Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ch. 2 - From Him, Through Him, To Him (Part 2)

Today, let's move to the so what of Romans 11:33-36 as laid out in Voices of the True Woman Movement. We all know, or I hope we do, that we don't come to Scripture just to gain knowledge. We don't read Scripture just for the what, right? After all, the heart of Scripture is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it's all His story & we all know that there's both a what & a so what. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, died the only sin-atoning & wrath-absorbing death, rose again from the grave, & ascended into heaven where He reigns at the right hand of the Father. There's the what, & the so what is that we are now children of God & co-heirs with Christ who have been commanded to love one another, serve & worship God with all of our hearts, & make disciples of all nations. Scripture influences our lives. It doesn't just work that way with the Gospel. Since all of Scripture is about Jesus - either in foreshadowing, in consummation, or in expectation of His return - then all of Scripture has so what applications for our lives.

I have to say that, although I thoroughly enjoyed this whole chapter, I particularly relished this "response" portion. The fact that my highlighter threw up all over this entire chapter bears this out. Everything in me shouted, "YES!" as I read Nancy's 3 main responses of a true woman to the truth of God's Word.

     1.) A true woman lives a God-centered life. (pg. 40) "She lives to reflect the beauty & wonder of His ways & to join every created thing in heaven & earth in glorifying & worshipping Him eternally. This is her reason for living." A true woman realizes that her life is not about her. It's not about her comfort or her discomfort. It's not about her realizing her dreams or seeing them dashed. This life is not about us. It's all about Him. Our every desire should be wrapped up in seeing God glorified, however that may come about. And when - not if - our path leads through suffering, we must remember that "our greatest problems, no matter how enormous & unsolvable they may seem, become puny when measured against the vastness of God." When we stay focused on God, our lives are put into perspective. And, not only this, but focusing on God inevitably gives us hope!

     2.) A true woman trusts in God. (pg. 41-43) As we all know, suffering is a part of life. We are told time & again in God's Word that trials will come our way. And sometimes, we can feel so overwhelmed that we lose sight of God. We sometimes even feel like He's not there. Sometimes, we become very afraid by an uncertain future that is completely out of our control. "But the true woman doesn't give in to fear. . . . She knows the One in charge of 'all things' can be trusted to know what He's doing. He has a plan we would not have scripted, a plan we may not understand, but it is His plan, & His plan is good, wise, & can never be thwarted. So a true woman accepts His plan as good, though it may not be the way she defines as good. She knows it's God who defines good, so she leans on Him." One thing that struck me in reading this point is that God has shown Himself trustworthy through the ages by keeping His promises. Each time I see a rainbow, I am in awe that a biblical promise is being kept right before my very eyes. Praise be to God, that He kept the ultimate promise when He sent His Son to be born as one of us as our perfect sacrifice! He has shown Himself faithful. We can trust Him completely.

     3.) A true woman says, "Yes, Lord." (pg. 43-45) The focus of this chapter has been Romans 11:33-36, but if you read Romans 12:1 - which directly follows this passage - you find that Paul appeals to the brethren "by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, living & holy & acceptable to God." In writing this post, it's occurred to me that these points all really flow into & overlap each other. The theme that runs through them all is that God is in control & we are to respond to Him in worshipful submission. We are to sacrifice our plans, our desires, our will to His plans, desires, & will out of a heart that has one overarching goal: to bring Him glory. I mean, we absolutely could push to live our lives our way to achieve our purposes; many people do. But if we do that, we must remember that we are then living for that which is passing away. This world will end. But the Word of God endures forever. Don't be foolish & toss aside the imperishable for the perishable. Listen to my favorite paragraph of all: "[The true woman] lives intentionally, not just drifting from one meaningless activity to the next, letting the circumstances of life pull her along. She's willing to be like a salmon, swimming upstream, living a counter-cultural life in an unholy world for the glory of God. She's willing to make personal sacrifices, not constantly asking, 'What will make me happy?' Rather, she wants to know: 'What will please You, Lord?' 'What will further Your kingdom?' 'What will display Your glory?' Her heart attitude is, 'If it pleases You, it pleases me.' The true woman reflects the spirit of Mary of Nazareth when she said in response to God's calling, 'I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word'" (Luke 1:38).

Before we leave this chapter, let us remember that we can't be this "true woman" on our own. It's tempting to read these points with a self-reliant attitude, but that's exactly the opposite of what our attitude should be. We must remember that we can't "succeed" at any part of the Christian life apart from the grace of God. It's right & good for us to want to be this kind of woman, to want our desire to be solely for God & His glory. But it's wrong to think we can do so without His help. So, as we ponder "the depth of the riches & wisdom & knowledge of God" & seek to apply His Word to our lives, let us also remember the cross of Christ where we laid down our selves & were clothed with Him.