Jesus, Love Himself, desires me! He desperately wants to draw near to me, to heal me of my old wounds and remind me who I really am. And He desires this for you too.
That is the powerful, truthful message in Colleen Mitchell’s new book, Who Does He Say You Are. Colleen tells the stories of twelve women who personally encountered Jesus in the gospels. And through their encounter, were never to be the same.
Some of these women, such as Jesus’ mother Mary, may be familiar to us. But most of the women Colleen writes about receive only a sentence or two of attention in the entire gospel. The hemorrhaging woman, the woman crippled by a demon, Anna the prophetess, and Mary the wife of Clopas, are a few examples. Colleen beautifully expounds on the scripture stories. She fills in vivid and realistic details that make perfect sense and weave meaningful and relevant connections to our own modern day existence as women.
Take Chapter four, for instance. Colleen recounts the story of the woman from Samaria who encounters Jesus at the well (John 4:5-26). This is the woman who had five husbands. She came to the well at high noon, instead of during the busy and lively morning time, likely to avoid unwanted attention and to bear her shame alone. She did not expect to see a Jewish man there, and certainly did not expect him to initiate a conversation with her! Listen to what Colleen has to say to you and me based on this women’s encounter with Jesus:
“He stands right here in front of you with the same knowing insistence. He longs for your healing, your freedom, but He will not give you only half of what you need. He will not treat just the thirsty symptoms of your sin and leave you to walk in shame. He has fixed His gaze on your heart and he sees the deeper parts of you that need Him. Tell Him the truth, the whole truth. Let Him see all of you, even the parts that have not seen the light for so long, the parts that you shroud and shelter in secret. He thirsts for you like you thirst for Him. There is freedom waiting for you. You do not have to come to this place again. But he can’t heal what you won’t let him touch.”
I don’t know about you, but that pretty much nailed me.
Chapter by chapter, as each story unfolds, I can see more and more clearly how these women’s stories are really our collective story as women. From each story, Colleen pulls a statement of truth about our identity as women in Christ. I’ve listed the twelve statements below.
You are a dwelling place of the Most High God.
You have a voice.
You are a witness.
You bear no shame.
You are known.
You are restored.
You are made for contentment.
You honor Christ.
You can stand tall.
You can pray boldly.
Your presence matters.
You were made for resurrection joy.
Read them again slowly and take a second to consider that each one is describing YOU. This is who He says you are. Perhaps it’s a bit overwhelming, I know it is for me. Colleen provides useful tools for embracing these truths of who we are and for integrating them into our being. Each chapter contains an invitation, a prayer, and a set of reflection questions.
Now, many books include these types of tools to help us integrate the author’s insights or teaching, and something is different about Colleen’s. Her invitations are provocative, refreshingly edgy. Her prayers are personal, conversational, and intimate. The questions she poses are new. I found myself frequently pausing and thinking, “Hmmm, that’s a great question. I have to sit with that one a while.” Oh, how exciting it is to enter new territories of self-discovery and spiritual growth!
It is clear after having the privilege of interviewing Colleen personally, that this book had a “ghost writer” called the Holy Spirit. Our Lord surely has a plan and purpose for this book and for each woman who will read it. I hope you will be among us and that you will be filled with deep peace in knowing who you are.
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Copyright 2016 De Yarrison