While we were out of town, I missed week one of Leslie's reading group over at Lux Venit, but I'm jumping right in for week two. We are reading The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It's not too late for you to pick up a copy and join us for this great discussion! Leslie's post on chapter two is here, and has a wonderful synopsis as well as her discerning thoughts. I will not duplicate her chapter summary, but I'll just post some of what hit me between the eyes (which is what this book does, repeatedly!)
This chapter reminds us of what we need to know about God: He is gracious, righteous, and compassionate. He has limitless strength and understanding. He is at work in our lives RIGHT NOW. He wants wives to be joyful and fulfilled. In short, God is good. All the time. All the time, God is good. I have to remind myself of that everyday! As Peace puts it, "God is good and He does all things well, including rule over His creatures." I always agree with statements like that when I read or hear them, but how often my doubt and fear betray that I don't truly believe it at times.
After laying the groundwork, explaining God's character and work and in the life of the Christian wife, Peace gets to the heart of the matter:
"The way for you to experience this fullment is for you to actively choose to place yourself under the authority of your husband. Thereby, you are really placing yourself under God's protective authority."
I struggled with this concept for many, many years. If I'm being honest, being "under my husband's authority" simply did not compute for me. When we got married, in fact, my husband was a much younger Christian than I was. And I was supposed to be under his authority? What if he got it wrong? What if he didn't read his Bible everyday? What if he neglected to pray about certain issues? Surely God wouldn't want me under the authority of someone not as "spiritual" as myself, right? As a result I took on the role of being my husband's Holy Spirit! (To this day, he'll ask me, "Are you tired?" when he senses that I'm trying to be the Holy Spirit for him, an exhausting undertaking for a human ;) That's because, for many years, I misunderstood what that "authority" truly meant, and where my husband's authority ended. I don't intend to fully explore that topic in this post, but this statement from Peace points to where my wrong thinking was: "No husband has absolute authority over his wife because God is the absolute authority. For example, if your husband asks you to lie for him, you must refuse because God's authority overrides your husband's. Therefore, when you are under your husband's (limited by God) authority, you are really putting yourself in the safest possible palce- in God's will. God loves you and He is good. You need not be afraid." She continues, "Even though God's authority is protective, this does not guarantee that your husband will always do the wisest or most godly thing. It does mean, however, that regardless of what he does, God is working in your life to "conform (you) to the image of His Son." (Romans 8:29) and God can be glorified."
My husband has never asked me to lie (as her example stated) but it gets to the heart of my basic fear... what if my husband didn't fully follow the Lord's leading in a certain area? Well, that's not my deal. That's his deal. And it's his deal because that's how God structured it. My deal is to fully minister to my husband, and to not react from a prideful heart that sees my ministry to my husband as demeaning or secondary to other callings in my life. God IS perfect, and I can completely trust that He knows what is best, even though my husband is not perfect. In spite of my husband's imperfections, God has chosen to put me under his authority. I come from generations of really strong women. In fact, I consider myself a strong woman. (Strong-willed is more like it!) Over the years as I've read verses on submission, I've reacted negatively. I still do, at times. As Peace puts it, "It is not uncommon for women today to be upset by these verses. If they are, they may not have been taught what these verses mean, or they may be reacting from a prideful heart that has been influenced by the world's way of thinking. These verses in no way mean that a woman is less valuable or less intelligent than a man.... There are simply some responsibilites and burdens that God does not intend for women to have. A truly wise woman will accept that, appreciate it, and submit graciously to God's plan of protection for her."
"You may never comprehend all the reasons why God doeas what HE does, but you can trust that HE knows better than you what you really need. Keep in mind that you will never be what God wants you to be until you place yourself under God's plan by coming under the authority of your husband."
Just how much of my life do I want to live outside of God's will and plan? I do not want to flop one toe outside of where His grace and protection is!
God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.
Helpful scriptures on this topic:
Genesis 2:18, Psalm 147:3-5, Romans 8:28-29, Proverbs 31: 13,18, 25,28,29, Ephesians 2:10, Hebrews 12:1-2, Romans 6:6-7, 1 Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:23, Colossians 2:9-10, 1 John 2:16, Ephesians 6:10-13, 1 Timothy 2:12-14