“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel
Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be
married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the
virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:

Good morning!
You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you.

She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like
that. But the angel assured her, ‘Mary, you have nothing to fear. God
has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a
son and call his name Jesus.

He will be great,
be called ‘Son of the Highest.’
The Lord God will give him
the throne of his father David;
He will rule Jacob’s house forever—
no end, ever, to his kingdom.’

Mary said to the angel, ‘But how? I’ve never slept with a man.’

The angel answered,

The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
the power of the Highest hover over you;
Therefore, the child you bring to birth
will be called Holy, Son of God.

‘And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as
she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months
pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.’

And Mary said,

Yes, I see it all now:
I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me
just as you say.

Then the angel left her.

Mary didn’t waste a minute. She got up and traveled to a town in Judah
in the hill country, straight to Zachariah’s house, and greeted
Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb
leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly,

You’re so blessed among women,
and the babe in your womb, also blessed!
And why am I so blessed that
the mother of my Lord visits me?
The moment the sound of your
greeting entered my ears,
The babe in my womb
skipped like a lamb for sheer joy.
Blessed woman, who believed what God said,
believed every word would come true!”—Luke 1:26-45

One of my more sarcastic male friends (who shall remain nameless) asked
me how long this was going to go on. Well, “he” will be glad to know
that we are coming to a close—at least as it relates to courtship.
Aside from Mary, the mother of Jesus’ story, I think the only other two
that we will cover will be Mary Magdalene (gotta love her) and the
Samaritan woman (you remember, she’s the “I will forgive you and your
five husbands” chick).

However my friend, be of good cheer. Right after we end the courtship
series, we will be entering a study on marriage. After all, if you want
to be married, you need to know how to do it, right? In the oh so wise
words of Dr. Phil, “Getting married and being married are two totally
different things” and sadly, very few people really know and understand
that. But for now, we will deal with Mary, Elizabeth and the “quietly
assumed courage” of Joseph.

The Book of Luke says that during Elizabeth’s six month of pregnancy,
Mary, an engaged virgin, received a message from the angel, Gabriel
that she would become pregnant. Why? Because the Lord had blessed her
and was with her (verse 28).

Now we can already stop right there. Can you imagine what it must have
been like to receive such news as that? If you modernized the story,
here was one of the most special and exciting times of Mary’s life. She
had met the man that she was going to marry and in the midst of making
wedding plans and surfing The Knot Dot Com, she receives a heavenly
visitation concerning her future.

Because we know how the story shakes out, to us, it’s absolutely
wonderful, but I can imagine that to her, it was a little frightening.
Sure she trusted God—she would’ve had to—but what was she going to
do with such a responsibility? How was she going to tell her parents
that she was pregnant although she and Joseph weren’t gettin’ down like
that? How would her friends ever believe that she was as pure as she
claimed (’cause we know we all got “friends” who “claim” to be virgins
that we wonder about)? And worst of all, how was she going to explain
to the love of her life, Joseph, that she was going to birth a baby
that wasn’t (biologically) his?

Ladies, through a series of lessons and revelations (in this series
especially), God has made it pretty clear why I am not yet married.
Now, there’s no doubt that my disobedience has definitely delayed some
of my blessings (Galatians 6:7) but remember that once you surrender
your life to Christ, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1) and
immediately he implements a plan to make things work out in your favor
(Romans 8:28). Just this morning, as I was in my prayer time concerning
my future mate, God shared something very special:

“Some skeptic is sure to ask, ‘Show me how resurrection works. Give me
a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look
like?’ If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it
is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel
experience in gardening. You plant a ‘dead’ seed; soon there is a
flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant.
You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a
tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t
look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the
resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically
different.”—-I Corinthians 15:35-37

Remember how in the last chapter, we talked about the process of
restoration? Well, when it comes to having resurrection power in our
relationships, there is also a process. Bringing dead things to life is
nothing short of miraculous but it also requires a lot of work, focus
and dedication. God has assured us that what we sow, we shall reap
(Galatians 6:7). But in his Word, when it comes to reaping a harvest in
the spiritual realm (and a godly marriage is a wondrous harvest), we
are instructed to “sow in righteousness, reap in mercy and break up
fallow ground” (Hosea 10:12).

OK, now this is where it really gets good.

Just last week, I was talking to a “wiser woman friend” of mine and she
was telling me that while she is grateful for the gift of her second
husband (her first one died a few years ago), a part of her was envious
of single women because at the time that her husband came along, she
was just starting to enjoy her life without a man in it. See, she had
been married since she was 19 years old (she is in her fifties now) and
the only life she has basically known is that of being a wife.

