Sunday, November 12, 2006

Rescuing Beauty

I just got an email from a friend wondering about books and bible studies on bibical femininity and it has sent me into a whirlwind of everything i have learned recently so I decided to blog (again).

Bill Sparks, who spoke this weekend, read us a letter written by a missionary woman, Karen Watson, who went to glorify God with her life and death in Iraq. You can find her entire letter but there were a few things that stood out to me.

"I wasn't called to a place.
I was called to Him.
To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected,
His glory was my reward, His glory is my reward.
Care more than some think is wise.
Risk more than some think is safe.
Dream more than some think is practical.
Expect more than some think is possible.
I was called not to comfort or success but to obedience.
There is no Joy outside of knowing Jesus and serving Him."
So I have had an interesting two weeks... perhaps two weeks, perhaps this entire year. It seems our entire staff was undergoing some sort of down time, recently, and we couldn't do anything but keep our eyes on Jesus. An email I received was somewhat "stabbing" and it sent me into a questioning period where I wondered if I was "too free" with my heart. I love my vulnerability and I love that I share with no fear. Someone once told me I jumped head first into friendships, and although it scares me I try to live a life where I am willing to jump in and try things out. People included. I love people and I love learning about people.
But this last year has just been an interesting year... full of joys, tears, laughter, sleepless nights, and praise-filled mornings...
So two weeks I wandered, can you give your heart and not get hurt?
And then God brought me into this week... into healing, into teaching, into deeper friendships with my friends, and then this conference.
At a time where I prayed God would save my heart from being hardened, God softly directs my path into a time of healing and compassion.
Here are the things I am learning: (this is 99% for women)
God has given us all a "talent" and He has created us to be the mistresses of this talent- to rule this talent. But because we are all fallen/sinful we deny this talent, waste it, hide it, abuse the privilege and deny ourselves in the process. However, because of Jesus, though we are able to believe and work towards our created existence- we do not have to stay fallen but are redeemed to once again rule our talent. *Five Aspects*
"I felt as though I was about to fill a space in the world that was meant for me and had long awaited me, a mold as it were, made for me alone..." *Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn*
"We've all been given two calls. The universal call is to get to know God and the personal individual call can be discovered through: preparation, design, opportunity, and timing." *Bill Sparks*
"Care more than some think is wise..." *Karen Watson*
"And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with boldness." *Acts4:29*
"The government said that if he could not make the shape of the cross with one cut (of paper), they would execute him. All night he lay in jail and prayed that God would be merciful to His people, that He would give his love and spirit to the people. And in the night, God showed him how to fold the paper and make one cut." Bingchan telling a story of a man in China.
"You say I belong to You, apart from the things I do. You say I belong to You. I'm in awe of why You do. I'm in awe of You." *lyrics Jadon Lavik*
"A Challenge to Women" from John Piper (again you can find the whole thing at the link)
1 That all of your life—in whatever calling—be devoted to the glory of God.
2 That the promises of Christ be trusted so fully that peace and joy and strength fill your soul to overflowing.
3 That this fullness of God overflow in daily acts of love so that people might see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven.
4 That you be women of the Book, who love and study and obey the Bible in every area of its teaching. That meditation on Biblical truth be the source of hope and faith. And that you continue to grow in understanding through all the chapters of your life, never thinking that study and growth are only for others.
5 That you be women of prayer, so that the Word of God would open to you; and the power of faith and holiness would descend upon you; and your spiritual influence would increase at home and at church and in the world.
6 That you be women who have a deep grasp of the sovereign grace of God undergirding all these spiritual processes, that you be deep thinkers about the doctrines of grace, and even deeper lovers and believers of these things.
7 That you be totally committed to ministry, whatever your specific role, that you not fritter your time away on soaps or ladies magazines or aimless hobbies, any more than men should fritter theirs away on excessive sports or aimless diddling in the garage. That you redeem the time for Christ and his Kingdom.
8 That, if you are single, you exploit your singleness to the full in devotion to Christ and not be paralyzed by the desire to be married.
9 That, if you are married, you creatively and intelligently and sincerely support the leadership of your husband as deeply as obedience to Christ will allow; that you encourage him in his God-appointed role as head; that you influence him spiritually primarily through your fearless tranquility and holiness and prayer.
10 That, if you have children, you accept responsibility with your husband (or alone if necessary) to raise up children who hope in the triumph of God, sharing with him the teaching and discipline of the children, and giving to the children that special nurturing touch and care that you are uniquely fitted to give.
11 That you not assume that secular employment is a greater challenge or a better use of your life than the countless opportunities of service and witness in the home the neighborhood, the community, the church, and the world. That you not only pose the question: Career vs. full time mom? But that you ask as seriously: Full time career vs. freedom for ministry? ...And that in all this you make your choices not on the basis of secular trends or yuppie lifestyle expectations, but on the basis of what will strengthen the family and advance the cause of Christ.
12 That you step back and (with your husband, if you are married) plan the various forms of your life's ministry in chapters.
13 That you develop a wartime mentality and lifestyle; that you never forget that life is short, that billions of people hang in the balance of heaven and hell every day, that the love of money is spiritual suicide, that the goals of upward mobility (nicer clothes, cars, houses, vacations, food, hobbies) are a poor and dangerous substitute for the goals of living for Christ with all your might, and maximizing your joy in ministry to people's needs.
14 That in all your relationships with men you seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in applying the Biblical vision of manhood and womanhood...
15 That you see Biblical guidelines for what is appropriate and inappropriate for men and women in relation to each other not as arbitrary constraints on freedom but as wise and gracious prescriptions for how to discover the true freedom of God's ideal of complementarity. That you not measure your potential by the few roles withheld but by the countless roles offered. That you turn off the TV and Radio and think about...
The awesome significance of motherhood
Complementing a man's life as his wife.
And finally, I am learning that life is beautiful. No one could have orchestrated my life and brought me to where I am, except the One who knew my name before I was born... I am excited to turn the page of this time and to see what God has for me. And while I have so much more to learn I am honored that God would consider me someone worth teaching. I am learning so much about being cautious with my heart and also giving my heart with freedom. When we dwell in Christ and our identity lies in Him, then we can not be swayed by the identities of this world (or even the cultures we laugh too loudly in. ;) ).
It is my greatest pleasure to continue sharing my heart with you all, and even though you may not have known I was going through this. I am glad you can see how His glory is being brought through my imperfection. May my imperefections, cultural blunders and "moments" always, always speak to His greatness.
He is worth everything.
*Surely godness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.* Psalm 23:6

