Available + Faithful: Women with Jesus

Mary, Susanna, Joanna, and Lydia.

Luke Chapter 8 and Acts Chapter 16 give us a glimpse into the lives of women who had their hearts wide open to the transforming power of Christ. These women didn’t keep Jesus’ power private, but instead they had willing hands to put God’s work on display and humbly serve those in their path.

Is this type of bold, selfless, passionate heart for service still attainable today?

Luke 8:1-3 tell us about women accompanying Jesus on His mission: “Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him,  and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.”

We learn that Mary, Susanna, and Joanna had been healed. The amazing part that can’t be missed is that their journey with Jesus didn’t stop after being healed; it was only just beginning! Not only were these women miraculously healed, but they were healed and then using their gifts. That is who we are called to be in Christ: healed, set free, and then able to love and serve others abundantly. When we realize that Jesus has forgiven us and washed us clean, we are driven to live wildly for His glory. Maybe we aren’t trekking on a literal by-foot journey with Jesus, but in a sense we are. There are people all around us that need encouragement and can benefit and flourish from the faithful stewardship of our gifts.

Titus 3:4-5 says, ” But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”

He saved us, not because of works.” Using our gifts while journeying with Jesus is not what saves us. Believing the lie that productivity leads to Christ’s love is a dark and dangerous path. Instead, when we embrace His merciful kindness and healing power towards us, we can begin to desire to put our works on display for His glory. Only after salvation and transformation, after being with Jesus and allowing Him to change us, can we be a fountain able to pour out sacrificially on others.

“On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there.  A God-fearing woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying.  After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us…..After leaving the jail, they came to Lydia’s house, where they saw and encouraged the brothers and sisters, and departed.”- Acts 16:13-15, Acts 16:40

In the book of Acts we also see how Lydia’s heart affections were stirred toward Jesus and His message. She was changed from the inside-out and had influence over her family. They were changed too- her entire family was baptized! Immediately after understanding Christ’s message, she opened her home without question and made herself available to serve in a tangible way. She prioritized service and hospitality in a way that was contagious and memorable, because her house was the first one Paul and Silas visited after they got out of prison during their ministry. She, too, had an encounter with Jesus that left her changed and ready to serve.

Right now women are under attack. The drive to empower women has never been stronger in our society than it is now. How does having a changed heart that is ready for service fit into all of this?

First, we have to realize that Jesus Himself empowered women. He called women out of shameful hiding and ushered them out of darkness, spurring them on to walk confidently in His light. The way He interacted with women was different and even questioned by most in His day. Jesus loves to raise eyebrows. He did it then and he still does it now through actions of radical love. Jesus did not see women as less-than, but He saw them as created-for-a-purpose. In our culture today we are losing that purpose in a sea of noise. An independent, successful, powerful woman can seem to have it all but simultaneously be void of Christ’s power and lack the one thing that truly matters: an encounter with Jesus leading to a changed heart. In our screams for independence and hunger for the spotlight we can miss the opportunity to cultivate gentleness, selflessness, and generosity through our time, skills, gifts, and resources.

As women we have a platform to humbly bless others in the name of Christ. We can influence and inspire those around us by glowing with truth after being in Jesus’ presence. Romans 8:15 tells us that we have received a “spirit of adoption” instead of a “spirit of slavery.” Are we living enslaved to the world’s view of womanhood or are we living in the liberating spirit of adoption that Jesus provides? Once we embrace whose we are, it changes everything. Others are watching and craving a nurturing love. Are we ready to meet those needs around us? Mary, Susanna, Joanna, and Lydia were. They saw the needs and they filled them with joy. They didn’t grumble or violently rant about their need for privilege or power.

2 Corinthians 6:2 says “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” It’s tempting to put it off and think that we’ll just serve later. In our back-burner mentality, we begin to embrace building our own empire while forgetting all about building Jesus’ kingdom. The harvest is ripe and it is happening now. We can either put off having a life-changing encounter with Jesus or run after Him now. We can either settle for stone-cold hearts or make ourselves ready and available to serve now. Now is the favorable time- what will you do?

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.