I love, love, love this story!
-written by Corrie Ten Boom with Jamie Buckingham—
Tramp for the Lord
Ellen, my new traveling companion, had gone with me to a lonely mission field in Mexico. Our hostess was a lady missionary, unmarried, in her forties. One evening while we were alone in her little adobe, she confessed her bitterness and resentment over being unmarried.
"Why have I been denied the love of a husband, children, and a home? Why is it that the only men who ever paid any attention to me were married to someone else?" Long into the night she poured out the poison of her frustration. At last she asked me, "Why did you never marry?"
"Because," I said, "the Lord had other plans for me than married life."
"Did you ever fall in love and lose someone, as I have?" she asked bitterly.
"Yes," I said sadly. "I know the pain of a broken heart."
"But you were strong, weren't you," she said in biting tones. "You were willing to let God have His way in your life?"
"Oh, no, not at first," I said. "I had to fight a battle over it. I was twenty-three. I loved a boy and believed he loved me. But I had no money and he married a rich girl. After they were married he brought her to me and putting her hand in mine said, 'I hope you two will be friends.' I wanted to scream. She looked so sweet, so secure and content in his love.
"But I did have Jesus, and eventually I went to Him and prayed, 'Lord Jesus, You know that I belong to You 100 percent. My sex life is yours also. I don't know what plans You have for my life, but Lord, whatever it may be, use me to realize Your victory in every detail. I believe You can take away all my frustrations and feelings of unhappiness. I surrender anew my whole life to You.'"
I looked across the little table at the bitter woman in front of me. Her face was furrowed, her eyes hard with resentment. I sensed she had been trying to run away from her frustrations. Perhaps that was even the reason she was on the mission field. Sadly, there are some of God's children who go to the mission field to escape the pain of not having a husband. I know others, back home, who spend every evening away from their families, attending Christian meetings, because they are unhappy and frustrated in their marriages. Work-even mission work- can become a wrong hiding place.
"Those called by God to live single lives are always happy in that state," I said. "This happiness, this contentment, is the evidence of God's plan."
"But you loved and lost," she exclaimed. "Do you believe that God took away your lover to make you follow Him?"
"Oh, no, I smiled. "God does not take away from us. He might ask us to turn our backs on something, or someone, we should not have. God never takes away; however, God gives. If I reach out and take someone for myself and the Lord steps in between, that does not mean God takes. Rather it means He is protecting us from someone we should not have because He has a far greater purpose for our lives."
We sat for long minutes in the semidark room. Only a small kerosene lamp gave its flickering light, casting faint shadows on the walls and across our faces. I thought back-remembering. I had always been content in the Lord. Back when I was in my thirties God gave me children-the children of missionaries-whom I raised. Betsie, my sister, fed and clothed them while I was responsible for their sports and music. We kept them in our home in Holland, and I found deep satisfaction in seeing them grow to maturity. I also spent a great deal of time speaking and sharing in various clubs for girls. But it was not the work that brought balance to my life, for work cannot balance our feelings. It was because my life was centered in the Lord Jesus that I had balance. Many people try to lose their feelings in work, or sports, or music, or the arts. But the feelings are always there and will eventually, as they had done tonight in this missionary, come boiling to the surface and express their resentment and discontent.
I turned to Ellen, my companion. Ellen is a tall, blond, beautiful Dutch girl then in her early thirties. She is single, yet she has learned the secret of living a balanced life. While I believe God set me apart before I was born, to live a single life, Ellen was different. She did not feel that God had called her to a single life; rather she felt that one day, in God's time, she would marry. However, until that time arrived-one year or thirty years from then-I knew she was secure in Jesus and was not looking to a husband or children for her security. I spoke to the missionary. "There are some, like me, who are called to live a single life," I said softly. "For them it is always easy for they are, by their nature, content. Others, like Ellen, are called to prepare for marriage which may come later in life. They, too, are blessed, for God is using the in-between years to teach them that marriage is not the answer to unhappiness. Happiness is found only in a balanced relationship with the Lord Jesus."
"But it is so hard," she said, tears welling up in her eyes.
"That is so," I said. "The cross is always difficult. 'But you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God' (Colossians 3:3). Dear girl, it cannot be safer. That part of you which would cling to a husband is dead. Now you can move into a life where you can be happy with or without a husband-secure in Jesus alone."
I do not know if she really understood me, for often we set our minds on some one thing we think will make us happy-a husband, children, a particular job, or even a "ministry"-and refuse to open our eyes to God's better way. In fact, some believe so strongly that only this thing can bring happiness, that they reject the Lord Jesus Himself. Happiness is not found in marriage; or work; or ministry; or children. Happiness is found by being secure in Jesus.