Thanks for checking back to find out what happened next in my ‘godly woman thing.’ The backstory in last week’s blog tells you details of what prompted this quest and how desperate I was to do whatever was required to become a godly woman. At the time, I wasn’t really sure what that meant or how to get there, but I knew life lived on any basis other than according to the Word, the will, and the ways of God was a life that would neither satisfy nor be truly significant.
Because of how deeply personal this journey was, I did not know how to handle it except as a solitary struggle. I didn’t tell friends or family how deeply frustrated and unsettled I was, and I certainly kept up my “I’ve got everything together” façade. After all, a Christian girl trying to be good should be happy and fulfilled, right? Wrong! I was a mess! And I was struggling so much because that expectation was one of many false, worldly ideas I had accepted as truth. When I began this journey, I was a Christian, I loved Jesus, I was studying the Word, I was praying, but something was still missing. I was not yet to the point of recognizing and rejecting ungodly ideas and choosing to live according to the precepts and principles of God by the power of His Spirit. I lacked the reality of being “transformed by the renewing of my mind” that the Apostle Paul writes of in Romans 12:2. I had spent way too much time and energy trying to be happy and fulfilled when what I really needed to focus on was being holy, set apart for God, and filled with His Spirit. Big difference!
While studying and meditating on the Word of God was beginning to produce tremendous results in my heart and mind, I considered that learning from other godly women would be beneficial. But I had to ask the Lord to help me there, too, because we had lived in Houston only a short time, so I didn’t know an older woman that I felt comfortable asking for help. One woman came to mind as I prayed: Elisabeth Elliot. My soul had been indelibly marked by her godly character and the powerful story of her life with husband Jim Elliot, who was killed along with four other young missionaries bringing the gospel to an unreached group of Indians in Ecuador in the 1950s. She became an author and speaker, and I was privileged to have met her while I was in college. She conveyed heavenly wisdom and tremendous insight into the person and plan of God in a straightforward manner that both inspired and challenged me, so I decided to read Elliot’s book of notes on womanhood, Let Me Be a Woman, that she had written to her daughter. I was at once irritated and intrigued by her ideas. One chapter, “The Soul Is Feminine,” introduced me to the concept that God used to revolutionize my life—that God’s ultimate design for His daughters, as detailed in Psalm 144:12b, is to be a pillar ‘fit for a palace.’ I certainly liked the palace implication! Yes, God meant for me to be a queen! Wrong again. He meant for me to be a pillar. Huh? I had asked God for a picture that I could understand; now I faced the challenge of finding out what it meant. God was absolutely faithful to answer every question I asked, no matter how many times He had to show me the answer before I would accept it.
A godly woman, what I wanted to be, is one devoted to God. The more time I spent in the Word, the more obvious it became that I was more devoted to myself, my own ideas, and my own interests than I was to God. I had no clue how clueless I was with respect to my thoughts about God and about myself! Here is a foundational truth you must come to terms with: Apart from a proper (biblical) view of God, you cannot have a proper view of yourself. And apart from a proper view of yourself, you cannot properly apply biblical truth to your life. By God’s grace, I was ready “to get on down to the real nitty gritty,” as the old song says. Translation: I had to admit I was on the wrong track, and I had to submit my mind, my will, and my emotions to Him for examination and course correction. What did I really believe about God? Where did I get my ideas about Him, about me, about life? What was the basis of my system of core values and beliefs? Were the decisions I was making based on biblical truth or my own sense of right and wrong? Where did my strongly held opinions originate? The ideas of our world system will fill our heads with false information and false promises based on false ideas about God and ourselves. And our experiences and emotions will validate those false ideas if we let them. It was painful to admit that I was in this predicament because of my own rebellious, independent spirit, but I knew I must come clean before the Lord and trust Him to show me my error, forgive my sin, and establish me in His truth. Keep in mind that I’m reducing a years-long journey to fit in a few blogs posts. None of this process was quick or easy. This major overhaul in my thinking was a HUGE hurdle for me, but the dividends it paid were truly amazing!
A determination to pursue God and His truth is absolutely necessary to combat the uncertainty and fear that arises along the way. The Bible is replete with stories of men and women who chose to seek the Lord, live according to His truth, and reject the way of the world, like Job, Noah, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, Mary, Mary Magdelene, and others. Reading in Scripture the stories of courageous, faithful people made me aware that the journey to godliness includes a level of faith and obedience that only God can supply. These people, and countless others throughout history, made the decision to seek and follow God’s plan no matter the obstacles, the opposition, or the outcome. They suffered rejection, persecution, trials of every sort, exile, and even death, yet they faithfully pursued God and His plan for their lives without the guarantee of an easy path or a happy ending. Guess what? My journey toward deeper devotion to God would be no different. And yours will include difficulties as well. Despite the level of difficulty of the journey, I was desperate enough to forge ahead. Are you?
Unfortunately, opposition is virtually guaranteed when you get serious about pursuing God. Thus, it is imperative to recognize that Satan, the evil one, will show up to try to disable and destroy the plans and purposes of God in your life. He always uses the same strategy: By deception and craftiness, he leads believers’ minds astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Jesus (2 Cor 11:3). He is a liar, the father of all lies, who continually lied to me and will continually lie to you! What was I getting myself into when I embarked on this godly woman thing? A battle for my heart and soul. But it was a battle Jesus had already won! I needed to learn how to live out that victory. I began to see that Satan had used three primary areas of influence to distort my thinking—my life experiences, the words and ideas of others (even well-meaning friends), and the lies of the world system in which I lived. Day after day, as part of the time I spent with the Lord, I was asking Him to reveal to me all the lies I had believed. He was faithful to consistently challenge me to measure every thought, idea, or opinion I had against the truth of the Word, Jesus Christ. For example, my view of God as a loving, faithful Father was totally messed up by my experiences with my earthly father. Hey, if I had taken a test about the perfection of the character of God, I would’ve scored an A+. But in reality, because my own father had rejected me, I believed the lie that God wouldn’t love and accept me. So, I began to scour the Bible for truth about God as my Father, and though it was a rigorous, often painful process, God was doing a fantastic work of cleansing and renewing my mind and heart, enabling me to receive, believe, and apply His truth. Each time He revealed an error in my belief system, I had to confess, to agree with God, that I had believed a lie. Then, I had to repent, literally change my mind about the issue, and choose to believe His truth, align myself under His authority, and walk in obedience to His Word. Another HUGE breakthrough for me! How deeply I began to experience the reality of Jesus’ statement in John 8:31-32—“If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples (learners) of Mine: and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” I’m shouting “hallelujah!” right now as I celebrate the freedom I have in Christ. I hope you are longing for that freedom as you read this blog.
I hope you’ll spend some time this week examining your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Are they biblically-based or worldly? Is it possible a faulty worldview is keeping you in a place of frustration and disappointment? Ask God for the courage and fortitude you will need to ask and answer the hard questions about yourself. My prayer is that you will desire a deep, devoted relationship with Jesus, the lover of your soul, and that you are willing to do the hard work of humbling yourself, presenting yourself to God, and asking Him to do whatever repair work is necessary—a minor tune-up or a major overhaul. I’m praying for you!
Next week I’ll finally get to the details of what life as a godly woman, a pillar fashioned for a palace, looks like. You don’t want to miss it!