In my Nebraska hometown farming community, couples often married young. When I was 15 my mother gave me a marriage hope chest just like this one,
even though I had no boyfriend.

  Our hope Chest

I started my college years anticipating the famed “MRS” degree. Although one man I dated during college appeared to be my future husband, a series of events derailed our relationship. The hope chest remained dormant in my childhood home as I moved to Washington, DC. There, at age 23, I started my professional life as well as responding positively to Jesus’ invitation to experience the Gospel — the good news of my reconciliation to him. My conversion was so dramatic that I anticipated a smooth path forward. 

In ensuing years, I interacted with many stimulating Christian individuals and groups. My calendar was full, my responsibilities heavy, and my spiritual flourishing noticeable. In hopes of marriage and children, I devoured a plethora of Christian books on the subjects — but God’s picture, so beautiful in Genesis 2, still didn’t materialize for me.

As I approached my 30th birthday, I asked God: where is my husband? I had resolved to serve Jesus with all my heart, but had made a secret (even to me) deadline of age 30 for him to deliver the goods. During the next 3 years I was angry with God for failing to meet that expectation. In desperation, I tried on a Cinderella slipper or two – no success.

At 33, I moved to Colorado to discover many my age already married. At age 38, my brother Joe and I joked about me finding the right man. I believed this man should be a serious Christian, and I tossed in a couple other reasonable attributes. After doing rough calculations, Joe and I concluded that only one man in the Denver area could be a fit. 

I trudged along in my single life, resigned to loneliness. A hard tumor of doubt interfered with my spiritual health. Proverbs 13:12 rang true.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick….

This declaration of the Apostle Paul, a Christian committed to singleness, provoked me.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 CSB

Delayed, legitimate desires can develop such roadblocks to spiritual growth. Jesus’ followers trust him for the big stuff. When time passes without fulfillment, doubts about his concern and compassion arise. The stories of Naomi in Ruth 1:1-21 and of Samuel’s mother, Hannah, in I Samuel 1 portray the distraught emotional states of these two women. It helps to know their desires were ultimately satisfied by God’s overdue (?) provision.

For his own reasons, God waited to activate my hope chest until I was 42. The statistic my brother and I developed was accurate…there was just one man God had in mind to be my husband. For almost 35 years, God has continued to prove what an ideal fit Lloyd is for me. 

If you or a loved one are experiencing doubt that the Gospel of Jesus covers more than basic conversion, meditate on the below description of his wisdom, character, and timeliness. His Gospel of reconciliation, though complete in eternal terms, is not rushed in this life.

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9 NASB

by Kathleen Petersen

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