Written by: Joanne Beckley
When your grief becomes muted and the edges have softened – which they will–you then begin to realize that there is no other time in your life that is so unique. A new beginning. You are set free to serve God in a wholehearted and undistracted way. No longer restrained by the many duties and responsibilities that go along with married life, you are able to say, “yes” to God in an energetic way. You are free to throw yourself without constraint into the things of God–to know Him as you have never known Him before, to love Him and serve Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength–100 percent. In 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, the apostle Paul gives this goal in one phrase: “that you may serve the Lord without distraction.” In the context of this verse, Paul is not saying marriage is wrong, but that being single certainly gives one a spiritual advantage.
Without distraction. The Greek word in this verse for “distraction” is aperispastos, (ap-er-is-pas-toce') and according to Strong’s definition it means, “free from (domestic) solicitude:--without distraction.” It is a servant’s term, and it describes the kind of servant who is so focused on his master that just the slightest eye movement or gesture of need will send that servant into action. It is attention that is given constantly. (Cavanaugh, God’s Call to the Single Adult, p.82) Read the account of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). These two women are excellent examples of what we should and shouldn’t be focusing upon. Martha was not concentrating on the better choice. She allowed her cares to divide her attention from her devotion to Jesus.
Mary’s example is exactly the way God wants you to respond to Him. He wants you to be so attentive to Him that just the slightest movement of His eye (becoming sensitive to the needs of the Kingdom) so that He will be able to prompt you to action. Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. 9 Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.”
Yes, we live in this world with good distractions, but when these things take on overwhelming proportions and crowd out our awareness of God’s eye in our lives, then its time to make some changes. God wants you, his older widow, to wait upon Him, looking to Him, totally attentive, yielding completely to His will. And you must be ready for Him, “without distraction.” This means being committed – heart and soul–to the Lord in a way that can be seen in your attitude and service toward Him. Whatever He wants, you are ready to do it.
Being alone is not a disease or a prison to be escaped at all costs. It is an opportunity to know God intimately and to serve Him with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength. Three things come to mind that will help you to consider your devotion to God:
1. Give to God all that you have. Remember the widow in the temple who gave her gift to God? Take time to read Mark 12:41-44. That widow didn’t hold back half for herself. She didn’t excuse herself, saying, “Well, money is tight this month.” She gave herself. Mark 8:35 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it.” Matthew 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Remember the widow Anna? The writer Luke wrote that it was she “who departed not from the temple, worshipping with fastings and supplications night and day” (Luke 2:37). Her service to God included praying for all the many who needed her prayers – the many who are distracted in this world, especially young families.
2. Give the Best that you have. Devotion without distraction prompts such a generosity of heart that mankind is amazed. God is not. He knows that this kind of love continually serves. Remember the woman who poured a very costly perfume on Jesus’ head? Jesus said she had done a “good work for Me . . . She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial” (Mark 14:3-9). Hers was an act of self-sacrifice, in thanksgiving and love. Perhaps this amazing gift that was so expensive was her dowry. Perhaps she had given away her right to be married.
Think about the gift God is asking from you, the older widow. Asking, expecting, demanding your all. When we examine 1Timothy 5:3-10, we read of the honor God gives to widows who are “well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.” What an endorsement! What a responsibility.
3. Do only what you can do. It was but a small task for the woman who poured her perfume on Jesus’ head, even though it was the best that she had. Compared to what others were doing, it didn’t seem like much. Her simple efforts could have discouraged her, but instead, she learned that her effort to honor Jesus turned out to be prophetic!
Likewise, your small acts of kindness will create ripples of unknown proportions–not in a prophetic way–but your life will touch another, and yet another with significance. Yes, you may come home every night to an empty house or apartment, miles away from your children and close friends. You may wonder, if I died tonight, would anybody notice? Would anybody care? You may feel you wish you could do things you cannot do. But all of these thoughts will discourage you from taking any action. They will keep you from fulfilling what you can do. God only wants from you what you can do.
Remember the parable Jesus told of the talents? Each of the three men were to do what they could do. Nothing more, nothing less. Perhaps the one talent man compared his abilities with that of the other two men and thought his efforts would be too pitiful, thus doing nothing. The master called him “wicked” and “lazy.” It would seem that the man used his comparison as an excuse to be lazy. It is a struggle to grow and give 100% of yourself. Then again, that man may have been afraid to fail. He may have been unwilling to risk failure in order to gain his master’s good will. God knows our limitations and what you and I are capable of doing. God is only seeking ALL of what we CAN do!
Matthew 22:37-39 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Lord, make me a servant, Lord, make me like You;
For You are a servant, make me one, too.
Lord, make me a servant, do what You must do
To make me a servant; make me like You.