That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace… Psalm 144:12.
Likening a daughter to a cornerstone originally seemed like a slightly bizarre concept to me when I first heard of it some time ago. I mean, how could I possibly be like a block of stone?! However, upon delving into the meaning behind this, it caused me to think of how it related to godly womanhood.
A cornerstone provides great strength as the foundational stone joining two walls. The King James Version uses pillar instead of the word cornerstone, but this too implies great strength. In thinking of both modern and historical buildings, pillars provide the necessary strength to support whatever is above it.
Have you ever noticed that cornerstones and pillars are often intricately designed, carved or patterned? In looking at some of the historical and especially ancient architecture there are some exquisite designs! The Psalmist David wrote Psalm 144 as a “song to the Lord who preserves and prospers His people”. Therefore, I believe it is through God’s blessing, goodness and faithfulness that we as daughters and as women can stand in Him.
As women, we have many unique privileges that lead to some responsibilities. A question I have asked myself is this: Is it really enough to simply glide through life doing whatever I wish to whenever I want to, as the world enticingly invites me to … is there another higher purpose and reason for my existence?
Because we are reading a magazine such as this one, my guess is most of us desire to walk a different path. We are daughters of our earthly parents and daughters of a Heavenly Father. Whether we are married or not doesn’t really matter, we are still women! As so many of the blessed aspects that make us women are scoffed at, how can we stand bold and tall, confident in being the women we were created to be? I feel rather vulnerable, but maybe through sharing a little about myself it will be of some encouragement to you.
My parents brought my siblings and me up in the ways of the Lord and I have been so blessed to learn about God’s ways from an early age. Through my homeschooling years I learned many things, both academically and practically. I became adept at looking after our home during several times of illness for my mother. While I was stretched in many ways during this time and struggled a lot, I can now look back with thankfulness for the compassion and ‘life-skills’ I learned. My parents encouraged my siblings and me to be responsible with money and to learn to earn some for ourselves. It was through working at various part-time jobs and saving money that my sister and I were able to travel to the USA when we were 18 and 19, to assist with the Above Rubies Ministry. We remained in the USA for four months, meeting many special people and being blessed in many ways.
Upon returning to New Zealand, I was faced with the dilemma of what to do with myself. I had entered into a courtship and when that fell apart due to circumstances that were beyond my and my family’s control, I had to really trust the Lord that He could see much further ahead than I could.
I can now look back with huge gratitude to the Lord that it did not eventuate, for various reasons. I spent sometime away with godly relatives on a farm and received solid council along with experiencing a renewal of heart and spirit. The Lord used this time to show me that I couldn’t spend my life trying to please everyone. Pleasing Him was what mattered at the end of the day.
To cut a long story short, I began my nursing training with much support and encouragement from my family and close friends. While I don’t pretend to hold much wisdom, allow me to share some of my ponderings and lessons I’ve learned, in the hope that you might be blessed in some small way.
Verse 15 of Psalm 144 says, “…happy are the people whose God is the Lord”. We are to be women who are full of joy, whose hearts sing of God’s righteousness and goodness. The Psalms are full of exhortations to sing and praise the LordA joyful spirit is a powerful witness to those with whom we are in contact with and an attitude of praise and thanksgiving radiantly declares that we are secure and content in the Lord. I’m sure we can all admit that it is not easy to always have a joyful attitude! When I have felt ungrateful or dissatisfied, I try to make myself think of all the blessings and ‘good things’ in my life. It’s amazing how quickly the attitude of self-pity is replaced by one of gratitude!
During the first two years of my nursing training, I worked in a Rest home for elderly people. By making an effort to have a smiling face and a positive attitude I was able to bless many of the people with whom I worked who were lonely or bitter about their lot in life. I found it amusing to be nicknamed “the smiler” by one gentleman, but it reminded me how people really do notice our attitudes. A joyful countenance is only obtained through the Lord and I encourage you to seek His joy in your life. For what is within us ends up flowing out of us. It is only when we are secure in the Lord that when everything comes crashing down all around us and we can still stand with our heads held high saying, “God is still Almighty”. Strong pillars supporting a palace can still stand if the foundation is strong. (Proverbs 15:13 and Proverbs 17:22)
God has given us such an amazing gift of salvation. When I receive a gift, I really enjoy sharing about it with my family and friends! However, I am ashamed to admit that I have often missed or let opportunities pass by in sharing about the greatest GIFT that I have ever been given. It was sobering to hear about a tribal man who asked a missionary “where have you been all these years – why didn’t we hear about this good news many years ago?”
While most of us will probably never land on foreign soil as missionaries, we are living within a mission field right where we are, right now. The prophet Isaiah wrote about those who spread the Good News as having beautiful feet (Is. 52: 7) and this verse really speaks to me of how it is actually a privilege to share the Good News. Jesus mixed with the humble and lowly and often depraved and immoral people. Therefore, who are we to judge those who may not seem up to our standards?
Yes, there is a big difference between adopting sinful practices compared to relating to and loving the sinners. We are all sinners saved by the grace of God so may we have the grace to minister to those who so desperately need the Lord. So, whether we are mothers ministering to our children and teaching them about the Lord, visiting someone who is unwell, going overseas on a mission trip, or working in the local grocery store, we all have opportunities to live out our faith and share it with others.
