____________________ We know that salvation is a gift from God that we do not earn. But it is a gift that must be received. And it can only be received with empty hands, but there is a transaction by which what he gives actually becomes yours. And that's the point....
It wasn’t until my children became teenagers that I finally acknowledged what I’d suspected all along. I. Have. No. Control. Yet while finally coming to terms with that truth felt scary, it also sent me deeper into the gospel, training me to put my hope in the goodness and sovereignty of God rather than my current circumstances.
When we are unshakably confident of God’s love for us, regardless of what a day may bring, we will be able to say, “It is well with my soul.” And from this place of quiet rest God often uses our lives in ways we never imagined.
Not a Worldly Kind of Influence
The world tells us that to have any significant influence we must be someone or do something that the culture considers important. However, there is a very wide gap between what the world says and what God says has value. The Bible teaches that the quiet influence of a gospel-centered life has eternal significance in often unexpected ways.Consider these four women of the Bible:
A Prayerful Influence:
1 Samuel introduces us to Hannah, a woman who was distraught because the Lord had closed her womb. To make matters worse, her husband’s second wife did have children and used it to provoke her rival in marriage. Understandably distressed, Hannah prayed for a son, promising to return him to the Lord for his sovereign purposes. In God’s providence, he answered Hannah’s prayer through the birth of Samuel, whom he anointed to become prophet, priest, and judge in Israel.
Do you pray with confidence that God hears and desires to answer your prayers according to his good purposes for your life? Are you praying with a surrendered spirit, ready to relinquish the gifts he gives for the glory of his name? Only eternity will fully reveal the influence of a woman who faithfully prays. Because Hannah’s love for God exceeded her love for his gifts, she is an example worth following.
A Courageous Influence:
A young Jewish girl living among the exiles in Persia found herself queen of the empire when a plot was revealed to destroy all the Jews. Esther was the woman God had prepared “for such a time as this” to save his covenant people (Esther 4:14). Aware that going uninvited before the king could cost her her life, Esther went to plead for the life of her people.
Just as God used one woman’s courage to be an instrument of salvation for his people, he still uses women today who are willing to proclaim his name. Esther reminds us to count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord (Philippians 3:8). The days ahead may give us even greater opportunities to follow her example.
Where has God called you to be strong and courageous for such a time as this? Will you obey in the face of fear, trusting that He goes with you wherever you go?
A Fragrant Influence:
Mary Magdalene was a woman who knew she’d been forgiven much. With a new heart and desires, she now experienced love and joy she had never known, in spite of all the worldly pleasures she had tasted. Love for her Savior motivated Mary to pour costly perfume on Jesus’ head and feet and, though Judas chastised her for such a wasteful use of resources, Mary knew that Jesus was worth all she had to give. The aroma of her gift has spread throughout every generation, reminding us that a life overflowing with thanksgiving to Christ spreads a fragrance everywhere, to one the fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
What fragrance is coming forth from your life? The more we realize how much we have been forgiven, the more we will agree that no sacrifice is too great. Mary is an example worth following.
A Faithful Influence:
Today, many women are parenting without the support of a godly father and husband. Perhaps that’s one reason God included the faithful influence of Timothy’s mother and grandmother in his Word. Choosing to trust God rather than dwelling on their difficult circumstances, Lois and Eunice raised Timothy to love and fear the Lord. I love that God demonstrates his faithfulness in seemingly hopeless circumstances through women who have put their hope in him. I wonder if they ever imagined their beloved son would one day be discipled by the apostle Paul and lead the church at Ephesus.
Whatever challenges parenting brings, God promises to help those who set aside other pursuits to raise children who love and fear God. There will always be worldly philosophies and pressures that attempt to distract us from the high calling God has given us as mothers. All around us, voices are telling us how to raise happy and successful kids, yet no matter who we listen to we often still feel guilty that we haven’t done enough.
God is not a God of confusion. He leads all who look to him for wisdom, as opposed to the world around us. God blesses those who trust his faithfulness even when our own faith falls short. Lois and Eunice remind us that seemingly impossible circumstances simply provide a more dramatic backdrop for the display of God’s glory. They are examples worth following.
Moment by Moment Influence
When we forget about self in our desire to live for Christ, we will stop being consumed with what others think of us or what others declare has value. And it is there, in the midst of seemingly mundane or meaningless days, that the influence of our words, attitudes, and actions quietly make a difference.
Are you living intentionally, mindful that every moment is a gift and opportunity to know, love, and serve the living God? Are you ready to give an answer when someone asks the reason for your hope? Do you count it a privilege to encourage and equip other women to live for the glory of God?
The gospel at work in us is one of God’s means of drawing others to himself. As we do all things for the glory of God we discover that this is what we were created for. And when our lives point to Christ through our words and deeds, we too will be an example worth following.