Monday, January 26, 2009

Set Apart Femininity - Chapter 9

Sacred Ceremony

Joining the Fellowship of Set-Apart Femininity

"This sacred work demands, not lukewarm, selfish, slack souls, but hearts more finely tempered than steel, wills purer and harder than the diamond."
- Pere Henri Louis Didon

Holy Kinship

"When Amy Carmichael began her work of rescuing children from temple prostitution in India, she longed for other women to join her - women who were 'wholly devoted to Christ and separate in spirit from the world.' Not surprisingly, women like this were hard to find, and Amy labored alone for many years. But eventually, God drew seven young women to join her in fulfilling the sacred claim of the set-apart life. Amy wrote, 'These girls were seeking to live a life of unreserved devotion, a life without fences.' They formed a sacred fellowship, covenanting together to live in unity, prayer, and absolute devotion to Jesus Christ."

These women formed the fellowship called "The Sisters of the Common Life." In March of 1916 they went into the forest for a time of prayer and consecration. It was during this time that they drafted their written covenant, signed it solemnly before God and each other and committed themselves to live by its principles. Their covenant was as follows:

  • My Vow - Whatsoever Thou sayest unto me, by Thy grace I will do it

  • My Constraint - Thy love, O Christ, my Lord

  • My Confidence - Thou art able to keep that which I have committed unto Thee.

  • My Joy - To do Thy will, O God

  • My discipline - That which I would not choose, but which Thy love appoints

  • My Prayer - Conform my will to thine

  • My Motto - Love to live: Live to love

  • My Portion - The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance.
When hard times came for these women, and the world's allurements seemed to much to thwart, they remembered their sacred ceremony, and held fast to the creed they had sworn to uphold. It was an accountability before man and God that they would keep forever.

Leslie Ludy complied a Set-Apart Femininity covenant for you to sign, to remember as you face trials and to keep you accountable when tempted by the world around us.
"Remember that in signing the following confession, you aren't merely committing to the principles expressed in this book, but you are joining the ranks of set-apart women throughout history - Vibia Perpetua, Catherine Booth, Gladys Aylward, Amy Carmichael, Elizabeth Fry, Sabina Wurmbrand, Jackie Pullenger, and countless more."

"Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
Hebrews 12:1

You may be alone physically as you sign this covenant, but you are not spiritually alone. Our great cloud of witnesses is cheering you on. There is a remnant of young women in todays culture also who are signing. On top of all that, Jesus Christ is standing beside you, joyfully welcoming you to join the priveleged few who are called to be His true ambassadors of light in a dark and perverse generation.

The Creed of the Set-Apart Young Woman
Taken word-for-word from the book Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy. Emphasis added.

As a young woman submitted to the ruling grace of Jesus Christ, I acknowledge that my life is not my own. I have been purchased by the spilling of my Messiah's blood. I surrender this earthly feminine vessel unto my Lord and proclaim that He may do with my life as He sees fit in order to establish His kingdom here on earth, make ready His bride, and bring about His glory.

The Sacred Intent of Femininity:
I acknowledge the sacred intent of set-apart femininity. I acknowledge that my life is to be spent wholly on the establishment of Christ's kingdom and glory. I have been asked by the Most High God to be the bearer of His holy name, the house of His holy presence, and a demonstration of a clear, undiluted, and unmarred picture of His kingly beauty for all the people of this earth to see. I acknowledge this sacred intent and commit, by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, to seek the fulfillment of this high calling.

The Sacred Design of Femininity:
I acknowledge the sacred design of set-apart femininity. I understand that in and of myself, I possess no true beauty or piety, but that in covenant exchange with the Almighty, I have yielded my body unto Jesus and He desired to adorn me with His spectacular, heavenly beauty. I will no longer allow the voice of my selfish, sinful side to rule my actions and daily decisions; rather, I will submit to the voice of God's Spirit within, leaning on His enabling grace to live the radiant, victorious, supernatural existence that I could never achieve in my own strength. May He instruct me, correct me, train me, and tenderly shepherd me in the hallowed art of being set apart for His pleasure and glory. I acknowledge this sacred design and commit, by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, to seek the fulfillment of this high calling.