I have really been challenged personally to actively live out my faith and not limit it to the confines of what is ‘comfortable’. Queen Esther is a remarkable woman in the Old Testament who did not allow fear to dominate her life! She did not remain shut away within her comfortable, lush surroundings in the King’s palace. Because of her faith in her Heavenly Father and her courage in standing up for what was right, the Jews were spared an appalling fate.
Imagine if Queen Esther had said, “Oh, I don’t think I’m brave enough to risk my life and carry out this message to the King, I’d rather keep my pretty head intact!” As we seek to be strong women in the Lord, we need to be able to stand for what is right and true. As society all around us is caving in to immorality, atheism and population control to name a few, how imperative it is to make a stand for the things of the Lord.
An important consideration in choosing the not so commonly walked path is not to give up, no matter how tough circumstances may seem. Discouragement does come, and if it hasn’t, it probably is coming. I’m not one to look at the glass as half-empty, but being different to the majority in the world IS difficult at times! Standing out can be challenging. It goes back to the comfortable thing. Psalm 62:8 tells us to pour out our hearts before the Lord. He is strong enough to bear our burdens and is a sure refuge for us.
I have been tempted several times to give in to the world – the subtle call to live the easy way. In the days as I finished my homeschooling, I didn’t know what to do with my life and felt so confused. Some unwise council assured me that I shouldn’t have to stay around home and “put up with” all the challenges that were going on there. I know how much courage it can take to say no, walk away and not look back. And I have seen the Lord’s blessing in my life through the hard times as I trusted Him to help me stay true to Him. How important it is to be in close communion with our Heavenly Father so that our ears remain tuned to the still, small voice that gently corrects us. It is in the times of doubting or uncertainty that we must cling even closer to the Rock of our Salvation.
Psalm 18 is one of my favourites and verses 1-3 have been a great encouragement to me … “I will love you O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.”
Our inner beauty reflects through to our outer beauty. Ever noticed how the so called ‘beautiful women’ in the glossy magazines that line the checkout aisles at the supermarket seem to have something missing? The finest fabrics, latest fashions and brightly coloured cosmetics cannot define the beauty of a daughter of the Most High King, because “the King’s daughter is all glorious within…”
So, the next time you’re feeling plain or ordinary do a double-take and remember that God is more concerned about the state of our hearts than the style of our dress or the type of haircut we have. As pillars of great strength, our purity and virtue should show foremost through our characters. Being discreet, gentle, kind and modest are just some of the characteristics that we can work on developing in our lives. No, it’s not always easy and yes, it can be discouraging at times, but remember the joy of the Lord is our strength. We can succeed through the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Fostering a steadfast relationship with our Heavenly Father equips us to maintain the godly characteristics that form our inner beauty.
After saying that about our inner beauty, I do believe that we have a responsibility to present our external self in a manner that brings glory to our King. Modesty is first and foremost a heart issue, and while this may look slightly different to each of us, the fundamentals are the same. Who are we dressing for at the end of the day and why should we be bothered in putting any effort into what we wear?
We are blessed and privileged to be women; therefore I believe our external body should reflect this. In a society that accepts androgyny as increasingly normal, surely our testimony in our appearance is able to speak volumes to a world that is blending God’s standards for masculinity and femininity.
I have learned a lot about modesty. I have moved from being very stubborn in not wanting anyone to tell me how I should dress, to being legalistic in what is “right and proper” to wear and now to finally grasping how a set of rules is not what is most important. It is important to have standards, but equally important to apply those standards for the right reasons. I was greatly blessed by an older woman of the faith who recently encouraged me to treasure my femininity and purity as it really is so precious to the Lord. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that feminine virtue doesn’t matter! While so many women are tossing away modesty and replacing it with “liberty”, I encourage you to embrace the feminine beauty God has created within you.
For those of you who remain unmarried, like me, I would urge you to consider the unique blessings we have at this time. While I am hoping and praying that I will one day be married, I have learned to not disregard the purpose of my time before marriage – these years are not wasted years! This is a great time to fill our “toolkits”. It will be a challenging road to travel if we don’t know how to keep a home and care for children when we are married. Using the skills we have and developing new ones, studying God’s Word, serving others in our churches, families, communities … using our time wisely is so important.
I am reminded of Ephesians 6: 15-16 that exhorts us to redeem, or productively and wisely use the time we are given. We are to make the most of our precious life and be wise in the way we spend our time. This time period will probably look a little different for each of us. For me, this has more recently involved studying in order to become a Registered Nurse. The skills I have learned, along with the life experience I have gained have been invaluable. I have been stretched in my faith, yet it has grown stronger through the challenges I have faced. Just as God refined Israel in Isaiah 48:10, so He refines those whom He has chosen that He might be glorified.
In all things we are to seek God’s will and direction for our lives and I encourage you to earnestly seek what it is that He would have you to do. I know that God is greater than all my fears of the unknown and He will direct my next step in His timing. He will direct your footsteps also; all you have to do is ask Him. For we are His daughters, seeking to be strong cornerstones … beautifully designed pillars fit for His palace … He will use us wherever we are, when we are willing to be used by Him.
My prayer is that through reading my ramblings you will be encouraged to stand strong, like a strong pillar, in your convictions. May you be richly blessed as you live your life as a precious daughter of the King of Kings.