Simon and I started a new tradition last year – a lunch date at our beloved Big Shucks discussing the past year and framing up the new year. Thank you, Ann Voskamp, for your excellent freebies to help us focus our goals in such a measurable way! (If you’ve never done this before, we highly recommend it.)
This lunch date was an integral part of living life purposefully this past year and I’m looking forward with eager anticipation to what 2017 will bring because of it. I do plan to continue blogging here, but during the course of “framing” 2017, I decided that I needed to spend more time writing offline than online this year. Blogging takes a lot of time and while I enjoyed blogging last year immensely, my focus has shifted for 2017.
The days leading up to our date I felt the Lord prompting me to go deeper with Him this year, to take a topic I am woefully unlearned in and saturate myself with what His Word says about it during the course of the entire year. In 2017, I’m going to sink my teeth into the reality of WHO I AM IN CHRIST and I look forward to sharing what the Lord shows me from time-to-time by blogging about it. My blogging will look sporadic compared to last year’s more regularly shared devotionals & Summer Bible Study, but I hope each post will help you to see just who YOU are in Christ in a clearer, sharper way, too.
I have known both Mary & Martha all of my life. I have always thought of Martha as the poor, misunderstood, responsible sister of the lazy, irresponsible Mary. I always felt that I could relate to Martha, that I understood where she was coming from in doing all the necessary things one does when one offers hospitality. I “got” her irritation with Mary, who was just sitting there doing nothing. I felt the sting of Jesus’ words as if He’d spoken them to me when He gently chastised her and praised lazy Mary.
After spending a week with Mary, connecting with and understanding her like I never have before, my entire perception of her changed. And I mean completely and utterly changed. I wondered if I’d had it wrong all these years where Martha was concerned, as well, so I asked Martha for some one-on-one time and she graciously invited me to spend a week with her in Bethany.
I still share a lot of commonalities with Martha. I have a do-er personality. I have a keen sense of duty, of doing the “right” thing (even if it is too often accompanied with the wrong attitude). I get upset with others when they don’t do what I think they should. My sense of justice oftentimes leads me to ask the Lord to make things right when I feel I’ve been wronged by someone, to take my grievance directly to Him.
Against the newly painted backdrop of her sister, Martha’s shortcomings (and my own!) shine brighter than before. But like the saying goes, We learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. (Can I get an “Amen!”?) And tucked amid all of the character flaws that we share, Martha displayed something that I feel shamefully lacking in my own life – a beautiful, teachable heart.
Listening to her testimony again, I realized that Martha didn’t repeat the same mistake twice. I want to have such a teachable heart! I want to receive His Words to me and have them “stick” like that. I want to respond to His chastening as quickly and wholeheartedly as Martha did. I want to be sensitive to His teaching. I want to be changed by obeying His Word. I want to share that positive character trait with Martha, as well.
If your heart desires the same, I invite you to visit Martha in Bethany this week. Click here to spend some one-on-one time with Martha of Bethany.
Naomi is one of those women that you know of, but have never really known. Because of her more famous daughter-in-love Ruth, the spotlight has always just missed her. About three years ago at a Women’s Bible Study, that all changed for me. I connected with Naomi over the fact that we had both endured the unspeakable – the burial of our children. This is a club few are in and none want to belong to; when you come across other members, you tend to gravitate toward them. That semester was eye-opening for me as Naomi (with Ruth) shared her heart, hurts, and healing with our group.
I reconnected with Naomi last summer for a week and I learned even more from this wonderfully pleasant woman of God. Through her losses, Naomi remained rooted in the knowledge that God is sovereign. She is the first to confess that her losses weren’t easy to endure. (She actually renamed herself “Mara” for a time, which translates bitter.) Her grief was often ugly! Her faith in His sovereignty wasn’t rooted in her feelings, however, as mine tend to be. For Naomi, His sovereign control was a firm & unwavering fact. She knew (with the great Patriarch of her faith, Job) that God gives and God takes away. He is sovereign in the giving and He is still sovereign in the taking away.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21 (NASB)
I invite you to spend some time with Naomi this week. She is a woman who has journeyed through the valley of the shadow of death many times. Because of that, she is uniquely qualified to lead you as you learn to trust in His sovereignty through your own valleys.
I don’t remember meeting Rahab until college. To be honest, I don’t remember thinking much about her then. I didn’t feel like we had much in common, what with her past and all.
I met her again last summer in a small group setting. She invited us into her home, into her life, to get to know her. She wore no Christian mask and was refreshingly lacking a facade of any kind. She was honest with us about her past. She was open about the choices she has made. As I listened to her story again last summer, she allowed me to ask questions (some of them pretty personal!) and through our time together I finally felt like I connected with this precious sister.
I found myself drawn to her belief in a God she had only heard rumors about. I was convicted as that belief turn to remarkably actionable faith in Him. I was inspired by her all-in obedience to God and her trust in His faithfulness from the first days of her knowing Him.
I saw her in a new light through my friends’ connections with her, as well. “A woman with a past is a woman with a future if she follows God,” one friend said of Rahab after the week was over. Another friend commented, “She took care of God’s people and we should, too.” Still another remarked how impressed she was that Rahab was such a good housekeeper (for her pantry was full) as well as a woman prepared (for that readiness allowed her to do what the Lord called her to do the moment He asked).
You, too, are invited to spend a week getting to know Rahab at her place. Please join her by clicking here.
The Summer Bible Study began simply as a way for me to find a way to connect with the women of the Bible. I knew all about these women from my years of growing up in the church and then attending Bible College, but I didn’t feel like I really knew them personally. I didn’t connect with them.
And I really wanted to.
With my first attempt, I realized that I was too unorganized and lacked the accountability to stay on track. So, I made a plan. I prepped. I organized. I invited. My next attempt was so rewarding that it was worth the feeling of failure I felt from the first.
This Summer Bible Study is about CONNECTING.
To Women in the Word
I had a desire to feel connected to the women I’d read about in the Word. I felt I could learn a lot from these ladies if I could bypass the obstacles (time, culture), focus on our commonalities (shared experiences) and really get to know them as they were (off the pedestal, preconceived ideas aside).
To Women in My Life
I also had a desire to feel more connected to the women in my life in the present. One night a week, my small group of friends came together to share our discoveries about these women in the Word. I gained a deeper appreciation for each of them, came to understand some of their own experiences better and fell in love with each of their hearts as they shared their own connections with our mutual Biblical friend that week.
Do you have a desire to feel more connected to the women in the Word and to the women in your life?