31 Days:: Do It Afraid
Day 30: Do It Afraid
The first time I saw a woman preach from the pulpit at my church on a Sunday morning also happened to be the first time my youngest child lasted an entire church service without a major meltdown in childcare— thus, I was able to actually sit in church and hear the message without interruption for the first time in a few years. It was glorious.
As the preacher taught us from the story of Deborah and Jael in Judges 4-5, I was flabbergasted by a few things: first of all, I was amazed that I was actually listening in person to a real live woman from my very own church. I was amazed that she was “being trusted” to preach on a Sunday and wasn’t being censored or squashed at all. No one even gave a special speech before or after she came on stage to qualify why she was “allowed” to speak at church in mixed company. I had heard that this type of thing happened in some churches— I even have a dear friend who preaches on a regular basis at her church!— but I personally had never seen it with my own eyes at my own church. I had only ever heard women preach at women’s events and conferences, etc.
Something about this one fact made me feel a sense of hope I hadn’t felt before. I thought “Hmmm… Maybe what God has been whispering to me for the past few years is true?!? Maybe He really does care about and value and gift women— not “just” so that they can support and serve their husbands and kids, but also for who they are as individuals and how they can use their gifts to help the world at large?” And, in addition to that exciting thought, I also wondered what it meant for me and for the gifts I had always secretly felt brewing just under the surface— gifts like writing and storytelling and passionately studying God’s Word and maybe even public speaking or teaching? As ridiculous and Old School as it might sound, I had previously never allowed those gifts to bubble up too much for fear that others might think I was some kind of power-hungry, rebellious, non-God-honoring woman.
You see, I was perplexed by a handful of passages in the Bible and what they meant. Although I looked at God’s character and saw how Jesus treated women when He walked this earth, which all seemed to point to the reality that He did, in fact, respect and treasure women, I still wasn’t 100% convinced He liked His daughters as much as He liked His sons.
But wait— don’t worry: this story gets better. There is growth on the other side of it.
So as I sat there and listened to the teaching by this incredibly gifted preacher, I was, as I said, first of all amazed that she was speaking at all “even though” she was a woman. And, secondly, I was amazed by the content of her message. As she expounded on all the ways in which God gave favor to Deborah during her time serving as a Judge and Prophetess over the nation of ancient Israel, our preacher made it very clear that both Deborah and Jael’s roles were more than just being mindless chess pieces for God. Deborah, like us, had choices to make. She could choose to either be brave and trust God or she could back away from what He told her to do. She could choose to obediently follow God’s lead into victory, despite the fear or self-doubt she might have felt, or she could give into those insecurities and just sit on the sidelines. So many of us, male and female alike, are afraid to step into the roles God has called us to— yet we need to walk forward anyway— even if that means we have to “do it afraid.”
She urged us all, both men and women, to do what we are called to do, to be willing to show up, to be willing to be used.
“Never be fooled into thinking you’re too insignificant for God to use,” she said. “We all walk in God’s favor and blessing… Everyone here has something you’re being called to. And often it feels very risky, right? Takes us out of our comfort zone. Requires courage. For many of us it brings up feelings of fear and inadequacy. Yes, it’s risky to step into the things God calls you to. I’m not saying don’t be afraid. I’m saying if God has called you to do something and has shown you a step He wants you to take… then do it afraid. Because He’s with you and He’s going to be with you in it. You could impact a generation with your obedience! And women— for you: it’s time to be brave and say yes, ladies. This is for you: You are loved. You are accepted. And you are called by your father in heaven… I’m calling you out because it’s time. Because God loves His girls. He’s raising up His daughters to be on the field of ministry. In every way. He’s calling His daughters to serve Him with strength and courage and conviction… Write a book, start a Bible study, go on a missions trip, mentor— whatever it is, you and the Spirit know. Because He’s stirring it up in you right now, ladies. You know God is pulling you to do something. And it’s stirring in you. And I’m saying “be brave and say yes”— and just do it.”
Feeling as though she was speaking exactly to me and to my heart and into my lifelong struggle with feeling utterly confused and “less than” because I was a woman, her words unlocked what I had been damming up in my heart for several years. With a full and hope-filled heart, I cried right there in that darkened auditorium. I knew without a doubt that God was speaking to me. Me: Kristi. Me, the wife of a warrior-husband. Me, the mother of Ellie, Abby and Ben. Me, the girl who loved to think deep and talk deep and meet new people and hear their journeys. Me, the one who always loved writing words of encouragement to friends. Me, the one who has been a lifelong journaler and always wondered if some of my writings might someday be shared with people besides just God. Me, the one who isn’t afraid to stand in front of a group of people and share my heart— even my flaws and failures. Me, the one who loves Truth and Authenticity and Courageous Vulnerability.
God actually wanted me to follow His lead and walk into places and spaces and conversations with courage and boldness and with a confidence that He was the One who was leading me and giving me the ability to do it all— even if I was afraid.
(*This is obviously not a comprehensive theological discussion about women in ministry— it’s simply a description of my own personal experience on one particular day in my life. For those of you who would like to read/research more on this topic, I highly recommend Men and Women in the Church by Dr. Sarah Sumner and Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey.)
*To get to the main menu, where you can view and click on everything I end up posting for this 31 Day Challenge, click here.
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What about you?
Have you ever heard a sermon or a speech that changed your life? Have you ever struggled with feeling “less than” because you are a woman?
Please feel free to share your journey in the comment section below.