Monday, December 28, 2015

Traversing the Testaments: Word Studies for Women, An Introduction

Breathtaking vistas.  Gushing waterfalls.  Immense panoramas of eye catching splendor.  Whether it was hiking Yosemite (pictured above), traversing the immense Grand Canyon, trudging through turrets in China’s Great Wall, or finding a shortcut up the mountains of Nepal, I’ve witnessed a treasure trove of amazing sights in my lifetime.  But as I consider the vast wonders of knowledge contained in God's Word, I am awed that these other views, which comprise splendid screen savers and magnificent memories, actually dwarf in comparison to the words of God, which He has preserved forever.
And yet, for years of my life, these words, contained in the precious pages of Scripture, remained completely uncharted territory.  Traversing China’s Great Wall some years ago, I felt the the conspicuous sense that modern man had failed to touch this antiquated region and it remained, in many ways, unscathed by the litany of legislation that might surround it in another location.  The same dearth of human interference existed as we hiked rim to rim across the Grand Canyon, where, with only the light of a flashlight to guide us, we traversed slender footpaths that overlooked treacherous heights.  In Nepal, we careened about mountain paths in a heavily-laden Land Rover, beeping our horn in hopes that no larger vehicle was approaching from the opposite direction.  There, too, where we saw a bus toppled from a mountain summit, I felt the lack of OSHA regulations, of protective fences that contain warning signs so familiar to the majority of visitors who stay in the popular areas of national parks in the United States.
But, unlike the sheer cliffs of the Himalayas or the dipping Rift Valley, which I experienced this past summer, God’s Word contains no “off limits” signs as far as word investigation goes.  One can open up this Book, study a word in its context and throughout the Bible for its usage, and unearth incredible treasures.  And yet, for years, this landscape lay completely unknown to me.
How did that change?  The shift occurred a few weeks after our marriage, when my husband encouraged me to begin not simply reading but actually developing a plan in which I would study a portion of the Bible each week.  As I began taking time to "study to show [my]self approved unto God," (2 Timothy 2:15) I noticed that this Book began to blossom before me beautifully, in a way I had not previously experienced.  
Have you ever assumed that, because you do not know Hebrew or Greek, you must not be as capable of studying God’s Word as one familiar with these languages would be?  I did.  Have you perhaps assumed that focusing on your womanly role is of more importance for you than is studying God's Word?  I did.

          While it is true that we ought to serve our husbands and families, preferring them above ourselves, it is likewise certain that we must envision God as He is, holy and set apart from us.  He must be worshiped and esteemed very highly in our personal lives.  “Enoch,” the Bible tells us, “walked with God” (Genesis 5:22, 24).  This decision Enoch made and aspired to.  Walking with God—it’s a phrase we hear frequently but today, as you go about your daily duties, consider just how much time you spend walking.  You walk from your bedroom in the morning and walk down the stairs to begin your morning routine.  You walk about in your home and outside your home, accomplishing daily tasks, walking as you go.  As you walk this day, is God with you?  Certainly as the omnipresent One, His Spirit is everywhere present.  And yet, does He permeate your existence?  Do you walk in His company upon first arising and, if summoned during the night by a crying child or a pesky family pet, do you turn first to Him?  Is He the One to Whom you bow in humble submission in the evening, before you drift off to sleep?  Does He consume your dreams, even, shaping the life you pictured and making it instead His dream come true?  And how do you respond to His gentle promptings, His still, small voice that guides your path with gentle proddings, “This is the way; walk ye in it” (Isa. 30:21)?
How such fellowship seems distant and unattainable at times!  The pressures of life weighing in upon us, the insecurities caused by our own weak personalities, the latent conflict that seems to arise so easily under certain circumstances—these reek havoc upon our souls.  So frequently, these upsetting situations disturb the inward peace that our Prince of Peace longs to partition to us in abundance!
Imagine the dread of the disciples as they saw waves crashing into their small bark on the Sea of Galilee, filling the ship, and threatening their lives.  And all the while, the Savior rode along in the back of the ship, undisturbed, at peace, asleep.  At last, when the foaming sea became too much for them, the disciples arrested His attention, pleading in frustration, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?”
We know the words of Christ, Who said to the wind and waves, “Peace, be still.”  But we are not given His thoughts.  Perhaps He pondered how the Father had, in the words of David, “beset [these disciples] behind and before" (Ps. 139:5), how His own right hand upheld them, how the Father knew their present circumstances, being “acquainted with all [their] ways” (Ps. 139:3)  As Christ stilled their storm, so in the midst of our turbulence is peace possible.   
How Martha was encumbered with much serving!  And our lives, too, can be consumed with this worthy task.  Christ Himself, the Master, taught us that service to others is in itself a reflection of our lowly Lord and Savior, Who girded himself with a towel and washed His disciples’ feet.  He came, we learn, “not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matt. 10:28). And being in the form of God, He “thought it not robbery to be equal with God but made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant" (Phil. 2:6-7).  But in our service, in every act of work done for the Kingdom, in every word of kindness offered another, in each deed, Jesus Himself must be present with us, enabling us for our every task, empowering our actions, and energizing us so that it is “not I but Christ” whom others view when they see us at work. 
Truly, Martha’s can be the plight of many dear Christian women, for when our Lord reminded this focused, well-intentioned, serving woman that “one thing is needful” (Luke 10:42), He proceeded to commend Mary for choosing that worthy portion.  One thing—that is the focus of this article series.  The one needful thing that is essential in our lives:  waiting, resting at the feet of Jesus. 
Our eyes frequently see only the needs about us—physical tasks and duties comprising our obligations.  That vision too frequently results in a heart of impatience, ingratitude, or independence.  But a heart of quiet rest can become realized amidst the bustle of activity as our eyesight becomes adjusted to viewing the world God’s way. Then, in the courts of eternity, we shall hear, “You have chosen that good part (Luke 10:42) and, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21).

This upcoming year, I plan to share a weekly article series compiling God’s working in my life as a result of particular word studies.  I truly hope it will serve as a challenge to you to study for yourself the living, powerful Word of God (Hebrews 4:12)!