Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Calling to be Set Apart

“The preoccupations of seventeen year old girls ___ their looks, their clothes, their social life ___ do not change very much from generation to generation. But in every generation there seem to be a few who make other choices. Amy was one of the few.” (Elizabeth Elliot in her book A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael)


That quote inspires me. It stirs up something deep within me, a desire to be different. I look at the lives of both Elizabeth Elliot who wrote the book and Amy Carmichael, the subject of the book, and I desire the faith that they have. Both of these women are such great examples of what Abigail was talking about in her last post, that quiet strength that is held in check by meekness.

If you take a look at their lives, the strength you see is mind blowing. Amy Carmichael left her home and family to venture across the ocean to bring the gospel to India. She spent 53 years without furlough, rescuing temple girls that were forced into prostitution and housing hundreds of girls and eventually boys as well. Elizabeth Elliot gave God control of her love life and after waiting many years, she married Jim Elliot who died only a few short years after. Later, she went back to the very people that violently killed her husband and shared the gospel with them. If that doesn’t take incredible strength, then I don’t know what does.

God has called each one of us to live a life of devotion and worship to Him, a strong and vibrant life. Leslie Ludy, whom I first heard this quote from, talks about that beauty and radiance that we all as women desire in her book Set Apart Femininity and about how we find that beauty in Christ and in a radically sold-out life for Him. He removes us of our filthiness and clothes us in His beautiful robes of righteousness.

We see all this extreme shallowness that has taken over the western world. The constant striving for outward beauty, popularity, relationships with men, and fame. The preoccupations of teenage girls have not changed from Amy’s generation, to Elizabeth’s, to ours, they have just become more blatant. But what will we do? Will we raise up like the great woman of faith that have come before us and make other choices? Will we be one of the few? Or will we be content to conform to this world and the choices it makes, never daring to stand out or be different? It’s a choice we all need to make eventually, what will you choose?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Quiet Strength

As I pondered the meaning of a “meek and quiet spirit” today, I realized that the true meaning of the phrase has been completely disemboweled. I did some research on the current definitions of the words “meek” and “quiet” and this is what I found.

Meek - overly submissive or compliant; spiritless; tame
Quiet – restrained in speech, manner, etc.; saying little

(Dictionary.com)

I was not shocked, but was disappointed with the interpretations of these once beautiful words. Unfortunately, I have found that those who are set on obtaining the heart of a righteous woman, though their intents may be perfectly respectable, are often plagued by the knowledge of these contemporary interpretations.

When the instructions to be of a meek and quiet spirit were written, these words were specifically chosen to move in alongside the other descriptions of the ideal woman creating a perfect image of what Christ desires us to be. However, given the new definitions, meekness seems to reflect weakness, and quietness is comparable to being anti-social. Does God really want us, His daughters, to be weak and anti-social? The answer is a firm, and doubtless “No.”

I read through Proverbs 31:10-31, and found some specific excerpts which reject the misconceptions of desired frailty in women. Much of this passage focuses on the strength of a woman. Not only does it mention time and time again the productivity of a woman with her hands and mind, but it places so much importance on her strength, that it says “Strength and honor are her clothing.” A woman cannot be honored for her strength unless it is a vibrant, energetic, and contagious strength. This strength—I believe—is not vanquished, but simply held in check by meekness.

Quietness is a bit trickier to define. I used to always think of limited speech when I read this scripture, which confused me since I knew that our purpose as kin of Jesus Christ is to spread His love with a loud voice. However, I think in this case, it is referring to a state of peacefulness in simply trusting—whether it be in a spouse, a dad, or above all, our Savior. Surrender is so often called of us as women. We are not to be in positions of power, but our greatest strength is in our quietness. Many of our duties we will have as women will never be given the recognition that those of a great leader would receive; but when we accept that knowledge, and embrace the quiet strength that we have in diligence, our strength is at its finest. Our honor will be found in strength without earthly reward. The blessings we receive from our Savior may be the only recognition we ever receive, but those blessings are also the most precious rewards we could ever acquire.

Our roles in life as potential wives and mothers will hold challenges. We will be tried every day of our lives—our patience, and essentially our love for others, will be tested more often than we can imagine. It’s human nature to want somebody to recognize when we’ve succeeded at something. The hardest things to do are the ones which get no immediate reward. In those times, we need to remember God’s instruction to have a meek and quiet spirit, and take a moment to smile with the knowledge that He is smiling right back at us.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Redeeming Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is the most loved and the most hated day in America. For most people, their feeling about this day can change every year, usually depending on their situation in life. I always just liked it because I really, really, really like chocolate… (but we won’t get into that now.) For some reason I’ve been thinking about it more this year, is it really just a greeting card holiday? Or does it hold a little bit more to it?

Valentine's Day can be slightly depressing for the most content single person, and believe me, I’m VERY content (as well as very young), but for a Christian single person, should it be that way? Should we have our moment of self pity that we have to wait or that we can’t have “fun” like every other teen out there? I know in my mind that the answer is no, sometimes it’s the connecting it with my heart that’s harder. (I found this article an excellent one on this topic.)

A thought really grabbed me about a month ago, that I should make a decision that for the rest of my life, whether single or married, that I will celebrate Valentine's Day with joy.

When we think of Valentine's Day we always think of the romance type of love, but that sort of love shadows in comparison to the true love, the love that was shown at Calvary when Christ’s blood was shed so we could be redeemed. Why can’t we turn Valentine's Day into a day to celebrate more than what our culture calls “love” but is only a fake imitation, usually "glorified lust"? I see no reason why not.

This Valentine's Day I am going to be spending it doing some serious praying; thanking God for His radiant example of true, real, authentic love; love that is so much more then what the TV screen promotes. But in addition to that, I really want to spend some time praying for my future husband; that God will be molding and shaping His heart into the most wonderful man on the planet and that I will be able to honor this man that God already has picked out for me. And of course, I’ll have some chocolate… :)

I’m thoroughly looking forward to “Singles Awareness Day” this year. I truly want to make it into a meaningful holiday that is a celebration of both earthly love and heavenly love. The heavenly love is so much better then the earthly romance, it looks like wilted weeds compared to the perfect rose of the love that was in the blood of Christ.

I want to encourage you all to “claim” Valentine's Day for Christ. To make this into a meaningful holiday that’s more about “googley-ness” and chocolate (though I think there should be a National Chocolate Day… that would be the best!), but instead something that is meaningful and sacred in a way. May you all have a blessed Valentines Day and may Christ’s love fill your hearts with joy that’s better then world class chocolate. :)