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Women Who Win

 

Why are Women Powerless?
 

From time to time we hear of certain women celebrities. Why should it surprise us when some woman exhibits chivalry ? Should not that be common news ? Do women receive the same Holy Spirit whom the early disciples received? If so why are upbeat women in such short supply ? Is the Holy Spirit the Spirit of God ? Why then when women receive Him they do not turn valiant? There are atleast six reasons I can think of.

1. We don’t believe in ourselves.

We believe so-and-so is talented and she can do a great job or he is a “man,” he can do it, not me; I am just a “woman.” When the Holy Spirit nudges us women to do something, excuses roll off our tongues so swiftly because we are afraid—afraid of our weaknesses, our inabilities, fraility, helpless- ness, talentlessness and our sex ! Afraid of failure, shame, of how men will look at it, gibe and myriad stupid things! We dread stepping out of our shells. We cannot believe God can use us. We don’t believe women also can do all things through Christ who strengthens them. If we are shirkers we can- not be workers.

I believe in God ; God believes in me; Therefore I must believe in myself ! This should be our dictum.

When King Asa and his small troop went to war with a mighty army, he cried to God, with many or with those who have no power; help us O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multi- tude. O Lord, You are our God ; do not let man prevail against You !” (2 Chr 14:11).

We simply have to rest on our God and understand that the enemy comes not against us but against our God and it is He who will fight the battle. “God gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength” (Isa 40:29).

God is not looking for the strong, mighty, intelligent or rich but those who believe that He can use them. I don’t believe Samson was a bear of a man with bulging biceps. In that case people wouldn’t have asked him, “Where is your strength ?” He must have been a bird of a man. That’s what baffled everyone. His strength came from the Lord.

When the Lord put a burden in my heart about the starving people of Orissa, some- times I would get up in the wee hours of the morning and cry. When He started clearly speaking to me that I should act, I felt the first hot edge of panic. I trembled and said, “No Lord, I’m a woman. I cannot do this thing. It is too big a job for me. Please remove Your hand from me. I will pray for these people. Please find an abler person to do this work.” My longing was of course dragging me forward but my fear of failure was pulling me back. My self- doubts crept to the surface because I was short of experience.

A voice would tell me, “Are you a fool ? Don’t ever attempt this thing. It is not for you. You are going to make a fool of your- self. You will come back hanging your head.” My bowels trembled. Truly as the saying goes, “Courage is not the absence of fear but the concealing of it.” That’s exactly what I did. In the privacy of my own thoughts I “Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether was less certain.

One day around 3 a.m. I was contemplat- ing the dangers of such a venture, especially the dacoity-infested roads of Orissa and pray- ing. I saw a rack near my cot in which were arranged small picture cards. I stretched out my hand and pulled out the first card. It was the picture of the guardian angel with wings spread over two little children. I suppose it was a vision. Immediately I was strengthened.

Listen to Paul’s testimony : “There stood by me this night an angel of God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, Do not be afraid, Paul !” (Acts 27:23,24). That shows Paul was afraid. But when he was strength- ened he kept his guardian angel on his toes. Whether you get a vision or not your guardian angel is hovering over you. You belong to a God who commands millions of angels. You serve a God who is the Creator of the universe. Why fear ? I don’t believe my life is out of risk. My coworkers and I constantly live in fear of our enemies. But I do believe the angel of the Lord will strengthen us to face persecution.

2. We don’t dare to attempt.

Instead of letting our gifts hibernate for fear, we must tap our hidden abilities. “Stir up the gift of God which is in you... For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power” (2 Tim 1:6,7).

Jesus gave His disciples power and authority over all demons and to cure dis- eases (Lk 9:1). How do we measure this power ? Is this power enough for us ? Read Luke 10:19, “Behold I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

In the 32-year history of Blessing Youth Mission, several missionaries have taken snakes in their hands mistaking them for leather belts. Snakes have fallen from roofs on them but any one is yet to be bitten. Satan has power no doubt. But we need to remember that we are given power over all his power. Dare to gamble for God. Nothing can happen to you without His permission.


Those fishing in the shores will not see the wonders of the deep. Only those who dare to go into the great waters will face the storm, experience God’s deliverance and glorify Him. Here is a quote from Psalms: “Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters, they see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He com- mands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end. Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven” (Psa 107:23-32).

