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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Kelly

Heritage: Voices That Testify

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

When Miriam led the women out of Egypt, with a tambourine in hand, she sang and lifted up praise to the God who hurls horses and riders into the sea ... testifying that salvation comes from God alone.[1] Decades later, when certain judges ruled over the Israelite nation, Deborah led her people in song alongside Barak, who cried out in wonder and awe of God's victory over the Canaanites.[2] Generations later, Mary's song comes in like a crescendo, magnifying the Lord for His mercy through the anticipated birth of her son, Jesus Christ.[3]

Women have been testifying about God's awesome power, mercy, glory, and wonder from the beginning of time.

When we read these stories of women in the Old and New Testament our temptation is to remove the significance of God’s participation in their lives too far from our own. Or worse yet, we consider them completely irrelevant given the historical proximity (patriarchal society), literary complexities, and cultural differences that many women in the 21st-century find hard to understand, nevertheless relate to.

What does Sarah giving birth to Isaac well past the age of fertility have anything to do with our own walk with God?[4] What about Rahab bravely hiding the Israelite spies in the midst of the unimaginable danger in the city walls of Jericho?[5] Or remember when Mary defies social, traditional gender roles by courageously sitting at Jesus' feet (as a disciple) even when her sister Martha chooses differently?[6] How could we ever compare (and relate) to their unique journeys of faith that seem so different from our own? What are we to do with such strange acts of courage from women that lived in a different culture and context?

I grab onto stories of life found in the wilderness and bury them into my soul. As a woman, in a world where brokenness, selfishness, and evil turn up on every street corner, I am in need of a present wrapped in sheer grace. To actually see and hear and listen to salvation springing to life through the lives of fallible, biblical women, is so much more than a gift … It is living water. Both, Old and New Testament women, point to the salvific power and saving grace of the Triune God that loves us deeply.

These foundational and timeless stories provide perspective and spiritual discoveries that are meant to seep deep down into our hearts and minds and help us relate to God in new ways.

When we integrate biblical stories into our lives and use them to navigate our own journey with God, transformation occurs. Anytime we pause, and take a good, hard look at our surroundings and compare it to how God interacts in the midst of impossible situations, we glean vital lessons that are absolutely necessary for practical application (those day-to-day choices we make). Understanding our heritage of faith is vital in growing our relationship with the Lord.

If we can place ourselves in their shoes, learn from their failures and victories, and try to grasp how these women overcame grief and pain, trials and tribulations ... then we can receive a plethora of precious gifts that aid in our own journey of faith. This unique heritage of gritty, unorthodox, complex, messy, and stouthearted biblical women ultimately showcase the character and nature of God. Through their stories, we come to learn that that the Triune God is trustworthy, merciful, dependable, mighty, gracious, and full of love and grace. Indeed, as Mary testifies, God's mercy extends from generation to generation for those who fear Him.[7]

For me personally, I find solace in the diverse women of faith that have gone before me. When I feel alone, I put my nose deep into the pages of Scripture and find that I am not alone. Their songs, prayers, and testimonies of God's goodness not only comfort me ... but they also inspire me. I love that God has used women to be trailblazers for the Kingdom of God from the start.

The most important thing in understanding our sister-sojourner heritage is that these voices testify about God. Period. If we ever stop short by only considering their experience we have missed the whole point. It is through their life-stories that we learn different elements of God’s character and nature that get highlighted through history. This is essential to knowing God more.

When we reconstruct the stories of old, we remember that this life is not about us—but about the God who keeps His promises. The Triune God that sustains life, forgives messy people, redeems the worst of sinners, renews minds, and revives our hearts for His glory.

So, you see, maybe, the best thing we can do right now is re-tell the stories of old to our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and friends that surround us. Actually, perhaps we should re-read them first to ourselves over and over again like it’s the first time.

Feeling a bit of fear and doubt? Read about Hagar in Genesis (who is the first person in all of Scripture to give God a name) and be invigorated by a God who sees you and hears you.[8] Unanswered prayers? Flip over to Hannah and let her prayer comfort you.[9] Need encouragement? Take Elizabeth's kind words that she spoke to Mary and bury them in your heart.[10]

Friends, be encouraged by the sisters who testify about our God’s absolute and relentless faithfulness to pursue us, help us, and propel us forward in His plan to bring the whole world back to Himself … so we can find our way home.

Let's pick up our tambourines and sing and dance to the goodness and mercy that God saves those who are enslaved to sin. Let's join the chorus of Deborah and Mary and testify to the truth that God has set the captives free ... and He is not done. We are part of His Kingdom that is coming—unmovable and unshakable. To God be all glory and power, forever and ever. Amen!


*Throughout the month of March we will be doing a special series called Heritage: Voices that Testify. Here, we will highlight five separate and distinct stories of extraordinary women (from Scripture) that not only give us a snapshot into their unique situations but overwhelmingly highlight something different about the nature of God. My guess is that many of you will be familiar with some of the stories, but I hope all of us can approach these precious accounts with fresh eyes and ears.

If you want, grab a friend and do it with someone. These stories will only gain enrichment with different perspectives.

I hope and pray that you will be immensely inspired by encountering these women's stories in new and exhilarating ways, but ultimately my prayer is that you are able to see and experience the Triune God in refreshing new ways that blesses and revitalizes your soul.

[1] Exodus 15:20 [2] Judges 5:2-31 [3] Luke 1:46-55 [4] Genesis 21 [5] Joshua 2 [6] Luke 10:39 [7] Luke 1:50 [8] Genesis 16:7-14 [9] I Samuel 1 & 2 [10] Luke 1:45

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