“We are called to be women. The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian. But the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman.”
I spent this women’s history month highlighting thirteen women, fellow sisters in Christ, who lived lives that were clear expressions of their faith in him. Time would fail me to cover the many more I didn’t mention.
Of the thirteen women I chose, they could not have been more different: single, married, widowed, childless, mothers. Their lives spanned different decades, across the globe, and occupied different socioeconomic classes. Yet they are all linked by the common thread of their faith that led to lives directed by a singular ambition: to know Christ and make him known. And God used the work of their hearts, hands, and minds to make his name great.
They did not have ambitions of revolution (though some of their work led to such things), self-fulfillment, comfort, wealth, power, or fame; but simply to live the lives they had been gifted, in obedience to the God who had created them in precisely their position and place in time. They endured in faith under persecution, harsh cultural realities, ill health, rejection, loneliness, loss, and injustice, and yet they continued to labor obediently and joyfully, stewarding their unique lives well.
These women submitted to Christ, placed themselves gladly in the hands that had been torn for them, and made it their life’s work to obey his every command. They did so in 19th century Kanara, India and Nazi occupied Amsterdam; under the oppression of American slavery and beneath a looming French guillotine; in bible translating and in supporting husbands and pastors; in singlehood and motherhood; in wealth and poverty; in youthful vigor and debilitating health; in their daily life and into eternity.
As a result, what Rebecca Van Doodewaard says of Anna Reinhard, could be said of every one of them: “her faithful work outlived her body”.
Should our ambition be anything less?
We err on the side of thinking our struggles are unique in time, that our age is the only one to ask the question, “what is a woman?”. One need only pick up a single one of their biographies to learn the erroneous nature of this feeling. We can be well instructed in our time by looking back at these women, observing how they modeled joyful self-giving, perseverance and long-suffering, forgiveness and courage, unflinching commitment to truth–whatever the cost, all motivated by their deep love for their Savior.
We can learn so much from them.
How do we make faithful work our singular life ambition whatever our circumstance? “Not being served but serving. Not in self-actualization but in self-surrender” (Elisabeth Elliot).
Most of us won’t be written into history books, but we will be written in the Slaughtered Lamb’s Book of Life. May our ambition reflect that reality, may our life’s aim be a reflection of the truth that we have been purchased by the precious blood of Christ. May we steward well the gifts he has given us, using our place in our unique time and culture, our talents, our status, our relationships, all to bring him glory.
As each of those women entered the presence of the God whom they longed to see face-to-face, I am sure they heard the words spoken, “well done my good and faithful servant”, may those be the words we long to hear, and may we live our lives accordingly.
The Pastor’s Wife, By Sabina Wurmbrand
If I Perish By Esther Ahn Kim
Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon By Ray Rhodes Jr
A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael By Elisabeth Elliot
The Hiding Place By Corrie Ten Boom
Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More–Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist By Karen Swallow Prior