The Presence of Women

by Commissioner Susan Bukiewicz

March 8 is International Women’s Day, and many of us celebrate women throughout the entire month. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the impact women have had on my life. Growing up among six women meant that every day was “Women’s Day” in the John and Alberta Cunard household. We didn’t have to protest unfair treatment, unequal pay, or any other un. I grew up in a wonderfully empowering environment. My mom and dad ensured that their daughters knew they could each contribute to the Kingdom by being Holy Spirit–led women of God.

Women have been present at the most significant times in history and are an integral part of the creation story. We have in God’s Word beautiful examples of faithful and obedient women to teach and inspire us. But most, if not all, of the women faced challenges—some of their own making. Other challenges came simply because of their submission to the Lord God.

Obedient or disobedient?

One of my favorite verses is found in Genesis 2:18, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” And along comes Eve, God’s perfect solution as “suitable helper.” Eve has been much maligned for her part in introducing disobedience and sin into God’s perfect creation. We don’t get to know Eve much after that, but she lived with the consequences of her rebellion.

Mary, another young teenager, becomes part of the solution to the sin problem. After hundreds of years of waiting for the promised Messiah, the Angel Gabriel visits this woman who will be the carrier of the Promise. By being obedient, she risks public shame for herself, for her family, and for her betrothed, Joseph, and hisfamily. Mary gives birth to our Savior in a stone cave.

Thirty years later, a woman who is marginalized, judged, and “hiding in plain sight” makes her way to the local well, many hours after the women in Samaria have gathered water for their families. I imagine she couldn’t face the whispers, the stares, and the shaming she would endure if she arrived at the well when all the other women were there. That day at about noon, she encounters a stranger who is resting from a journey. He breaks tradition and speaks to her. In fact, He knows the deepest secrets of her life and offers something the world cannot give, something she has been missing and dared not hope for. She runs back to her village, and Scripture tells us in John 4:39, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.”

In John 17:20, Jesus prays “for those who will believe in me through their message.” Like the women who have gone before us, our lives are living messages. I want the message of my life to be one of faithful obedience. Not prideful rebellion, like Eve, but a life restored and reconciled to God.