing, so in the midst of the storm you need to re-adjust that expectation. Start planting the seeds of your desire, you want to get married ok, where are you in life? Do you have a 5 year or 10 year plan in place? Do you have an idea of what your future looks like? As that 'your' is going to drop the y and be 'our' so, do you have in mind how your life is going to adjust? Or perhaps you want to travel, turn a side hustle/hobby into a business, help a specific organisation, charity, non-profit, social enterprise, spend more time with family, visit friends abroad/domestically. You name it, there are aspects of our singleness that will change, and instead of waiting for them to change and losing hope that they haven't, commit all the desires linked to your singleness to God, so he can help you start planting the seeds, so that when it changes your tree will be in full bloom, and not just any bloom a tree that blooms with life!
I know personally, when it comes to the thought of marriage I need to get a grip on my personal finances, before I even start DATING my future Husband. If I can't manage a weekly budget, how am I actually going to do stuff? Plan a wedding? Plan a future? Budget for kids? Yes I had an expectation to be married by at least 30, but really could I afford it? Nope! So I've re-adjusted the expectation, looked at my finances and am getting a better grip on how to manage my money, so that when I finally do get into a relationship, money issues are not an additional layer of stress we have to deal with.
Our singleness is a journey, and if you live in certain continents on this earth God has created, storms are a natural part of life. I pray that you begin to see the storm of singleness with new eyes, committing to listening to God's voice, riding the wave of faith and not giving up.
Look out for my next post, that covers more aspects linked to the Storm of Singleness.
Let's do Faith, Let's do Life, Let's Chat!