“How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of … all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.” Hebrews 11:32-34
Have you seen the Twitter storm over #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear? While I agree with one user who piped up that the internet shouldn’t be used as a megaphone for bitterness against the church, I was not surprised at all by the flurry of what women in the church are told, including these tweets:
“To be a virtuous woman that is submissive to her husband is the apex of any woman’s achievement.”
“You want to preach one day? Mother’s Day is coming up soon.”
“You’re bossy & opinionated. You’re going to need a strong man to keep you in check.”
“We don’t permit women to preach here, but you can ‘share.'”
“I affirm your spiritual gift of teaching! …to women and children.”
There are many, many more. And if you’re a women who’s been around ‘the church’ for awhile, unfortunately many of those statements might only not surprise you – they might have been spoken TO you.
They’ve been spoken to me.
“Oh Kate, we just don’t know what to do with you.” “Your spiritual gifts can’t possibly be teaching or preaching, you must have filled out the questions wrong. Do it again.” “You want to adopt? But what if you never get married? A child deserves a mother and a father.” Etc. Etc.
While I flailed feeling less-than, questioning why God ‘made me wrong’ – luckily along the way I became a part of a church that championed anyone inhabited by Christ, male or female, single or married, to flourish in the way God Himself had made them.
I also got pretty acquainted with the God of the Universe’s word on women. I don’t have all the answers, but I’ll tell you one lady you should take a peek at if you think girls were only created to procreate and stay quiet.
Judge. Prophet. Warrior. And a little bit sarcastic… a woman I can resonate with.
God raised up Deborah to deliver His people, Israel, from their own sin. For twenty years they’d cried out as God oppressed them. And in matters of justice, where did the people go? To Deborah.
God gave her vision to share: that they were to go to Mount Tabor to prepare for battle. And the response? They wouldn’t go without her.
And then, cue her answer, sarcasm and fire wrapped up in truth: “Of course I’ll go with you. But understand that with an attitude like that, there’ll be no glory in it for you. God will use a woman’s hand to take care of Sisera.” Judges 4:9-10
Deborah went with an army of about 10,000 men to face an army of 100,000 men with 900 iron chariots. Their foes had terrorized Israel. In every way the battle was logically impossible for Deborah and her people to win… but the God she cried out to, trusted, and fought for WON. Her weakness was turned to strength.
And afterward she took no glory, but instead composed a song, verse after verse of beautiful Hebrew poetry – to glorify her Lord instead of herself.
If you study scripture you will see that our God uses every kind of person for His kingdom. Old. Young. Married. Single. Rich. Poor. Sinner. Saint. Male. Female. Take a read through Hebrews 11 and you’ll see that diversity proclaimed boldly! The commonality? Faith.
To exclude or minimize someone’s capability to bring glory to God’s name is to minimize the very God that created them.
This week we are going to look at a half-dozen more heroes of the Old Testament, and I’d ask you to sit in a space of quiet and before/after reading along with us, ask the Holy Spirit to help you see what fear of inadequacy is holding you back?
Do you feel that the church (even if it was well-intentioned) or family and friends (ditto) or even a stranger has made you feel less-than because of your skin color or education or age or __________?
As we look at these powerful pillars that God used solely because of His power, I pray that you will be loosed of insecurity. That your (and my!) trust in our King would be grown so powerfully that when we are told what we can’t do our hearts beat boldly knowing that HE CAN.
“Don’t be afraid, because I’m with you; don’t be anxious, because I am your God. I keep on strengthening you; I’m truly helping you. I’m surely upholding you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10