Warrior Woman Part 3: The Spiritual Warrior

I have learned that a woman who is unafraid to walk in her beauty and her glory is an attractive thing. She will lure you in–be it for truth or for lies–because that confidence is the door of opportunity God created for her to use in ministry. When we are close to God, we feed our hearts on His Word, the Bible, and we shine the light of His love and blessing. When we are far from God, we use what we have to take from others. We steal, we kill, and we wound the very people we were called to love, to strengthen, and to encourage. The enemy of our souls is not other people, but he uses other people to bring about his purposes. Spiritual warfare is not just about our thoughts or the things of the air, it is also about seeing how people around you are being used to further the war.

In life and in death, through our choices, we are serving on one side or the other in this war.

We women are called to be warriors of love and truth.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. –Ephesians 6:12, NIV

It is the full armor of God that enables us to fight and fight well. The full armor of God is described in Ephesians 6:10-20.

The Armor of God

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. –Ephesians 6:13-20, NIV

I recommend doing a deeper study on the armor of God to fully unpack the meaning of these verses. There’s a lot of meat on these bones because of what each piece of armor was used for and protected in the historical sense and the metaphor that implies to the spiritual weapons. There are full Bible studies that go into depth on this scripture. Priscilla Shirer–famous motivational speaker, actress, and daughter of Dr. Tony Evans–does an amazing study on this topic. Workbooks for the study, Armor of God, can be found here. There is also a children’s book series by Shirer called The Prince Warriors that presents this story in an intriguing allegory. The series was produced in audiobooks, as well, and now has a devotional to help kids learn to recognize and actively fight against the enemy.

I love how all this armor looks in battle. The film, Wonder Woman, does a fair depiction of it. In the film, Diana a.k.a. Wonder Woman, looks pretty darn cool! Not only does she have an amazing figure and looks graceful in a dress, but she is fierce and mighty in battle. This film is a depiction of the Christian woman in life and in spiritual warfare. You can read more about that in my blogs Ezer-Kenegdo Part 1 and Exer-Kenegdo Part 2.

The Importance of Armor

Weapons in combat were no small matter; how well you were prepared often meant the difference between living and dying. Warriors had to be strong and mighty, in fact, just to wield their armor; a full suit of armor is said to weigh as much as 110 pounds. The armor, weaponry, and man were so much weight, in fact, that knights had to ride special draft horses called Percherons bred to be able to carry the load.

I love that wardrobe didn’t skimp on the weaponry for Diana. Though she shows a lot more skin than a knight would have, she is clothed from head to foot in weaponry that carries metaphoric significance for us.

Nevertheless, while it looks cool…

…there are not many practical purposes for a Wonder Woman slinging a sword in the real world. Today, our weapons are the truth, righteousness, preparedness, peace, faith, salvation, walking in the Spirit, the Bible, and prayer.

This arsenal is equipped for you through your alone time with God. Make room in your schedule for getting away and seeking God through His Word. In that time alone, read your Bible, pray, and worship. Guard this time with Him!

God will show up in that time no matter how much of a mess you are or how recently you messed up. He will show up because he loves you and desires to be known by you.

Are you hurting today?

Have you lost perspective?

Are you lost in the fight?

Go to God with your troubles; he will meet you there.

Spiritual Warfare Part 1: The Lost Woman In My Apartment and My Association With Her

There was once an older woman in my church who needed a ride home. I saw no harm in helping her; she seemed well put-together. She dressed in fancy suits and silks. Her hair, jewelry, and make-up displayed knowledge of both the latest fashions and what was confidently best matched to her. She was an international woman of culture, sophistication, and beauty. I saw no harm in her, so I took her home.

But one ride led to more rides. And more rides led to dinners and teas in her home.

It didn’t take long to realize that she was not normal. Her once well-furnished home had been cratered; she’d sold off much of it to maintain her lifestyle. She was existing on whatever she could sell and whatever people would give her. Though she was quite talented, she refused to work. She said she felt “called to seek God in prayer and Bible study”. She had a “yeah, but…” excuse for every Scripture you quoted for this including “…the one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

All of this I did not know when our friendship began, but I learned it over time. I knew her lifestyle was not a calling of God because God doesn’t call us to do things that don’t line up with his Word. Nevertheless, I didn’t do much to push back against the falsehoods she was believing. I would casually mention a scripture countering her belief and ask her what she thought about it. I then let it be, and I told her I wasn’t going to judge her. This kindness grew our friendship and, like an unchecked garden, her weeds filled my life.

