I gave birth to my first three children in three years in my early twenties. Some of my friends who saw me obviously “with child” again on the street in Hong Kong where my husband Ted and I were Protestant missionaries, would ask me, “Are you still pregnant with the same child…or is this another one?”
I was happy to be pregnant! I loved children then and equally now that I am a great-grandmother. More than sixty years have come and gone since then, and I am far past childbearing years in the natural. But guess what? I continue to be delighted and thankful to be PREGNANT AGAIN!
No, I’m not in the rare class with certain women in the Bible like Sarah and Elizabeth who became pregnant in their old age. For them it was supernatural. Nevertheless, God seems to expect godly older women to continue the reproductive cycle by “bringing forth” not biological children but spiritual offspring. There is no chronological limit on being pregnant with the purposes of God and continuing in spiritual fruitfulness to the end of one’s life.
In his letter to Titus, the apostle Paul instructs, “…the older women must behave in ways that befit those who belong to God….by their good example they must teach the younger women….” (Titus 2:3-5). Then, the always practical Paul puts his spiritual finger on aspects of lifestyle that may trip up more mature women and boldly lists them. Likewise he lists some of the pitfalls that younger women may stumble into with which the older women can help them. Read them for yourself.
Paul’s point is: mature women, first shape up yourselves, then reproduce yourselves in younger women by example and instruction. How do you define “older women” and “younger women”? Younger is anyone younger than you in chronological age—or—in spiritual journey. The ages may even flip upside down—an older woman who is young in our faith or just beginning her journey may be taught and role-modeled by younger women who are further along in their spiritual journey. In Christ there is no age distinction.
Fellow sisters, let's ask ourselves whether we are happily pregnant with our faith. Are we reproducing our spiritual life in other women? Are we currently mentoring anyone in our faith? If you are an empty nest mom, could you spiritually nurture a young mom who is overwhelmed with child care or household routine? If you are a grandma, could you cultivate a faith-friendship with a woman who is just approaching that season of life and feels that she is no longer useful or needed? Single women of any age in the marketplace or in secular life are not left out of the spiritually reproductive picture. They can become pregnant and bring forth spiritual offspring as readily as single religious Sisters do in convents and cloisters. As a well-married woman, could you make spiritually reproductive friendships with some newlywed women who could benefit from your experience?
In a more formal way in your church context, could you volunteer to reproduce your faith by teaching in Sunday School, CCD if you are Catholic, or serving in youth outreach? How about involvement in something exciting like a mothers' group where spiritually and biologically pregnant young women and moms encourage each other? Or at the other end of the age spectrum, a seniors’ fellowship or neighborhood Bible study where late (spiritual) pregnancies can bring forth friendships that will encourage mature women to keep pressing on with endurance in our faith?
The apostle Paul had a younger Timothy (doubtless many more than one) into whom he poured himself spiritually and in whose future leadership he invested. Although apparently being unmarried himself, at least at that time, he called himself a “father” to those whom he brought into the faith and discipled or mentored. In his pastoral instruction to Titus he encouraged godly women to have their “Timothys” too, as did Timothy's mother and grandmother. There are always plenty of younger women to whom they could likewise be “mothers” and coaches in the faith and in practical Christian living.
Who better than women could have wisely and discreetly “gossiped the gospel” in an early Christian society where believers were severely persecuted? Women have always been especially well-suited for personal evangelization by virtue of their household and family presence to influence and assist other women in a most natural way. The same is true in our generation.
Whatever our age, let us aim for LIFELONG PREGNANCY to bring forth as many spiritual children as we can to enter the courts of heaven with us!