Being A Woman Of The Word
At my wedding my father-in-law, who presided over the ceremony, prayed that I would be a woman of the Word and a woman of prayer. After seventeen years, I am still challenged and convicted by these words. Oh, to be a woman of the Word and a woman of prayer! It sounded so simple at the time!
As women take on their responsibilities in marriage and mothering, it is tempting to think that a verse or two a day will do. The demanding schedule may press Bible reading time to a low priority. There is so much to do! But keeping ourselves in the Book will equip us to "fulfil our ministry" (2 Timothy 4:5) to our husbands and children, and enable us to discharge our duties before God joyfully.
Not all women are natural students. It takes discipline to read the Scriptures. It is easy to put it off until our tasks are done. By that time, we are either too exhausted to read at all, or our minds are so full of dozens of details, we may not pay attention to a single word we read of Scripture.
We need help and encouragement to get us into the Book, and to help us to become real students in Christís school. As the Puritan writer Jeremiah Burroughs put it, "Take a scholar who has great learning and understanding in arts and sciences; how did he begin? He began, as we say, his ABC, and then afterwards he came to his Testament and Bible and to his grammar, and afterwards to his other books." We need to begin to become serious students of Christ, and must begin with simple reading of Scripture.
John Bunyan in Christian Behaviour said, "The whole Bible was given for this very end, that you should both believe this doctrine and live in the comfort and sweetness of it." How can we live in the sweetness and comfort of doctrines if we do not know what they are? We must learn them first and then we can live in the joy of them. If we are only exposed to them a dab here and there, this is impossible.
Begin with a very basic plan to get through the New Testament. Reading ten chapters a day, you will read the New Testament in a month. If that is too hefty, read five chapters a day. Sit down and time yourself while you read straight through give chapters (without backtracking or rereading). You will be surprised at what a small amount of time it takes. And that small amount of time would take you through the New Testament once every two months. If you do not understand something, keep going. Youíll be rereading it again soon. When I finish, I jot down the date so I can see how often I have been through each book, and also tell if I am "avoiding" sections. You can do the same thing by checking off chapters on a Bible reading chart.
You will find that the Lord will bring to mind the Scriptures you are reading while you are working, teaching your children, visiting your friends. Once it has become a pattern in your life, it will bless you very much. The Scriptures are a source of comfort, as Bunyan says, and the doctrines contained are very sweet indeed.
Christian wives tend to leave the "fat books" and theology to their husbands. While this may look "submissive" to some, it is actually disobedience. It is not enough that we know Proverbs 31, Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3, and 1 Corinthians 11 and 14. We have to know more than how to be a good wife. After all, our first calling is to be a good Christian, and if we are good Christians, we will be good wives and mothers. We must not be afraid to study topics other than those which are related to being a wife and mother. We see in Scripture that women became disciples along with the men. What is a disciple? It is not a mindless follower. A disciple is a student - someone enrolled in the class.
This can even be seen in passages of Scripture which some have sinfully misunderstood and written off as "anti-women". When Paul prohibits women from teaching men, he (in the same breath) requires Christian women to be students of the word. "Let a woman learn..." (1 Timothy 2:11).
Because biblical learning is required of us, we ought not to be afraid of it. We must overcome our ignorance! We must also avoid bad teaching, whether it is on television, in Christian books, or from the pulpit. We must seek out good teaching. We ought to read good, solid books on Christian doctrine. It is good for us! We must cultivate a taste for books that will build us up in the faith - not take us to fantasy land.
You might want to start with biographies of saints greatly used by God in the past. Be selective. Pick up booklets from your church book table - they are not too intimidating. Work you way into more and more solid Christian literature. Just read a page or two at a time if need be and never at the expense of your Bible reading time. The more you read, the more you will find your thoughts and conversation reflecting your reading, and the more you will want to read.
May we all increasingly become women of the Word.
Reprinted by permission from Evangelical Times, July 1993.
Following is a list of suggested reading materials:
The Bible in One Year: New International Version (Hodder and Stoughton)
The bible is divided into 365 portions, dated for each day of the year. Each section consists of a portion from the Old Testament, the New Testament and from Psalms or Proverbs. Having the bible pre-divided into daily readings, helps to impart discipline to oneís reading of scripture and each dayís reading is a manageable portion.