As a Christian woman, trained as a Home Economist, I never expected to be single past my mid-twenties. However, the Lord had a much different plan for me and has gently matured my attitude toward singleness, as well as the purpose of marriage. I know now that I should marry only if our united lives would be more effective for the Lord than either of us are in our single state.
Surprisingly, my greatest challenge in experiencing contentment in my single state is members of the Body of Christ who cannot understand how someone who can cook, sew, as well as implement effective management and financial skills, is not married. Their insistence that “Mr. Right” will one day come along discounts the possibility that it is the Lord's will for me to minister to others, as a single, using my spiritual gifts, talents, and educational background.
A consistent encouragement to me is the report that Boaz had of Ruth in Ruth 3:11. He observed her behavior from a distance and formed conclusions about her character. Should the Lord have as His plan a union for me in the future, I would want that individual to give the same report of me “ . . . all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.” This focus reminds me that Ruth “gleaned” where the Lord placed her. Her life—especially in hard circumstances—provides me with guidelines to assist me in daily gleaning in the field to which I am assigned. May I share them with you?
Ruth was faithful to the commitment she made to Naomi (Ruth 1:16-18). Since there is no evidence that Naomi worked Ruth willingly supported herself and her mother-in-law. As we glean are we as steadfast to go beyond the minimum work required of us? Do we choose to keep our living environments “guest ready” even if we are the only individual in it most of the time?
Ruth’s work ethic was evident to all (Ruth 3:11). Does the quality of our work reflect our heavenly heritage (Matthew 5:16)? Is our professional work ethic transferred to our home?
Ruth chose contentment in her circumstances. There is no evidence that she complained about her work load, the weather, her peers, or her home conditions (Ruth 2:17-18). Are we content where the Lord has chosen for us to glean? Are we “nesting” in our current home or delaying the process until we have a “real home”? Philippians 4:11 reminds us that contentment is an acquired character trait rather than a natural inclination.
Ruth listened to Naomi’s counsel and fulfilled all that she was physically able to do with excellence. She then had the responsibility to wait for the God to intervene (Ruth 3). Do we focus on completing our assigned tasks with excellence, listen to godly counsel, and then allow our heavenly Father to work out the details (Romans 8:28)? Have we asked a more mature homemaker to help us acquire skills that will allow our home to be an earthly picture of our heavenly home (that is, a bit of "heaven on earth” (John 14:1-4; Titus 2:3-5)?
Ruth’s rewards were earthly as well as spiritual (Ruth 4). She is listed in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5), became the great-grandmother of King David, and has a book of the Bible named for her. Will our gleaning generate earthly and eternal rewards (Matthew 25:21; Luke 19:17)?
Is your home a place where you are currently gleaning? If not, I hope you will consider my experience . . .
When I was a faculty member at Christian Heritage College our Lord graciously provided my housemate and me with a lovely home—and it happened to be just the right size to entertain the entire faculty of the college. We hosted numerous events at our home which provided a wonderful foundation for the biblical hospitality we continue to extend.
My friend Nancy Leigh DeMoss writes,
Those of us who are single face a danger of becoming self-absorbed. Free from the constraints of family life, it is all too easy to become preoccupied with fulfilling our own social needs or consumed with our jobs or with making money. Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with having friends or careers or making a living, but God is concerned about the heart motives of His children. Rather than devoting their lives to furthering the Kingdom of Christ, many Christian singles have been caught in the trap of self-seeking and self-fulfillment.[i]
Placing Nancy’s statement in the context of hospitality, singles have the freedom, and yes, the gift for a season of their lives (1 Corinthians 7:32-35) to minister to others in a way that those who are married do not. More than likely the single’s discretionary budget is greater and time constrains less than couples—especially those with families. The season of singleness is a great time to practice all of those recipes that can become family favorites if you marry, and the hospitality skills developed may well position you to offer the biblical hospitality required of those in church leadership (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8).
If you have a roommate or housemate, partner with her to practice working as a team—you can’t lose. Are you living at home? Focus on being a contributor rather than a consumer. If our Lord has chosen you to be single for just a season you are much better prepared for a partner than living in a state of limbo until the right person comes along. If your gift of singleness is for a lifetime, you have not wasted valuable time. My housemate and I planned to live together one year while she completed her college degree—and we are still housemates some thirty plus years later (I always tell my college students, “Be careful how you treat your roommate, you may be with her longer than you planned!”). Had we waited to practice hospitality until the right person came along, we would have missed hundreds of opportunities to minister to others!
Your single status is also an excellent time to develop healthy eating habits. While it is simpler to grab “take-out” on your way home it will impact your wallet and waistline more than you want. Consider these ideas for quick, nutritious meals at home:
- Purchase baking potatoes when they are on sale. Pierce with a fork and place all that will fit on an oven rack. Bake at 350 degrees until “fork tender.” Cut off the top, scoop out the interior and embellish with your favorite toppings. Wrap in plastic wrap then foil. Place in the freezer. When you arrive at home remove the foil and microwave on defrost until piping hot. Top with chili, vegetables, or chicken. Add a salad and you are quickly ready to eat.
- Roast a whole chicken or chicken pieces (whichever is the best price). Remove from bones and store in serving size portions in freezer bags. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Use for a salad, tacos, or the topper for your baked potato.*
- Wash salad greens (I like to use a variety) and tear into bite-sized pieces. Blot well with paper towel. Place individual serving sizes between dry paper towels and store in Ziploc baggies. Cut, grate, or chop your favorite salad ingredients and store in small containers or Ziploc baggies. Hard boil several eggs while you are preparing the vegetables and slice or mash with a fork. Store in an airtight container. Your healthy salad is ready in minutes. Make it an entrée by adding chicken or tuna.
- Prepare your favorite sauces (cheese, etc.) and pour in ice cube trays. Pop out when frozen and place in a freezer baggie. Thaw several in the microwave for vegetable, meat, or potato embellishment.*
- Casseroles may be baked, cut into serving sized pieces then wrapped first in plastic wrap then foil. Remove the foil, place on your serving plate, and microwave to the temperature of your choice.
- Quiche, once baked, can be cut in serving sized pieces, wrapped in plastic wrap then foil. Remove the foil, place on your serving plate, and microwave to the temperature of your choice.*
Choosing to “glean where you are” expands your ministry potential concurrently with preparing you for your next assignment. Happy, healthy gleaning!!
Visit The Everyday Homemaker next week as we focus on having your home a “worry-free” environment.
*If you would like some recipes or a sample chapter of The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook simply click on “Contact Pat” and request your copy.
Blessings on your week as you focus on making your house a home!
[i] Nancy Leigh Demoss, Singled Out for Him, Embracing the Gift, the Blessings, and the Challenges of Singleness (Michigan: Life Action Ministries, 1998), 15.