Lightning Strikes


These days I’m in a small group trying to learn how to make the Word come alive on a daily basis. We’re adding tools to our basket, tools that help us interact with scripture.

The point, for us, is not to study, or memorize, or to analyze. Instead we are trying to interact with the God who dwells in the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God.” I believe He wants to speak to us in his Word.

Last night, I worked on my homework. The task was to “notice a detail.” I was in the book of Luke, reading the passage about Mary and Joseph offering the sacrifice for their new son. And what I saw hit me like colliding with a brick wall at 60 miles an hour. Like a lightning strike.

Though I’ve always known the story of Simeon and Anna, last night I observed a couple of details included in the passage. Of course, I knew that she was a long-time widow, that she served with prayer and fasting, and that she was always in the temple. Anna is described as a “prophetess.” And then this phrase hit me like a brick wall.

“. . . she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38)

Do you see it? That one detail that changes so much of how we must interpret passages in the New Testament? Speaking of a woman, the passage says, “SHE SPOKE ABOUT THE CHILD TO ALL.” She didn’t speak only to children. She didn’t speak only at women’s events. Anna, the prophetess, (gasp: a woman) spoke to all.

In fact, the truth in this passage is this: God chose a woman to be the VERY FIRST HUMAN to announce the messiah’s arrival to the world.

Recently, I’ve really been struggling in a world where my gender inhibits my value. The official line is that I’m valuable. But the truth is, I’d be more valuable—more usable, more useful—if I were a man. I haven’t been given to the planet to fight about this issue. I don’t have time for that. My job is to use my gifts where they are welcome. In some ways, I have recently surrendered to the way things are.

The truth is that when men discount the gifts given to women (by the One who made them both), they create deep pain. I’m teaching these women that God wants to talk to us about our pain. It shouldn’t surprise me that God wants to talk to me about what hurts most in my world right now. I think He may be saying, “It hasn’t ever been MY plan to discount women. I chose a woman to announce it first.”

I take comfort in that. What about you?



6 Responses to “Lightning Strikes”

  1. Djyoung Says:

    “…if I weren’t a woman”
    I think that is what you are saying?
    If I am looking to obey the Lord and follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit then I am not concerned about how man may limit my exercising that gift.

    • Bette Nordberg Says:

      DJ, I understand your comment in theory. It implies that nothing can limit God. In truth, the responsiveness of men limit God all through the new testament. Jesus cried over a city that refused to let God save them. It leads to a question: When you know your calling, and you are following the Spirit, but men choose to limit your opportunity – – – then when do you walk away? As the earliest missionaries did, when do you wipe the dust from your feet? When do you say, “I must obey the Lord in my gift, and I will find a place — wherever that may be — to use that gift, even if it comes in a feminine package.”

  2. Helen Brien Says:

    Yes, great comfort! Merci for the insight!

  3. Nonie Faris Says:

    I agree with these thoughts, Bette. And, it was a woman who announced that Jesus had risen. This was beautifully written.

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