Redeemed Girl welcomes back our friend, Tonya Riggle to speak about a topic extremely relevant to women today.
Hear Our Voice
As with typical Americans, I can let an event slide by, replacing it with the newest frazzle that is reported in the news. But one recent event is sticking with me.
It’s been two months since the Women’s March on January 21, 2017. I am still mulling it over. Apparently a lot of people are, as it is now deemed a movement. So, as women and believers in our country, I think we all should be examining it.
I get the why. Our now President Trump has said inappropriate things about women, i.e. who he thinks they are and what he has done to them or feels he has the right to do to them. There needs to be a reaction to this rank attitude.
I’m all in on the why, I’m just not there on the what and how.
Two voices seemed to rise to the top of the march. One was Madonna’s voice. It is not hard to feel her deep anger and passion to rise above diminishment. She has such a resident sense of why and is doing something about it. Good for her. On the other hand, I assume the Secret Service made good on their intent to investigate her for saying that she has thought about blowing up the White House.
The other voice was Ashley Judd’s. She boldly declared that she is a “nasty woman” who demands to be understood and respected. It seemed like an all-in fight against the chains she believes bind her. I feel her pain. However, her accusation in the same rhythmic beat that the President is guilty of incest just can’t resonate with me.
In an effort to listen to these women’s hearts instead of simply reading other people’s words about them, I trolled their website a bit. It got me closer to the center of their cry – Hear Our Voice!
As women, we want to be heard, understood and respected. We also want our voices to make a difference. We want to be women of influence.
But amid the angry tones, stomping demands and provocative gear, I have to ask myself, is this the kind of influence I want to be a part of?
Not exactly…. because I think we can do better.
How, then, are we to speak as strong, godly women? I am finding some guidance in the study of a strong woman of influence – Deborah.
We don’t know much about Deborah. She just kind of appears on the scene in Judges chapter 4. She is living in a culture that is confused and going in a lot of different directions. Her people, Israel, had lost their mooring in God. They were acting in ways that seemed genuinely right to them, but their manner of grasping for life kept ending in death. It brought them death to spirit, soul or body that came in myriad forms.
One thing we do know about Deborah is that she had a voice.
Judges 4:4-5 says, “Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah… and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment.” Deborah had a voice and she wasn’t afraid to use it. The key question is what made her voice so thoroughly influential? What made it so effective that the people of Israel traveled a long way just to hear it? What made it so strong that it brought life to the entire nation instead of death?
Checking Our Voice
When we see need or injustice in our world, how are we confronting it? With what kind of voice do we address it? If our words originate with us or other people, though they are creative, passionate or justice-driven, they are of man alone. They may stir up people, but they won’t bind up their wounds, they won’t clean up their sin and they won’t call them up to a holy purpose. They may sound like they are rallying people to life, but they are actually herding them toward some form of death – a dead end of bitterness, blame and the like.
We learn the key to Deborah’s influence in verse 6. “She sent and summoned Barak… and said to him, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 people… And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?”
Deborah’s voice was mighty because she spoke the words of God. She sought His heart, she heard His words and then she spoke them. That’s it. As a result, God’s glory and power flowed from His Spirit out of her mouth.She uttered truth with full confidence that God was backing her up. That’s impact. That’s what I want to speak and how I want to speak it. Can I get an amen?
Seek then speak. How many times have we reversed that order or ignored the first part all together? We rightly love free speech, but do we also love filled speech? That is the only kind of communication that can revolutionize our culture with true hope.
Granting Our Voice
So, how do we know that our voice is impacting in the right way? The rest of chapter 4 gives us some good clues.
After Deborah makes her declaration from the Lord, Barak, the general of the army of Israel, responds in verse 8. “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” Really? Yes, he is outnumbered and out-resourced by the Canaanite army, but his confidence is in this woman’s presence in the midst of raw, bloody battle. His confidence is in her because she is in The Lord. Where she goes, He is present.
It’s not just her presence that makes a difference. Look what Deborah’s voice does to him when they go to war in verses 14-15. “And Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him. And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword.”
Her voice called Barak to be the man that God created him to be – brave, faith-filled and commanding. In fact, when her voice strengthened him, then his voice strengthened 10,000 Israelite men. They, in turn, became courageous warriors for the Lord. They saw Him work mightily and were used to break the oppression of their enemy over their entire nation. And it all began with words from Deborah’s mouth. Now, that’s a voice of influence!
Do our voices make people better? Our families, our friends and even our perceived oppressors need to be called in the right direction. They need words that stir them to grand things. They need a visionary voice, not one that threatens to crush them or mock them into submission. Do our lips grant such vision, inspiration and truth?
Backing Our Voice
The Bible talks about three kinds of women. There are lots of women in the Bible with various kinds of characteristics, personalities and positions. Many of them had influential voices, but they all fall into three basic categories.
The first one is well categorized by Revelation 2:20-21. Jesus Himself says, “You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.”
Keep in mind that Jesus is not talking about an actual woman named Jezebel here. It is a spirit that comes out in an attitude and claims that her own voice is important. Her declarations mislead people to a brand of “freedom” that is out of bounds. Her words captivate people at first, but will eventually dull their souls and get them off-center. Even the Lord’s patient nudging won’t get her to follow any agenda but her own.
We will dub her like the Bible does – a worldly woman.
Our Deborah represents the second category of woman. In Judges 5, she and Barak sing a victory song that is inspired by the Holy Spirit. In verse 7 they belt out,
“Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until she, Deborah, arose, until she arose, a mother in Israel.”
She and many other women in the Bible are termed worthy women.
Finally, 2 Timothy 3:6-7 defines a third kind of woman when it is talking about people to avoid. It says, “For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
They are weak women. Notice that it is sins they can’t shake, desires they can’t direct and truths they can’t discern that make them weak.
Wow, I’ve inhabited each of these categories of women in my life. Some for moments and, unfortunately, some for seasons. Let’s look at how they tend to operate in various arenas of life.
Our voices are backed by who we are…. really, by Whose we are. We will either meet our world alone with manipulative force or timid compliance. I suspect that both strategies for success are rooted in fear.
Our other alternative is to meet our world with Christ. Then, we can take on the culture with peace, confidence and strength. We know we are His vessel for His agenda to establish His kingdom. When we speak His words, they will not always rally a mass of followers or inspire clever promos, but they will sweep up those who will heed them in the movement of God on this earth.
I believe God is raising up Deborah’s in every generation, in every school and in every field. God’s call is to each of us, not just those of a specific personality, gift or platform. If we have a voice, we have His calling:
To seek, then speak,
To pour out truth and courage,
To make the weak strong,
To break true oppression,
To set captives free,
To say, “Hear His Voice when you Hear My Voice.”
And that is an invitation into the Movement of Movements!
We are delighted to have Tonya as one of our guest speakers at Redeemed Girl Institute. If you’re interested in attending our annual discipleship conference, check out our website: redeemedgirlinstitute.com We hope to see you there!