Hannah (1 Samuel 1,2:1-11) exemplified strength clothed in joyful sacrifice. She cried before God for a son. When her prayer was answered, she kept her promise to take him and offer him to God. This mother took the treasure in her life and left him at the temple and then sang praises to God.
Often we think sacrifice is only for those in ministry. I know women who are not even Christians – in the military, diplomatic corps, international business – who make sacrifices. The difference is that, when you and I sacrifice, it has eternal meaning. My God works all things for good and for His glory. I have joy in sacrifice, for “the joy of the Lord is [my] strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived at the intersection of the supernatural and the natural worlds. She lived the rest of her life in her culture known as an “unwed mother.” We romanticize about Mary and her life and what happened to Jesus, but she was never understood. In Mary’s culture the greatest thing you had as a woman was your honor. If you lost that, you lost everything.
Mary practiced discretion. God opened the mysteries of His purposes to her in relation to her son and what He was doing, and Mary hid those things “in her heart” (Luke 2:19). She didn’t talk about it. When God reveals things to us about His plans and purposes, do we talk about them? A woman of strength knows when not to share what God is doing.
Mary wasn’t always silent. At the wedding in Cana of Galilee she spoke one sentence: “Do what [Jesus] tells you” (John 3:5). She used her influence to say, in essence, “You can trust Jesus. I know Him.”
We too can say to our world, “You can trust Jesus. I know Him.” Sometimes that’s all we can do. God has given us influence. Are you using it? May God give us the wisdom to know when to hide things in our heart and the wisdom to know when to speak and use our influence for His glory.
Mary was modest. Modesty is an internal quality. Having a moderate opinion of oneself means one does not call undo attention to oneself. Modesty is liberating. Because our culture no longer provides guidelines for what is appropriate behavior or speech or demeanor, everything is our faces regarding sexuality and self-focus and self-attention. Biblical modesty can be summed up in what John the Baptist said, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). Internal modesty will be demonstrated and reflected in how I dress, how I walk and how I relate to people.
Deborah, the prophetess, was listening to the voice of God. She wanted to obey, but she was also sensitive to culturally defined gender roles. She sent for Barak (Joshua 4:6). We need to be sensitive to the male leaders we are partnering with and how God using us is going to affect them. Strength without a framework of sensitivity is undermined. It needs that context.
Deborah led the army into battle one time. The rest of the time she was a prophetess. We need wisdom to know what battles to fight. All of us to fight some battles, but He hasn’t called us to fight all the battles. You won’t be in front of the army every time it goes out. Sometimes God says, “No, this one isn’t yours; sit it out.”
Over the years the Lord has given me a growing sense of which battles are mine and which are not. Some battles are controversial. Don’t fight them just because they are good causes. Because, if God has given you a specific battle to fight, if you are also fighting a controversial one, people will identify you with the controversial one rather than the primary battle.
Pentecostal women must be in touch with the times and this has nothing to do with age. Some of the youngest women I know are in their 70s, and they can relate to young women. We need to know what God is saying to our nation, to our community, to our church. What is He saying to AIDS victims? Little girls who have been sexually abused? To the disillusioned? To those who have no faith? Politics does not define the heart of God. He loves people. He cries over people. He sent His Son to die for people.
I need the anointing when I deal with my teenage daughter who loves God, but she comes home from school and I can sense and feel the influence of Satan working against her mind and her spirit. I don’t need lots of words; I need right words.
Women, what are you doing with your voice? You have a circle of influence. Are you using it for God — not just in the sacred place, but in the secular place, as well? The Spirit of the Lord is upon us.
At one point, David and I were struggling and God gave me a vision. I shared it with David. Some of the greatest ministry we have and the anointing we need is for those closest to us. It’s not for 500 people. But what happens is, if I’m available to God to be anointed to speak into the hearts of my family and friends and those in the schools and wherever I go, then it’s not hard to let the anointing flow when I come to church where we are all believers. By Acts 2, the dynamic of the Spirit on the disciples was already out of the Upper Room; it was in the streets. Women of God, let’s use our voices for God in our communities, our cities and our nation so changes can come in the name of Jesus.