Hey… a little longer blog than usual this month. I wanted to share my message from our first Woven event last week, for any of the girls that may have missed it. Bec x
Colossians 2:2 —> I want you woven into a tapestry of love…
Three years ago I turned 40. So, because 40 is a bit of a big deal, my girlfriends decided to surprise me with a girls trip… to Fiji! Yep. My friends are pretty amazing. We hung out, sunbaked, swam, explored the islands, and talked.
One day we went to a place that was advertised as hot springs with thermal mud. Sounded pretty exotic and very relaxing so I was up for it. The reality of it when we got there was half a dozen ponds, with some tin shelters around it. I’d had visions of a day spa, with me a modern day Cleopatra receiving ancient healing muds in a lush palace. I don’t know where I got that idea from but hey, this wasn’t it!
It was better.
The lovely Fijian women rubbed the mud on our faces, then we had to do the rest, slopping mud all over our bodies until we were covered from head to toe. Glamorous it was not. But it was hilarious, which works for me!
And I decided then and there that friendship isn’t friendship until you’ve smeared mud all over yourselves and made yourself ridiculous together!
I started thinking back to how God brought me into a place of friendship with 4 of the best girls you could hope to meet. How I didn’t see it coming, but He had woven their lives together with mine into a tapestry of love.
In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve have just sinned. God is pronouncing judgment on the devil for leading them into sin, and He says these words:
“I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers.”
God goes on to describe how the offspring of the Woman, JESUS, would crush the devil’s head.
But notice here that God is declaring war between the devil and the woman. Too often we read that as “that’s why the devil hates women, that’s why women are under attack” - and it’s true, he does hate us. He is trying to attack us.
But God here is actually decreeing that WOMEN will OPPOSE the devil. That women will WAR against the devil’s schemes.
That women, although deceived by the devil here in Genesis, will wake up to his schemes his lies and FIGHT.
Ps 68:11 in the NIV says
The Lord announces the word, and the WOMEN who proclaim it are a mighty throng.
In the Amplified version it says
The Lord gives the command; The women who proclaim the good news are a great army.
God wants to use an ARMY of WOMEN to oppose the plans of the devil. To not allow him to deceive people any more. To proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
The women who proclaim the good news are a mighty throng… ‘throng’ isn’t a word we use much these days… so let me help you out:
My dictionary says that a “throng” is “a large, densely packed crowd of people.”
The original verb implied movement, to “press violently or force one’s way.”
My thesaurus uses these words to describe a ‘throng’ - crowd, mass, multitude, horde, host, mob, assembly, gathering, congregation, crush, army, troop, legion, gang, myriad.
Here’s my point. You are not an army on your own. This is not a lone woman doing her best.
This takes all of us.
This is why the devil does all he can to divide us. To set us against each other.
If he can get us fighting each other, we stop fighting him.
BUT- God wants us “woven into a tapestry of love”… because in God’s Kingdom, when we are woven into a tapestry of love, we are strongest. Let’s read the rest of that verse in Colossians 2:2 —>
I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else.
When we are woven together in love, we experience God’s blessing. We are able to encourage one another to focus on Christ, not get distracted by a lying devil. Our minds are confident and at rest, able to discover the riches of wisdom and knowledge in Jesus…
This is the kind of army God is after.
So God weaves us into each others’ lives.
We see this over and over in the women of the Bible…
Rahab a prostitute, a foreigner, an idol worshipper. She protects the spies of Israel and in turn is spared when her city of Jericho is defeated by Israel. She is embraced by Israel as one of their own. She marries, has a child who she names Boaz. The child Boaz grows up but does not marry until he is middle-aged, when he encounters a young widow named Ruth from Moab, whose Israelite husband has died. She is poverty-stricken, so he takes care of her, and they fall in love. They marry and have a child, Obed. Obed grows up and also has a son, who he names Jesse.
