In the quiet place of my soul, I saw it. I saw me. That was me: a watching woman, watching from a distance, like Mary. Not at the crucifixion, but at the display of life going on around me. A life that everyone else was living. A life that I thought I wanted to live.
During this season of my life, I was very discontent with where God had me. I was feeling frustrated that I could not be doing the work that I thought I should be doing. I was working hard at transitioning my family to a new home, town and ministry. But the harder I worked at that the more I felt left out and "less than". I fought God hard on my purpose and my gifting and my desires, even things I felt he had put in me, yet I was powerless to act on. I felt like everyone else was doing what I wanted to do—ministry that I wanted to be part of, teaching what I wanted to teach, leading where I wanted to lead, learning what I wanted to learn. Discontented and disconnected, I was feeling on the outside of something great.
But that was just it. Something great was going on. I just had to stop long enough to see it.
When I read Mark 15:40, God spoke to my heart. He showed me that even when I couldn't see it and didn't feel it, he was at work. I could be a watching woman who watches—and celebrates—the great things God is doing.
These women watching from a distance, Mary Magdalene and her friends, were watching women. They were watching what was the greatest act of love ever given. There is a lesson here for me—for us. These were women who had walked with Jesus and who served closely alongside him. They knew him. They laughed with him, ate with him, cried with him, talked with him. They were busy with him in life and ministry, and now they had to stand at a distance and just watch. How hard and painful must that have been for these women who loved him, to sit outside of this massive event and just watch? How hard it must have been to at one time be so “in” and now sit so far “out”?
Often we want to feel “in” and be doing the work, and yet we are able to do nothing but sit “out” and watch. We need to accept that watching is a gift. There is learning and growing in watching that does not happen when we are doing. If these women who walked everyday life with Jesus could watch, then it is more than ok if we have times of watching too. The circumstances of the day dictated that these women would be watching from a distance, but often it is our circumstances that dictate such a place for you and me as well. Chances are we won’t like it; it is not where we think we should be yet it is where we find ourselves. By God’s grace we can eventually realize that what we are really watching is God doing something great.
By stopping and watching the great things that God is doing around us we provide a place for our souls to be healed and be restored. As we watch, we learn from others. As we watch, we learn from God. Sometimes we are too busy to see far enough ahead to do the next thing that is needed. By sitting and watching, the horizon clears and we are able to take that next brave step, moving us forward and further down the road, closer to the goal God has for us.
As I took a long look at the watching women of the cross, God showed me something else. These women were the first people to go to the tomb. They sought Jesus even after his death (Mark 16). The reward? Mary was the first person Jesus appeared to after his resurrection.
Mary was watching at the cross. Mary was watching at the tomb. And while in her selfless act of doing, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. Can you imagine what Jesus was thinking right then as he veiled his Holy Self from her? Her confusion of grief and sorrow so deep it is only matched by his compassion and love for her.
And in an act so common it is mind-blowing, he reveals himself to her.
He says her name. He calls her by name and the veil is lifted from her eyes and she is watching Jesus—again—living and breathing and saying her name. Mary was so faithful in her doing and in her watching. She had worked up close and watched from afar. And now she was being trusted to see.
The Bible tells us in each gospel that there were "many other women" gathered at the crucifixion, also watching. The truth here is that we are not alone in our watching. I wasn't, and still am not, alone in my watching. God has placed many godly women around me who also have their times of watching and doing. They are the people I gather together to share the struggles and celebrate the joys of life.
If you are feeling more “out” than “in” today, you are encouraged to stop. Stop and watch. Become a watching woman. What great things are you seeing as you watch? What is God teaching you while you are watching and waiting? Where is God patiently directing you today? He has a very specific and unique purpose for you, a strategy that is only just beginning to play out.
Hear him call you by name. Stop and watch. Gather your people.
Be a watching woman.
**this is an excerpt from a series of blog posts by Amy Gordon. You can find the rest of the story at Amy's blog spot. See the link below.