“Throughout Proverbs, wisdom is always referred to as a woman. She teaches, instructs, creates, calls out to fools to come in her house to learn insight and to understand knowledge. What a great picture of what God created women to be and to become—civilizers of people, influencers of generations, shapers of nations.”Sally Clarkson’s article,
“Exceptional Women Feed the Souls of Others from the Richness of their Souls”
Learn to do Well
So where do we start to fulfill this God-given task? We can begin with Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do well.” As a woman, I am naturally a teacher, and I should always be putting myself in a place of learning. God directs us here to learn to do “well”. The primary root of the word, “well”, is “to make sound, beautiful.” Dig further, it means: “be accepted, amend, benefit, make cheerful, comely.” The root spreads more: “be content, diligent, find favor, give, be glad, do good, make merry, shew more kindness, make sweet.” God says to learn to do these things; to use our life to actively grow in these areas, impacting our sphere of influence with a living model of the kingdom of God.
Begin at the beginning. Learning things is hard work. If you don’t understand something, don’t let pride swell within manifesting itself in self-hate or discouragement; rather, let it fascinate you. Be in childlike awe that so much is beyond that horizon, so much to learn and see and do and share. “Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes one feel glad to be alive—it’s such an interesting world.” (Lucy M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables.)
Grow Upwards Towards Christ and Spread Outward Towards Man
Let’s start with the question of how does one learn to do well? There are two areas: grow upwards towards Christ, and seek to spread knowledge and wisdom outward to others. How? As does a tree, we are to become rooted and grounded in His Truth. The trunk of the tree is the vital connection between its roots and its leaves. A healthy trunk points upward and hosts the life-giving nourishment from the root system. Our strength comes from a close and vibrant relationship with God. Connection to the root and the effectual deliverance of nutrients to the branches and leaves is vital. The leaves and the fruit picture how we benefit others and interact with the world.
Again, “Seek the LORD and His strength, seek His face continually.” (2 Chr.16:11) We are to seek His face continually. What other Scripture comes to mind? “Pray without ceasing.” (I Thessalonians 5: 17) Or, “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice.” (Psalm 55:17) This living relationship is a continual, never ending, life-giving part of our life. The tree is ever seeking the water of life and transforming it to nourishment for the leaves and fruit. The tree is a living and growing thing. Our relationship with God is a living and growing thing! To be effective we must remain connected. A tree with no active root system is a dead tree.
God is the Source
Let’s first discuss the question of how to grow closer to God? First, know that He is the Source. Psalm 63:5, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.” (Expectation: cord, hope) Not from others, from Him. He is your Teacher. To learn from Him you must spend time with Him. Be patient with yourself. Building new pathways and connecting bridges in the mind takes time. To go from spoon fed to eating on your own is a process. Different muscles are used; a new determination must be summoned. Practice the presence of Christ; that constant conversation with Him.
Efforts Produce Results
Secondly, know that effort will produce results. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7-8) Diligent effort will have its rewards. First and foremost, spend much time in His Word, taking note of what He is speaking to you about, and spend thoughtful time pondering this. “To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” (Edmund Burke) Saturate yourself in the Word of God.
Act Upon That Which You Have Learned
Thirdly, your daily walk is the exercise, or the living out of this time spent with Him. Women are wonderfully and specifically constituted to draw close to God in sensitivity of spirit and to comfort, cradle, gently guide and instruct the ones He has placed around them. Grow towards God. For with Him you can handle anything; without Him you can handle nothing! As you mingle with people you grow closer to God, for these relationships are used of Him to bless, correct, admonish and change you.
Turning the Chin Upward
“A woman who thinks and read, who takes the time to build a reservoir of wisdom and knowledge in her own heart, soul and mind, will serve others well and invest in those in her sphere of influence. (S. Clarkson article) We come to the second portion of learning to do well: spreading knowledge and wisdom outward to others. Just as gravity in the physical world is constantly pulling downward, so too in our spiritual lives, everything tends downward. It takes concerted effort to keep pressing onward and upward. You spend time with your God and you see how faithfully and patiently He instructs and guides you. Naturally then, you long to have others see Him as you do but the great question is how to pull others out of their world into His? How do you help them look beyond the four man-made walls constraining their life: selfishness, fear, doubt and shortsightedness? How? Get close enough to them to turn their chin upward for a glimpse of the eternal. You can neither save nor change a person by sheer will, but you can, with gentleness and care, touch their downturned chin and lift it upward. Find where God is and point their attention there! Show them there is more to life than what we see. Learn to see beyond:
That is not a blue sky you see, it is the mere underside of the carpet of heaven!
That is not a tree you see, it is an act of worship in creation: trunk pointing upward, and limbs, as arms, uplifted in praise to the Great God!
The trill of the songbird is a chorus of praise in an unknown tongue!
That is not a sunset, it is but a dimmed reflection of the lower lights in heaven!
Those are not stars above, they are but tiny pinholes in the canopy that separates our dark world from the bright streaming glories of heaven!
That is not a trial you are facing, it is an opportunity to grow closer to your Father.
Understanding = True Communication
Your gentle touch has a great impact. Turn your attention to others. I’ve found the secret of great communication: seek to understand the person with whom you are speaking. When you seek to understand the reason behind the tone, the concerns that grip the heart, the hopes and plans in the bosom, you begin to understand the person and therefore can communicate with greater efficiency.
Expanding Your Sphere of Influence Through Genuine Interest
I have said before, “If you want to be interesting you must be interested.” Being interested not only in life and beauty and knowledge, but in people and their deep needs, makes you a very interesting person to those with whom you speak, therefore increasing your influence within their life. Here is an account of a meeting with such a person. “She approached me with an attitude of expectancy that made me instantly eager to fill her hopes and flattered me by her very evident belief that I could. And under her warming interest I forgot lacks and limitations and expanded into a creditable version of what the Creator intended me to be, because she called out the best of me and made me pleased with myself. The fresh cleanness of her seemed an out-picturing of an inner cleanness and clarity.” (Margery Wilson, Charm) As you are interested in others, your sphere of influence will expand.
Women were created and consecrated (set apart) for a special task. The cry that began in the 1970’s was, “I am woman, hear me roar.” I say, “I am woman, see me love.” See me stand with strength and dignity upon that which is true, right and just. See me learn to do well in my home and abroad for the love of God and man, thereby becoming a “civilizer of people, an influencer of generations and a shaper of nations.”
As seasons of life change, Elizabeth happily remains desperately dependent upon her God. Two of her four children have now branched off to begin their own families. She is a homeschooling veteran and a faithful wife of almost 30 years.