7 comments:

Kelli B said...

Did you get blogger beta??? HOW??? TELL ME HOW!!!

Jo - I love this post. b/c just recently we were talking about vulnerability and having a difficult time w/ it - and here you are. Laying it out there. I'm so glad the Lord is leading you, healing you, growing you.

It blows me away that even in this, we go through it together. You're teaching me a lot friend...

i love ya.

Joanna Kay said...

Kelli, for sure about growing together. I was just telling Maren that when I get nervous about my return, I just remember that you and I have been growing so much together that, Lord willing, we'll still be able to understand each other.
And I signed on to my blogger and they invited me to join beta. So I just switched over. No particular reason, although I have qualms about it. It is way easier but since I'm technically "not there" the border is way boring.
New Year's Resolution: learn html and rid myself of boring blog.

Jerry said...

wow. just a great post. John Piper's insights are amazing. thank you so much for share these things with us joanna. it looks like you're delving into really cool things. ;-)

emily said...

Joanna-You are beautiful! Thanks for this post.
Also...I love that I am labeled Strawberries and Cream Cheese Frosting! That is awesome!

Jeremy said...

What's UP?! I hope you are great.

I pray God is moving in Japan and in you.

Let me know what's going on, if you have time someday and I will write you back.

Deal. Hope so.

God bless Joanna Kay greatly with your presence and power, (Eph. 3:20 for real),

--

Jerry said...

by the way, i really appreciated you posting this. john pipers words are so challenging and good!

Joanna Kay said...

jerry, for sure. It's been fun learning and relearning all these things... I really like digging into biblical femininity... it's been good to see what God says about all these things and to remember what is truth. It's been an interesting but deep season of life and for that I am deeply humbled.