Thursday, April 17, 2008

Piper: "Become a Sage"

I had the blessing of tasting a bit of the Together for the Gospel conference this week, which was primarily for pastors, but open to anyone to attend. I was certainly in the minority of women present -- less than 100, I'd guess. I mentioned to a friend it was strange to see the line outside the men's room at a huge conference like this and then be able to walk right in the ladies' room!

Most of the direct exhortations were to the pastors in attendance -- which was fitting and appropriate, but this morning during the panel discussion, John Piper briefly addressed the women present with a word about the need for women who are "sages". By this he described women who walked with God, dug deep into theology, experienced the fellowship of Christ's suffering over the course of their lives as they experienced unbelieving husbands, wayward children, medical conditions, etc. and as a result have emerged into their 40s, 50s and 6os as profoundly wise women. It would be fitting for younger generations of men and women to go to these females sages and ask for their insight. Piper described women who on the exterior w
ere gentle, loving, sweet and kind but had a rod of steel down their back -- built in there by the experience of suffering for Christ's name sake. I automatically thought of women who fit this bill -- the "sages" of my life, if you will. Perhaps you can think of them as well. (Here is a picture of my favorite sage -- Elisabeth Elliot -- whose words have influenced and guided me more than any other woman's. I commend to you her books, especially The Path of Suffering. If you never again read a book I recommend, please read this one). Just being older does not make you a sage -- but clinging to the supremacy of Christ through all the battles that a Christian must endure, saturating yourself and your mind in the Word, will in time, make you just such a person.

I was challenged. I want to be a woman like this. I sat there, listening to Piper describing these honorable women, and feeling closer and closer to that age than ever. Thinking about all the silly things in my life that I have made more important than they are. What do those things matter -- at all -- in the light of the glorious reward awaiting us? Can I, by His unlimited grace, choose to endure suffering for His name's sake? Can I look at life with new eyes, not asking "why me?" but "Why NOT me?" when I see suffering taking place? Can I choose to take every cough, every late night with an ill family member, every rough day on the job, every misunderstanding with someone I love, every hurt, every slight, every death and disappointment, and lay them on the divine altar as a sacrifice of praise to the honor and glory of Christ? By His grace -- YES. And so can you.

Dear female reader: ask yourself what you are holding onto that keeps you from loving Christ supremely. He is Supremely Valuable. Do I see Him as such? He is Altogether Good. Do I question His goodness when I experience discomfort? Friends, though we live in a society that is always all about comfort, I know that many times your trials and pains are true and real. It is not their reality that keeps us from rejoicing in the midst of them. If the trials were all joy, no pain at all, then what would be glorious about rejoicing? No, it is in this real suffering that you will know the sweetest and closest fellowship with Christ -- the fellowship of His suffering! "Therefore, let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek a city that is to come."

Sister -- consider the reward! And count it all joy!


Sara Mincy said...

Thanks so much for this post, Gretchen! What an inspiration and challenge!

GloryandGrace said...

I'd love to listen to the panel discussion. Do you know if it's available online?

Molly Carlisle said...

(I love your new profile picture!!)

Anonymous said...

Dear Gretchen,
What a wonderful word to use "sage". I know of a women who I knew personally who fit this description, My Mother and your Grandmother. I doubt she even knew to what extent but she left a legacy to us all. Praise God-How we all miss her.
Love you, Aunt Diane

Brenna said...

gret, i posted a link to this post on my blog - it's too good not to be read by the masses!


Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I came over from Brenna's blog.

What a beautiful post!

I know who I am adding to Bloglines. :)

....t said...

Dear sweet Gretchen, When reading Jill's blog i found myself cruising through the blogs of those that had sent her comments. When i read your blog about becoming a sage in Jesus i found myself being drawn into the reality of a life that is completely sold out to Jesus. What a wonderful and spiritual woman you have become. Probably the most life changing event that caused me to seek out the Lord was when a drama group came to our church when i was 16yrs old. The drama was called, Bridge of Blood. It was a readers theater about the ministry of Jim and Elizabeth Elliot and the other missionaries that were martyred while serving the Lord in Ecuador. Because of that drama i have become an avid reader and follower of the life of Elizabeth Elliot. What a woman. Gretchen, from what i have read from your blog and what i saw in you when you were a teen, you hold the same zeal and hunger for God that Elizabeth Elliot has. i know that God is using you and your husband greatly and i know that He holds a wonderful future in His ministry, for you and Josh. i do have one request, dear one, when you think of it would you please whisper a prayer for my Molly?? i would so love to see you. What a refreshing, encouragement you are to my spirit....teri