Meanwhile another woman, Hannah, is devastated because she cannot fall pregnant. Year after year, no baby. She is tormented by her sister-wife who is popping out babies left right and centre. In her despair Hannah turns to God, praying with such desperation that the priest thinks she is drunk. But God hears her prayer, and gives her a son, who she names Samuel. Samuel grows up to be the prophet of the Lord.
As Samuel leads the nation of Israel, Jesse, grandson of Ruth and great-grandson of Rahab the prostitute, has 8 sons. The youngest is David, a man after God’s own heart.
God commands Samuel, son of Hannah, to anoint David, great-grandson of Ruth and great-great-grandson of Rahab the prostitute, as King over all of Israel.
But it took the lives and faith and obedience of Rahab, of Ruth, and of Hannah, woven together (without even knowing it) into the purposes of God, for there to be a Samuel and a David.
Mary, a teenage girl, a virgin, has an encounter with an angel who tells her that she is carrying the Messiah in her womb. Fully aware of the shame that awaits her when news breaks of her unwed pregnancy, she willingly submits to God’s will. Knowing she will be judged. Knowing she will be misunderstood. Knowing the shame she has brought on her family simply by saying ‘yes’ to God.
But she also knows WHO she can trust. She makes her way to her elderly cousin’s home. Elizabeth greets her, also bearing a miracle child in her womb, does not judge. She welcomes her into her home, away from the prying eyes and the gossiping mouths, taking care of Mary while the child in her womb grew. And full of the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth prophesies over her young cousin (Luke 1:42-45) —->
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is that child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”
While the rest of the world judged, Mary and Elizabeth, woven together into the purposes of God, gave each other strength and comfort, and helped each other stay the course…
A group of women financed the ministry of Jesus, travelling with the disciples and caring for them. Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary the mother of James & Joseph, Salome, Joanna, Mary Magdalene, Suzanna, Mary the wife of Clopas, and more.
These women stood, together, at the foot of the cross as their Lord died.
These women went, together, to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, only to discover an empty tomb and a risen Saviour. Woven together into the purposes of God, in their grief and in their joy, TOGETHER.
In Romans 16, Paul ends his letter by sending greetings and thanks to the many people working hard to spread the gospel of Jesus. In this chapter he singles out 10 women as his co-workers for Christ - Phoebe, who he is sending to the Roman church in his place; Priscilla, the renowned teacher of the Scriptures; Mary who Paul noted for her hard work; Junia, who had been in prison for the gospel; Tryphena and Tryphosa, sisters who worked tirelessly for the Lord; Persis, another tireless worker; the mother of Rufus, who had been like a mother to Paul also; Julia and the sister of Nereus, leaders in the church.
These women worked together with Paul and the apostles to spread the good news of Jesus - they did this in the face of opposition, in the face of persecution, they did this through imprisonment and exile, and they did this in a culture which told women to sit down and shut up. Transformed by Jesus Christ, together they were woven together into the purposes of God and the gospel was spread across the known world.
Esther - a young girl in exile in Babylon, 1000 miles from her homeland, taken in by her elderly cousin when her parents died, and raised as his own child. She is plucked from obscurity into the royal palace when the King decides to hold a beauty contest to choose his next wife. Alone in the palace, she is literally a slave-queen.
Her cousin Mordecai tells her of the plot to kill the Jews… she sets out to save her people, risking her life in the process. Not even her husband the king knew she was a Jew… and as a slave-queen, she had no right to enter his presence unannounced.
In Esther 4:14, Mordecai challenges her to risk her life to save the lives of her people with these words: “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
Esther’s reply shows that she got it: “Go and gather all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.”
But she wasn’t alone. Notice she says “my maids and I will do the same.” The Hebrew word translated “maid” here is actually the word for “girl” or “young woman”. Esther is talking about the only friends she had - her maids - but they weren’t just maids… they were her girls. They were her friends. They were her posse, her girlfriends, her squad.
They were woven together into the purposes of God and she knew she needed them fasting and praying by her side, if she was going to do this. She may have walked alone into the King’s presence, but she was carried by the prayers of her girlfriends.
