What a Harlot Taught Me About Ministry
I have read and re read the tale of two women who came to King Solomon with one living child, both claiming ownership to the sole child. Until recently, these stories for me were a case for the exhibition of Solomon’s wisdom. Wherever Solomon’s wisdom is proclaimed, this story is always told. I had not given much emphasis to the women in the story or looked at the story from the perspective of the women because the story was never about them.
I needed perspective about a story of mine that was not about me. That is when I realized I could learn some lessons from a Harlot about ministry!!
There were two women in the story and the narrator introduces them as “one woman” and the “other woman.” Until the end of the story we are not explicitly told who the real mother is. The conventional understanding of the story is that the first woman who gave the full account of the story to the king is the real mother. For the purpose of retelling the story through their eyes, I have named the first woman (the real mother aka “one woman”) as Ms. Heartful and the “other woman” as Ms.Hurtful.
Profile of Ms.Heartful
She is a prostitute, a sinner.
She wakes up to find out she is the victim of her own child being abducted.
She is robbed off what rightly belonged to her. She is dismissed off her inheritance.
Her integrity is questioned since she was dragged into a court case.
She who was truly nurturing was violated by someone else.
She was left destitute to defend for herself
And she comes to the king for justice.
She wants vindication.
She wants her baby back.
She rightfully pleads and appeals to restore what has been taken away.
When the king’s judgement was wrought about by the division of her living child, and threat to the survival of her child,
She relinquishes her rightful inheritance, knowing…
She would still be destitute.
She will lose what was rightfully hers.
She will not be vindicated.
She will continue to be defenseless.
And that was okay with her…! Her emptied hands were going to be empty again.
The one who emptied her was going to hold what belonged to her and she had to live in the same house with her!
That is sacrificial joy exhibited at death to self. This harlot’s heart was FULL.
Full of love for her inheritance.
She chooses life.
She chooses to be emptied for a fellow sinner to enjoy her life.
She chooses mercy.
She chooses defeat for the sustenance of her inheritance.
She places the cause of life over her comfort.
She was Ms. Heartful. Her heart was full even in her chosen emptiness, and she went home vindicated.
Profile of Ms. Hurtful
She is also a prostitute and sinner.
She experienced a sudden tragedy in her life.
She felt life was not fair and God was not fair to her.
She felt she faced injustice in life when her child died.
She was hurtful and she put her comfort over the cause of life.
She wanted to cover her hurt by making the living child her’s.
She schemed that the living child could never choose and that there were no witnesses.
She wanted to move on at the expense of another woman’s life.
Her goal was not kidnap, it was a depressed bereaving mother’s insane attempt at healing her hurt. Another good day she would not have done a kidnap.
Before you write her off as a kidnapper and evil, let me tell you, this is a woman who survived the death of a child in the immediate postpartum. She lives in the maternity ward, so to say, with another mother and baby.
She could not stand the other woman’s security and joy in the light of her own affliction.
She did not harbor in her an intentional, deliberate or premeditated attempt to have the baby killed by the king. Nevertheless, the moment she judged the other woman did not deserve joy any more than she did, from that moment of judgement, in her mind…the other baby had already died.
The potential of the living baby was misconstrued by her poor and angry judgement of its failure to bring her joy. For this woman, Ms. Hurtful, everything exist to make her joyful.
When a baby is pictured and the violation of basic human rights is in play, our human and maternal justice is called into action and we stand up for the just and its easy to spot the counterfeit. We can speak for the true mother and judge the fake one because it is the matter of a living baby who is desperately in needs of a true nourisher!
Yes, that is true. The living baby needs nourishment. Hold on to that thought.
Profile of My Heart
I have discovered that both these women live inside me. From time to time, I have seen patterns of both these roles playing out in my life. I am presented with choices to make while ministering in the vineyard for the Lord. Some of the events dished out to me in life and ministry are either that of Ms.Heartful or Ms.Hurtful. I have been robbed of my joy because of someone else in the same boat was bereaving. I have accounts of cold shoulders from fellow workers who did not see the potential in my “babies.” For the sake of the kingdom cause to live on and to show the demeanor of Ms.Heartful in those situations calls for grace and unparalleled trust in a living God. What set her apart as true was her spontaneous outburst that rose from her maternal love that was burning within her. I can pause here and truly ask God to give me that spontaneous grace and burning compassion of this harlot when ripped off my rightful inheritance, and still vouch for the sustenance of the kingdom cause.
Then, there are the Ms. Hurtful situations that I face.
Natural disasters happen. Dry seasons in life play out. There is dryness, death, and bleakness overrules. Waters are not clear anymore on my side, they are muddy. But I see clear waters on the other side. I see lives thriving on the other side. I know very well these times when I write the death sentences of some “babies” because they never existed for MY joy. I know my inability to embrace my grief in the light of someone’s life. I have pleaded for an easier way and looked and walked out on the easy roads of self pity and scheming. I am capable of murder and escape as much as this woman is. I have in me living, this woman and an evil king (Mathew 2:13) with all their potential to “destroy the babies” that could become a threat to my throne and its joy. I truly have in me the dislike when people come in search of “this or any baby” having seen its star from the far east.
From time to time, my hurt can kill the potential seeds of the kingdom or the king himself coming through them. That is when I pause and think, what other choice could this woman have made?
I think Onan (Genesis 38:8) who did not want to raise a name for his brother (and hence the kingdom) and there is Leah and Ruth who when denied their rightful lives and love as brides, still took the higher road to build the kingdom.
When life dishes out to me circumstances of Ms. Hurtful, I want to take the higher road of building. I don’t have this in me yet, but I know that’s what God is willing to build in me. Rather than snatching and making the immediate joy mine, I want to choose to take the higher road of embracing my grief and choosing my resources and the riches of His grace that is bestowed on me to build “the other woman’s baby”. And so I shout to the verdict of the wise king,
“Let the baby live!!!”The living baby needs nourishment.
In the affliction and the trial of Ms. Hurtful, I want the heart of Ms. “Heartful” and the farsightedness of this bereaving harlot. When the records are being made and the names of the faithful are being recorded, its better to be known as “by faith, sinful as she is, she made a choice to embrace her own loss and used her resources to build and let the baby of the other woman live.” Because who knows, one day the sanctification of both these women might just come through the life of that living baby!