The first time we left for western Orissa to survey the drought-hit areas, we did not know where we would go, who would guide us or what we would eat. Our coworkers tele- phoned to a friend to host us for a day. He arranged for our stay. The next day to our pleasant surprise he volunteered to come with us. He took us to his relative’s house 80 km away from where, he said, we could reach the drought areas. As we arrived there an evangelist entered the door. We asked him if he knew any such village. He hopped into our car and took us to just the right place.

We had read in the newspaper about a man who had sold away his little daughter because of famine, and we were desirous of meeting him. As we were driving, the evan- gelist cried, “Stop stop. There stands the man in the bus station, who bought the child.” So we interviewed him. In a big State as Orissa to meet a man about whom we had read in the newspapers, just like that, is nothing short of a miracle!

Then in the second trip one of our friends compelled us to meet the Bishop. I felt like a mouse before a cat. But he was extremely kind and requested us to visit the Christian Hospital in Diptipur. The hospital was sleep- ing and just waiting to be used.


Who led us so wonderfully ?

Space will not permit me to write all the miracles. Be daring and you will see the power of God.

Do you read in the Bible about daring women who defied authority to preach the Good News, landed in jail and were slaugh- tered? Of course yes, in Acts 22:4. These were the women who were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection! (Heb 11:35). We are proud of the missionaries in Afghan prison. They are the truly wise people. If we don’t go to jail we won’t witness earthquakes, opening of prison doors, and angels in action. Ours is not a do-or-die gamble but a do-and- win battle!

Study the role of women in India’s free- dom struggle. It will reveal how the women battled the odds to contribute towards the realisation of a dream. Do you have such a dream? If not start dreaming. Since 1889 Indian women, confined to the domestic arena, fought for freedom while facing fierce hostil- ity. Rani Laxmibhai of Jhansi is an inspira- tional symbol of bravery. Emancipated women like Sarojini Naidu not only supported the men but, whenever
required, independently led the fights. Women were lathi-charged and arrested but they never gave up. They in- spired other women. Some went into hiding, travelling extensively to spread the message of freedom. Kasturba, outwardly quiet, was instrumental for the implementation of many of Gandhiji’s ideas. She went to prison sev- eral times. Many women threw away their purdahs to join the movement. They sold their gold ornaments and set apart time from their house work to join the programmes.


They collected contributions from house to house. Did the “Holy Spirit” alight on them to propel them? No, it was their passion which made them daring. In this Year of Women’s Empowerment, 2001, let this power spring out of us and flow over the nation.

After FEED ORISSA was launched, I would sit with my head in my hands and lament, “I wish I hadn’t got into this mess.” By then it was too late to backout. My husband would say, “Why are you so anxious? Even if you feed 100 people and come back, it is still worth it.” That really gave me the courage. We all can follow this principle. When the Lord leads, walk along one day at a time, and see how He would lead you the next day. You can always stop when the Lord applies brakes.

3. We don’t deny ourselves.

Women are in the fast track of the mate- rialistic world. They don’t deny themselves anything they long for. Altruism is anathema to women’s nature. Our priority is still our income, our job, our savings and our retire- ment benefits.

The devil took Jesus to a mountaintop and promised all power over the kingdoms of the world. Jesus denied Himself that luxury. Therefore He could return in the power of the Spirit (Lk 4:6,14). May be you are at the top of a mountain just now with all power within reach. Grab it and deny the power of the Spirit ; or deny it and grab the power of the Spirit. God’s least is better than the devil’s best.

If you ask me what power then Graham Staines had, I would answer you that God had given him the power to die. Now God gives Gladys Staines the power to continue the work. Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to die!

During our first trip to western Orissa when we visited the house of Prekren and Premsila Bhoi in Bodogomata who had died of starvation, I was ready to stay in their house, in their village without electricity or toilets. I prepared my mind to rough it up. But the Lord led us to Diptipur where I was offered stay in an unused ward in the hospital with a horrible toilet full of big lizards. My heart sank. Then I remembered my earlier decision and decided to accept the offer. The next day before I said anything the authorities gave me a good guest room. How I praised the Lord! The Lord does not always want us to suffer but He desires that we have a mind to suffer. Today I am given an old furnished house. There are lime, goa and custard apple trees, all heavily loaded with fruits!

John the Baptist said, “One is enough!” Care for others’ needs. There are people who sleep hungry. Many perish for want of basic health care. Dr. Luke closed down his private practice to join the apostolic team. What was his achievement? He inspired thousands and millions to follow Jesus through the two books he wrote. Everytime you say ‘yes’ to a goal you have to say ‘no’ to many more. That’s self-denial.

