For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19

 

In the Gospels, Jesus tells a parable of a king who invites his friends to his son’s wedding party. The friends decline for various reasons – I’m busy, I have other things to do, and so on. Most of us in that situation would say, “well, that’s it then, no party after the wedding. If we can’t have a party with the ones we invited at first, then we’ll just cancel the party.” But instead, the king tells his servants to throw open the doors and bring in every one from the streets who wants to come along. We’re having a party anyway! I love the imagery of this parable: if the ones who were invited won’t come, then fling open the doors because anyone can come in. It may not look like how it was planned, but it’s happening.

We serve a God who builds tables in the wilderness, who makes streams flow in deserts, who causes the barren places to spring forth with new growth. We see in the Gospels the heart of God to heal us, to save us, to set us free. We see what life looks like in the Kingdom of God, over and over again, the creative and extravagant grace that cuts through the brambles and the boundaries to the heart. Some part of me thinks it’s a delight to Him: a delight to make a way where there is no way, to do a new thing among the ruins, to surprise us.

I often find that the Spirit leads us to a new thing instead of the tired dichotomies of our self-imposed or culture-imposed limits. We tend to think in Either/Or, in the black-and-white. Usually this isn’t creative enough for a counter-cultural, more-than-enough God.

I see this theme of creativity even in the story of the crucifixion. The spectators and disciples are bound by two options: either Jesus rescues himself from the cross by calling own the angels armies or he dies, end of story. But instead, there again, the creativity, the unbound-Spirit, instead forges the unexpected path: resurrection. There is something miraculous beyond our finite options, our either/or doesn’t fit in the openness of the Kingdom of God.

So when I feel caught between a rock and a hard place, I try to look for the third way. I see a legacy of disciples behind me and before me and around me who have done that with such conviction and prophetic wisdom. For instance, Martin Luther King Jr. who chose the third way of peace-making in the face of systemic injustice and evil for African-Americans. Instead of believing the lie that he had to choose between violence or silence, he chose the redemptive path of subversive peace and non-violence.

In a marriage, we think we have two options. We can either continue on in hierarchal marriages as handed down to us from ancient cultures such as the greco-roman household codes, baptizing them in sacred language until we believe that God wants only a wife to submit within a marriage, or we think we must have a thoroughly modern marriage in which no one submits to anyone, every one for themselves. Instead, in Scripture, we see the third way: mutual submission.  As spouses submit to one another, Christ as the head of their home, they prophesy a creative Kingdom way forward, a life centred on honouring each other, loving each other well, moving as one-flesh. I see these opportunities in mothering as well, particularly as the tinies are now growing up and into such marvellous little people with tender spirits.

In our engagement with justice issues, we can think that we have two options. We can either fully engage and then become so filled with despair and anger and hopelessness that we are swallowed by the darkness ourselves, or we can keep our little light in a room filled with light with our heads stuck in the sand, singing lovely songs to the choir. We think we have to choose between being overwhelmed by the truth or pretending the truth doesn’t exist. Instead, Christ calls us to being the light in the darkness. There is a way to read the newspaper, become angry, be engaged, walk through this world with your eyes open and your heart a bit broken while still carrying the hope of Christ within us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. We don’t have to choose between being engaged with the eradication poverty or injustice or evil and our joy. No, we can grab that little candlestick and march out into the night.

I’ve been thinking about the language of the third way as some conversations have gone on this week about women’s role in the church. It came up again because of The Nines conference but really it’s not just about this one conference which has ignited a fierce debate yet again, the issue is merely indicative of the sorry state of most of our churches and conferences in their views about women. The organizers patronizing tone and insistence that women can only speak to “lady issues” is, sadly, only representative of the larger issues within the religious establishment of some circles.

What a tragedy of missing the point, what a sad indictment. It grieves me.

So I find myself again presented with an opportunity. I have to call it an opportunity because when it feels hopeless and useless, then what? Because, let’s be honest, it can feel hopeless. It makes me angry.

