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The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit. -John 3:8 NKJV
Way out in West Texas, a couple hundred miles from my home in Dallas, there's an amazing sight as you drive down the interstate. Along the edges of the mesas there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of huge wind turbines. These giant towers (usually 164 feet tall, according to a state Web site) are used to convert wind into electrical energy. And out there in West Texas, the wind is always blowing.
The line of turbines seems to roll along the jagged edges of the mesas for miles, and all along the way, you can see the turbines' long fan blades slowly turning in the breeze, a modern adaptation of the old-fashioned windmill. But every so often there's a turbine that's stopped, and when you see it, you can't help but wonder why.
Why would one turbine be stopped when the turbines on either side of it are whirling away? The same wind that makes those other blades slice through the air must also be available to the turbine that's stopped. But something-or someone-has interfered. Maybesomething in the turbine's mechanism has broken. Or maybe someone somewhere has thrown a switch that locks the blades into place so they can't respond to the wind.
I'm no engineer, but I can't help but think that, if the wind blew hard enough, it could break the lock that has shut down the turbine, and those blades would turn. Or maybe the resistant turbine would be blown over by a hard wind, striking other towers as it falls and toppling them too.
Thinking about those machines and how they respond to the wind-or don't-I'm reminded of how we as Christians respond-or don't-to the power of the Holy Spirit blowing through our lives. When we allow ourselves to be empowered by God's will, we're able to generate goodness and accomplish work we could never dream of doing on our own. But sometimes we're resistant; sometimes we don't respond to his presence, to the rush of his Word breathed into our spirit. Then, it seems to me, one of two things happens: Either God uses us anyway, overcoming our locked attitudes to do his work, one way or another-and maybe in a "way" we'd hoped wouldn't happen. Or, when we're locked in stubbornness, the consequences of our resistance may be that we take a fall.
The point is, God will fulfill his plan for us. He will use us to achieve his purpose, whether or not we willingly cooperate with him. As the saying goes, We can't all learn by example. Some of us have to be the example others learn from!
This book is about some of my favorite women of the Bible whose behavior and stories have generated lessons that have impacted my life. God has used these women-with or without their cooperation! For the most part, they were common folks. Some of them were wealthy; others were poor. Some were famous; some were barely known. But whether they did great things or a single small gesture, somehow they made an impact that has lasted thousands of years. Once again I think of those wind turbines and imagine how their power is being used. Maybe it just illuminates a single porch light burning to welcome home a returning loved one. Or maybe it powers the NASA computers in Houston that guide the space shuttle back to earth.
The power of these women's stories can have an impact just as varied. I love to read them again and again, always discerning something enlightening about how God uses them to speak to us all these thousands of years later.
And by the way, this book isn't just about my favorite Bible heroines. It's also about some other famous-or maybe I should say infamous-women of the Bible. They certainly can't be called my favorites; the truth is, a couple of 'em were more like floozies! But I've been impacted by their stories as well. Their lives tell us about what happens when we're resistant to God's will and get locked into hardhearted stubbornness that robs us of our potential to generate goodness. As you'll see, some of these women were downright mean; their hearts didn't respond at all to God's love and guidance. They were like the turbines that stand motionless and useless on the edge of the mesas ... until that wind, which could have been a positive force for them, instead blows them over.
These wicked women caused harm wherever they went, bringing down others as they fell into evil themselves. No Christian woman today wants to follow their lead; but we can certainly learn from what their stories tell us.
And here's one final thought: one way or another, the biblical women I'm talking about in this book know today that Jehovah God is the all-powerful, omnipotent Creator. If they didn't know that fact all those thousands of years ago when he was trying to guide their steps and lead them in the pathways of righteousness, well, sister, you can bet they know it now, wherever they are spending eternity!
It's like my husband, George, says about car headlights that are left on when the driver gets out of the car. One way or the other, those headlights will go off. The easy way is if the driver realizes the mistake and returns to turn them off, or if the car does what its maker designed it to do and turns off the lights automatically. The hard way is if the driver ignores the reminder that dings or if the car doesn't perform as it should. Then the burning headlights run down the battery until the whole car is as dead as a doorknob. Yes sirree, eventually those lights will go off!
Similarly, one way or another, the women I'm writing about here do know today that God is the supreme Ruler of the universe. Maybe, as believers, they knew it even before their stories were recorded for us to read centuries later. Maybe they learned it the hard way-as they stepped into eternity.
With a few exceptions, these gals would have been forgotten long ago except for something that happened to them. In most cases, they found themselves in situations they hadn't chosen-probably wouldn't have chosen if it had been left up to them. And they faced those dark or challenging situations in ways that set them apart. As a result, their stories have lived on through the ages to teach and inspire us thousands of years later.
Which brings us back to those West Texas wind turbines. When they respond to the wind and are used by it, they generate power that can do a lot of good for people who may live hundreds of miles away. I want to be like one of those towers, responding to God's will in a way that brings goodness to others. I already know what God can do. But I can always learn more, and I especially want to learn from these women who lived back in Bible times. Their stories speak to me, and I hope they'll speak to you also as we look at what they knew-and what we can learn from them.
Excerpted from What These Girls Knew by Thelma Wells Copyright © 2007 by Thelma Wells. Excerpted by permission.
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