One of the reasons why we love to read the biographies of Christian women -and the stories of faithful women in the Bible- is that we can see how they endured many difficult circumstances not with a bitter attitude or a complaining spirit, but always focused on doing the next thing in front of them by grace through faith. In prisons, in the jungle, in their sickbed, in their kitchen, in a marriage with unfaithful husbands or unbelieving children, these women set an example to us of joyful and faithful obedience to God in all sort of situations.
I love the story of Rahab (found in Joshua 2). She was the kind of woman that we would encourage our sons to run away from and yet, one day, she believed that salvation comes from God alone. She had a change of her heart, which was evident in her change of loyalties. Rahab hid the spies that Joshua had sent to Jericho and helped them escape through the window of her house. Faithful obedience was the first fruit of her conversion. Rahab didn’t submit to the king of Jericho, but to her new King, the God of Israel and God blessed her for that. Rahab’s story doesn’t end there, the fruit of her faithful obedience is evidenced in that she became part of the linage of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 1).
Ruth’s faithful obedience was hard too. She was a widow with empty hands in a foreign land. The possibilities that her life would change for the better were few, but she chose faithful obedience instead of the despair of an unbelieving heart. Ruth came under the Covenant of the God of Israel leaving behind her false gods, and in doing so, she started doing the next thing that God put in front of her. Event after event, all lined up as in a most natural sequence, God led her in His Providence to a path of obedience. And because she walked faithfully there, God brought her under the wing of a redeemer that transformed all her circumstances and the history of the world -she became the grandmother of King David, and we know that from that line, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, would come.
Mary the Mother of Jesus is another example of faithful obedience in the Bible. She was chosen to carry in her womb the promised Messiah that would save the world. Faithful obedience could have cost her her own life, but she put aside her fears -which were real!- held fast to the Word of God (compare her song with the song of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1) and did the next thing: she answered to the announcement of the Angel, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Her faithful obedience brought her to a place of true blessedness.
There are many more women in the Bible whom God used because of their faithful obedience. In the book of Acts, for example, we read how women of great influence were key to the growth of the early church. Faithful obedience for them meant that they had to use their preeminence to support the apostles and the church. Persecution was always a danger, but they persevered faithfully where God had them and faithfully did the next thing.
And we can go on and on, telling the stories of many women in the early church whose faithful obedience led them to places in which blessedness looked differently than what the hashtag #blessed would mean today. The mouth of the lions, the stake, dark dungeons witnessed the day when they laid down their lives in faithful obedience to God. They loved Jesus more than life itself. They died as martyrs so that we could be encouraged to face opposition by the grace of God.
Monica’s faithful obedience drove her to her knees day after day to pray for the conversion of her son Augustine. And after 17 years of faithful obedience -that in her case meant praying without ceasing for her son, the Lord answered her cries for mercy and she saw her son coming to the Lord. Augustine later became one of the most strongest pillars in the Christian faith.
Women in the Reformation were ready to offer their faithful obedience to contribute to the revival God was bringing to the world. They opened their homes, hosted meetings, sang hymns, wrote books, married and had children. They were faithful in the face of all opposition and set an example for us, so that we may too be encouraged to follow their steps.
Centuries later Corry Ten Boom and her family risked their lives hiding Jews during WWII . Why? Because they knew that obeying God rather men was where true joy was found. She and her family were taken prisoners into the Nazi camps and even there their faithful obedience to God was always present, always transforming the most horrible moments into opportunities that let them see God’s grace at work.
Darlene Deibler Rose tells her gripping story in her book, Evidence Not Seen, A Women’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II. And as we turn pages, we see a woman who loved God and His Word so much that had a life in which faithful obedience was a mark of her Christianity. And her faithful obedience in extremely painful situations should make us want to persevere in faithful obedience where we are at today.
Elizabeth Elliot is another woman whose life was characterized by faithful obedience. She put aside over and over again her own feelings to do the next thing she knew God asked from her. She was never a slave to her emotions but at all times she submitted her emotions to the Word of God. Her faithful obedience is worth imitating.
The examples abound and they are not far from us or hidden from us. Even today, I can confidently -and very gratefully- say that we are surrounded by women whose lives are an example to us of faithful obedience to the Lord. They live faithfully in their own “here and now.” These women keep doing the next thing in front of them, and in their obedience they find their joy in the Lord increased and His peace in their hearts.
This is the heart behind this new series: How does faithful obedience looks like today in the life of ordinary Christian women? Some friends of mine will be sharing with us some of the stories in which they have experienced how choosing faithful obedience to Christ and His Word is better than anything else. I trust that the Lord will use these stories to encourage you to will and to work towards a life of faithful obedience.
As you read this series (every upcoming Wednesday) you will notice one thing, faithful obedience to Christ is not possible because of the determination and forbearance of hard-core women. Faithful obedience is only possible when we are in Christ (read Ephesians). And it is only because of Him that learning contentment through the hardest circumstances is possible. It is only through Christ that we can do all things that He calls us to do. It is only by His grace that these women can say, “Faithful obedience to Christ and His Word is possible even in the midst of this.”
Let me close now with these words from Elisabeth Elliot,
“Does it make sense to pray for guidance about the future if we are not obeying in the thing that lies before us today? How many momentous events in Scripture depended on one person’s seemingly small act of obedience! Rest assured: Do what God tells you to do now, and, depend upon it, you will be shown what to do next.”
May we have a heart willing to obey God in the here and in the now.
Under His Sun and by His grace,
PC by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash