I took a challenge offered by a woman whose passion for her Savior I have gotten to know through connecting with her on one of my new favorite websites, cafemom.com, and through reading her blog. She laid down a challenge to try something she calls “Feminine Friday”. As I read more about the concept I was intrigued. The one area in which God seems to be focusing all of my attention is the various roles I fill as a woman – wife, mother, sister, “older woman” (see Titus 2 if you don’t know what I’m talking about), etc. The call to a more “feminine” mode of dress intrigued me and I have committed to not just a Feminine Friday but at least one week of skirts or dresses. It might get me some strange looks although for the three days I’ve been doing this I’ve been surprised by the number of people who tell me how nice I look. And it would likely tick off some of the more militant feminists I know. But it certainly can’t hurt, right?
Truthfully, I felt called to this week-long change. Hubby noticed and we discussed my reasons: 1) I need to do whatever I can to help me remember what I have been called to as a wife. Not to try and correct my husband’s flaws or to be his mother, but to demonstrate respect for him as the head of our household. 2) I need to be reminded of the responsibilities I have for setting an example worth following for the young ladies who live in my home and those I encounter in my community. 3) I need to remember that being made female does not “handicap” me. The fact that I am so drastically different from my husband is a part of God’s design for the human race and I will never be truly content with myself until I learn to fully embrace what God means for a female to be.
Have I learned any heady life-changing lessons? Not really sure just yet. But I will tell you this – I seem to react a little differently when I’m dressed in a slightly more “girly” fashion.
Once again, from Max Lucado’s devotional, “Trust More, Fear Less”:
Picture the scene. Peter, John, James. They came back . . . daring to dream that the master had left them some word, some plan, some direction, they came back.
But little did they know their wildest dream wasn’t wild enough. Just as someone mumbles, “It’s no use,” they hear a noise. They hear a voice.
“Peace be with you.” Someone looked at the door. It was still locked. The one betrayed sought his betrayers. What did he say to them? Not “What a bunch of flops!” Not “I told you so.” No “Where-were-you-when-I-needed-you?” speeches. But simply one phrase, “Peace be with you.” The very thing they didn’t have was the very thing he offered: peace.
I love the picture that these words create. But the phrase that jumps out at me is “their wildest dream wasn’t wild enough.” I don’t know about anyone else, but I struggle with that all the time. I try to figure out how God is gonna handle a situation – like my limited, finite, human brain can figure out God! – and I’m never even close to the actual outcome. What I need most to learn is the ability to wait and let God act rather than advising him on how he should act.
Hebrews 10:22 read – “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washe with pure water.” (emphasis mine)
I grew up in the church and many very well-meaning Sunday School teachers assured me that my guilty conscience was really the Holy Spirit trying to convict me of sin. Sounds good in theory. But the Bible says that “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). And in Psalm 103:12 I am told “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us”. So – if I’ve confessed my sin and God has essentially removed any record of it, why was I still feeling the poke of a guilty conscience? Was the Holy Spirit just being a bully or was there something more?
I’ve read Hebrews 10:22 numerous times before but the phrase in italics jumped out at me this morning as I re-read the verse for a Bible study my sisters and I are doing together. As I sat there, mentally chewing on that phrase, it hit me: if I have confessed a sin and continue to feel pangs of guilt afterward, that is NOT the work of the Holy Spirit. I have been cleansed from unnecessary feelings of guilt. I do not have to let anyone – the enemy or other well-meaning human beings – place a burden of guilt on me for something that God has declared settled. So the task that lies before me is this – learning to live in the cleansing that Hebrews says I already have!
Several members of our church have been reading through a devotional created by Max Lucado in preparation for the Easter season. The booklet is entitled “Trust More Fear Less” and I just had to share the reading from today, Day 17. It’s an excerpt from Lucado’s book, Six Hours One Friday.
Upper-room futility. Confused ambassadors behind locked doors. What will it take to unlock them? What will it take to ignite the fire? What will it take to restore the first-century passion? What will have to happen before the padlocks of futility tumble from our doors and are trampled under the feet of departing disciples? More training? That’s part of it. A greater world vision? Undoubtedly. More money? That’s imperative. A greater dependence on the Holy Spirit? Absolutely. There is one element so vital that its absence ensures our failure. What is needed to get us out is exactly what got the apostles out . . . they saw Jesus.
This reading hit me squarely between the eyes. In a world where even the church gets caught up in the craziness of programs, finances, and long-range planning, have we lost sight of what matters most? Programs are fine and fiscal responsibility is a must. But if our plans are focused on anything other than the Savior, it is all an exercise in futility. Oh, people may have a good time and there may be more people coming to our church. But if our goal is anything other than leading them to the foot of the cross, we have failed to have an eternal impact and missed the mark.