(Have we talked about anger as a helpful sign? In your anger, don’t sin, of course not, but for heaven’s sake, let yourself get angry. Pay attention to your anger. These things still make me angry and I believe that’s okay. It’s the “then what?” after the anger that can open a path to a new way forward.)

So when confronted with the exclusion of women or minorities by people who really don’t care to change or listen from those within the religious establishment, what are my options?

Do I argue and force and campaign my way to a seat at their table?

Do I ignore it and simply move on?

Or is there a third way? is there a new way forward for us?

This is a complex question for me. In the first instance, I don’t really want a seat at that particular table. Part of me believes that the current American evangelical church culture is a sinking ship so I’m not too eager to get on board. That’s not my world, not my table, not my tribe, and, much as Jesus told the disciples to shake the dust from their feet if they aren’t welcome, I’m willing to shake the dust. As Maya Angelou said, when people show you who they are, believe them. I believe a lot of the religious establishment is showing us who they really are: we better believe them. If they can’t see – and won’t see – then it isn’t my calling in life to make them see. (I think that can be some other people’s calling – it’s just not mine.) I’m content in some ways to just give them over to their little self-congratulatory parties and echo chambers.

It also makes me examine my motives: am I angry because I feel left out? Because I think I deserve a platform and a voice? Because I want to be important? Because I want affirmation and accolades and influence? I don’t think so, but those are questions I have to ask myself. What’s my motivation for this fight?

In the second instance, I can’t pretend that isn’t a real thing and so retreat “out to the wilderness” to throw flowers in the air and sing Jesus-is-my-boyfriend songs. It matters because people matter, because justice matters, because God’s heart is for us.  We’re in a time when I believe that the voice of God’s people is desperately needed: we need to see a glimpse of what life looks like the way that Christ intended it at creation. What are living our lives into? We need to engage in the issues of justice in our world, and in our churches. I don’t want to stick my fingers in my ears and pretend that just because I personally don’t want to preach and I personally don’t want to lead and I am not regularly oppressed that it isn’t happening elsewhere.

The truth is that patriarchal systems hurt men as much as they hurt women. Just as women were not created to be oppressed and so it damages us, I believe that men were not created to be the oppressors and that it will damage them. We were created to be image-bearers of the Almighty God together, so there is no room for that language or practice without some serious hermeneutical gymnastics and soul damage.

What is the new path? Where can I set up a table in the wilderness? What is the new thing God is wanting to do here in this space between the rock and the hard place? Surely there is something besides a cage match to prove my worth to people who will never be convinced in an effort to gain a seat at a table that doesn’t interest me anymore, or checking out entirely.

I found myself resonating with so much of what Christine Caine said in this interview at Christianity Today.  The happy-clappy charismatic outside-of-America tribe is pretty small really, so Christine Caine has been a favourite preacher of mine for years, even before she burst onto the scene in the USA, because she’s of my tribe. I have tremendous respect for her as a leader and mentor-from-afar, and she reminds me often of the ways that God is doing a new thing:

I have not really been a part of American evangelicalism, and I must admit that looking at it from the outside is interesting…. I may sound simplistic in my response, but I honestly believe that if you do what God has called you to do and have a spirit of love, grace, and humility, God will take you places where no man ever could….I just started by helping people and preaching the gospel to those outside the four walls of the church; in fact, I still do that. I was never looking for position or title within the establishment because most of the people I am trying to reach are not in it. If your true priority is people and not a position then there is always a place for you.

David was busy tending the sheep and then suddenly he was anointed as king. If you get busy being about the Father’s business he will come and find you when he is ready to promote you. If God anointed you then he will appoint you. We all have the privilege of being co-laborers with Christ. If we are prepared to work in anonymity and obscurity there is always plenty of work to be done. The Pharisees had Jesus in their midst and did not even recognise that the Son of God was amongst them. All of the arguing in the world is not going to open some people’s eyes. Nevertheless Jesus of Nazareth went about doing good.

