Imagine a lioness convinced she’s a worm. Then imagine a lioness convinced she’s a king. One a spineless slave, the other a self-appointed tyrant. Which mindset could do her family more harm? Which is a greater assault on the created order of things?
The enemy has pulled quite a number on women. “Hush, you silly chits,” he whispers with shame lacing his words so that they land like daggers. “You don’t actually matter. Everyone knows you’re just pretending to be worthwhile. They can all see right through your pathetic attempts to do anything really meaningful. Pipe down before you reveal how ridiculous you truly are.”
Many of us will believe this tune. We might slap out-of-context verses over it so that we can’t be accused of neglecting our responsibilities by the rare voice crying out to us in the wilderness, or we may simply numb ourselves with trivial pursuits so that only a tiny shred of our hearts whimpers with any longing to rise up.
Then there’s the other song Satan sings. If he can’t trap us with the first, crooning this one should prove more effective: “You deserve to rule. The rest of the kingdom has tried to keep you down, but you are far too important to be quiet. You are woman—roar! Remind them of who they’re dealing with; make them regret overlooking you.” And just like that, seeds of resentment are planted, reaping a harvest of fierce anger pointed at the hearts of men.
These are the hymns of worms and of kings. How familiar I am with both!
Either way, the darkness laughs. When God’s daughters roll over and play dead, it claps. When God’s daughters rip out the throats of God’s sons, intent on dominating the landscape, it cheers. Because, once again, we’ve been duped into something less than our ordained role. And despite the couple thousand years since the words were first spoken, a kingdom divided against itself has still not figured out a way to stand.
Sweet sisters, the empowering and liberating gospel is, as ever, a third way. It’s not even a balance between the two extremes, in which we’d have to walk the straight and narrow of being neither too much nor too little. Rather than existing in the middle of the spectrum, the gospel is on its own plane, higher than the options that relegate us to worms or kings.
Why can’t it be a spot in the middle? Doesn’t that sound reasonable, the idea of knowing our place is never a worm, never a king? If my main concern is keeping my feet steadily in place, where is my need for the Spirit’s leading? I’m not paying attention to God because I’m locked into the safety of my centeredness. Had balance overpowered guidance, Deborah would have missed the calling to judge and lead Israel in a season of chaos. Esther would’ve refused to save her people. Mary would never have agreed to birth Jesus out of wedlock. Priscilla wouldn’t have helped disciple Apollos.
The third way, the different plane of the gospel, allows for the free shepherding of the Spirit in each situation. God could be desiring either more or less influence than would be called for by the middle-of-the-road approach at any given moment. Who can fathom His understanding? Certainly not I. If balance would urge something other than the Lord’s leading, follow those pierced footsteps every time. Of course, use wisdom, which matters too much to God to be ignored. But don’t rely more on a balancing act than on the Spirit’s guidance.
The gospel calls for both more and less a sense of self than we would find at either end of the worm/king spectrum. By beholding the glory of Christ, we become fearless enough to war against injustice and humble enough to cry out for mercy against the injustice in our own hearts. What others think begins to matter so much less than loving fiercely in the name of the King. Only by stepping into our lion identities and then forgetting about ourselves completely are we able to rise to the fullness of our purpose.