In the opening chapter, the story Greenleaf is summarized. This story was written by Flannery O’Connor. In this story, a bull is terrorizing Mrs. May. He is methodically eating her farm and home. She finally makes the decision to have the farmhand shoot the menacing bull. Plans do not go as Mrs. May had liked. The bull charges her and pierces her heart. Kelli Worrall has used this short story to create a teaching point.
Believe it or not, the bull is the conduit of the grace of God. The bull is a type of Christ. Page 16.
Mrs. May had been trying to control every aspect of her life. The bull was interfering in the way she thought things needed to go. He was a menace and she was angry.
We too want to control our lives. We want things to go as we envision. The bull never gave up, he edged closer and closer to Mrs. May. He tried to get her attention. He pierced her heart so she would finally see.
Worrall explains that Jesus deals with women differently than men. She studied the book of John and saw how Jesus “patiently pursued” women’s hearts. The following chapters listed are the women from the Gospel of John that Worrall examines.
A Piercing Embrace
Chapter 1. Called to Obey: Mary, Mother of Jesus
Chapter 2. Sought Out & Satisfied: The Woman at the Well
Chapter 3. Seen & Healed: The Woman with the Hemorrhage
Chapter 4. Forgiven & Set Free: The Woman Caught in Adultery
Chapter 5. Heard, Loved & Given Life: Mary and Martha
Chapter 6. Valued & Empowered to Serve: The Woman with the Alabaster Jar
Chapter 7. Chosen to Make Him Known: Mary Magdalene
I loved the opening chapter of the story of Mrs. May and the menacing bull. I loved the comparison between the persistent bull and God. It is a thinking story; and it’s not a story where at first reading I readily understood. I first read the chapter and said, “wait and minute, I need to read that chapter again.”
Worrall shared intimate circumstances in her life. Some examples are infertility, caring for aging parents, and adoption. By sharing these details, I was able to identify with her and the book personally spoke to me.
Two favorite chapters of mine explored the “call of God,” and child development and attachment.
From chapter one on obeying the call.
…hearing and heeding the call of God shouldn’t mean searching for something that is self-satisfying. Rather, it often means following His footsteps into the hard and even impossible places. It sometimes means being willing to stay in that space for as long as it takes-maybe even for a lifetime. Page 50.
From chapter three on insecure attachment.
All of us have emotional wounds that need to be healed. These wounds might come from obvious traumatic experiences-the death of someone close to us, an accident that took away our sense of safety, the divorce of our parents, some sort of abuse. But wounds can also occur more slowly and subtly. Wounds can even happen from seemingly small situations-especially, if, as a child, we aren’t afforded the help we need at the time to process these things…Sometimes we choose to ignore the pain, and we assume that time alone will take care of it. Sometimes we stuff or numb the pain because the thoughts of facing it head-on is too much to bear. Sometimes these old pains run so deep and, as adults, they are so much a part of who we are that we get used to them. Page 85-86.
Both of these chapters addressed problems I’ve struggled with. These topics are personal to me. The call of God is not necessarily a place I always want to be. But, it is the place where God has planted me. There are things that I can not see that needs work. And, I trust in Him to see me through. On the topic of stuffing emotions, I explain this as being numb. I lived this way for most of my life. I am not numb anymore. I will say that a deeper level of faith has developed, after I confronted and began to process the pain and suffering of the past.
Chapter five is on waiting and being patient. Worrall reminds me that modern life provides quick fixes and responses. The Bible reminds me that God often requires us to be patient. For example, Abraham, Moses, and Joseph.
God uses long periods of waiting to draw His people closer to Him, to increase their dependence, to reveal His glory. Page 152.