Sometimes I think we need to stop arguing and just simply get out and do some good on this earth. The eternity of multitudes hangs in the balance. They are waiting. Let’s go and give some Good News to a world full of bad news. Let’s take a living Jesus to a dying world. The Spirit of God lives within all of us who are Born Again and out of us will flow rivers of living water if we let them. Let’s not clog the rivers up with dead end arguments, and let’s simply get about the Father’s business.

I came to this realization years ago, but sometimes I still need reminding – usually after I’ve logged onto Twitter to see the futility of trying to convince the willfully ignorant.

God’s ways often look very upside-down to us: not only are they counter to the culture around us, but often they are counter to the culture of the religious establishment. I want to find that creative, God-of-more-than-enough, streams in the desert way forward.

I don’t know if my energy needs to go towards propping up a system or institution whose time is probably coming to a close. I think I want my energy to go instead towards the highways and the hidden corners, banging my old pots and pans into the night, wake up, wake up, the bridegroom is coming and there is room for you at His table! I want my energy to go towards knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection, and then living that truth into every corner of my life as a disciple. I want to move through my life and this world in the way that I believe Jesus would do so, singing songs of love and freedom and grace – even to the ones who are barring the door against me.

My third way right now – as best I can perceive it anyway – is that my activism is on behalf of others first and so I am free to make my true priority the Kingdom of God. I see the way that Jesus engaged with the religious leaders  – he didn’t have a lot of patience for them – and I don’t feel quite so bad that I lack patience for the religious establishment in our churches.

In the meantime, I intend on getting on with the work of the Kingdom, I’m done waiting for permission. I don’t need anyone’s table or platform to be about the Father’s business in my right-now life. For each of us, this will look different – thank God for that! Some of us are called to stay within slow-to-change structures, while others are called out. Some of us are called to advocate from within, others are called to live the new version out to create a vision for what could be for the ones still coming after us. One is not better than the other.

In a way, I feel terribly sorry for the conference and church leadership in many pockets: they are truly missing out. They are missing out on experiencing the fullness of the Body of Christ, and I think they are the poorer for it. It’s a warning to me as well: I want to have eyes that see, ears that hear, and a heart that understands when the Spirit is doing a new thing.

I look around me and I know the truth: we’re already here. Sometimes I’m so busy focusing on the “not yet” aspect of the Kingdom, that I forget the “now” of it, too. It’s right now.  I see it all around me. I don’t want to be so busy lamenting the places where the Spirit has not yet broken through, that I miss celebrating and participating in the right-now. We’re already building those outposts for the Kingdom and just because one small enclave of Christianity isn’t convinced, I don’t want to lose sleep over that. I believe Christine Caine spoke a good word for us today.

I don’t need a seat at their table – in Christ, really, there is only one table, laid out with the bread and the wine, there is room for me there. God is doing a new thing, and I want to perceive and then live into his creative new way forward. Maybe the doors will open, maybe the doors will be torn off and tossed into our bonfire, maybe nothing will change, maybe everything will change.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll see streams begin to flow in the desert.

 

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  • Mary DeMuth

    Sarah, Sarah. Yes, this. You’ve written such a winsome invitation, and spoken to my heart. Thank you. I think we both approach this anger thing from the same place…anger generally that women are marginalized, anger that their voices are not being heard (to bless all audiences). But more than that, I’m reminded that Jesus does His best work through the weak, the outcasted, the unnoticed.

    Dance your steps, friend.

    • Thanks, Mary – that’s it exactly. Thankful to be travelling alongside you.

  • Thank you, for all the work you do. This is humble and strong and beautiful and needed.

  • Thank you for this response, Sarah. I’m learning a lot by all the different responses to this event. Somehow, it feels like a turning point to me: I am realizing that, like you said, I might just need to move on past expecting to be asked to the table, and instead look for the Table. I’m excited to see all these powerful women reflecting, responding, and using their anger and words. I’m learning from you and RHE and Suzannah Paul and others to raise my voice AND speak in love AND shake the dust off my feet AND be encouraged by what God can do regardless of power structures. May HIS kingdom come.