The Sacred Priority of Femininity:
I acknowledge the sacred priority of set-apart femininity. I understand that I am made to love intimately and be loved intimately. But I choose to no pervert this innate need by seeking its fulfillment from men, but rather, that I would find this hunger satisfied in the intimate embrace of Jesus Christ. I acknowledge Him as my Prince and Bridegroom, my dearest heart-friend. I claim that my life, my faith, my hope, and my love spring forth from this wellspring, this reality. And whereas God may choose to give me an earthly groom, a mere man can never and must never replace the position Christ holds within my heart. I acknowledge this sacred priority and commit, by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, to seek the fulfillment of this high calling.

The Sacred Decorum of Feminity
I acknowledge the sacred decorum of set-apart femininity. I understand that my body is the temple of the Most High God, not to be tainted or defiled by what is unclean. I choose this day to agree with God and to never willfully profane His truth by attempting to make it fit my self-agenda. By God's enabling grace, I will love the things that God loves and hate the things that God hates. I will not love the world or the things in the world, but will give my thoughts, time, energy, and attention to the sacred things of His kingdom rather than the profane things of pop culture. I acknowledge this sacred decorum and commit, by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, to seek the fulfillment of this high calling.

The Sacred Mystique of Feminity
I acknowledge the sacred mystique of set-apart femininity. I realize that there are dimensions of the feminine nature intended to be kept contained and hidden from all but Christ and my future spouse in the context of marriage. I understand that by maintaining the beautiful mystery of the "hidden person of the heart," I am demonstrating the beautiful mystery of the Gospel. I choose to allow the Almighty to hide me, quiet me, and jealously guard me in accordance with His sacred sense of dignity and mystery. I acknowledge this sacred mystique and commit, by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, to seek the fulfillment of this high calling.

The Sacred Ardor of Femininity
I acknowledge the sacred ardor of set-apart femininity. I understand that to truly love my future husband well, I must love Him with the very love of Christ. As Christ loved me and gave Himself for me, I will seek to sacrificially love and serve my future husband both now and after marriage. Rather than fighting for my own needs and rights, my goal will be to lay my life down on behalf of my spouse. And even if no earthly love story comes my way, it will be my supreme joy and privilege to serve others and wash their feet, doing for others what Christ has done for me. I acknowledge this sacred ardor and commit, by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, to seek the fulfillment of this high calling.

The Sacred Cultivtion of Feminity
I acknowledge the sacred cultivation of set-apart femininity. I realize that the work of God must progress and not stagnate within my soul. I understand that I must wrestle in prayer for the fullness of Christ's work to be made manifest in my life and in the lives of others around me. I will not accept breaches in the walls surrounding my soul, but will seek, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to place brick upon brick until every last access point in my life is sealed off for Christ's glory. I uderstand that the Almighty must prepare me for the holy work of Christ's kingdom by diminishing my flesh and cultivating His strength and spiritual authority in my life. I acknowledge this sacred cultivation and commit, by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, to seek the fulfillment of this high calling.

The Sacred Claim on Femininity:
I acknowledge the sacred claim on set-apart femininity. Christ's blood has purchased me and is making me whole so thatI, like my Messiah, might become broken bread and poured out wine for this world. Just as the Holy Spirit has claim on my spirit, soul, and body and is authroized to do with my life as He wills, so too the Holy Spirit has asked me to become willing to allow Him to lend "His claim over me" to the lost in the world, the poor, the orphan, the widow, the blind, the lame, the deaf, the naked, the imprisoned, the outcase, the oppressed, and the lonely - that my life might become bread and drink for them, and that through my willingness to be broken and spilled, they might see, comprehend, and place their trust in the person and glory of God. I acknowledge this sacred claim and commit, by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, to seek the fulfillment of this high calling.

The Sacred Ceremony
I hereby state that my body and my blood are my God's to spend and that He has both an "intent for" and a "claim on" my feminine existence. I recognize that without the enabling power of God's grace I am incapable of living out his high and holy pattern for femininity and, therefore, such a life and testimony of sacred set-apartness can only be achieved through a constant abiding in Christ's life, love, and strength. Therefore, I hereby beckon the Spirit of God to tax the remotest star and the last grain of sand to assist me with this holiest of endeavors, that by His almighty power I might demonstrate clearly to the world His grand kingdom and His great glory.

Signiature _______________________

Date ________________

"Comrades, let us be resolute. Let us, by whatever name we are called, be Soldiers, Nazarites, Priests. Some will praise us, some will blame us; let us not care too much about either praise or blame. Let us live looking up, looking on, stading true by the grace of Him who has called us."
Amy Carmichael, 1867-1961

(A printable version of this creed is available at Leslie's website:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmm. What a powerful covenant message. Thank you for sharing it, Elise. :)