The Bible tells us that God “created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them… And [He] let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26-27).
God created us to uniquely reflect him. We were created to be His hands and feet, a picture of who He is to the world. But sin came in Genesis chapter three, and has since marred everything. The way in which we were designed to image God in the garden is distorted now. God knew this, and in order to transform His creation into the glory of what we once were, Jesus came as the perfect image bearer—the better Adam. He came to reverse the effects of sin and set His creation free. We're now born again to live new lives as the glorious image-bearers that we were always intended to be. It isn’t our actions, pregnancies, or evangelism that fulfills our purpose— it's our faith. It is only in whole-hearted devotion to God, that we find the good portion of our life.
When Jesus entered Martha’s house, Mary, “sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42).
One thing that is necessary for biblical womanhood—is to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24). It’s natural for us to want to know who God has created us to be. But more often than not, we’re searching for an answer that tells us exactly what to do, rather than who to be. Our heart motivation (or at least mine) is coming from a place of self-reliance. We want to know how to find our fulfillment and worth, and whether or not we’re enough by checking off boxes that we can accomplish. Unfortunately, though, this just points to our dissatisfaction with the identity that God has given us. It feels easier to think our purpose is fulfilled by having kids, or in our ministry, or creating a business, but what happens when the kids disobey, your ministry partner hurts you, or the business fails? Our self-reliant heart pushes further into striving or simply falls into apathy and defeat.
This is why Jesus told Mary that she had chosen the good portion. The only thing that pulls us out of the unending cycle of striving and defeat, is allowing our purpose and image to be shaped by submission to Jesus and His Word.
John Piper said in his sermon, “Male and Female He Created Them in the Image of God” said it like this:
“Therefore, dwell on these truths: God created you; he created you in his image; and he created you male or female that you might be utterly and radically and uniquely devoted to the Lord.”
So our question is not answered in babies, ministry roles, or business—our truerole and calling is to be a disciple of Jesus, however, it is that He wills. This will look different for each individual woman, based on her personality, socio-economic status, ethnicity, spiritual gifting, and talent. Each of us has to trust that we have been fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-16), and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). This means we have to cast aside comparison and live by the Spirit so that we won’t gratify the flesh (Galatians 5:16). We find His will for our lives by choosing the good portion—by reading the Word, and “praying at all times in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18). For "we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
In order to flesh this out just a little bit more, I’ll give you an example from my own life. One of the things I’ve recently been made aware of is the cultural norm of women having no or very few kids for the sake of “wanting a life” or “getting our life back”. What struck me is that I too fell into this cultural norm without even realizing it. I don’t believe that all women have to have kids. This is more a matter of wisdom and conscience. I do believe though, that keeping a tight-fisted grasp around our life, our dreams, what we want, and when we want it is unbiblical. The Bible teaches that all people—man woman, and child —are to pray “not my will, but Yours be done” (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 22:42). We are all called to lose our life for the sake of Christ, not whine that we threw it away having toddlers, and now have to wait until they’re in school to get our life back. We aren’t called to save our selfishness. We are called to trust in the Lord with all our heart, lean not on our own understanding, and in all our ways acknowledge Him, and He will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). So whether the Lord is leading you to the mission field, to fill a house of babies, to foster, to start a business, or to simply just serve your neighbors next door, our purpose is to trust in the Lord, submit our lives to Him, and walk by the Spirit.