I mentioned my trip to Fiji. My girls. Ten days ago I got a text from one of them. It said this:
“Hi sweet friend. I am asking you to pray for results of pathology tests being sent away today… This was not the news I was expecting from what I thought would be a routine check. Please pray for a miraculous result. Please pray the fight with me this week for great results. Love you so much. Thanks for standing with me.”
Together we began to fight this battle in the spirit for her health. Over the next few days as I prayed, God would give me Scriptures and thoughts to encourage her, and I would send them to her.
Five days later, it was my turn to message her. One of my boys had been complaining of pain every time he moved his arm. After a couple of weeks of this, he found a lump under his arm, which he realised was the centre of the pain. Although we tried to stay calm, in the back of my mind I could feel fear rising up to take me out. All the “what if’s…” I didn’t feel strong enough to fight this battle.
But I knew that even in my friend’s battle, she would pray for me. And I knew that even in my battle, I would pray for her. So it was my turn to text her.
Immediately my spirit was encouraged as she began to speak life and hope into the situation. She reminded me bluntly that the devil is an idiot and a liar and not to believe him. She reminded me that fear is a dead man.
I was strengthened by her prayers. She was strengthened by mine. We still had to go about our daily lives, we still had responsibilities, we still had people relying on us. But we were strengthened.
And on Monday, we both got the all-clear. God is good. And I have been reminded again - this week - how we are woven together into the purposes of God.
It is no accident that we are in each others’ lives. This is a GOD thing.
And within the Goodlife family we have women from Forster-Tuncurry, woven together into the purposes of God with women from Toronto, woven together into the purposes of God with women from Maitland, woven together into the purposes of God with women from Newcastle.
He has brought us together, for HIS glory and for EACH OTHER.
You see sometimes life is messy. Sometimes it looks like a disaster. Sometimes we don’t know what the heck is happening or whether God even sees the mess that we see.
Sometimes we are trying our best to be great. We know we are a daughter of the King, but our crown is falling off. We know we are made in His image but it looks like we have a big black moustache. We want to wield in our hands the weapons of our warfare but we can’t seem to see what they even are. We want to speak the gospel of peace and love and truth to a broken world but we feel so broken ourselves it’s like we have lipstick down our chin! There are things we began with excitement but they were abruptly cut off. There are crossed wires despite our great intentions, and friendship seems all over the place. There is a clash of competing colours in this life that demands everything from us. And there are a tangle of threads that seem to go nowhere.
Everything we try just seems to make a mess. All our best efforts and yet our life looks like a Picasso painting… in the later crazy Picasso years!
But we don’t see what God is weaving.
… We don’t see the image He is creating.
… We don’t see the beauty.
… We see our lives as a mess. God sees the sugar plum fairy!!
God weaves us into each others’ lives. God weaves us into His purposes.
And when we see it, we realise that our crown isn’t falling off - it is placed there by the King. The weapon we carry is LOVE. Our hair is blowing in the breeze on a good-hair day! And our mouth is ready to speak grace and truth in love.
We need your voice.
We need your presence.
We need your friendship.
Together we are WOVEN.
The Lord has given the command - and as Goodlife women, we are going to proclaim the good news.
We are WOVEN together into the purposes of God for our lives, for the lives of our girlfriends, for the lives of our families, for the lives of our communities.
So ladies - this is WOVEN: the women’s ministry of Goodlife Church. Goodlife women, woven together in the purposes of God FOR OUR CITY.
With Esther, with Rahab, with Ruth, with Hannah, with Priscilla, with Mary, with Elizabeth, and all the other women - God was weaving their lives together and changing the world in the process. Lives and eternities were transformed as a result of these women stepping up into their call and standing together in faith.
I know that with us - every single woman of Goodlife Church - God is weaving our lives together and He will change our world in the process. I know that lives and eternities will be transformed as a result of us stepping up into our call and standing together in faith.
Woven together into the purposes of God.