Yielding is Wielding
I’ve been married to my prince charming, Anthony, for six-and-a-half years now. We met seconds before walking down the aisle as bridesmaid and groomsman in the wedding of two friends. It’s a story that we love, I mean LOVE to tell.
Probably the reason it resonates so much with both of us is that we admittedly had nothing to do with how we hooked up. He was fresh out of a near-engagement, and I was just starting graduate school. Also, after years of passionate attempts to mold my boyfriends into husbands, I had given up. Yielding to God’s pull, my focus was now solely on maintaining a promise of purity and pursuing a new career, not a relationship, but the Lord had other plans.
Here’s what happened: Since I’m a live-in-the-moment kind of gal, I didn’t purchase shoes for the wedding until the afternoon before my flight from Chicago to Dallas. My mom and I spotted the perfect pair of strappy, heeled sandals at a bargain basement price. These were the kind of shoes that Cinderella would appreciate. When I slipped them on, I felt like a princess.
Fast-forward to the evening of the wedding rehearsal. Wearing a pair of flip-flops, I appeared much shorter than another bridesmaid. Despite my attempts to shed light on the fact that the other girl’s heeled-boots obviously added two or three inches to the height difference, I was paired with a shorter guy. The next morning, as we lined up, the coordinator realized, “Oh, you are taller.” So, that’s how it all began, I was scooted toward the door, hooked arms with Anthony, laughed at his joke, and smiled my way down the aisle with him – the first time.
Our story, our fairytale, began without so much as an ounce of effort by either one of us. Perhaps this is why it was such a perfect life experience. We made no attempts to orchestrate the circumstances. God did it all.
As trivial as it may seem, the Lord made good use of my procrastination by saving an affordable and cute pair of shoes for me that day. In His infinite wisdom, He also placed Anthony and me at our wits-end where we’d cast aside our own relationship agendas, and instead honed in on our individual connections with Christ. And, the rest is bliss…
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the matrimonial experience of King Ahab and Jezebel. My writing team and I recently got a chance to learn more about this Old Testament woman and her man. What we saw were glimpses of ourselves. Sometimes, memories of familiar power plays and a lack of yielding to the Holy Spirit hit a little too close to home. Dare we have anything in common with a power wielding, control obsessed queen? Well, we might.
Has there been a time when you wanted a certain job, to join a club, or get your child into a particular school, but it either was inconvenient, pricey or filled to capacity, so you decided to do something about it? Did you think for a minute about ways you could make it happen? Maybe you actually put in a phone call to someone with influence, wrote a letter, took a little cash from savings or some other financial commitment. Did you resolve to make it happen, to do something about it, no matter the cost?
This is the kind of thinking that permeated the leadership of the Israelites under Jezebel’s rule. When her husband gave up on getting what he wanted, Jezebel was just getting started. If she wanted something, she went to great lengths to get it. There are two clear examples of how she used her position of power to control circumstances. One I call “the vineyard incident” and the other “the confrontation after Mount Carmel.”
In 1 Kings 21:1-16, we see the makings of a daytime drama. Jezebel’s husband wanted a vineyard, but the landowner, Naboth, in obedience to God (vs. 3), refused to relinquish his property. Ahab gave up and sulked, but Jezebel chose to use her influence. She decided to do something about it.
First, she took control of her husband commanding “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite” (1 Kings 21:7). Rather than exhibiting an Ephesians 5 approach to “respect her husband,” she undermined him.
In the next few verses, Jezebel took control of the situation. “So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him.” In the letter, she wrote: “Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. But, seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them testify that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”
Flipping back to 1 Kings 18, we see another attempt to wield control playing out after God’s prophet Elijah struck down false prophets who worshiped the same idols as Jezebel. At Mount Carmel, Elijah challenges the people and the false prophets of Baal and Asherah. In verse 25, “Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.”
In verse 27, Elijah encouraged them to shout louder and mocked their fake lord saying, “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”
After hours passed and the people failed to produce their god, Elijah prepared the stage for the one and only true God. He repaired the broken altar and directed the people to fill jars with water and pour them onto the offering and wood. Three times, they filled jars and drenched the site.
Then, in verses 36 and 37, Elijah stepped forward and prayed “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
This is a powerful prayer! Elijah is clearly yielded to the Lord. And, God answered in the very next verse, “Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stone and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.” My God is an awesome God! At this point, there is nothing left for the people to do except yield and proclaim: “The Lord – he is God! The Lord – he is God!” (vs. 39) They didn’t just recite the words, I believe in their heart of hearts they knew it was true.
Elijah then ordered the seizure and execution of prophets of Baal. Ahab heard of all that went on and told his wife what happened. The Bible says she responded by issuing a death threat: “So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” 1 Kings 19:2
Of course, today, the vast majority of women will not use deadly force to get what they want. Often our attempts to fulfill our desires are very subtle and in some cases, could be classified as an acceptable level of persistence or healthy ambition. Yet, sometimes wielding femininity looks like yielding.
Engineers know that a “yield point” is that moment when material permanently changes form. The more we bend to the Holy Spirit, seeking to please the only Wise King, the more we change. The more we yield to God, the more empowered we become, recognizing that He alone has control. If we truly aspire to use our femininity for good and our leadership to advance God’s kingdom, we have to yield to His will, to His way, casting aside our own self-focused pursuits. Then, when we find ourselves faced with life’s challenges, we are able to yield more quickly to God’s will, allowing Him to display His ability.
In my love story, it wasn’t until I stopped trying to control my marital status that God fulfilled my desire for a husband. Letting go of our need to be in charge is not a once-and-done kind of thing. We have to daily give things over to God and rest in the fact that He really is in control. Loosening the reins on our lives can be so freeing!
Let’s yield, pray and proclaim “The Lord – he is God! “The Lord – he is God!” 1 Kings 18:39
by Tricia Scruggs, Shabby Chic Ministries