Healthy Friday: Spiritual Health and Bitterness By Crystal Schmalz
I have been reading the book Women of Azusa Street by Estrelda Alexander, and it has been really uplifting and insightful to read this book again. As I was reading through the book this time, I started to think about the struggles and challenges these women of faith experienced. I thought about how they were incremental in the start of the Azusa street revival and how William Seymour came to know about the Holy Ghost through his female pastor and other female leaders. Then just a few short years later after six of the original board members were female, Seymour changes his structure and limits the role of women in leadership. Here these women started churches, preached around the world, and wrote about this revival and then they are limited by human tradition and culture. It saddened my heart, because even now in our culture I see this type of mentality. Women labor in churches and bring in new converts and bring in God’s revival, and yet they are not considered pastors by some. I imagine these women in the past and even women in the present day would have been hurt and are hurt by these cultural traditions which go against the Word of God. The Word tells all Christians to go into the world and preach and teach the gospel. The Word of God says in the last days God is going to use both women and men to prophecy. The Word of God gives gifts to the Church, and not once in scripture is a limit placed on these spiritual gifts specific to gender, rather it says there is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus. Yet, women all around the world question and doubt their place in the Kingdom of God. Women are longing to work and labor because the fields are white and ready for harvest. Women have gifts and callings, and it involves leadership roles within the Church.
As I think about my journey toward fitness, and struggle with health, I also think about spiritual health. I think about bitterness, and how it can often start as a small seed in our life. It starts off small. Someone might say a word which hurts us, or not include us in their “club” or “group.” It starts as a small seed, which grows as we think about the hurt more and more. Then, before we know it, the seed has grown into a plant and we have a chip on our shoulder. We become critical and angry. We allow the anger to control our thoughts and feelings. We might isolate ourselves, or try to find a different group to meet our community needs. The more the bitterness grows, the more of a stronghold it has in our life, and it continues to separate us from our friends and God. Yes, the hurt was real. No, it was not right. This is not about blame. It is about taking responsibility for our own feelings, and saying “I will not allow bitterness to grow in my life no matter the circumstance.” Women in leadership and ministry have to be especially careful, because we are not always accepted in circles. There are real struggles we face. There is still a lot of teaching which needs to be corrected through the voice of scripture and in the timing of God. We must be patient and hold onto our call. We have hope for eternity where we know injustice will not be allowed, but we are in the now where injustice and issues with gender and leadership are still present. The point is we need to stay strong and faithful, and ask God to deeply inspect our hearts. “God, please do not allow bitterness to grow in our hearts. Take it away. Bring healing. Bring hope. Bring revival. Bring correct teaching from scripture. Help us God. Help us today.”
Copyright 2015 Crystal Schmalz Ministries