The good Samaritan was not a medical practitioner. He just did what he could. We all can do that. Jesus did not quote a business man or a banker who ignored the victim. He talked about a Priest and a Levite. He was zooming in on those who made tall claims to serving God yet were indifferent to human affairs. It is easy in God’s service to throw away self-denial and close our eyes to the suffering around us. Serving God may even lift us to the heights of luxury. Beware! Suddenly you will be at life’s end. What would you have accomplished?

Atleast in three places in the Scriptures social service is linked with eternal life.

a) Luke 10:25-37

A lawyer asks Jesus what he should do to enter eternal life. In reply Jesus speaks about the good Samaritan and says, “Go and do likewise.” I say, this needs power because many do easier things like the Priest and the Levite. You need power to stop your car, take in an accident victim and get him to the nearest hospital.

b) Matthew 19:16-30

One asks Jesus what good he should do to enter eternal life and what he still lacked after keeping the Commandments. Jesus doesn’t mince words. He says. “If you want to be perfect, go sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” I say the rich need God’s power to do this because Jesus said, “With men this is impossible but with God all thin g s are possible” (v 26) .

c) Matthew 25:33-46

On the great judgment day if you want to be sent to the right hand side of Jesus you must feed the hungry, quench the thirst of the fainting, host strangers, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners. That’s putting duty to God before worldly success. There is no better exercise for the heart than bending down and lifting someone! Moses denied the pleasures of Egypt to suffer with God’s people. I will call that “power.” The Kingdom of God is not expanding as it should because we are busy building our own empires.

4. We don’t strive to live holy.

Do you know what will happen to us if we disobey God? “You shall have no power to stand before your enemies” (Lev 26:37). But on the other hand God says, “He who overcomes and keeps My word until the end, to him I will give power over the nations”
(Rev 2:26).

I recall the “gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts” (2 Tim 3:6). They fall prey to those who deny power, who creep into their homes and captivate them. That brings to my memory the Shunammite who was careful to observe the regular guest and tell her husband, “Look now, I know this is a holy man of God” (2 Ki 4:9).

Purity lost is power lost. Satan will send many arrows to rob you of your holiness. A temptation to lose control of your tongue, your lips, your feet, your hands, your eyes, your desires, your temper, your self. Watch out, he stands by your side laughing. When you argue with temptation you are well on the way to being overcome by it.

I read about a tiger that went chasing after a deer. When a fox crossed path, it chased the fox. The when a rabbit crossed, it went after the rabbit, then a mouse which disap- peared into a hole. Standing in front of the hole the tiger wondered where it started and where it had ended. Many of us as God- chasers are now gazing into a mouse hole.

I have got a bookmark in my Bible that reads, God chaser: “My soul follows hard after You” (Psa 63:8). This keeps reminding me of my focus in life. Our aim should be only one—to follow close behind God at any cost. Get close, get closer, get closer still. Don’t focus on your ministry. Ministry should stem out of your intimacy with God. If your foundation has cracks, start fixing them today because those with shallow lives will fall off like ripe lemons off a shaken tree. Satan will keep telling you that Biblical standard of holiness is too high for human nature. Never believe that lie and get down from the pinnacle of God’s standard. Neither believe the voices around you and drag your standard down. You should not also drown in your guilt and become unfruitful. Remember, every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.

5. We don’t remain faithful in small things.

Esther had to marry a pagan king, may be against her wishes. Though hard for a Jewish girl, she did her best. When she had to go and meet the king risking her life, she did it. One day she was decorated for her bravery. Things do not happen in a day.


Popeye’s spinach is not available in the market. God must see your faithfulness before He can entrust you with big responsibilities. He does not demand that we be successful; He only asks us to be faithful.

Many of us ignore God’s gentle voice and the soft touch of His Spirit. In Christianity Today I read the following, which put me to shame—

“What this man does on Thursday nights may shock you...

“Few people in history can claim to have impacted every nation in the world in their lifetime. D. James Kennedy has done just that. His radio and television ministry reaches more than 200 countries while Evangelism Explosion has taken grassroots evangelism to every nation of the world.

“But what will really shock you is how this internationally renowned Christian leader spends his Thursday nights. You will find him doing what he has done for four decades, going door-to-door in his home- town of For t Lauderdale,
Florida, USA, gently leading neighbours to Christ. No fanfare. No television cameras. Just James Kennedy and a few friends using simple tools to share their faith. This is a per- sonal commitment to the practical gospel.”