    • I know what you mean, Heather – I feel encouraged actually. I have truly appreciated all the different responses and I think that when you gather us together, it sounds beautiful and whole.

  • JennaDeWitt

    If I were to guess, Christine gets included in stuff like this not *because* she is a woman, but because of her obedience to her calling and self-less decades of work as an abolitionist. That’s what really struck me once I found out who those handful of women at The Nines were. They aren’t the ones whose main message is “we need women in leadership!” (thought there is certainly a time/place for that) Their main thing is following God’s call and becoming excellent in it. They were so outstanding in their place of ministry that it would be ridiculous to ignore their influence. When doors were shut on them, they created their own path, built their own platform when they were kicked off of others.

    I want to be that kind of leader. Not known because I’m a “woman in leadership,” but because I obeyed the Spirit so well that He becomes known through me. I think that’s where we get true equality. Not by making sure we have our token number of (women, races, cultures, economic backgrounds) represented but by choosing the top people in their field regardless of those things. I know we aren’t there yet, but I think that’s how we know we’ve reached it.

    • Me, too, Jenna – I love how you put this! I think there’s something to be said for advocating on behalf of others, too, though. I often ask these questions and push back on behalf of other women, not because I’m trying to make room for my own self. I loved how Christine Caine put part of that in her interview about how she wants to create ‘pipelines’ and open doors for other women coming after her. Loved that.

      • JennaDeWitt

        Definitely! 🙂

  • I feel a lot of power in this position, Sarah. Compassion rising, like a root system to crack the sidewalks. Lead the way.

    • Love that imagery, Esther. Your post yesterday for women called to leadership was spot on.

  • Jerusalem Greer

    now this makes me happy-clappy.

  • …and the Spirit is doing new things all over! Woo hoo — let the rain fall! 🙂

  • Katie W

    Amen Amen.

  • Amen.

  • “Sometimes I’m so busy focusing on the “not yet” aspect of the Kingdom, that I forget the “now” of it, too. It’s right now.”

    Love it. Wonderful post. Absolutely spot-on. And, related to absolutely nothing about the conferences or what’s going on in the Christian speaking/blogging/writing world, those two sentences above are something I think I really needed to read today.

    • Thanks, Katie. I’ve been mulling over that concept for a few weeks now and it’s staying with me, too.

  • Miles O’Neal

    Right on, Sarah! And it’s not only women and minorities, it’s anyone who doesn’t fit the mold, who hasn’t jumped through the hoops, who hasn’t been to seminary or whatever else is required to cross the t’s and dot the i’s to prove worthiness (and far more importantly doctrinal (or religious) correctness).
    I came to the same conclusion a few years ago. What *did* Jesus do? OK, let’s start with that. Go love on people, Exercise the gifts we’ve been given. Overly religious leaders like to quote, “s/he who is not wit me is against me”. But Jesus also said, “he who is not against me is for me”.
    If we are obeying Jesus’ commands we’re in good shape. And life will not be at all boring, and God will do incredible things.
    You rock, and some of us recognize it and appreciate it.

    • That’s a great point, Miles – what *did* Jesus do, now what would he do? That’s so good.

  • Nikki Webber

    Thank you Sarah! We moved to Kamloops a few weeks ago after nearly 6 years away and tried attending our home church again. I was told that women are not to touch the communion tray or speak outside of prayer and praise time. However, there was plenty of room to make coffee after the service.
    When I voiced my concerns (not so much about mutuality as about legalism), I was told by the leader: “no, you’re wrong, and I’m not interested in listening to your opinion. The Bible is very clear on why I am correct and I will not listen to what you have to say”. A couple of attempts at reconciliation later, and we are ready to wipe the dust off our feet and find Something New. I don’t know many proponents of Biblical equality in my ‘real life’ and it is a lonely road right now. Thank you for being such an encourager!

