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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Beating Impossible Odds

The sign conspicuously mounted in my office says: “When God is about to do something great, He starts with a difficulty. When He is about to do something truly magnificent, He starts with an impossibility.”

The irritating thing about adages is that they’re usually correct.

In my journey toward full time ministry, opposition has been fierce; Jesus more fierce. The struggle in forging a respectable reputation has been daunting. Joyce Meyer once said she had to work twice hard to earn half the respect of her male counterparts. I've experienced much the same; no doubt it's true of many of you. Yet the call of God remains. What to do? Throw in the towel? Hardly. Faithfulness to the One who calls is more important than the call.

Many of you need to hear that.

It’s safe to say that most of my fellow sisters  meet with unnecessary and daunting challenges promulgated by perhaps well-meaning men of the church. If ever a biblical principle was misunderstood, the treatment of women in ministry surely tops the list. One of the greatest Bible teachers I've had the privilege to hear is Dr. Waldemar Kowalski of Northwest University. In his DVD, Women in Ministry, he unravels centuries of misapplication and doctrinal error. One point Kowalski makes is that the biblical Christian must avoid forcing the Bible to fit their preferred ideas; study the Book from God’s point of view (His intention or intended meaning is all that matters) and then adjust our attitude to match God’s.

Wow. That slapped me in the face.

Yet, in thorough examination of my own understanding about women in ministry, about everything I’d been taught since childhood from well-meaning people, I came to realize that my understanding was woefully out of step with God’s. My task then was to examine the truth according to God, and adjust my thinking to align with His.

Many stop there. But as I've matured, I've come to understand that pitting men against women does little to bring unity; it causes dissension it's a monumental distraction. It’s not up to us to legitimate our calling—it’s up to God. Our job is to prepare as best we can, and then start building the Kingdom right where we are, letting God take care of the rest.

In preparation for the launch into full time ministry, I've been privileged—no, graced with—two amazing women of God. In His most excellent design, He’s forged a unique and spiritual bond between us. The results have been wondrous. Deep personal and emotional healing has been the result. We come together three battered, but determined women who refuse to give up. We will not bow to Satan’s schemes, the world’s lies, or to personal preference. In our intentional perseverance, though we continue to receive cruel remarks, looks of disdain, ill-treatment, and direct opposition by those who should come alongside, we push on.

Are we stupid? Gluttons for punishment? Hardly.

We've learned something that alludes many. We've finally grasped the truth: Stay faithful to the Person calling, not the call. Jesus is outside of time, He’s bigger than the tiny boxes we try to pack Him in. He’s the One who daily speaks the world into existence; the One who will have the last word on everything. So we've learned to reach for the prize.

To take hold of something new, you need to let go of something old.

In our journey, we three have learned that the Christian walk is a series of letting go—a succession of undoing. We've let go of preferences, notions, and personal ambition. We've let go of being scared, of fear, and of hiding secret wounds. We've let go of being right. In letting go, there is a moment of nothingness. A moment when you've released the thing you've clung to in order to take hold of the new. This is the scary bit. We ask questions like, “What if I let go and nothing happens?”

Jesus doesn't do “nothing.”

While there may be a brief interlude of silence, the answer is coming. These silences are meant to teach us. They teach us about ourselves and where we are in our level of faith. They teach us about Jesus and who He really is. They teach us to focus our eyes on Him. These silences are opportunities for deeper intimacy with Him. When Jesus trusts you with His silence, it’s a treasured thing. Remain faithful and wait patiently knowing Him to be of impeccable character. He isn't trifling with you; He’s growing you with shared intimacy.

It’s not our responsibility to make people listen. It’s not our responsibility to force our way into a male dominated churchworld. Our main responsibility is to remain faithful to the Person calling us to ministry. It’s our responsibility to prepare, study, pray, grow spiritually, and be ready to move when the time is right. Jesus is outside of time and while it seems that He’s taking forever to launch His daughters, be assured that He will accomplish it. And, when He does, the timing will be perfect. He, more than anyone else, wants you to succeed in your calling. Therefore, the time of preparation is necessary for a firm foundation.

Ditch the distractions.

Distractions come in all shapes and sizes, and function mainly to keep our focus on everything except Jesus. Family ties can be a strong one. Committees, clubs, television, friends, shopping, finances, and even church work can all be distractions. These things in themselves aren't bad necessarily, but as a leader (or future leader) your time isn't yours. It’s His. In order to keep your heart pure and spirit strong, you will be required to spend more time in prayer, fasting, and Bible study. You will be required to choose.

A note of clarity is appropriate here: No one is saying stop all these things. What is being said is that as you grow in intimacy with Him, He will ask you to let go of certain things that everybody else (it seems) still gets to do. You will need to make a decision: Him or the distraction.

The Bible is full of such examples: Embrace the call and He will see to it that you beat the odds, and you'll do it in the presence of your enemies.You'll do it in spite of the opposition. You'll do it well. You'll do it strong and in the power of His might. But, you'll only get there by focusing on your relationship with the One who calls. Give it everything you've got. I guarantee you won't regret it.

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