"The moment the word 'why' crosses your lips, you are doing theology."
—When Life & Beliefs Collide                

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ezer-Warriors Won't Back Down!


In 2012, Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani school girl and activist for education for girls was gunned down by the Taliban in an attempt to silence her for good. Instead, they gave her voice a global audience and drew people to her cause.

On her 16th birthday, after an arduous but determined battle to recovery, Malala stood before the United Nations General Assembly—poised and unbending—to reiterate her fierce commitment to education for all children. 
“The Taliban … thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices. The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. And my dreams are the same.”
The kind of tough-minded steely determination Malala displayed against repeated Taliban
threats and the winds of powerful religious and cultural opposition is awe inspiring.

In Christian circles, it’s one thing to admire women of strength and courage, but then female strength and stubbornness don't make the list of appropriate attributes for a godly woman. We may admire (as biblical writers do) strong and fearlessly determined women like Tamar, Rahab, Deborah, Esther, the Marys of Nazareth, Bethany, and Magdala, Priscilla, and Junia, but that doesn't change the fact that their examples are not included in discussions of qualities we expect our daughters and ourselves to cultivate as followers of Jesus.

It's hard to understand how Christians can affirm the authority of the Bible and yet systematically remove the portraits of these strong women from the gallery of biblical role models for us.

In the process, we are turned away from owning aspects of ourselves that God designed and means for us to cultivate and employ. It can cause us to be caught off guard instead of on the ready for the moment when God calls us to draw on that kind of fierce determination in battles we must face.

In “All the Flinty Women,” author Brian Doyle reflects on the death of his grandmother and what his father had to say about women. 
“My father said the women in my mother’s family had wills so adamant and granitic that you could get a fire started by using flint against their wills to get the necessary spark…. My father said Mary Magdalene was a remarkable woman with a granitic will and a love bigger than the ocean, and she ought to be acclaimed more than all the muddled apostles put together."
I have to ask myself, What legacy do I want to embrace and perpetuate as a follower of Jesus? How can any of us—from young girls to elderly women—imagine God would call us ezers and not also summon us to battles as fierce as those these so-called "exceptional" women faced? [For more on the meaning of ezer, see "The Return of the Ezer"] What is the cost to ourselves, our brothers, and God's mission in the world if we are reticent to exercise the gifts of strength, stubbornness, and courage that God has entrusted to his daughters?

As we all become aware and better informed of the unchecked corruption of spiritual, verbal, domestic, and sexual abuse that fester within the Body of Christ and epidemic levels of rampant injustice in our own culture and worldwide, at what terrible price to others do we excuse ourselves from straightening our spines and stepping up?

If the small but courageous voice of one wounded Pakistani teenager can stand so unyieldingly against such frightening odds, what potential has God entrusted to us? Are we even curious enough to find out?

This is a day for God’s ezer-warriors to engage these battles with “wills so adamant and granitic that you could get a fire started by using flint against their wills to get the necessary spark.”



[Originally published by FullFill in the Fall 2013 {Think} column and reprinted with permission here.]  

1 comment:

Bev Murrill said...

Outstanding post. The issue is that many people want to admire these women from afar but refuse to accept how normal and everyday hero most women are, or could be, if they knew there were allowed to be what they're designed to be.

I know many many women of courage who don't make a big deal out of the courage they have to show every day, just to get up and face their day.

Courage is inherent in women as a whole despite the determined efforts of society to try to breed/influence/inculcate it out of them.

Thanks for a top post.