Sometimes it's Better to Receive

Women are very good doers.  We write lists, multi-task, and get things done.  God created women to be helpers and has equipped us with much strength to do so.  However, today I want to propose that maybe our best gifts are a bit more inert.  There are many things that we cannot do, and should not do.  Whoa, I know that is an outlandish statement to make in this feminist, woman-power culture.  Women cannot and should not do everything they set their mind to.  Sometimes it’s better to receive. As the Catechism states, humans were made to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  Since God is greatly glorified through His Son, Jesus Christ; I have to ask how we as women model the gospel and how we reflect Christ.  I would say much of that is through receiving.  I want to discuss what we receive in our natural life, our spiritual life, and how our ambitious doings fit into the equation. What we receive in our natural life: First of all in our natural life, we receive life.  The creation account tells us that Eve was made from the rib of man.  Focusing on what that means for a woman, we see a leadership component from the start in Adam’s sacrifice for his lady.  Furthermore, Adam names Eve, Isha (woman) because she comes from Ish (man).  The feminine Hebrew ending adds a softer meaning to woman’s name.  As Eve received her name from Adam, the tradition has continued for a woman to take her husband’s last name in marriage.  Many women today wish not to be identified by their husband’s name because right away it is an act of submission, recognizing the husband’s governmental priority in the relationship.  However, most are born with their father’s last name, of which they have received. What we receive in our Spiritual Life: There is much receiving taking place in the spiritual lives of both men and women.  We receive new birth through the Holy Spirit by faith, which is also obtained as a gift (Eph. 2:8-9).  We receive a special dose of God’s grace every Sunday through the preached word and the sacraments.  By this, we are receiving Christ and all His benefits.  In our new spiritual identity, we are once again receiving a name—Christian.  A woman’s special role in the natural world as helper and receiver reflects Christ and His gospel in many ways.  Jesus was in full submission to His Father’s will.  He will always be.  Our submission in marriage and church leadership is a model of Christ’s submission.  It is also a model of the church’s submission to Christ.  Women reflect the gospel when we, as Elizabeth Elliot put it, “…receive the given as Mary did, not to insist on the not-given as Eve did”(Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem, Crossway, 2006).  Elizabeth explains how Eve refused her femininity when she refused to accept the will of God.  Do we want to continue behaving like Eve, working against God’s precious gifts to us?  What About All of our Ambitions? Like I said, God has graciously equipped women with many different strengths to help in the human pursuit of the Cultural Mandate, as well as in our responsibility as Christian disciple’s to fulfill the Great Commission.  I for one, have all kinds of ideas cooking in my head of things to do in these callings.  But just because God has gifted me in certain ways, or given me an ambitious mind, doesn’t mean that my goals for how these tasks should be accomplished are the same as His great plan.  There are three hedges that help direct me along my way:  my church’s leadership, my husband’s leadership, and God’s providence.  First off, I need to ask the question, am I operating within my proper, biblical perimeters as taught by my church?  Church elders should be clear on the proper functions and roles of men and women.  Secondly, do my ideas hinder my husband in his responsibilities?  In other words, am I functioning within my God-given role as a helper?  Furthermore, do I have my husband’s support?  If the light is still green, we can move forward with our ambitions as they glorify God.  All the while we need to be aware that our significance is found in Christ, who is sufficient.  No goal of my own will ever fulfill me or give me my value.  My value is found in Christ alone: not in my husband, my motherhood, my service, or my career.  The third hedge is a little trickier.  God may set us out on a certain path.  He may give us a passion, equip us well to serve in a certain area, and give us all the green lights to pursue it.  We may go at it confidently and diligently only to find a closed door in the end.  Did we fail?  Not necessarily.   I’m only willing to call it failure if we have sinned.  (And, amazingly, our gracious God can even pick up our failures and use them for His glory.)  My encouragement is to be humbly ambitious.  Receive the gifts and passions God gives you, and go after them.  All the while be ready to let go at all times for the Ultimate Satisfaction—the pearl of great price.  Accept God’s answers with confidence, without sulking.  There’s no “to do list” for life!  I can’t make that list.  I have to say, I feel stronger than ever about God’s plan for my life, but I couldn’t be more clueless to what it actually is!  I’m confident in His truth, in His direction for me, and in my eschatological goals, but not in many of the details He is working to get me there.  As I prayerfully consider all my rabbit trails along the way, my resignation is: Lord You reign, the way You want to! Further Meditation: Eph. 5:22-33, Phil. 2:1-11