Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Joanna and the Quest for Impact

Photo Courtesy Of: Alexis Brown

“Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.” ~Luke 8:1-3

I have shared a few different times that I went through a years-long season of legalism in my teen years. Part of the way in which this legalism manifested itself was in my view of what constituted as truly biblical womanhood. I had a very narrow and confined view of what womanhood by God’s design - so narrow, in fact, that if you were not either a stay-at-home daughter living under your father’s roof until marriage or else a stay-at-home wife and mother following marriage, then there was no hope for you to be a “biblical woman”. 

What I didn’t understand (besides the fact that none of that was actually biblical!) was that it left out women who were single with no father in their lives, widowed, divorced, working, etc. In my narrow worldview at the time in order to have positive impact for the kingdom of God as a woman, you had to be waiting around for marriage, a wife, or a mother. There were no other options. 

And yet, this is not what we actually see in God’s Word! What we see in the Word is, for example, what Luke shows us in the eighth chapter of his gospel - that women were the ones who played a very key role in sustaining, supporting, and encouraging Jesus’ earthly ministry. Interestingly enough, in the case of at least Joanna, at least some of these women were married and presumably had children at home. 

Why is this interesting? Because in the kind of ultra-conservative construct from which I operated for so many years, to do what Joanna did (being a wife and yet not staying at home, but rather traveling with and supporting Jesus) would have been to sin against God’s design for her as a woman. 

This is not at all what we see portrayed in this passage, however. Instead, we see Luke intentionally point out and praise these women for the key role of impact they played in advancing and making possible Christ’s day-in and day-out ministry. They were His comrades and partners in ministry, they supported Him financially, and they encouraged Him. They made quite an impact, to be sure!

Perhaps you have been in a season of striving lately. You have been striving to prove yourself, to defend your gender, to shout, “I am woman, hear me roar!” to those who think that you are deprived of the opportunity to make a difference in this world because of your womanhood. Maybe you have been striving to justify yourself, to pile so much on your plate in the hopes of having an impact in some tangible way. My friend, this holiday season, cease your striving.

Instead, take heart! Rejoice in who God made you to be as a woman! Delight in the example of women like Joanna, Huldah, and others who impacted God’s kingdom for eternity. You can do the same! Just remain in step with the Holy Spirit, and allow Him to lead you every step of the way. He will grow you, sanctify you, and equip you to be on mission and to live a life of kingdom impact in big ways, in small ways, every day of your life. God created you as a woman for a purpose. Now go out there and live it out!

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