Emerging from the torrential, continual rain that lashed us this weekend, the road was covered with broken branches, bark and the detritus of nature. Among them was this beautiful delicate branch of gum flowers.
Beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning. I love how in the midst of rubbish, in the aftermath of our storms God brings beauty, goodness and joy. I love how he is the master Restorer, it's what he does best. He brings peace in the storm, he brings redemption where we thought there was none, he rescues us when we had given up hope of being rescued, he shows us beauty where we thought there was none left.
I have been listening closely, waiting to hear. There has been a reoccuring theme that I have been hearing. At a friend's invitation I went to see Half the Sky, a documentary film based on a book by New York Times journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.
To put it mildly, it's shocking.
The central moral challenge of our time is reaching a tipping point. Just as slavery was the defining struggle of the 19th century and totalitarianism of the 20th, the fight to end the oppression of women and girls worldwide defines our current century.
Do you ever suddenly realize that there are threads that keep reoccuring at a particular time in your life?
At the same time as I watched this film, I have also been reading Lisa Bevere's book Lioness Arising, which is about women rising up and taking the place that God intended for them.
The same week that we decided to do a fundraiser for Jacaranda Cottage, a refuge for young women between the ages of 16 and 20 who are at risk from homelessness, domestic violence and abuse, my friend Jo took part in the Valentine's Day flash mob One Billion Rising a global campaign to end violence against women and girls.
When I start hearing the same thing over and over again, I know to pay attention because God's doing something, saying something. I've been waiting, listening.
On Sunday, in the middle of church, a preach by a young man from another church, he shares how he had the privilege of being part of a panel of young men who were asked to speak at a leadership conference for high school girls. They were asked to share, from a man's position, the good things they see in young women. He seizes this opportunity to share, not Bible verses, but truths from the Bible in a secular form. He starts telling them how they are worth a great deal, they are precious, valuable, how they are worth a good boyfriend and husband, how they are worth a good father. He shared how as he spoke, he could sense that the atmosphere was shifting and changing and that God was at work in these young women's lives.
My heart was so touched because I felt God showing me that he IS doing a profound work and raising up women, who he loves and who he created to have an incredibly special role in the family, in society, on the world stage. And he starts with me. He starts with you too. He wants us to know that we are worth more than rubies. We are worthy of being loved. It's personal. He can't use us to change society until he changes us first. The revolution starts at home.
I realized that we see ourselves through the cracked lens of history and society's flaws and polarities. We don't necessarily see ourselves as God sees us. We've been taught imperfectly, because all of us our humans and we stuff it up. Regularly. But the balance is being corrected, change is coming.
And along with all of this, I know in my heart that the truth is that when women rise up and take their place, men are blessed and blossom too. There's a place for each, there's a role for each, not at the exclusion of the other, but working together. It's a very exciting thought!