Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wifedom and Submission (modern day swearword)

Lately Ive been contemplating what it means to be a wife.

Aside from my usual cries to Dad about my career related 'when will I finally be an OT' nightmares, my most frequent cry for help is this:

"God, I don't know how to be a wife!!"

And I often times feel pathetic for crying out like that when theres multiple bibles all over the house illustrating some brillaint examples of wives and some truly heinous examples as well as stories of women who do their best, still sin, screw up, anger themselves, their husbands and others, my faveorite of course being the history of Sarah. "The mother of our faith" as the apostle Peter says. REALLY?? You've got to be joking. What about Rahab or Ruth for crying out loud.. Those are exemplary women who showed obvious faith. Where in the bible does it say Sarah was faithful?

  • This is a woman, who laughed at God. In case you didnt know, thats not a good idea.
  • This is the woman who got so frustrated at Gods timing that she took matters into her own hands and gave her husband a mistress, and when that blew up in her face she then blamed him! Because of a woman taking matters into her own hands instead of waiting on Gods timing there were two heirs instead of one, boys who grew up resenting and hating each other and as a result their descendants have pretty much forever been fighting ever since (Arabs and Jews).
  • This woman as a result of this mistake, instead of repented, coveted another woman and started abusing her instead.
  • When her husband tried to save his own skin and lied about her being his sister to the Pharaoh, no where does it say "Sarah replied, 'Abe you're acting like an idiot."
"For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. " - 1 Peter 3:5-6

No offence, Peter but why on earth did you use Sarah as an example for biblical submission? All her mistakes were due to fear.

Because of course part of being a christian wife is submission right?

Tonight was a fantastic example. After being tight with our money for a while and stressing out over our budget, I thought I had no right to ask to be taken out on a date (NOT one held at McDonalds), but I couldnt help but long for Steven to just get up and take me somewhere as a treat no matter how cheap. And while I was out in the garden weeding and getting my hands and knees filthy, he quietly plans to take me to a restaurant and movie.
I submit to that!

I think Peter used Sarah as an illustration as christian wife material not because she was the annoyingly perfect housewife from Proverbs 31 but because she was the noisy, argumentative, sarcastic, sinning and fearful wife of a faithful man was also was far from perfect. He chose her because she was imperfect and in need of grace.

That gives me hope.
Yes, Sarah started the Middle East conflict, but its not how you start but how you finish. When Sarah died, the bible says that Abe was distraught and mourned for months. And from Sarah came a lineage of unlikely  women like her -

A blackmailer/extortioner (Tamar)
A prostitute/traitor (Rahab)
A widow from a pagan family with a legacy of incest (Ruth)
An adulteress and co-conspirator of murder (Bathsheba)
A poor, illiterate teenage peasant girl (Mary)

I love how God redeemed these women and gave them the honour of being the mother and maternal descendants of Jesus Christ.

The submission thing. Some women hate the very word. When I put submission + Jesus = I see love.
When I see Husband + Wife(submissive) = I am afraid. And I have every right to be. Women have the right to be fearful of submitting to a husband who they don't trust to have their interests and welfare first. That is why I exhort women who are dating to hold the men they are considering as a husband to a very high standard - Gods standard. If a man properly worships the God of the bible and desires to imitate Jesus Christ, then the number one thing on his list of things to do as a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and human kind. Sacrificially lay his life down for her, lead her, love her, encourage her, convict her, support her, provide for her. If you receive that as a wife then submitting to that kind of husband becomes not so hard as the world thinks.`

Of course thats easier said than done. I only have to look around and see the world isn't perfect like that. Thats why the theology of sin makes so much sense to me. How can we not believe in sin? My husband doesn't always love and lead and encourage and convict perfectly. I don't always submit, love, support, build up as a I should do. Sometimes Steven gets lazy and ambivalent and I get arrogant and controlling. But our love for God never goes away. If we have dry periods, its because of the support and community of our church family that we stick at it. Even if we don't feel like it, the discipline of bible reading and study pushes us on through our tough spots. In painful times its when we reacquaint our knees with the carpet and cry out to God like a child calls for their loving Dad that helps, and He always comes. And in the periods of overflow and joyful faith in our marriage, the prayer and bible study and serving each other and leading and submitting becomes a honorable joy not a burden

So I make it my business to make this equation:

Steven (submitting to Jesus= sacrificing for Melody) + Melody (submitting to Steven) = That can definitely work.

I heard a fantastic sermon on wives and submission by Pastor Mark Driscoll once, he made some excellent points on what is and isnt godly submission in a marriage:

Submission doesn't mean:
  • A husband is in ultimate authority.
  • A wife does not have independent thoughts. 
  • A wife does not seek to influence her husband. 
  • A wife must obey her husband’s command to sin. 
  • A wife is less intelligent or competent than her husband
Submission does mean:
  • A husband and wife are equal with complementary roles like a right and a left hand. 
  • Wives are to submit like Jesus did in Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). 
  • Husbands are to lovingly lead like Jesus does the Church (Eph. 5:25). 
  • A single woman should only marry a man she can follow. 
  • Christian marriage should illustrate the Trinity and the gospel.

