Tenacity : not easily stopped or pulled apart
: firm or strong : continuing for a long time
: very determined to do something
Nothing brings out the tenacious spirit in me like my kids. Not that my kids necessarily cause my tenacity to be directed toward them, it’s when something comes against them to bring about hurt, leave them defenseless, attacked, treated unjustly etc. I realize this is how most parents feel about their babies. I can be an extreme mama bear, claws ready to snatch at the next predator. Sometimes it shocks me.
This week I found myself in such a situation with my little Libi. Libi is severely and profoundly handicapped. She is 10 chronologically, but developmentally closer to age 1. The bussing system for Libi’s school district has been facing some challenges with overcrowding, unpredictable scheduling and other issues that can be incredibly unsettling to a mama heart. Up until this point of the school year, we had been unaffected by any of the challenges with the bussing system. Then, last week we landed on the receiving end of the broken down system.
After multiple attempts to have a conversation by phone, and never having a call returned, I decided that maybe I should pop into our district office for a face-to-face conversation. Surely there would be people there, and I wouldn’t have to speak to a recorded voice. So, I asked others to pray that my spirit would be tempered, and I headed to the office. My heart was pumping the whole way, the closer I got to the office the angrier I got. Now, some of you may be thinking I might need some medical help with my emotions. People, I already take Zoloft, and believe me, I popped an extra one knowing myself the way I do. Walking into the office I prayed that God would prepare the hearts of those I would speak to…(Actually I didn’t, but that sounded real good, didn’t it?)
A kind and soft-spoken receptionist greeted me. Bless her heart; she had no idea what was about to roll out of my mouth. My words started to pour from my heart to my mouth with great intensity. I explained the troubling situation I was having with the bussing system. She asked some questions. I may have sighed loudly and dropped my head onto her desk once or twice. I can’t really remember all the details, but next thing I knew she was asking me for my PHONE NUMBER! At which came my response…
“No, I’m not leaving a phone number. I want to speak with someone who can help me face-to-face. I’ve tried the phone. That doesn’t work.”
That sweet receptionist, I really should send her flowers. She began to explain that there really was no one at that particular office that could help me with my complaint, due to the fact that the transportation system of our school district is a separate company.
Surely the school superintendent would be available to talk to this wacked out mom who was about to have a breakdown at the receptionist’s desk, but that would not be. The receptionist stated she would compile the given information into an email and send it out immediately. When I asked her who the recipients would be I discovered 90% of them were located in another office across town that handled transportation. You know what’s coming don’t you? That’s right, I headed to the transportation office.
Upon my arrival at the transportation office, I had to be buzzed in by an employee. It seemed this office was meant for employees only, not visitors, but I was in the door and nothing would stop me now. I began to explain my concerns to the first person I met, asking to speak with anyone who could help me with a solution. Once again, I was asked for my phone number. As I pressed in, I was directed to a gentleman who might be able to give me some assistance. Bringing a long story to a close, this was “the great and powerful Oz” of transportation that I needed to assist me. He listened and began to put a plan into place, which has currently been successful.
You might be asking what that story is all about. Well, it reminded me of one of my favorite women of the Bible. The Wise Woman of Abel – Beth Maacah, who we read about in 2 Samuel 20:16-22
16 a wise woman called out from the city, “Listen! Listen! Please tell Joab to come here and let me speak with him.”
17 When he had come near her, the woman asked, “Are you Joab?”
“I am,” he replied.
“Listen to the words of your servant,” she said to him.
He answered, “I’m listening.”
18 She said, “In the past they used to say, ‘Seek counsel in Abel,’ and that’s how they settled disputes. 19 I am a peaceful person, one of the faithful in Israel, but you’re trying to destroy a city that is like a mother in Israel. Why would you devour the Lord’s inheritance?”
20 Joab protested: “Never! I do not want to destroy! 21 That is not my intention. There is a man named Sheba son of Bichri, from the hill country of Ephraim, who has rebelled against King David. Deliver this one man, and I will withdraw from the city.”
The woman replied to Joab, “All right. His head will be thrown over the wall to you.” 22 The woman went to all the people with her wise counsel, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bichri and threw it to Joab. So he blew the ram’s horn, and they dispersed from the city, each to his own tent. Joab returned to the king in Jerusalem.
Basically, there was a man, Sheba, who had rebelled and fled from King David. Sheba, his name, sought refuge within the city walls of Abel. Joab, the king’s commanding officer, arrived at the city of Abel to attack it in order to deliver consequence to Sheba. As Joab arrives he has an interaction with a tenacious woman on the city wall. She is wise with her words, and takes command of a situation that needs guidance. Gaining understanding that there is only one man that’s being pursued by the army besieging her city, she guarantees delivery of his head. Yep, she sees to it that Sheba’s head goes flying over the city wall, and in return gains peace for the people of her city.
I think that is tenacity at it’s finest. Gathering a city to cut off a man’s head and toss it over the city wall. Amazing! This tenacious woman is described as wise, peaceful and faithful. To me, the end of verse 19 indicates something else to me:
“but you’re trying to destroy a city that is like a mother in Israel. Why would you devour the Lord’s inheritance?”
Her reference and passion that accompany the association of motherhood to Israel leads me to believe she was a mother herself, and behind the walls of that city were her own children. Her view of Israel resonated with a place deep within her, and the desire to protect children at all costs. She did so with great wisdom, discernment, and boldness. The wise woman of Abel – Beth Maacah was nothing short of tenacious.
Tenacious love can make us feel as though we can move heaven and earth if necessary. The tenacious love that drove me to advocate so fiercely for Libi, and emboldened the wise woman of Abel – Beth Maacah to be a voice of mediation for the children of Israel, it’s in our DNA. This is how our Father God loves us, with an all out tenacity that is impossible to stop.
Romans 8:31-39The Message (MSG)
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
I have a feeling some heads are gonna roll this week! Be tenacious ladies!
Woodcut by Johann Christoph Weigel, 1695, depicting the events of 2 Samuel 20. In the top of the picture, the woman is throwing Sheba’s head down to Joab. In the foreground lies Amasa, whose death is described in the first half of the chapter.