I spoke with another “wiser woman friend” of mine and she was sharing
with me her longing to find her identity outside of being a wife and
mother. Although she celebrates the fact that she has been blessed with
a husband and children, she wants to know what else God has purposed
for her.

These are both results of what can happen when there’s fallow ground in
a person’s life. So just what is fallow ground? Well, the definition of
the word is soil that is “left unseeded for a season or more;
uncultivated” or something that is “not in use; inactive”. Some of us
are still single either because we are not sowing in righteousness
(moral living), we are not reaping in mercy (an act of kindness,
compassion, or favor) or we are not allowing this time to break up the
fallow or unused ground in our lives.

Before I will ever become a “Mrs.” Anything, there are certain things
that God wants me to accomplish as a single woman. There is some
“unseeded” ground that, in my single time with the Lord, I must plant,
fertilize and water so that the harvest of my marriage will be even
greater…in due season (Galatians 6:9).

Some of us need to plant seed in the ground of our finances. Others
need to plant seed in the ground of our quality time with our family
members and friends. Even more of us need to plant seed in the ground
of our self-image and esteem (if you can’t be faithful to you, you
won’t be faithful to “him”, either). Bottom line, we serve a God who is
not only powerful and loving, but thorough; whatever dimension of
possibility that he has granted to you, he doesn’t want any of it to go

See, the fascinating thing about fallow ground is that based on its
definition, it’s often ground that was not used for a season, right?
Well, when you go a season without tending to soil, there is a process
of getting the rocks and pestilence out, tilling it, watering and
fertilizing it and making sure that it is conducive to a “seed-planting
environment”. Some of us are planting seed before we tend to our
soil—the environment in which the seed must grow—-and the truth is,
our seed will not come to its fullest potential if the ground is not
prepared to nurture it.

Some of us want a financially secure man when we are in a ton of debt.
Some of us desire a cutie pie with a six pack when we have jelly rolls.
Some of us want children and we don’t even know how to treat our own
nieces and nephews right. Remember, the Bible says that what we plant
in the ground is not the same as what will grow out of it. During your
time of single living, God is trying to take your seed of faith and
plant it in a space that will cause your harvest (starting with you) to
be virtually unrecognizable; he is using this time to transition you
from being a single woman to being a godly wife.

One thing that all of my married female friends tell me that I do very
well is I respect their marriages. That’s probably why I find myself
cryin’, snortin’ and snotin’ at their weddings because I know that once
they become one with their mate, things will never be the same. And,
it’s not supposed to be. Deuteronomy 24:5 says that “When a man takes a
new wife, he is not to go out with the army or be given any business or
work duties. He gets one year off simply to be at home making his wife

Now I won’t even get started on how many marriages are on shaky ground
one, three and even 10 years later because they did not heed to this
instruction. However, the point I am trying to make though is that when
a woman takes on the role of being a wife, her single-mindedness has to
have a major overhaul. A stroll down the aisle doesn’t do it; only God
can. Some of you want to be married and spend money how you want. God
is trying to put you on a strict budget now so that you will respect
authority in your marriage. Some of you want to be married and you
don’t even respect your married friends (why are you always over their
house or on the phone with them?). God is trying to teach you how to
respect other people’s boundaries now so that you can know how to set
clear ones in the future. Some of you want to be married but you don’t
want to change anything about the way you live or think. God is
throwing you into insurmountable obstacles and challenges now so that
you will learn how to roll with the punches and not sweat the small

More and more, I am coming to understand why the Scriptures say in
Proverbs 18:22 that “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains
favor from the Lord”. Some of you are whining and wondering about when
you will get a husband when what you need to be doing to taking a look
around you to see what stage in the harvesting process that you are in.
A doctor is not a doctor until he passes the necessary classes. A
lawyer is not a lawyer until she passes the necessary classes. And a
wife is not a wife until she passes her course requirements as well
(because remember, we are wives once he gets there). Kicking and
screaming, seducing and settling, betting and bargaining is not what
makes you qualified; nor do we have a teacher (God) who will let us
“skip a grade”. If you want to know why you are not married, quit
asking your girlfriends and get into some deep “crash course studying”
with God—the one who gives wisdom to all liberally (James 1:5). Trust
me, if you desire to be and you’re not, there’s a good reason—or two,

OK, so back to Mary. One thing that I absolutely love about Luke’s take
on the story is that she was given a sister-friend to share the
experience with. At the time when Mary was experiencing a miracle, she
had a relative going through the same thing. Here was Elizabeth
carrying the man who would actually baptize our Savior at a time when
she was past childbearing age.

