Martin says I write about “girlie things”. Durrr – that would be because I are one! What would ‘boy’ topics be – politics and sport? There is plenty of factual debate out there – male and female: I am more interested in the ‘internal’ stuff. The journey of the heart is all I have – and apart from that I don’t pretend to know much about anything else!
Absolutely no disrespect to those who prefer to blur or cross gender distinctions, but women don’t make good men and men don’t make good women. One of the problems with feminism is that it can make women try to ‘get equal’ with men by behaving like them! Whatever you think of Mrs Thatcher, she was one of the ‘strongest’ leaders we have ever had, but she was hardly ‘feminine’ – and wouldn’t have survived as long as she did if she had been. Even in churches where women are actually given permission to use their leadership skills that can come across in a masculine way because of the model we have in place. Surely it’s better if we all just be ourselves – wherever we fit on the ‘gender characteristics’ scale – and hopefully then we can find the right balance in teamwork, relationship, flexibility…? However, I am fully aware from my own experience that women can’t get too far in the current status quo without the support of male champions: I am more than grateful for mine.
Men have forged the way over the decades – inventions, energy, travel, the development of civilisation – playing to their strengths which are often external creativity and making things happen. This is not the post for a painful debate on why women have been/have been kept in the minority on the world stage – church teaching, biological weakness and the strong bonds of motherhood, discriminatory inheritance laws, male prejudice have all played a part. To look at it very broadly – and there will always be exceptions to the rule – the male’s energy is focussed outward – public, dominant and ‘above’ – while the female seems to tend inward – more hidden, quieter and ‘beneath’. I don’t mean that in a ‘putting down’ sense at all – it’s just that, while men go out and conquer the earth and subdue it, build cities and make progress, women generally occupy the inner space – receiving the seed and growing it, birthing children out of their body, holding things in their hearts and feeling deeply. We are usually emotional and instinctive beings who complement the strength and forcefulness of men, providing homes of comfort, nurture and love for when the warriors return.
Too stereotypical? I am sorry, eminent thinking women, top professionals, incredible brains, star scientists – I am not being rude to you; my apologies to all you kind, sensitive, thoughtful and shy men out there too. We wade into the gender debate at our peril… and I didn’t mean to! Of course I can only speak of what I know, and all I know is that I am provoked to share my internal journey as if – to refer to my last post – ‘to bring balance to the force’. I believe it is about seeing the feminine side of God!
I wanted to write about glory – and believe it or not, all this is related! It’s always been one of those words I’ve found hard to pin down – usually taking the mind straight into pictures of shining light or opulent grandeur. The Scripture is full of it and God is full of it; the whole earth is filled with it (Isaiah 6v3) and – not yet but one day soon – ‘the earth will be filled with the knowledge‘ of it (Isaiah 11v9, Habakkuk 2v14). We constantly pray for His glory to come down – a golden cloud, something tangible and external – and yes, that can happen and people take amazing pictures of it and post them on You Tube!
Amazing enough – a glimpse of heaven – but there must be more to it than that, because Jesus actually said that He has given us the glory His Father gave Him – so that we could be one (John 17v22). So there is a glory that has already been bestowed that unites us, rather than divides us into those who have seen gold dust and those who haven’t!
Last week I found 4 verses in the Psalms that – in my old American Standard translation and also in the King James version – say something that made me smile:
“Awake my glory! Awake harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn” Psalm 57v8
“That my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent – oh Lord my God I will give thanks to You forever” Psalm 30v12
“Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices! My flesh also will dwell securely” Psalm 16v9
My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my glory” Psalm 108v1
The word glory in these verses is translated ‘soul’ in other versions: whether it means soul or spirit – however we understand those internal workings of individuals – it is an eye opener on what glory really is. It seems it is not just the pre-rogative of God, but I have some ‘glory’ intrinsic to who I am! It seems, in fact, to speak of the very essence of a person – the innermost being – the nature and character that make someone unique. Each of us has this aspect – the core of our being: God’s glory is the same – it is Who He IS.
When we think of it this way it all fits! Yes, Jesus has given us His Spirit – His nature, Himself – so that we can have union with God and one another. Yes, He is the out-shining of God’s person – ‘the brightness of His glory and his express image’ (Hebrews 1v3 KJV). As we hear every Christmas, ‘the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth John 1v14. It was not so much ‘shininess’ – though the face of the glorified Christ does shine – brighter than the sun (Revelation 1v16) – and when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain (Matthew 17v2) the same thing happened… but it is the grace and truth that John identifies.
In Jesus we have seen a demonstration of Who God really is – His ‘glory in the face of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 4v6) – and one day the whole earth will see that. To sing or pray, “Show us your glory” really means ‘show us your innermost self, reveal your character so we can know you intimately’. With God the fulness of that is undoubtedly going to be radiant and dazzling, a glimpse of the light of heaven… but it is telling that when YWEH answered Moses’ plea to see His glory (Exodus 33v18-23) His answer was that – though no-one can see His face this side of death – He would protect Moses from that and make all His goodness pass before him while proclaiming His Name… and the Name of God specifically describes His character and goodness:
‘Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished, he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation” Exodus 34v5-7
It gives us a broader idea of what carrying God’s glory really is – more than a feeling or even an encounter in a meeting, but being like Him, with His nature inside of us. And I also really like the idea that my deepest inner person is the place where my glory lives – it speaks of wholeness, satisfaction, something beautiful. My heart is glad and something deep in my identity wakes up, comes alive and rejoices. As my true self is stirred and revealed it sees and shares in Godself’s inner person and breaks out in song – glorying in the Lord! This is worship in spirit and in truth’ (John 4v23-24) and the way of union and transformation into His glory (2 Corinthians 3v18)!
So what’s my point? Let’s all be ourselves, internally, externally, head and heart. I’ll keep on revealing my glory if you will and that way we’ll see God in His people across the whole earth – men and women alike.