When the lights come up, truth arises.
This is why so much evil is done at night and in the dark – it believes it is concealed and invisible. This is also why so much evil is done in the shadows of ignorance – where ears and eyes are defiantly closed to understanding.
But, truth is strong and resilient; she is like shrapnel within a battle wound, she will make her way to the surface of human flesh even if she has to push through hardened tissue and thick blood to get there.
It most certainly can be said of truth, “Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Letting truth in is empowering. It is the work of bravery and vulnerability that permits us to look and see what the darkness has been hiding, what the libations have been numbing and the what the music has been distracting us from.
Lately, letting the light in has looked like this: searching past the confines of the American Bible and discovering stories of brave, historical women.
I have cried out many times, “My God! If my heart beats for change and activism, and I believe you created me for great purpose, and I also know that my zeal cannot be contained within the boundaries of the modern church, then lead me towards my destiny! Show me more about your heart than what I have been told!”
Being heard is not just comforting – its revolutionary.
Today, I discovered Judith, widow of King Manasseh from the Old Testament. Her story is included in the Vulgate and the Septuagint, archaic translations of the Old Testament. The Book of Judith is the ancient and inspiring story of a brave woman who used her wisdom and prowess to singlehandedly save her small town from military take-over and religious oppression.
I needed to hear her story.
Judith was a respected widow who stood up to Uzziah, Israel’s military chief. Uzziah had set up his troops in judith’s town to carry out a militant defense strategy against their enemy. Uzziah was full of pride as he discounted and ignored the oppressive cries of the townspeople, saying he was ‘waiting on God’. Judith rebutted calling him ignorant, declaring that he will never understand God if he cannot learn how to understand people. Then she took action.
She used her feminine prowess to make her way into the tent of the enemy’s general, Holofernes. She prayed,
“Lord God, to whom all strength belongs, prosper what my hands are now to do for the greater glory of Jerusalem, now is the time to recover your heritage and further my designs to crush the enemies arrayed against us. “
Then, standing at the bedpost of a sleeping Holofernes, she took his scimitar, a sword with a rounded blade; she grabbed him by the hair and said,
“Make me strong today, Lord God of Israel!”
She struck the neck of Holofernes, twice, and cut off his head. The victory was Israels, at the hand of Judith.
Many pieces of fine art have been created in honor of her legacy, such as Michelangelo’s depiction within the Sistine Chapel, and Donatello’s bronze sculpture on display in the Hall of Lilies. My personal favorite is a painting by Artemisia Gentileschi, a 17th century Italian Baroque painter. Her story is incredible, as well. (Young female painter who was raped, took her assailant to court and he was found convicted; he never paid for his crime or served a sentence. Nothing new here.)
The truth and light of story can illuminate destiny just as powerfully as the story of fear and oppression can snuff out a fire. We can keep stoking the fire by searching out the brave and digging for the treasure of their story, if we let ourselves get a little curious.