I have always liked being able to offer a spare room in my house as a getaway for my friends. Sometimes just a short break from their status-quo was all it took to give my friends a fresh, encouraged perspective. My townhome had a perfect space for this, and I remember inviting this lost friend into my home as a getaway retreat for her.  I remember her stay landed on a weekend where I was obligated to help with a church yard sale. I invited her to come along, but she declined. I left her alone in my apartment. When I came back to my apartment, something felt off from the moment I walked in the door. My friend had been “seeking” and wrote what she felt God told her in her journal. She had left her journal out where I could see what she wrote in it. I knew it was an invasion of privacy to read her words, but I also knew that the truth of whatever had happened in my home would be there. So, I read it. The words seared me: “the pastor is supposed to be my husband”.

Everything holy within me rose up in anger against her in that moment. She had written poisonous LIES…in my HOME….about the MARRIED man of God leading our church! I was so livid that I was visibly shaking. Nevertheless, I recognized that the Devil–not God–had been whispering in this woman’s ear…in my house…and I had to tread carefully over the next few things I would say to her. I felt danger lurking in my apartment and, I’m ashamed to say, I was scared. Nevertheless, I confronted her.

I told her that I saw what she wrote while I was gone, and I asked her if she really believed it. She smiled and said she was glad that I read it because she didn’t want to hide it anymore. “Anymore!” I thought, “How long has this been going on?” I thought that; I didn’t ask that. I told her that she was wrong to say those things because God would never tell her to break up a marriage to be with a man. I told her she was not hearing from God; she was hearing from the Devil. She became viciously angry and spewed hurtful insults at me. I don’t remember what she said as much as the burning hatred in her eyes. The woman was wholly sinning and defiantly fighting hearing the Truth. It was the closest thing to a possessed person that I have ever seen.

Because this all happened in my home, I felt responsible to right the grievous wrong being done here. I argued with her for quite some time, but she would not relent from her belief that the pastor was supposed to be her husband. I had her pack up her things, and I took her home. That was the end of our “friendship”.

I knew what had happened in my home was no idle threat. I could not keep it to myself because I was certain she would try to hurt the pastor’s wife. Consequently, I went to my church’s pastoral staff and the pastor’s wife herself and told them everything. I told them about the lost woman in my apartment and all she did and said there. I remember bowing like a failed knight before her king because I felt like I had failed them. I felt guilty for not knowing better. I felt guilty for letting it get that far. I felt guilty for being close friends with her and letting the sickness grow. Though I was abused, misguided, and betrayed, I felt responsible for this clear and present danger. I let those feelings consume me.

The lost woman did not go quietly into the shadows. She continued to listen to her lies and they told her to shave her head and present herself to the pastor during worship–naked. She showed up one Sunday to do just that. Her lovely hair shaven, she had wrapped herself in a silk sari with nothing on beneath. In front of an audience of over a thousand people, she attempted to disrobe in front of the pastor. Security swarmed in and carried her out, however, before she was able to get the job done. They took her out, thankfully, before anyone really knew who she was or what she was trying to do. They were able to do this because of what the pastor did prior to her entrance.

It was customary practice for the pastor to be in prayer before going on stage before a service. The time before services was so important, in fact, that the pastor was guarded to reinforce his conviction that he needed to remain focused on the task at hand. In these prayer-prep times, the Holy Spirit would speak to the pastor about things he needed to say and attacks that were coming against him. The Sunday that the lost woman came in, the Holy Spirit had already prepared him for the attack and told him to direct everyone in the audience to close their eyes in worship. The Holy Spirit saw the attack coming and enabled the pastor to protect his flock. We sheep were directed to close our eyes and keep worshiping until the pastor told us to open our eyes. Because I was one of the obedient sheep, I never saw the lost woman come into the sanctuary. I never saw her attempt to disrobe or her shaved head screaming as she was carried out of the building. All of that was told to me later along with the news of other failed attempts to hurt the pastor’s wife.

Her failed attempt to get at the pastor brought scrutinizing eyes on me. People that knew about my friendship with her and the incident in my apartment then associated me with her. I was now the woman that knew the woman that tried to kill the pastor’s wife and take her husband. I could not be trusted. I was guilty by association.

Because of the lost woman in my apartment–and the sinful lies she wrote there–I believed I could not trust myself to hear the voice of God again. I believed that I could serve the house of God–in volunteer positions in the church–but I could not hear from God personally. I held myself in this prison for many years.

Because of the lost woman in my apartment, I became a lost woman too.

I went into a dark depression. I questioned myself and everything I thought I heard from God. I doubted everything to the point that it became impossible for me to make decisions for myself. I remember people close to me were recommending I get professional help and calling my parents to come and check on me. I didn’t need professional help; I needed a friend to believe in me and pull me out of my mess. My mom was that friend.

I remember coming to the end of myself. I had been working temp jobs and applying for “real” jobs for over a year. Some weeks I was applying to as many as 100 jobs a week. Still, no doors were opening for me. Even the part-time jobs that had been sustaining me for two years were beginning to dry up. I felt so hopeless and lost.

