Recently, one of my grandsons asked me who my hero was. I love that question, but it was hard to answer as I have many heroes. I have many women who have been my heroes through the years: Elizabeth Elliot, Amy Carmichael, Henrietta Mears, and several others. I also have many Biblical women heroes. I love the bravery of Deborah and Esther from the Old Testament. I love the courageous obedience of Mary, the mother of Jesus, surrendering to God’s will for her as a young teen. She was definitely extraordinary!
Over and over again throughout the scriptures, we see God using very unexpected people for His glory. Think about it. Moses was 80 and a murderer. Jacob was a liar. Peter was a fisherman without a great resume, and Saul was known for persecuting Christians. Yet, God used each of these men in extraordinary ways. However, He also used women.
Here are 3 of my favorites:
The Woman at the Well. Her story is found in John 4. Jesus was on His way to Galilee but stopped in Samaria along the way. Tired, Jesus sat down by Jacob’s well while the disciples went in search of food. You probably know the story. But, in case you don’t, you can read it in John 4:1-26. A Samaritan woman came to the well at noon to draw water. Her lifestyle didn’t fit the mold of “Righteous Hero.” She would be better categorized as an insecure woman looking for love in all the wrong places. We don’t know the full back story, but she had been with lots of men. Jesus lovingly engaged her in conversation while also directing her to the truth about the current man she was living with. So why do I love her so much? Ah, she’s such a mess! We’re all really a mess, but the great news is that Jesus came for messy people. When Jesus revealed that He was the Messiah, she felt so excited she raced to town, stepped past her shame, and told everyone, “Come and see!” Many in Samaria believed because one woman stepped past her shame and invited others to come meet Jesus. She is the first missionary!
The Bleeding Woman. We don’t know her name, only her condition. She had been bleeding for twelve long years. As a result, she couldn’t join in weekly worship at the temple because she was considered ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 15:19-33). Imagine being thought of as unclean for twelve long years! However, this woman had heard about the coming Messiah. She had likely heard that when He came, He would rise with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2). In the corners of their robes, Jewish men had tassels (Numbers 15:38, Deuteronomy 22:12). The word for “wings” that is used in Malachi could also refer to the corner of Jesus’ robe. When she heard Jesus was nearby, she snuck up behind Him and in one motion of mighty faith, she bent down and touched the corner of His robe. Instantly, she was healed. However, before she could sneak away, Jesus turned and asked, “Who touched me?” Jesus knew full well who touched Him, however, He wanted to give this woman an opportunity to tell her story, and He wanted to publicly declare her clean so that there would be no more shame. God used this ordinary woman, thought of by society as unclean, to declare something wonderful about Himself. I wonder how many believed in the Messiah as a result of hearing this woman pour out her whole story?
The Woman Who Discipled Many. In the book of Acts, we are introduced to Priscilla and Aquilla. You can read about them in Acts 18:2-3, 24-26. Priscilla and Aquilla were tentmakers who offered their home to Paul. During the time Paul lived with them, he mentored them. Later we discover that this husband and wife team played a critical role in the early church. Some have called them the “dynamic duo” of the early church. What’s interesting is that in the 7 Biblical references to them, 5 times Priscilla’s name is mentioned first. This suggests that Priscilla had strong leadership gifts. She was used by God greatly to disciple Apollos (Acts 18:21), she played a leading role in shepherding the early church, and she risked her life for the sake of the gospel (Romans 16:3). In many ways, Priscilla reminds me of Henrietta Mears who discipled Billy Graham and many others.
Each of these women is a reminder that God uses women powerfully in the body of Christ. He invites us to tell our stories and to walk in the gifts He’s given. When we make our lives available to Him, He can do the extraordinary.