Four Extraordinary Women in Worship and Devotion
Extraordinary women are ordinary women whose participation in something ordinary produce extraordinary results. This is exactly what happened with the women featured in this article.
Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron may be considered extraordinary given her title of prophetess, but her role did not influence the Israelite women more than her act of worship on the day that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea.
“Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced” (Exodus 15:20).
You’ve seen her type in worship services. They repeat the chorus ten times, aggravating those who would rather sing it once and be done. The four women we will discuss later were even more outrageous in their worship and devotion.
What Motivates Women In Worship?
Women are reputed to be more spiritual than men. They usually outnumber the men in the congregation; they buy more devotional books and attend more seminars on like prayer and spiritual growth. At the root of their devotion is their need for personal relationship.
The result of a recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health revealed that women have the greater need for friends, while men have the greater need for the social network of family. Applied to our spirituality, it is easy to understand why women in worship are more concerned with the personal bond between them and God, than with the approval of other church members.
For example, while the congregation celebrated the miracle, Miriam celebrated her partnership with God in the miracle. God used her to keep watch over the baby Moses floating on the Nile River. He used her to arrange for Moses’ own mother to take care of Him (Exodus 2). Her obedience was a factor in saving the life of Moses. Miriam was celebrating the miracle of the crossing as well the miracle of partnership with God.
(1) Ruth's Commitment
A young woman named Ruth decided to leave her country and accompany Naomi, her mother in law to a strange land (Book of Ruth). At first, Naomi invited Ruth and Orpah (the other daughter in law) to return with her, but on afterthought, she suggested that it would be better for them to stay in Moab with their parents, for a better chance at a second marriage.
After much persuasion, Orpah decided to return to Moab, but Ruth was determined to go on with Naomi to Bethlehem. Ruth's decision was founded in deep devotion: “Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1: 16).
Naomi had practically nothing to offer Ruth, except to share her life of devotion to God. Ruth’s migration for the purpose of a personal relationship with Naomi’s God, made her one of the extraordinary women.
(2) Hannah's Promise
It would be reasonable to expect that a mother who conceives a child in answer to prayer, would keep that child within her sight. It is true that she promised to “give him to the Lord all the days of his life,”(1 Samuel 1:11 NKJV) but usually that means spiritually, not physically.
Parents rejoice if their child chooses to pursue a vocation in church ministry during their age of responsibility. Hannah’s promise was not rooted in a hope for her child's adult years. She sent Samuel in his childhood to be groomed for God’s service. She fulfilled her promise to God literally and urgently. She also, connected her personal past experience with the celebration of the moment.
“I am the woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord. I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life” (1 Samuel 1: 26-28).
For a woman whose child was given in answer to prayer, literally giving Him up to God made her one of the extraordinary women.
(3) Mary's Faith
Have you ever been so desperate for God’s presence that you cried?
You run the entire gamut of emotions:
- frustration because you can’t seem to connect with Him
- grief because it seems you have lost Him
- disappointment that no-one else understands your plight
- then you breakdown and cry because you don’t know what else to do.
That was Mary Magdalene on resurrection Sunday after the men had looked at the empty tomb and left. So what if they did not find His body? Proof of His existence would be written in the scrolls. Not good enough for Mary. She wanted to see Him one more time.
She waited alone, peering into the empty tomb as if expecting Him to appear (John 20). He had to show up—this Christ who had saved her from her demons, and given her a new lease on life. They had a relationship, so she knew that He was real. Death or no death, she wanted to see Him again. Her faith and devotion overrode the fact of an empty tomb. Outrageous faith by any measure!
In response to her deep seated devotion, Jesus appeared. Imagine how it touched His heart to hear her say, “If you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” He called her by name and gave her a message for the other disciples.
“The reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” – Saint Augustine.
(4) The Widow's Trust
Luke mentions, “as poor as she is” (Luke 21: 4). Previous to seeing this woman in the temple, Jesus warned the people about the authorities who were “shamelessly cheating widows out of their property” (Mark 12:40). Whether she was poor because she never owned property, or she was poor because she was cheated out of her possessions, she came to church and put in the offering plate “everything she had to live on” (Luke 21: 44).
Hers was the kind of devotion beyond belief. No what ifs, no could haves; only a simple, childlike trust in God to supply her needs. Jesus commended her to His disciples, to all women in worship and to the entire body of believers for her example in extraordinary devotion.
Hopefully, her act of naked faith along with the examples of the other extraordinary women we mentioned will inspire us to follow our hearts in our daily expressions of praise to God. It is better to do what we do, not for commendation, but for the purpose of solidifying our relationship with God.
Which of the following are you LEAST LIKELY to do?
© 2012 Dora Weithers