I called home and begged my mom and dad for guidance. “Just make the decision for me,” I pleaded, “I don’t know what to do.” Without hesitation, they said: “Come home.”

Coming home, at first, felt like defeat. My parents had been empty nesters. My room had become storage. There was no place for me. I knew that coming home meant a lot of work for my mom to make a space for me. Nevertheless, mom and dad knew I needed the family to get through my dark time. My mother especially knew this because she had weathered many such storms herself and knew what it took to break through. Her gift to me, in that moment, was going into my old room and clearing it out so that I could come home. She not only cleared out my room, but she also cleared space in the living room and kitchen for parts of my furniture and kitchen tools. It’s not easy for a woman to give up part of her haven to another woman…even when that woman is her child. It’s not easy for two women of age to run their own separate homes to share a home together, but mom and I embarked on that journey together. Almost ten years later, I can say it has been one of the strongest and best moves of my life. The beginning was a mess. The middle was a bit brooding and rocky. The later years have been a blessing.

It took almost ten years for me to stop beating myself up for what happened with the lost woman. It took almost ten years for me to believe I could seek God and trust that I was hearing his voice again. That trust came from knowing the difference between the voice of God and the voice of the enemy, Satan.

In my next post, I will go into that in more depth. For now, let me ask you to think about these questions:

In what ways has the enemy attacked you and made you feel unworthy?

What lies has he spoken to you that you accepted as truth?

Warrior Woman Part 2: The Loving Warrior

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away. –Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Whenever I go out with a crowd, I am usually the slowest one in the bunch. I could say it is because I am shorter or heavier than most of my friends, but that is not the truth of it. It’s because, like Wordsworth, I often wander lonely and aimlessly like a cloud. I am too busy enjoying the world around me to keep up with busy steps and schedules. This truth about me was especially annoying to my siblings as we toured Europe; I was forever holding them back from seeing more because I didn’t walk fast enough. They were anxious to skim across the surface, but I wanted to “live deep and suck out all the marrow” of it like Thoreau.

What I have learned over time is that we are all different, and not all types of people get along well together. My type of person drives the fast-stepping-tightly-scheduled person crazy. Nevertheless, we both have valuable approaches to life; we are both a reflection of God’s uniquely vast character (Genesis 1:27).

Recently, I went downtown and relaxed into a sturdy cedar rocker with a cool glass of freshly made lemonade. As I rocked, I watched a diverse group of people pass by me.

There was a young quinceanera princess in a long pink ruffled gown surrounded by gold party maidens and young tuxedoed princes. I admired as two of the princes held the princess’s long train as she walked. These young men were likely brothers or cousins, but they were showing her honor. The entire party filled the city center with happiness and laughter as drones hovered taking pictures.

Near me sat a beautiful African goddess. She wore a bright yellow two-piece jumpsuit that draped and swayed in the wind like the cape of a superhero. Her hair bounced in short black curls and the sun glistened off her Hollywood sunglasses. She smiled with warm affection and waved people in as they passed. She stood for strength, femininity, confidence, and pride. People were drawn to her.

From the corner behind me darted a tiny Asian woman. She was carrying a bag of takeout food from the Thai restaurant two doors down, and she was hurriedly talking on her cell phone. Her voice was calm and low, but it commanded attention. Her steps were quick and intentional. She had all the control and responsibility of a mother in the body of a worn and tired little girl. She smelled of ginger and jasmine and freshly fried rice.

Each of these women, though vastly different, reflected a piece of the beauty of God to me. Few, if any, of them knew that though. Christ was shining through their beauty and seeing purpose in our messy humanness.

 

If you read Ezer-Kenegdo Part 1, you already know part of my story and part of the power of this word describing women. If you have not read it, you may want to pause here and do so. In this part of the story, I want to talk about the loving heart of the woman we are meant to be.

As I watched the many men and women pass me, I wondered how many of them struggle with feeling less lovable than the people around them.

How many of them felt seen and heard?

How many of them felt valued?

How many of them felt needed?

These are all things that Christ came to show us, and they are things God designed us to long for. God designed us to want Him.

I may not get along with every type of person in the world, but I am supposed to love them. In so doing, I help point people back to the God they truly long for (Galatians 6:1). The kind of love I am talking about is kindness. We Christians are called to show kindness to those who are not living at God’s best in order to inspire them towards pursuit of it (Galatians 5:13-26).

Our loving kindness is Christ’s attitude adjustment shining through. It doesn’t always come easy. In fact, there are some people I would rather punch in the face than show love to. Nevertheless, I am learning that the people who rub like sandpaper across the surface of my life are opportunities for me to grow. People in the south have a saying for this; they say “bless their heart” for such as these with all the veiled venom of a rattler. I don’t have that skill…but I sometimes really wish I did.

In what ways do people challenge you?

How can you overcome those challenges to still show them grace and kindness?

