This past weekend I was saddened by the loss of Christian author Rachel Held Evans. Also known as RHE in the media world, her sudden death was brought on by what seemed only the flu and infection. Needless to say, it shocked a flock of people who followed her writing.
Even though I wasn’t always in complete ideological fellowship with Rachel, I still counted myself as one of her many fans. I’m of the conviction that no person, denomination or culture, no matter how learned, has all the answers on the Bible. None of us has the omniscience to fully understand the mind and workings of God, especially me.
Given that conviction, here are three of the many reasons I admired Rachel.
“If your faith is so fragile it cannot handle questions, doubts, and honest inquiry, if it is so threatened by the full engagement of your heart & mind it runs from potential challenges, that’s not faith; it’s fear.”
― Rachel Held Evans, Twitter
Everyone has questioned the Bible or their faith at one time or another (if you haven’t, you’re deceiving yourself and the truth is not within you:-). When writing of her faith journey, Rachel openly admitted her doubts, whether they were in God or in how people acted about God.
Knowing they’re not alone with their questions, and knowing there’s someone out there that doesn’t condemn them for their questions, has been inspiration for a lot of people. As one Amazon reviewer said in response to Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions, “This book brought me the hope to keep searching, to keep seeking God in the jungle of my doubts.”
“But the gospel doesn’t need a coalition devoted to keeping the wrong people out. It needs a family of sinners, saved by grace, committed to tearing down the walls, throwing open the doors, and shouting, ‘Welcome! There’s bread and wine. Come eat with us and talk.’ This isn’t a kingdom for the worthy; it’s a kingdom for the hungry.”
― Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
Perhaps Rachel’s most beloved attribute was her adamant insistence of God’s love for all people. She reminded us how those we often deem as unworthy have been made worthy by God’s grace.
Rachel refused to shy away from this conversation of inclusiveness. Even when those who opposed her became openly hostile, she carried on with graciousness and respect. Wow, what if the whole online community demonstrated such faith-based love!
Eshet Chayil (Woman of Valor)
“One of my goals after completing my year of biblical womanhood was to “take back” Proverbs 31 as a blessing, not a to-do list, by identifying and celebrating women of valor: women who are changing the world through daily acts of faithfulness, both in my life and around the world.”
― Rachel Held Evans, Blog
The Bible shares many accounts of women who were fierce and fearless, not only in the way they lived but also in their faith. Many people overlook these women in favor of more masculine heroes, but not Rachel. She promoted them as Women of Valor.
Rachel explained the cultural context behind Proverbs 31 and she encouraged today’s women with an enthusiastic “Eshet Chayil,” which is a traditional blessing of praise in the Jewish community based on these Proverbial verses.
Eshet Chayil. Isn’t this beautiful? I love it.
Eshet Chayil, Rachel Held Evans. Rest in the peace of God’s salvation!