Guest blog by Jackie Skellie
Every year, March 8 the international community promotes the celebration of International Women’s Day.
Women’s issues like sexual exploitation are increasingly being recognized as universal issues with far-reaching consequences for men and women alike. Our sons and daughters are equally at risk when our society neglects the expression of God’s image in us, whether male or female.
According to the official website of International Women’s Day, March 8th has been a day to celebrate women since 1908.
People all over the world recognize this day to celebrate their mothers, sisters, wives, teachers, and friends and to highlight the unique strengths and gifts that women bring to their lives. It is even considered an official holiday in many countries including Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zambia.
Women form an essential part of our communities, our families, our churches, our education systems, and our everyday lives.
Rachel Held Evans, in her book A Year of Biblical Womanhood, came to this realization:
“Among the women praised in Scripture are warriors, widows, slaves, sister wives, apostles, teachers, concubines, queens, foreigners, prostitutes, prophets, mothers, and martyrs. What makes these women’s stories leap from the page is not the fact that they all conform to some kind of universal ideal, but that, regardless of the culture or context in which they found themselves, they lived their lives with valor and faith.”
It might not be apparent to us, but we can and should learn to recognize the valor and faith of the women in our lives today: Whether it be one of the over 9 million single moms in the United States, the women throughout the developing world who have to walk miles every day to get water for their families, or the women who are trapped in sex slavery among the 27 million slaves in the world today, it should our goal as believers to honor and equip women with the encouragement and tools they need to continue making a daily difference in our society.
There is a movement breaking out today that celebrates women freely—that understands the very different way that each and every person is wired and that respects and celebrates those differences. I believe that this movement is one close to the heart of God. I believe that God has just as much love, calling, and destiny for the lives of women as He does for the lives of men. In fact, Paul writes, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). In John 19: 25-27, we see Jesus urging John to care for His mother, Mary, in these words, “Here is your mother.”
God is divinely creative; He has crafted us to express every facet of His being.
Each person reflects Him in a different way that could not be reflected by anyone else. God does not waste anything (John 6:12)! I find it hard to believe that He would place individual and unique gifts into the hearts of His people without the intention of letting those gifts blossom for the glory of His Kingdom.
It is important that we recognize the gifts God personifies in our mothers, sisters and daughters. We can see Him in the way a mother fiercely protects her children, in her daily valor to nurture and her compassion toward the poor, the wounded and the lost.
Women are distinctly different than men, and they have an equally important role to play in God’s master plan for mankind. For He looked at Adam, the very crown of His creation, the most intricate and complex being He made in His very own image, and He decided to add one missing thing: woman.
Stasi Eldredge, acclaimed bestselling author, puts it this way:
“Women have been essential to every great move of God. Yes, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, but only after his mother risked her life to save him! Closer to our time, Clara Barton was instrumental in starting the Red Cross. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin put fire into people’s heart to end slavery in the United States. Rosa Parks kicked the Civil Rights movement into gear with her quiet act of courage. Eunice Kennedy Shriver created the Special Olympics. Mother Teresa inspired the world by bringing love to countless thought unlovable. And millions of other women quietly change the world every day by bringing the love of God to those around them.”
Let us remember, not only on days like women’s day and mother’s day, that God so loved and valued the world, populated by his children (sons and daughters), that He gave Jesus so we may (all) be reconciled to Him.