    • I’m sorry to hear that, Nikki – a few people in my life who are from Kamloops. I’ll ask them about a church or two for you to try out since I know that they were in churches that affirmed women and men working alongside of each other.

  • danbrennan

    Love this.

    • Thankful for your work and advocacy on this, Dan.

      • danbrennan

        I’m just a small pebble creating a few ripples of love, deep trust, and the journey from justice to friendship. Your book and this post are great reminders for me. This post makes me feel like you’ve been living inside me!! Helps me keep the right frame about not needing to clamor at the Table. Deeply grateful for your extraordinary gift of writing and presence. .

  • John Ray

    Thank you for this Sarah. Dead on.

  • Joy

    I’m usually a lurker here, but this was to important to not speak to. I really, really appreciate this post, Sarah…it is SO hard to break out of the binary way of viewing everything, and I am so grateful for people like you who help me break out of that and into a bigger world. I may not always agree with you (or others) but you *always* make me think and engage. If you weren’t *you* dancing your steps where you are, I wouldn’t have someone sharpening me in this area and sending me out into the world to work out my faith. Dance on, dear heart!

  • Emily Wierenga

    Sarah, I love you. But I read this yesterday and after pondering, I feel I need to say that there’s a difference between the author of Scripture (God) being creative with his story (in reference to resurrection) and the readers being creative with it. We have no authority over Scripture. It is God-breathed.

    2 Peter 1:16-21

    16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He
    received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him
    from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him
    I am well pleased.”[a] 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. 19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

    • I feel like you may have missed the point of the post, Emily, or are tripping over a stone of your own making here. I never said anything different from that.

      • Emily Wierenga

        Sorry if I misunderstood the post Sarah. I was referring to this section:

        “I often find that the Spirit leads us to a new thing instead of the
        tired dichotomies of our self-imposed or culture-imposed limits. We tend
        to think in Either/Or, in the black-and-white. Usually this isn’t
        creative enough for a counter-cultural, more-than-enough God.

        “I see this theme of creativity even in the story of the crucifixion.
        The spectators and disciples are bound by two options: either Jesus
        rescues himself from the cross by calling own the angels armies or he
        dies, end of story. But instead, there again, the creativity, the
        unbound-Spirit, instead forges the unexpected path: resurrection. There is something miraculous beyond our finite options, our either/or doesn’t fit in the openness of the Kingdom of God.
        So when I feel caught between a rock and a hard place, I try to look for the third way.”

        I see that yes, God has the authority to do new things. But I fear when we begin to take the responsibility for doing new things into our own hands, instead of trusting Him to do them in His timing.

        • Pat B

          When I read the post about looking for a “third way” my thought was not that Sarah was talking about anything outside of Scripture, but rather actually living the Word in an active way that may look different from what we are used to. So often we allow ourselves to be kept in the box titled “This is the Way We’ve Always Done It” that we miss the creativity of the Holy Spirit Who may want to do something completely different. Blessings to both of you … I’m new to this blog and am so excited at what I’ve been reading here.

  • For a long time now, I’ve felt like the label “feminist” didn’t fit me, like it was to constricting, but I’m maybe beginning to reconsider because of you, Sarah. I haven’t gotten your book yet, but it’s on my (really long) list. Thank you for your voice.

  • Jen

    Sarah, this morning I was listening to The City Harmonic and the song Love, Heal Me came on and it reminded me of this and you and hope. So, thought I’d pass it on. Thankful for you today. 🙂

  • Thursday1

    This is what utterly frustrates me. Either male privilege exists and men benefit from patriarchy or it doesn’t and they don’t. Feminists, please get your story straight here. Otherwise people will not take you seriously.

    • KatR

      The dictator reaps benefits from being a dictator. But I’ve never heard of one who has become a good person through being a dictator. It’s that whole “gaining the whole world but losing your very soul” thing.

    • John P Darrow

      Where are you getting the idea that feminists are at some points denying the existence of male privilege? Are you misinterpreting the statement that patriarchy also hurts men as somehow implying that no men benefit from it in any way? That’s not what’s being said here.

