Wednesday, July 29, 2015
What does it mean to be a godly woman? I've found many resources that talk about integrity, grace, peace, gentleness, and exuding true femininity. Christian women, both speakers and bloggers, have addressed this topic many times over, from texts such as Titus 2 and Ephesians 5, giving pointers and advice on how to be more godly, from one woman to another. This advice comes in many forms, but the bottom line is usually study more, pray more, and teach younger women and children about God.
Examples are given of the woman in Proverbs 31, who, let's face it, humbles the lot of us. Sometimes we find a study on Ruth or Esther or Sarah, which showcases how to wait on the Lord, how to trust in Him, and yes, even how to submit to one's husband.
There is no doubt these examples and advice are sound, being rooted and grounded in Scripture. And yet, from all these studies, there seems to be something...missing.
The awe-inspiring, high-and-lifted-up, never-ending, lifelong pursuit of our Beloved Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Before we teach the children, we must teach ourselves. Before the elder married women teach the younger newlyweds, they must first know what it means to pant after the Lord God like a deer panteth for the waterbrooks. And not only that, they must experience it for themselves.
Head-knowledge begets head-knowledge, but experience is a testimony.
Women are taught how to be good wives and mothers, but they must first be taught how to be true Christian disciples. High above all else is our love for our Savior. Above our husband, our children, our possessions, our pets, our family, and our friends. This involves knowing sound doctrine and also having an awakening to the Beauty of the Lord of Hosts.
Christians love Jesus. That's a given. I have no doubt my sisters in Christ love their Lord. But...how deep is that love? Is He the pursuit of your LIFE? Is He the One for whom your heart beats? Is He the Alpha and Omega of every day of your life? Do you wake up thinking of Him and go to sleep praying to Him? Do you live, breathe, and adore the King of kings? Would you lay down your life for Him? Do you strive to know more of Him? Is your entire being consumed with knowing Him and making Him known?
Ladies, I daresay our Biblical examples of this kind of love should be Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene.
How can a woman be the best wife/mother/daughter/friend she can be? By putting Jesus first in her life. The woman who knows who she is in Christ, who gives Him her whole heart, is then free from making her husband, her children, or her family idols before Him. Her identity isn't in striving to be the Proverbs 31 woman, her identity is in CHRIST alone.
Now, once a woman realizes that great truth, there's something else we should consider about being a godly woman, and this is something I've never seen in all those commentaries, blogs, and series I spoke of above. It is not easy. In fact, it is likely the most formidable endeavor a woman will ever face.
Unless your entire life revolves around the church, being a godly woman means you'll be distancing yourself from friends. They'll stop calling. They'll be too busy. They don't mind YOU as long as you don't bring HIM along (if you know what I mean). What they find fulfilling will become hollow and vain to you. What they laugh about, you find vulgar. What they find entertaining is distasteful to you. And even if you have Christian friends, when you make a solid commitment to follow Jesus and pursue that young stag that skips across the mountains of Bether, they'll soon be left behind. Unless they're willing to pursue Him with you as the passion of their lives, they'll only be able to give you blank stares when you ask them, "Have you seen him whom my soul loves?"
And they'll reply by saying, "What is your Beloved more than another beloved that you thus adjure us?"
The same is true for your family. If sisters and brothers and other relations don't share your convictions, being a godly woman can be trying and draining. You'll feel as if you have to "put away Jesus" whenever they come over. Conversations are about the weather, sports, or current events. They'll feel like it's somehow "okay" to tell you blasphemous jokes because you'll get it as a Christian. Hey, even God has a sense of humor, right? If conversation does happen to venture into Christianity, it's awkward and uncomfortable.
Being a godly mother means praying for your children. Every single day. It's being terrified the world will lead them astray. It's knowing you have no control over the Spirit of God. It's knowing God reveals Himself to whom He wills and you find yourself weeping at the foot of the cross for the Lord to bring your babies into His fold. And sometimes, it's having to let them go their way and leave it in God's hands when they reject your beliefs.
Being a godly wife means loving your husband, even when he's not particularly lovable at times. It's striving to cling to Jesus with all you've got if your spouse doesn't believe. And if he doesn't believe, it's going it alone with no spiritual head to guide you. It's sacrificing yourself for another, and being an example of Christ to build up your spouse and not tear him down. It's not yelling and screaming though you really want to. It's turning the other cheek in arguments, and helping to make family decisions in a wise way. It's reaching for and grasping onto that gentle and quiet spirit which God finds so lovely.
This is hard work. I daresay this is impossible work without the Spirit of God. Being a godly woman isn't about flowers and puppies and sunshine and rainbows (see apropos picture above). It is sweat; it is tears. It is heartbreak and agony. It's depression and loneliness, the sting of which is unlike any you've ever felt before. It is feeling foreign and odd, weird and uncomely. Some people will hate you, others will laugh. Perhaps they'll even scoff.
The more you love and serve Christ, the more you'll realize your need for Him. His glorious fragrance to you is a stench in others' nostrils. You'll have no one with which to talk to about the deeper points of theology. Even if your husband is a believer, he is still a sinful creature and cannot completely fulfill you. Time and time again, you are learning to (as Spurgeon well put it) "kiss the wave that throws you back against the Rock of Ages." It would seem that while we find fellowship within the Body, we are each individual members who go through the gate to Heaven one at a time.
Our Lord told us to expect this. Our lives should be marked by hardship and persecution if we're truly walking as Yeshua walked. In this life you will have trouble. But we take heart - He has overcome the world!
However, the story doesn't end there. Christianity is full of paradoxes. The weak are made strong. The dead become alive. In humility there is glory. The life of a godly woman is also a paradox. While living a life dedicated to Christ is a narrow way that's uphill and full of brambles, it is also the most fulfilling life you'll ever lead.
In sorrow, there is joy. By peeling away the layers of this world, Yeshua reveals Himself as our steadfast Companion - the One who never leaves us nor forsakes us. When the world condemns us, in Him there is no condemnation. When the world judges us, we remember it is God who justifies. When our family walks away, He sticks closer than a brother. When our spouses are indifferent, He is our Bridegroom. When our parents are absent, He is our Father. He becomes for us exactly what we need.
So yes, while I agree we as godly women should study more and pray more and teach younger women and children, we must first know who we are in Christ and experience His love shed abroad in our own hearts, which is as strong as death, its jealousy as fierce as the grave. It's flashes are flashes of fire - the very FLAME of the Lord.
And here I ponder, at the end of my essay, if we should not consider another title for godly women? I shall therefore close with a suggestion. Rather than be known as godly women who bake casseroles for potlucks, let us be known as WOMEN OF GOD, warriors of faith who stand fast on the battlefield of the Lord God Almighty. Hallelujah, my sisters in Christ. Amen.