Shocking, isn’t it ? I call this power. My life is touched forever by this testimony. May be a small thing. But Mr. Kennedy has kept at it for 40 years. That’s faithfulness.

You will immediately say, “Well I don’t have the power to do it.” Let me tell you, you don’t need power. The miracle is in the message. “The gospel is the power of God” (Rom 1:16). We are not going to witness a power-breakout until we start knocking at doors in our street and the next street and the next. Jesus said, “All power has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore” (Mt 28:18,19). That’s our power bank. Jesus sits at the right hand of God for ready disposal of power (Lk 22:69). When someone tells you to get out and you walk out in shame, you have power. Believe me, not many people, great, great preachers, have the power to do it. You need power to “rejoice that you were counted worthy to suffer shame for Christ’s Name” (Acts 5:41).

Does this need talent or higher education? No, you first need to be faithful in small things. A great deal of talent is wasted for want of a little courage. Some Christians want to live in a state of perpetual excitement. The tedium of everyday living leads them to conclude that something is wrong spiritu- ally. Persisting on doing what is right even when it no longer seems interesting or exult ing is faithfulness.

The Blessing Youth Mission started as a campus prayer cell in the sixties. Today it is a nationwide missionary organisation. No doubt it has gone through ups and downs but it has remained faithful.

We brought with us Rs.10,000/- for our first trip to the drought area. We spent Rs. 40,000/- during the next trip. Then we bought grains worth Rs. 1,00,000/- and distributed. Now we are handling more money. We don’t know how long our honeymoon with the drought relief will last. But we will remain faithful in our commitment.

If you do what you can with what you have, where you are, that’s faithfulness. That prepares us to face the increasing militancy towards preaching of the gospel.

6. We don’t try to overcome our problems.

Real life is not a fairy tale. Problems are part of life. We should not die in our problems but die to them. Many women are crying over their problems and wasting their lives. The reason why God allows killing problems in our life is that He wants to raise us by His resurrection power.

Jesus died on the cross. A soldier poked Him on the side. There was no reaction. That confirmed His death. Can this test be per- formed on you? How do you react to poking problems ? You must become dead to your problems which cannot be solved.


Unsolved problems in the family, neighbourhood, workspot, etc., should elicit little reaction from us. Set your face as a flint in God’s direction. Don’t let anyone destroy you. Go ahead with your life. It is better to die for God than die in your problems. It is better to go mad for God instead of going mad thinking of your situation.

No one took away the life of Jesus. He said, “I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again” (Jn 10:18). When Pilate asked Jesus, “Do You not know that I have power to crucify You and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above” (Jn 19:10,11).

You have power to lay down your life for Jesus who gave His life for you. Then He will raise you up in power. Jesus be- came worthy to receive power after He was slain (Rev 5:12). God takes us through a death experience before He can give us power. Tears filled my eyes in the Disney Land while listening to the recorded speech of Abraham Lincoln. He said, “The dead have not died in vain.” Paul declared that Christ had not died in vain (Gal 2:21). Abraham Lincoln did not die in vain. Let me assure you, you are not dying in vain. After the baptism in fires of suffering you will emerge charged with a new energy, with an added aura of maturity. Fire should cook us, not burn us!

Are there times when you wake up feeling, “Why can’t I sleep forever without waking up?” God does not immediately bless you with the luxury of death. Take heart. Plunge ahead for God. Everything in life is a choice. And it is your choices that determine what happens. You can allow your hardship to drive you into the outstretched hungry arms of self-pity, or you can let it make you tough. Look at the problems of others and wipe their tears. Bring a smile to their face. That’s the way to survive a personal tragedy (Job 42:10a). Don’t let any disaster get you down. Life’s problems give you guts. One who has come through fire will not wither in the sun.

Compared to the sufferings of some, ours is just a splinter in the cross of Jesus. Let the curtain fall on that part of your life and rise on a new more fulfilling one. You will then witness the power of God. God will turn your mourning into dancing.

Thomas Holdcraft said, “Life is a grindstone. But whether it grinds us down or polishes us up depends on us.”

We are powerless, yeah? Who said? We have lot of power. We have only to draw it and use it. Fly if you have wings. You may become a first lady !

 


   Address for Correspondence & Contributions:

Lilian Stanley
13 Church Colony
Vellore 632006, India
Tel: +91 9843511943
Email: lilianstanley@gmail.com

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