Warrior Woman Part 1: What It Means To Be A “Helper” Of Men

Eve is given to Adam as his azer kenegdoor as many translations have it, his “help meet” or “helper.”…But Robert Alter says this is “a notoriously difficult word to translate.” It means something far more powerful than just “helper”; it means lifesaver.”The phrase is only used elsewhere of God, when you need him to come through for you desperately…. Eve is a life giver; she is Adam’s ally. It is to both of them that the charter for adventure is given. It will take both of them to sustain life. And they will both need to fight together. –Ransomed Heart Ministries

I remember the first time I ever learned about the “help meet”. I was doing a deeper study of the creation story in Genesis through a book from the Matthew Henry Bible Commentary. These books were massive, by the way, and filled shelves in my dad’s study as well as the studies of several other pastors I would come to love and admire over my lifetime. They weren’t just popular, they were the resource pastors were taught in school to consider a go-to for understanding the word of God. But Matthew Henry’s style of explaining the Bible was different. He was smoothly poetic at times and, other times, fiercely wordy. He read like a cross between Shakespeare and C.S. Lewis, and I imagined if I saw him, he’d have a long white beard and a gentle smile because that’s what wisdom looked like to me when I was a child. So this kind old Moses told me that there was a divine purpose for why Eve was made from a rib of Adam in the creation story.

…the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. —Matthew Henry, commentary on Genesis 2:22

I grew up with this knowledge that I was something truly designed to be special and treasured in this world. I was anxious to find my Adam and, like most little girls that feel this way, walk out the relationship of love and nurturing that God intended for us. I remember filling journals with my ramblings and questions: Is it this guy? Is it that guy? Again, like so many of my peers, I filled myself with shame for this longing. I felt utterly pathetic to not have a date by my sixteenth birthday, and completely worthless when he still didn’t show by my twenty-first. It is embarrassing how much I searched for him—and how much I had to say about it. I walked head first into a lot of hurt because of what C.S. Lewis calls the vulnerability of love.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”  –C.S. Lewis “The Four Loves”

Our hearts were meant to love, but sometimes love is a battlefield.

Pat Benatar would say love and romance is about fighting with and hurting the one you love, but it’s really supposed to be more like how Warren Barfield sings it; love is not a fight but it’s something worth fighting for. That song came out of a place of real hurt and real healing. A change of perspective didn’t just save the Barfield marriage; it saved the marriages of others who heard the song. You can read more about that here.

Women everywhere are uniting in excitement over a new Hollywood heroine: Wonder Woman. In this film, the role of a kick-butt rescuer is given to a woman. There is a scene in the film where Diana–Wonder Woman–goes out into battle in World War I to rescue enslaved people on the other side of the Germans. To rescue them, she has to cross No Man’s Land, a place where no man has been able to cross alive. No. Man. While the men are telling her not to go, Diana drops her cloak and runs into the war.

Wonder-Woman-Movie-Concept-Art

Images credited to the film “Wonder Woman”, Gal Gadot. Warner Brothers, 2017.

Diana is a fierce defender of truth and justice. She fights for love because she sees fallen mankind from a godlike perspective and wants to restore them. She can see the victory before it happens because she knows the source of her strength is with the gods, and she trusts that the gods want mankind to be healed. Diana is a symbol of what the Christian woman is supposed to be.

In Christ, we have a higher calling to love and battle. We are called to intercede for the lost as representatives of Christ in the world (Ephesians 5:1-33; 2 Corinthians 5:20). We are called to fight for others with strength and courage (Deuteronomy 10:17-19; Deuteronomy 31:6). Why? Because Christ is calling back his Creation from the fall (Colossians 1:15-23).

I’ll admit that my first experience with this symbolism did not set well with me because she was fighting like Azer-Kenegdo (pronounced Azur-ned-go) with or without a man beside her. She didn’t stop to have a pity party that her Adam was not there to fight life with her (what I would have done). No, Diana ran out to battle alone because she knew who she was and what she was fighting for. I believe Christ is calling us to be bold for him and, in the same way, pursue our purpose in the world.

wonder_woman_battlefield_no_mans_land

Images credited to the film “Wonder Woman”, Gal Gadot. Warner Brothers, 2017.

The good news is that Diana isn’t left to fight alone. An Adam does show up for her. The point, though, is that she was not dependent on him to live out her purpose in this world. In fact, sometimes she has to fight alone even when she has him (that’s a story for another day). In the same way, ladies, God is calling us to rise up and see and join the fight.

To learn more, consider following the 14-Day FREE Devotional, The Heart of the Warrior, on the YouVersion Bible app. This devotional is based on a great book by this title written to tell the man’s part of the story. You can read more about it here. The Eldridges are well-known for their books on this subject for both women and men: Captivating, Becoming Myself, and Wild at Heart. You can read more on their website here.  Last but not least, you may want to consider a full getaway emersion experience here.