      Certainly, men do benefit from opportunities and power structures provided for them by patriarchy, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t harmed at the same time. One harm of men from patriarchy is its treatment of those men whose skills, interests, character, etc. don’t fit the particular cultural boxes that patriarchy declares as being appropriate for men. Another is in its indoctrination of men into beliefs and ideas about women that in the long run harm their ability to relate and interact with half the human race, even as they simultaneously benefit from those structures in the short run.

  • Anne Vyn

    Sarah, my heart shares your burden and longs to see a mighty move of God’s Spirit.
    What if we were to set aside a worldwide day of prayer and fasting to focus on Isaiah 58:6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”
    What if women all over the world were to be united on ONE SPECIFIC DAY to fast and pray and ask God to open up the heavens so that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven?
    Where else can we go but to the Lord? Who else but the Lord can help us in our desperate state?
    Every revival in history has always risen from the seedbed of prayer.
    Can patriarchy be brought to its knees any other way??

  • Westcoastlife

    Great Post, I agree we can’t wait for permission. I like your comment, ” I don’t want to stick my fingers in my ears and pretend that just because I personally don’t want to preach and I personally don’t want to lead and I am not regularly oppressed that it isn’t happening elsewhere.”

    I am not sure Christine Cain’s view that God just plucked David out of the sheep fields and straight into Kingship, is accurate. Years and years of David running for his life, living outside of the covenant (Israel) and being beaten down by the leader (Saul) who opposed him led to untold years of Israel in spiritual limbo, David in anguish and God’s kingdom in turmoil due to the enemy reacting to David’s anointing. It didn’t end once he was in power either. If we consider this is how David spent most of his life, on the run from those wishing to harm him instead of living out his calling, it is a little less simple than “just go live your calling” – try that in some places, and certain churches will run you out, pushing you into the wilderness (for a woman acting like Christine will be taken down through malice and labelling her ‘a woman who doesn’t know her place’). And, even for David, living out one’s calling in the wilderness doesn’t always work that well. I think those were some of David’s darkest years spiritually (randomly killing off other tribes) and the enemy had the upper hand in rejection, destruction and demoralization over much of his life.

    I guess, I have travelled too much (India, Nepal) to say to any woman (or any person), “Just go do God’s will and don’t think about it” because too often, a woman’s call is to teach or lead or prophesy to the body. Often, there is no place she can go that will accept her doing that, many countries are worse than the west in those respects and there aren’t many churches that would allow her to live out her calling, many small towns in North America aren’t much better.

    This isn’t about position, this is about ability. If a women is forbidden from participating, subversion could cause her to wind up shunned and pushed out. No woman is an island. If she just goes off and ministers to those who need Jesus, she may be all on her own, as the churches would reject her bringing those people with her to church. That would not be beneficial either. I know good women who have given up due to that sort of thinking. They are so constrained they just make excuses. ‘I guess God doesn’t want me to do this if I can’t’,’If God wanted me to lead, he would open the door’, etc. and the silencing of women grows stronger. I think Christine’s comments set a dangerous precedence – if you just go along and say nothing to set a right wrong, you will wind up in the right place anyways. That sort of fatalistic thinking actually allows oppression to flourish and grow stronger. Besides, David continually challenged his exile and was very aware he was being wronged. Christine has not been in church that has actively tried to silence her voice or dismiss her views. It isn’t just something you can ignore, because there is no freedom in the body to go do what you are called, you are constantly restricted and pushed out of things when your view and the leadership’s views no longer mesh.

  • Thank you, Sarah, for this message and for responding to Jesus’ call to follow him and to take the “third way.” It’s not an easy thing to do, and as we have seen in Jesus’ case – as well as in the cases of many prophets, community organizers, activists, Christians or other religious persons, etc. – taking the third way often leads to persecution and hardship. Thank you for standing strong for women and groups on the margins whose voices have been shut down and lost. It is because of people like you who choose this hard way, that the Kingdom of God continues to be brought forth and experienced in the here and now. By the way, have you done any reading on Walter Wink? In his book, Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way, he does an excellent job of unpacking Jesus’ commission to “turn the other cheek” as a “third way.” If you haven’t read Wink, this one is very short and is a great one to start with.

