17 Jan Getting to the Core
I enjoy cooking. I don’t particularly have exceptional knowledge or skills in this area, but I can get a meal on the table with the general good disposition that comes from having enjoyed the process.
Often I’m surprised by how many things I cook that require an onion as a foundational ingredient. As I peel and chop these onions, I’m simultaneously thinking about how I can discard the peels and unused pieces in a way that won’t stink up my entire kitchen. I usually end up wrapping them in several layers of covering to contain the smell. That’s quite an effort to be rid of an odor, when as you cook them, their odor becomes most appealing and will draw my family to the kitchen hungrily to ask what’s for dinner.
Recently I participated in the A Woman’s Words study at our church. For me, going through the study week after week was like preparing those onions. Week after week my sin was peeled back and exposed, and it was not pleasant. There was a pattern to the study material: the presentation of truth, followed by piercing questions, and then the extension of hope. The time spent in discussion with the ladies in my group was rich with self-examination, confession, lamentation, and repentance. Truly, at times it was shocking to see with new eyes just how unbelievably broken I am. In the words of Paul, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
“Not only do our words reflect the nature of our hearts, they expose where our allegiances lie.”
God, in His perfect faithfulness, power, and timing delivered His truth through this study. I learned just how much power and purpose God bestowed on us women by giving us words to speak. Not only do our words reflect the nature of our hearts, they expose where our allegiances lie. They have the power to wound deeply, irreparably. The absence of them can be as sinful as their presence. They are meant to be given out as an extension of Christ’s love to others. Week after week, I was cut to my core with these truths. I was taught. I was rebuked. I was corrected. But I was also trained and equipped.
As much as I was blown away by the presentation of God’s Word and purpose through the study, I found myself even more humbled and in awe of the Lord’s timing in it. It’s not a coincidence that we have been blessed with this study now. Not at all. For it’s now that we most need the self-awareness and knowledge that this study cultivates. To quote from one of the chapters, “The goal, the standard, is faithfulness not perfection–being willing to use our words in ways that encourage others in their faith journey. We want to be women who are committed to loving others through our speech. This includes what and how we speak to others, what and how we speak about others, and what and how we speak around others.” Our very ability to carry out Jesus’ command to make disciples depends on our ability to use words in a way that attracts others to His truth. No other generation before us has so needed to hone their self-awareness and be informed about God’s purpose in order to stand up to, be set apart from, yet winsomely hold out the gospel to the corrupted world we live in today. “The image of God, as reflected through the feminine creation, is at stake. There is a divine call on our lives, and we cannot faithfully follow Him in this work if we do not grow in awareness of the power of our words and humbly seek Him to transform our speech.”
“Our very ability to carry out Jesus’ command to make disciples depends on our ability to use words in a way that attracts others to His truth. “
For me, the timing of the study is also very personal. For many years now, I have loved participating in the deep study of God’s Word. Gazing upon His majesty and power and faithfulness and promise has been the sustaining force of my life. It has kept me connected to my Savior, like the vine in John 15. I believe that only because of that time spent focusing on His perfection, am I now ready to turn my eyes to really see, with new clarity, my own brokenness. How merciful. How patient. How faithful He is. His love endures forever, and I can tell you that He has truly endured some serious grief by loving me. But even in all the brokenness, there is hope, and hope in God does not disappoint us.
I have a mountain of spiritual onions yet to peel. I can’t view the A Woman’s Words study as a “one and done” kind of thing. I know that it will be a long process of contemplating truth, repenting of sin, and turning away. But I am hopeful for the redemption of my speech. And I am even more hopeful for the redemption of the speech of my children and all of the next generation who will be impacted by the diligence of our church body having been equipped by this study. May our words be life for those hungry to know Christ. As we peel and put those spiritual onions into the heat, God will be pleased with the aroma much like those who take in the sweet smell of the sautéed ones on my stove top.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-15
Kathy is often amused by God’s creativity and timing in her life. After years of singleness and a career, God turned her life upside down. Today, her “business card” would say: Wife. Mother. Teacher. Follower of Christ. Kathy attends our Powdersville campus.