As a young woman, I often feared that to be a woman was to be somehow… less. I understood that men and women were equally loved by God, equally valuable and both good at things, but I also had a feeling that women were destined to be less influential. Less powerful. Less able to make an impact on history.
Sometimes the feeling caused me to shrink back, apologetic for having an opinion and unsure of myself, while sometimes I found myself getting snarky and defensive, jostling for recognition or entering into unspoken competition with the young men around me.
It has taken over a decade to dislodge many of the slivers of insecurity surrounding the woven complexity of my feminine nature and my desire to lead and make a difference. One of the most pivotal moments for me was in a time of worship at Bible school when I was 19 years old. The whisper of the Holy Spirit shattered my confusion and spoke to me, “I made you a girl on purpose.”
In that moment, I had to choose to trust that His assignment for me was specially formatted to my gender. He had not relegated me to a lesser role.
Just last year I was reading the account of Caleb in the book of Joshua and stumbled across some astonishing evidence that the kingdom of God is one that welcomes and even expects the strength of women to be released into the earth.
The book of Joshua contains the narrative of the people of Israel entering the land God had promised to give them and fighting for decades to gain possession of it. Joshua was the lead, and one of his trusted friends was Caleb, who was known for his faith and valiant military campaigns.
The story picks up in chapter 10, where we see that the general, Joshua, is rallying the chiefs of each of Israel’s tribes. They have just fought a brutal war and captured five intimidating, enemy kings. Joshua has these five kings brought low so that the Israelite generals could each place a foot on the neck of these enemies, symbolizing their dominance and the end of their wicked reign.
Joshua then turned to the Israelite army and repeats the words that God had spoken to him personally in chapter 1, “Do not fear or be dismayed! Be strong and courageous, for thus the Lord will do to all your enemies with whom you fight.”
Your feet will be placed on their necks. You will not be overcome. You will stand victorious.
Fast forward over to chapter 15 and we read more about Caleb and his sons and daughter. Though Caleb has been given his allotment of land as reward for his faithful service, the battle is not quite over. Caleb still has an arch-enemy by the name of Anak who is yet to be defeated.
Now, Anak’s name in Hebrew is the word, “anaq” which means, “neck, or necklace.” Here is a beautiful hidden treasure that made my eyes widen and my jaw drop a little.
The name of Caleb’s daughter was Achsah, which happens to be the Hebrew word, “Akcah” which means, “anklet.”
In view of the narrative of this book of history, we can conclude that Caleb’s naming of Achsah was deliberate and very likely reminiscent of that moment when Joshua had his generals place their feet on the neck of the enemy.
When I read this, my heart leapt to recognize that this Hebrew father, Caleb, was reflecting the very heart of the heavenly Father who says to us as women,
“Listen to me, daughter. I know that there is an intimidating enemy out there trying to keep you from walking in your calling. But, I know who you are. You are Achsah. You are one who will place your foot on the neck of the enemy. Be strong and courageous.”
Ever since reading this account, I’ve chosen to wear a simple gold chain on my ankle as representation of the name the Lord has given me. On days when I feel shaken or intimidated by the calling He has spoken to me, I remember that my Heavenly Father not only welcomes me into His presence to be comforted, but He also knows that I can handle more than I think I can. The Lord sees the strength of women as an incredible asset to the church.
It can be tempting to forfeit our authority, shrink back and make excuses, but you must not. It can be equally tempting to abandon the fruit of the Spirit and push forward in the crowd, hungry for validation and acknowledgment. This is not necessary, noble or wise.
The Lord sees each one of us and He knows who we are. You are the daughter named Achsah.
You can read all the details of the story in Joshua 10:16-28, and then Joshua 15:13-20.