Help me Dad. Help me to give up my pain and fear to you. Help me to give up my self righteousness, arrogance and firery tongue. Encourage and tell me how to comfort and rebuke while knowing the difference when to do the other. Please open my ears and eyes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

First Post for 2011

Boy has it been a long time!!

Thats what happens when you start a blog for the sake of an assignment and forget to carry it on once the assignment is done.

So currently Ive no idea what to base this blog on except to sift through my own rambling thoughts on things I wish I could talk about more if it werent for the fact Id know peoples eyes (and heads) would roll.

I'll start with what Im reading.

With my fiance Im currently reading a book called Becoming a Prayer Warrior by Elizabeth Alves.
The thing is, my church here in Christchurch (Grace Vineyard) became geographically misplaced after the major earthquake that hit us last February and among many buildings that were severely and irrevocably damaged, so was our church building on Ferry Road. I suspect, the leaders and those who grew up in the building and had ties there feel the pain more than I do (as I only permanently joined the congregation in January). Anyway, Spreydon Baptist Church has graciously allowed us to use their church building til our leaders figure out our situation. So the big question is should we stay or should we leave Ferry Rd. They feel the prophetic need to teach us out of Nehemiah since the parallels are so uncanny as the theme of that book is physical, emotional, social and spiritual rebuilding. And one of the things theyve implemented is a time called Hope Rising, where the combined churches of Spreydon and Grace have been called to pray and fast for 3 weeks. The leaders feel that doing so is biblical and in my opinion smart after such an upheaval that an earthquake brings.

So the point is, that everyone is encouraged to give up something (typically a meal or multiple meals) and in that time pray for 3 weeks. The first week for ourselves and families, the second week for our church and the third week for the city and its leadership.

well the week before it started I prayed about it because I don't like going hungry and Id rather give up something else, but I felt God say to fast on Monday. Start my week focusing on God I suppose.
So last week I did just that and went hungry on Monday and spent the majority of the day either praying or reading my bible. It was incredibly uncomfortable (as I said I like the feel of having food in my stomach) and in all honesty I was wondering what sort of impact this was going to have on me as I wasnt really inviting the idea of doing this EVERY Monday. So anyway, I base my weeks praying on my needs and the needs of my fiance. And hardly surprising was our need for money. We had our WOF and Rego needing to be paid, while looking for a flat to rent once we're married, I had become officially unemployed and we still have wedding and honeymoon things to be paid for. So money is an issue right now. We're not painfully flat broke but we are at the level where we are praying over any and everything to do with money.

But wonderful things started happening. Our WOF check failed (as expected) but our bill wasnt as high as we thought it would be. We discovered money in our bank account that we did not budget for, so we were able to put a deposit on our honeymoon and we found a flat to rent within 3 days of looking AND Steven's boss asked me for my resume so he could see if he could find a position for me or at the least hand it on to others he know could help me.

So after the first week, was praying while hungry worth it? Heck yes.

So back to the book.
In the second week of praying (completed my 2nd fast yesterday a lot more cheerfully lol) and I thought to myself, what gives me the impression that my prayer life is great? Or even adequate? Admittedly these days I havent prayed with as much fervour as when I was a teenager when I prayed constantly and passionately. I realised, Ive actually have been very slack in this area of my walk and maybe its time for a bit of spiritual pruning, so I got a book from the church library to read and get some more ideas.

Onto the second chapter at the moment, and its a very good read and Steven and I had a fantastic discussion about it last night.

Before I go I'll share an interesting thing that happened this morning.

Two nights ago while I was reading my prayer book I was reading a bit on the difference between normal prayer and intercessory prayer. I dont think Ive fully figured it out but by my thinking intercessory prayer is when the Holy Spirit deliberately puts someone in your mind for you to pray for immediately. Theres been tons of freaky stories where people have interceded for someone at a weird time of the day/night to later find out that the person they were praying for was in a potentially or very harming situation, then to be saved by something or someone at that exact time. Other times it can be spiritual warfare intercessory prayer for someone. Sometimes God tells you whats happening to that person, other times he doesnt.
So anyway, I thought to myself, wouldnt that be an interesting experience.

To cut it short, I woke up this morning with the sensation of someone abruptly waking me up. I thought it was Mum cos she does it all the time but she wasnt there and the minute my mind focused on the fact that it was morning, into my head popped the face of a person I havent talked to since highschool. I wasnt even friends with this person we were just classmates who uttered a hello to each other a few times a year. It was totally weird, and I felt a huge sense of urgency to pray for them (though I had no idea what to pray). And I said out loud "God can't I just snuggle in my warm bed and casually hope the best for that person wherever they are?" The response I got - "No!"
So I literally stumbled out and onto my knees next to my bed to pray for this person and words started comming out that I didnt know I had. WEIRD. I hope it helped though.