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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sometimes It's OK to Quit... Maybe Even a God-Thing!

I was in a small group for almost 2 years. A lovely group of women and we learned so much. And then, something that seemed to go wrong went right. We were using the study “Cultivating a Life of Character” by Elizabeth George.

How It Began

We were studying Deborah, the prophetess from Judges 4 & 5.  Mrs. George noted that we, as women, probably wouldn't be used by God in the same way Deborah was.  Deborah saved a nation, after all.  I had no issue with that.  She then referred to 1 Timothy 5:9-10 and Titus 2:3-5 and said, "Do you think leading a nation is more important than loving a family? Do you think watching over God's people is more important than watching over your own family and home?" (p. 34)  

Guilt, responsibility, duty, reproach, stifling expectations.  These were my gut reactions to her questions designed to elicit a specific "right" answer.  But, if you put it that way, I don't think Deborah would've dared to do either - lead a nation or watch over God's people.  Sadly, too many Christian women have made that leap of connection - God will never call you to do anything beyond home and family.  God may ask you to sacrifice in order for your husband and children to follow God, but he will never ask you to do something that would require a sacrifice from them. 

The Escalation

After Deborah, we studied Gideon. (Judges 6:1-40)

Your call - Gideon was called to be a judge and a warrior. As women after God's own heart, you and I possess a calling from God, too. And it's a high calling Read Titus 2:3-5 now and write out what your high calling from God is. And don't worry so much about whether you are married or single. Just look for the roles and character qualities that God calls us to.”  (Cultivating a Life of Character, E. George, p. 45)

Titus 2:3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.

As I struggled with this paragraph in our group, my wise Bible study friends gave me some of their thoughts.

“It just seems like something else is going on here, that you're struggling with something.”
“Maybe you haven't gotten over something in your past and you need to deal with that.”
“You have daughters that you hope to impact, you have to sort this out.”

I was angry. I felt oppressed, rebellious, silenced and struggling to be understood - not by God, because I knew we were good - but by Christian women. But how could my lovely friends understand when I didn't understand myself. I took some time off from the study. I wasn't getting anything out of it at that point and I was disrupting the flow for everyone else.

Something was going on in response to this subject. I was raw and angry. Gideon was called to be a judge and warrior – none of which are mentioned in the Titus verses concerning men, yet the calling of every woman was being neatly buttoned up in appropriate outward behavior.. don't be a drunk, don't gossip, keep your house clean, love your family and teach other women to love theirs. That's it?! It doesn't even mention a relationship with God. 

I was angry with myself.  I was angry because what God called me to use and develop for over 20 years, I'd believed was a selfish distraction.

Relevant Today?

I know everyone has either heard or expressed this sentiment, “This part of the Bible is only relevant to the cultural setting of 'back then'. It doesn't apply the same way today.” I've never said that, but I am today. These particular verses were written at a time when I couldn't be dressed in clothes I didn't sew myself, while the washing machine washes my dirty clothes utilizing that handy indoor plumbing, the dryer dries our bedding, the dishwasher is doing its job, a loaf of purchased bread sits on the counter waiting for the roast, which cooks unattended in my self cleaning, temperature controlled oven. My backache isn't slowing me down because I took a couple Advil with breakfast - a bowl of cereal I simply poured from a box and topped with milk safely preserved for days in my fridge and a cup of coffee that took just a couple minutes to make.  In most cases it no longer takes ALL day to care for a home and family, though you may find yourself at a stage where it actually does... I said most cases, not all.

For some of us, these verses have actually kept us from our high calling. We've numbed the nagging sensation of something missing in our lives with exhausting part time jobs, excessively cleaning our homes, continually looking for needs to fill for our family members, taking up meaningless hobbies, scrolling Facebook, playing Angry Birds and watching reality TV. We've ignored deep desires that God gave us for years, believing they were our failure to be content in this “high calling.”

A New Place

And God pushed me out of the nest... out of this small group, which I did not wish to leave.  There was something going on, something God was dealing with me about, something I needed to get a grip on – just as those wise women said. He was about to open up a study that would impact my life like a freight train hitting a grocery cart.

One day my sister said to me, "Sometimes you feel pain or discomfort because it's the only way God can get you to MOVE!" God was saying something that I needed to hear... but I had to move to the place He was saying it.  A place where He was providing the direction I needed to move to the next place in our relationship.

We're all parts of the same body, but we're not the same part. We're all on a road trip with God, and it has similar checkpoints for all of us, the biochemist as well as the foster mom, the architect and the blog writer, the bakery owner and the grandmother raising a second generation. We're not all at the same checkpoint today.

Where are you in this road trip? 
  • Building my relationship with God
  • Wondering... Who am I?
  • This is my passion but what do I do with it?
  • I'm picking up momentum!
  • Living it daily!
  • Transitioning to something new
  • or are you in a stage of consulting, mentoring and advising?

Share this post and leave a comment telling about your road trip. Give a description of the scenery where you are right now, and tell me where you've come from.

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