I’ve been reading 1 Timothy. I’ve always loved the relationship between Paul and Timothy. As a young woman, mother and wife I longed for a “Paul” in my life. A woman who would disciple me. One who would help me learn to be the woman God created me to be. Who would show me how to “fight the fight” and “finish the race” in grace and love.
As I look back over my life I can see those that God brought women along the journey to help me. Most were more peers than “older” women, but they were beyond me in their spiritual walk if not their season of life. They were friends who took my hand in theirs and guided me in the disciplines of faith. In so many ways they discipled and mentored me. They encouraged me toward a deeper walk with Christ. They helped me be a better mother and wife. I still value the lessons they spoke into my heart both by their words and the life they lived.
I remember during those times still longing for a spiritual mother. As I looked around the church I often wondered why the older women weren’t investing in the younger women. In my mind I imagined seasoned women who knew so much more about life than I did. They had finished the “race” of parenting and managed to stay married for 30+ years. I just knew their lives must ooze of wisdom, grace and love that could be shared. Yet more often than not that wisdom remained hidden away as if it was a secret not to be shared.
I often wondered how do you arrive in their season of life with such godly wisdom? They appeared to have such great faith. They had been through storms and suffering yet still clung to their God with a surety and passion I longed to have. I suppose I could have just asked them. I suppose I could have began the conversation. But they seemed so out of my reach, so spiritual. Oh how many times I wanted to ask questions and yet my fear of perceived “unattainable” spirituality kept me from approaching them.
I am now the age many of them were then. I have raised my children and been married 30+ years. My love for the Lord is stronger, deeper and more real today than it was then. But this is what I now know about those older, more mature saints. They didn’t see themselves as full of wisdom, grace or love as I saw them. No, most likely they felt a lot like me and wondered if they even had anything to offer the younger generation.
Recently I have had several different young women say to me how much they value the wisdom I have. They see my life and want to be the woman I am, they want to know God the way I know Him. I must admit I am always taken aback. I usually don’t know what to say. Inside I am thinking, “Are you kidding me? Do you know what a mess I am? Do you understand how much I still don’t know? Do you see my weakness and failures?”
What could I possibly offer anyone? I am so far from the woman I want to be. There is so much heart work yet to be done, so much of me, sin and selfishness etc.…how can I possibly disciple anyone? How can I even think of taking anyone by the hand and say along with Paul come, “follow me as I follow Christ”?
And then I stop and wonder. I wonder if those older women of yesterday felt the same way? Did they see their failures more often than their successes? Did they focus more on how far they still needed to go than how far they had come? I wonder if they allowed the enemy to feed them lies about what they had to offer? I wonder did they arrive at 50 with disappointment thinking they would be farther in their spiritual journey? Did they think maybe they’d have a few more things figured out? Did they think they would finally like how they looked? Did they think that somehow being older meant having your life figured out?
So I say to the spiritual mothers of today, let us throw off the lies of the enemies and embrace the calling God has given us. Let us rise up and embrace the younger women in our churches. Let us help empower them to fight the fight God has called them to, not because we have all the answers but because we’ve been there, we understand.
Let us rise up and disciple this younger generation of women not out of our strengths and successes but our weaknesses and failures. Let them see our failures and how God used them. Let them see that we do continue to fail, we have not arrived and we still have so much more growing up to do. Let them see that in those failures and sorrows of life even though our faith may have faltered it was not completely shipwrecked. We have endured. We are enduring.
We are fighting the good fight, maybe not perfectly but we do keep going. We do have life lessons and stories to share. We do have wisdom that God has given us. Let us stop hiding all that God has taught us.
So to you who are older let me remind you of what Paul reminded Timothy. Until Jesus comes, or calls you home, give attention to reading the word, exhortation and teaching. Do not neglect, regardless of your age, the spiritual gift that God’s Spirit has given you. Use it for the benefit of those in the body. Persevere in teaching truth. Pay attention to your own teaching, and how you are living so that your evidence of growth will be seen. (see 1 Timothy 4:13-16)
“Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called…” (1 Tim 6:12) We are not to stop fighting, we are never told to give up and stop using our spiritual gifts. So let us, as older women, join the younger women and fight the good fight of faith together. And when they come to us let us be brave, open and vulnerable with them sharing both our joys and our sorrows. Don’t be afraid to let them see your strength and your insecurities. Show them your true selves, but most of all show them Jesus.
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