Ladies, don’t sleep on the women that God has placed into your lives at
this season. You are a woman with both a physical and a purpose-filled
womb, so there’s a great chance that even if it’s not your time to be
married that you are pregnant with something. Don’t get so caught up in
what you don’t have (yet) that you miss out on the blessings that you
do. Although Mary was not yet united with Joseph, there was still
something wonderfully special growing within her and it was great that
she had Elizabeth to share it with.

So how do you know when you are surrounded by healthy women? Luke 1:41
says that when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting that the unborn baby
jumped inside of her and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. Right now
in my life, I have eight sisters from all walks of life who are praying
for me and my future companion. There is nothing manifested yet, but
because we are spiritually-linked, I can see the potential growing in
them and they can see the same in me. There is so much more to being a
woman than a wife, but do know this: If you desire to be married, then
there is a seed growing within you. Some of us are just weeks into this
“purpose pregnancy” while others are within weeks of giving birth
(engaged) but make sure you surround yourself with people who are
supportive and loving, yes, but also spiritually-discerning. It was a
happy time for Elizabeth and Mary, not just because they were both
pregnant but because they were preparing to birth something that was
beyond physically satisfying—-it was spiritually necessary for them
and the lives of others.

This chapter ends with Joseph. Boy, there is a lot of speculation left
to how Joseph really dealt with the whole “you gonna have a baby that
ain’t mine” thing, but being that he did eventually marry Mary means
that not only did he have a lot of courage and a high sense of
self-worth, but he was also quite the visionary.

Ladies, you don’t want a man who can’t see your vision and the purpose
that God has for your life. You want a man who is confident enough in
who and whose he is to be able to handle whatever comes your way as a
result of being the kind of woman that God has called you to be. If you
know what you are called to do and while courting a man is already
trying to change that, you need to do some serious re-evaluating. If
you have an active social life and while courting a man is trying to
control you and your friends, you need to do some serious
re-evaluating. If you have a heart for ministry and the man you are
courting has more of a heart for making money, you need to do some
serious re-evaluating. He may be the wrong guy or it may just be the
wrong time. However, remember, God is all about the right timing
because the right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing
(Ecclesiastes 3;1).

The thing that I love about Joseph, even while knowing very little
about him, is that the changes in the circumstances didn’t change his
love for Mary. God called her to something great and while it was going
to be different than how Joseph would’ve wanted it to be, GOD, HIS
PURPOSE AND HIS TIMING CAME FIRST. Sure, it must’ve been hard on
Joseph’s flesh to deal with the speculation of having the woman he
loved not only pregnant, not only not by him, but by the Holy Spirit.
And, it must’ve been even a little hard on him to know that he
firstborn would not be from his seed, but he stayed because he saw
something greater than his feelings: he saw that Mary had a
God-ordained destiny and so rather than change what God wanted, he
figured out what he should do to support God’s mission. This is why we
need godly mates because they walk in the Spirit and not the flesh
(Galatians 5:16).

My sistahs, as you are praying about your future husband, pray that God
will give you a man who “gets” (and I mean, really gets) you. He’s not
trying to change the way that you look. He doesn’t want you to act any
different from the way that you do. And he doesn’t want you to be
anything other than who you are. All godly relationships are designed
to improve you, BUT ONLY GOD SHOULD CHANGE YOU. When you’ve met a man
who is comfortable with you being comfortable in your own skin, that is
when God has truly given you a man is worthy of you and of covering the
many things that will be birthed through you.

Homework for today: Start focusing on sowing in righteousness, reaping
in mercy and breaking up the fallow ground. Yes, it is true that you
will reap what you sow, but you need to check your soil before you get
to planting anything. You nor your seed have any time to waste.
Secondly, get in the presence of some women who have godly visions for
their lives so that they can properly discern what is going on in
yours. Remember, if two touch and agree on earth, they can have
whatever it is they desire in heaven (Matthew 18:19). And finally, pray
that God will prepare your husband to be a man who can handle not only
your physical pregnancies, but your spiritual ones as well. A man who
can’t see you, can’t see what God wants to do through you—and trust
me, no amount of sex, suburbans or white picket fences can compensate
for that!

©Shellie R. Warren/2006