Women of Grace

She took refuge among the trees, feeling an unnatural rush of adrenaline and her heart pounding for the first time.  She had never felt this emotion of fear or what it did to her body.  Did she wonder what was wrong with her?  Why did the lush green canopy overhead suffocate and the brilliant colors of the flowers underneath suddenly bother her? She couldn’t do it.  She couldn’t face Him.  But He knew, of course.  He knew where they were and asked anyway.  Thankfully, He asked her husband first.
“Where are you?”
“I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked ; so I hid,” her husband’s voice sounded different from the one she knew.
“Who told you you were naked?  Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”  It felt like an accusation.
Then her husband did the unthinkable.  He blamed her for his actions.  “The woman you put me here with.  It was her fault.”   She could think of no better answer than to blame the serpent.  Didn’t that gorgeous creature deceive her? And then the Lord God whom she used to walk in the garden with cursed them.  Cursed them and threw them out.   Wait, was there hope?  Woven into the terror of being thrown out of their home, was there hope?
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and he will strike his heel.”  Genesis 3:15
Eve treasured every word.  Some day, another life that came through her would crush the serpent that had deceived her in the garden, the place she had known the most intimate life offered to humanity, and redeem creation.   Some day, another woman would come.
“Woman, behold your son,” Jesus spoke to his mother.  She had known His presence from the time he had been in the womb.  She had given birth to him and now she would not leave him in death.  Her sister and Mary of Magdala stood with her at the cross.  And John.  Dear John whom Jesus loved.  “Behold your mother,” the words came in agonizing breaths.  The end was near.  The beginning was near.  His mother would be cared for.   Everything was finished. 
Woman.  In the Greek,  gunai.
Only two places in Scripture is the word woman used so definitively without  “the” or “a” in front of it- in Genesis, when God refers to Eve, and in the New Testament, when Jesus addresses His mother at the wedding in Cana and from the cross (see Genesis 2:23; John 2:4; John 19:27).   Although it was not unusual for a man to use the word gune when addressing a woman, it was unusual that Jesus referred to Mary as gunai.   The English equivalent of gune and gunai sounds harsh, but in the Greek, it was an expression of gentleness.  Gunaiwas a deliberate referral to the fulfillment of the first prophecy of Jesus’ coming in Genesis 3:15. 
Jesus Christ wants us to be women.  He created you to be woman.   When we embrace all that Christ can do in us through the fullness of Christ that dwells in us through the Holy Spirit, we grow up.   We grow into women of grace.

Keeping It Clean

I love my new stove. I can’t even remember the last time, if ever, I owned a brand new stove that I picked out. The last 10 years of my life were spent in military housing mostly. But that’s another story…

My new stove is stainless and has a ceramic glass top (Samsung if anyone wants to know. I highly recommend Samsung.) The only problem with the stove top is that it is black. I should have read the directions first about keeping it clean. There are special cleansers that have to be used on it, and if you let spills sit, the top gets speckled and dirty PRET-TY quickly. And forget something like spilled spaghetti sauce that has hardened. That’s an hour job. Awww, but when it’s polished with the correct cloth and cleanser, it shines so that I can see my reflection in it. If I maintain it daily, the surface is protected, which keeps the upkeep of the entire stove in tact.

God reminded me that my soul, my being is like that stove top. When we read God’s Word regularly and spend time with Him in prayer, He shows us the dust and spots of dirt that need to be cleaned away. Maybe big spills of emotion have been internalized for a long time and a mess hardened our hearts. God showed me just yesterday that I was hardening my heart to grief. Through the Bible, God’s Holy Spirit reflects right back to us the instructions of life, the right way to view ourselves, the grace to fall and get back up again. And just like that stovetop, it’s easier if we are proactive in reading how to keep ourselves shiny.

James writes this:

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

(James 1:23-24 ESV)

Dear readers, don’t forget what God says about you! You are loved, redeemed by the price of Jesus’ life, precious in His sight. Knowing those truths enable us to live and give to others that same gift of love. I pray that you will be drawn to the beauty of God’s Word, that you will look to Christ to clean away the spills and then mirror the reflection of Him.