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Daring Greatly through women... with the courage to follow Jesus


Steve Holmes writes:

In the past week I’ve both heard a woman - Miriam Swaffield - preach the best sermon I’ve heard this year, and happened to talk with several female friends who each spoke of the ways - often brutal - in which people have tried to prevent them from preaching.
 
One mentioned that when she was young she had found courage and inspiration from reading about Huldah, the (female) prophet whom King Josiah consulted when he rediscovered the Book of the Law (2Ki 22:3-20).  Josiah could have gone to some reasonably capable male prophets; Nahum, Habbakuk, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah were all alive and active at the time, according to Scripture.  He went to Huldah.
 
My friends’ stories about being mocked and silenced when they sought to preach put me in mind of ‘Jeremiah’s Complaint’ in Jer 20:7ff; I tried to imagine how Huldah might have described her own ‘daring greatly’, her struggles to find the courage to follow God.
 
 
Huldah’s Complaint (after Jer 20:7-18)

Burning.
Blood boiling.
Bones roasting.
How can unsaid words be so
Incendiary?
 
You fooled me God.
Seduced me and subdued me when
I saw your splendour
Blazing bright. When
An ember from your altar
Blistered my lips. When
You kindled a spark
Within me. When
You said "Speak!"
 
Were you laughing then, God?
They are now.
Barbs fly; fists too.
Vitriol and violence drive me to
Silence.
 
To hear you speak is
Not enough to speak you.
To have your Word is 
Not enough to preach you.
Beards and balls matter more.
 
An inferno in my marrow
Too ardent to be silent
The battle exhausts me
I cannot
Not
Speak.
 
They wait to pounce.
To denounce.
Their smouldering anger mounts.
"She speaks - and she’s a she!
"Seduce her or subdue her
"Shame her into silence!"
 
God of the angel armies,
They say you try the righteous
Test by fire.
I have committed my cause unto you;
Will I see bright
Vindication?
 
I see a day
A woman believing your word
A child born, a
Son who
Came forth from the
Womb for toil
And sorrow
And shame
I see a vacant
Tomb. I see
Women you tell
To tell.
 
I see your promise, God
Blazing tongues poured out
All flesh flame-baptised
Slaves, men and maids,
Fire-filled indifferently.
 
When the fire comes
And the daughters and sons
Will prophesy there
Will they then hear from her?
 
Or must she wait till fire falls once more?

 
 
SteveHolmesSteve Holmes is a Baptist minister, presently employed as Senior Lecturer in Theology at the University of St Andrews. He is author or editor of several books and speaks regularly at ministers’ meetings and Christian festivals. He is a trustee of the Evangelical Alliance and of the Sophia Network. He blogs somewhat sporadically at steverholmes.org.uk/blog.
 
 

 
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