He Makes Less More

As I think and write about women in this Women’s History Month, my heart aches for the six women (and one man) of Asian descent killed last week in Atlanta. This morning my mind swerves as I consider how this catastrophe—and, yes, it is that monumental—should influence what I write. Should racism be my emphasis? Sexism? Our churches’ lack of sound discipleship? (The shooter is alleged to have once been an active member of a church that identifies itself as evangelical.) Political rhetoric?

Bubbling just below the surface of what I’ve been reading on some social media sites is an attitude that, quite frankly, veers dangerously close to what-can-they-expect-in-their-‘business’? And that brings me to the title of this blog: He Makes Less More. When was the last time you heard a sermon, or participated in a co-ed Bible study emphasizing God’s choice women: Rahab, Tamar, Hagar, Bathsheba, the Samaritan divorcée, or the New Testament adulteress? (I actually heard a sermon about the latter where the primary emphasis was on Jesus’ words, “Go and sin no more” to the neglect of all other applications.) 

Crucially important in the process of discipleship of women and men is biblical knowledge and understanding. Many have written about the dearth of same and the obvious sad results. While I wave the flag for meditative reading, thinking, pondering, I’m afraid we have neglected to ground children and adults in the facts of the sacred word. And when we are faithful teachers, we neglect emphasizing all the heroes of the faith—women who broke the patterns of religiosity and culture to stand strong. The women who were and are brave ezers (the Hebrew meaning of “helpmeet” so often mistranslated in Genesis), women who lead armies, rock cradles, start churches, and—in centuries past and still today—brave danger in their response to God’s call.

So what can we do? Some will be politically involved to change policies. Some will carry banners as they march. Others will insist that men and boys as well as women and girls understand women’s equal standing with God, acknowledge and promote women’s gifting in the church, and their unique call in marriage and singleness. All of us must refuse to be silent when innuendos and even crude jokes about women and marriage are bandied about in the office and even in the church. Encourage our daughters, granddaughters, nieces to Think Big, to consider how God may be calling them in the fields of faith, science, medicine. Read about the lives of Lilias Trotter, Amy Carmichael, Gladys Aylward, Lottie Moon, Katherine Bushnell and others. While we may disagree with some of her findings, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich in her book Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, examines “a pivotal moment in each of these women’s lives, describing ways in which they broke with conventional behavior in order to re-create themselves and make a place in history.” 

In ages past and today, God always makes more out of what—and who—is considered less in the eyes of culture and community. May we work for, applaud, and pray for women who are changing the world in response to God’s pivotal call.

March 14: A Very Special Day

Photo used by permission: Joshua Duneebon

Not only is this Pi Day (Greek for the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter—see what you learn on this site?!), but it has been dubbed Pie Day throughout the U.S. and to acknowledge the date, a mixed fruit pie—with homemade crust!—is bubbling in the oven. In case pi and pie aren’t enough for festivities, we remember that in 1918 the first concrete ship was launched in San Francisco and in 1888 New York recorded its second largest snowfall—twenty-one inches. This latter event doesn’t elicit applause this afternoon as we’re having one of our own typical “spring” semi-blizzards. Wind is whipping snow into great piles and small birds are finding our window feeder a welcome refuge.

In our family circle, March 14 is cause for celebration because it’s our daughter’s birthday. A few years have passed since her birth in Des Plaines, Illinois, but through them all she has brought joy and talent and beauty to the world.

Throughout the month of March, however, my attention if also drawn to the hurts and joys and challenges, the losses and wins, the occasionally celebrated but often neglected, lives of women. For many years March has been designated International Women’s Month with March 8th International Women’s Day. It is women like our daughter—especially single women—who capture my heart in an era where so much distracts us from honoring God’s special creation of woman.  

Too often encased in restrictive roles by some in the Church, today Christian women are making their God-anointed voices heard as they “rightly divide the word of truth,” challenge leaders (usually male but not always) who would deny them their calling, and respond with strength to social ills throughout the world. Along with men, they teach our children, sit in the boardroom and protect us on the street. They bake bread and round up horses. They win gold in the Olympics and Swati Mohan announced the successful landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. 

I want to write more on this subject, but what applies to speaking—“the mind can only absorb what the seat can endure”—has its less succinct twin in reading: “Believe in brevity.” Before the special month of March is over, I will highlight women—from the past and present—who have imprinted this world with their special gifts. For now—if you are a woman, rejoice that God has loved and gifted you for a purpose. If you are a man, describe to a woman her specific influence on you and on the world.