  • Sarah Wriglesworth

    I found this so, so helpful this morning. It was everything I needed to hear from another woman navigating the battlefield.

    Thank you!

  • And the Lord said: There is a road across the Jordan that you have never seen before. It is right there before you. But you can not see it … because it is under the water. I can fix that. Have faith all the way into the water. Get your sandals wet and I’ll show you. – Love, Hashsha.

    https://sites.google.com/site/holyhugs/faith-into-the-water

  • Kourtney

    I nodded my head with you through this post and then bought 5 copies of your book to give as Christmas presents.
    I took a civil rights class in college with James Farmer who was a member of the SLC with Reverend King. He spoke of the need to consider the third way and connected it with being open to wisdom and the Spirit.
    Bless you, sister, and thank you.

  • Sarah, I just needed this today so much.
    After a weekend of hearing stories and getting angry and trying to figure out how to walk forward because all of this is so big and so important, I needed this reminder of our outside the box God.
    Thank you.
    xoxo

  • Hallelujah for the third way. Beautiful, strong thoughts that are relevant all over the place. Thank you.

  • dawnette scott

    I just got home to the Pacific Northwest (I currently love in Minneapolis) for the first time in a couple of years. My kid sister and I stayed up late catching up. Although my family believes in God, I am the only one who is really doing life in Christ; the only one who’s been in ministry for 20+ yrs (6 yrs youth pastor; 13 yrs missions; 5 yrs higher ed). For the first time, I shared with her a bit of the current ongoing conversation that’s – for some reason unknown to me – very heightened right now, re: women in leadership and ministry…
    As soon as I began to try to explain it, I immediately felt embarrassed; maybe even somehow a little ashamed… It washed over me do strongly, this sense of ludicrousness: Are we REALLY having this conversation?! Is Christianity ACTUALLY still having this conversation that the rest of the nation had back in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s??

    I’ve been “fortunate”, I guess. In every ministry position I’ve ever held – including my current role on our church elder board, I’ve been invited; I’ve never sought it out. The Lord opens a door, I pray about it, seek His wisdom, and move accordingly. I’d always heard slight whispers – mostly from younger girls/women who roils ask me that strange question: “What’s it like to be a woman in ministry?” I always felt a little irritated at the question because, in my world, gender had nothing to do with it. I’d been pursued bc I was fit for the position. What was all this “woman” talk??

    And then I moved to the midwest, Minneapolis in particular, where a certain mega church pastor has an inordinately large following, and I worked at an institution where his voice had measurable weight; and suddenly I found myself in a place where I was taught to be very afraid…and for several years I was afraid… But on the past couple of years it’s like the haze lifted and I realized I wasn’t cut out for living in fear, and I remembered that Christ didn’t create me for fear.

    Fast forward to tonight’s conversation and I remembered once again that on so many levels this conversation is simply ridiculous. I don’t even mean that mockingly. I mean it sincerely. And I realize I’m done with the conversation.

    To use your language: my third way is simply to go out and be who I was created to be in the first place. I’ll keep looking Christ square in the eye; keep seeking His face; keep inviting Him to shape me, mold me, draw me to Himself; I’ll keep inviting the Spirit to speak, to lead, to guide; I’ll seek His wisdom and discernment; I’ll keep ministering in the ways He’s wired me, and keep serving where He opens doors. And when my final day comes, I trust He’ll say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. He won’t call me a “she-servant”; He’ll call me His daughter, His child, yes; but He’ll also just call me His servant, His sheep, His disciple. And all will be well because I’ll be in the arms of my Saviour, and I believe He’ll be well-pleased. And that is enough for me.

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