Our Highest Calling: Alexa Mahan
The words from one of my favorite podcasts came through the speakers of my car, “the
highest calling for a woman is to be a wife and mother.” Instantly I sunk down in my seat and the morning traffic I was stuck in became the least of my worries. The thoughts in my head slowly drowned out the rest of the featured speaker’s words. “If this is my calling, have I somehow failed?” “If I never get married will God not use me?”
Often times we tend to do two things that are disastrous for a single woman. The first is to maximize marriage that we unintentionally cause her to feel incomplete. The second is to minimize marriage as a means of encouragement, all the while reducing a privilege the Lord gives to many women. So, what are we to do? Is there a way to rectify the two?
I believe the issue at hand is a misunderstanding of our highest calling as women. But for us to see what our actual primary calling is we need to turn to the pages of scripture. It’s easy when we approach the discussion of marriage and singleness to go directly to passages that mention the topics specifically. Instead, I want to look to a place in scripture where the definition of marriage was not even established yet. I want to go back to the beginning.
Genesis 1:26-27 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
It is in these verses where both man and woman are given their official identity, that of image bearers. There are many implications for what it means to be made in the Imago Dei, one being reflections of our Creator. As image bearers, both men and women have the responsibility of being appropriate representations of the image in which they were made, God himself. If we are properly living out our identity of image bearers we will cause others to be pointed back to God, resulting in his worship.
In chapter 2 of Genesis, an emphasis of worship is seen within the position established for Adam. Genesis 2:15 reads, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” The Hebrew words for “work”, abad, and “keep”, shamar, are significant. When these words are used as a collocation in other passages of scripture, they are referred to the service and care done by the Levitical priesthood in the temple. If we take this meaning in the temple context and place it into the context of Eden, we see that while Adam’s command was to physically take care of the earth, his primary calling was to be a worshipper. In the resulting verses God creates Eve as a helper for Adam, thus establishing both man and woman as worshippers.
This calling is carried into the New Testament as well. In Hebrews 3:1 Paul writes, “Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, you who share in a heavenly calling...,” 2 Timothy 1:9 says, “[he] who saved us and called us to a holy calling,” and in Philippians 3:14 Paul writes, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
This heavenly, holy and upward calling is the calling of every believer. Our highest calling as women who have been saved by Christ is to love, serve and glorify God in everything that we say and do. While all believers receive this upward calling, our inward calling differs. In 1 Corinthians 7:17 Paul says, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” The common mistake when we talk about singleness and marriage is to confuse our inward calling with our upward calling. If we look back to the creation account we see that God establishes his upward calling for Adam and Eve before their inner calling. Their primary calling as worshippers is to be lived out through their secondary calling to be husband and wife. In the same way, not all of us are called to be mothers or wives, but we are all called to maximize the glory of God.
For women to encourage other women in their singleness in a way that speaks truth, they need to first and foremost point them to their highest calling. The language must shift from a heightened view of marriage to a heightened view of the Lord. A single woman can in turn encourage a wife and a mother by coming along side of her and exhort her to worship God through the way she takes care of her children and through the way she lives out her role as a wife. As we are motivated to serve the Lord with all that we are and to give him the highest glory, we will continue to lead the life that God has called us to with peace and contentment.
Let us then mutually encourage one another to live out our highest calling. Let us be women who celebrate both the call of marriage and the call of singleness as we work side by side to further the kingdom and make His name known.