Have you ever looked up a word to find that the real definition was quite different than what you had believed it to be? How did that change your understanding of the sentence or the verse? Completely, right?
When we get the real, true definition of something it changes our perspective and can change us in the process.
The most significant surprises for me have had to do with God’s definition of….me. I had struggled with who I was, struggled with insecurity and fear and many times felt like I was somehow not worth as much because I was a woman.
I found as I studied and prayed to understand that there was a lot that I’d been taught or had modeled for me as a child that simply wasn’t true, or it was a mixture of truth and error.
There are many things in the world that attempt to define us. What are the main influencers in our lives? Our parents, teachers, friends; our church, community, education system, and traditions; our environment, media, workplace, and choices; our life experiences and words spoken by us or to us, all teach us about life.
The truth is that anywhere else we look to find out who we are, to find out if we’re acceptable or good enough, is always going to let us down. Sometimes we are looking to our spouse, our friends, even our church to tell us we’re OK and approved of. Those things won’t ever give us what we need.
The things of the world will leave us thinking about what we can’t do, can’t be, will never get over, or what we will never become.
Then what we’re left with is a heart that has grown heavy with wrong beliefs, fears, and hesitant, negative attitudes about ourselves that hide who we are really intended to be.
Each of us has a belief system that has been constructed over the years of our lives and many of us have packed our life with what’s inside due to wrong beliefs about ourselves, others, or God. The results are usually fear, inadequacy, unforgiveness, bitterness, self-doubt, rejection, low self-esteem – the issues we carry around inside ourselves.
We can have wrong beliefs inside, and even though they may be wrong, they will still guide our thoughts, feelings, behavior and life results — because we BELIEVE them.
What I truly believed will be lived out in my life. Romans 12:2 was written to believers. “Do not be conformed to the image of the world; instead, let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” This tells us that our minds are capable of being renewed and that God knew we would need that renewal to come into agreement with what He says is true. Do not take your blueprint or schematic from the world, but learn how God thinks and learn to think that way.
1 Peter 1:18-19 says, “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” God doesn’t want us to live an empty life, but to live a full, intentional life of value and purpose, knowing who we are as His children. We were created to make a difference and with a pretty big assignment! Genesis 1:26-28 is still our assignment from the very beginning:
26 Then God said, “Let Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) make man in Our image, according to Our likeness [not physical, but a spiritual personality and moral likeness]; and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, and over the entire earth, and over everything that creeps and crawls on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 And God blessed them [granting them certain authority] and said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subjugate it [putting it under your power]; and rule over (dominate) the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
Before we can fill the assignment given in Genesis to come alongside our husbands and brothers, we have to invite the Holy Spirit to lead us into what is true. We have to pick up the Word, we have to make the truth our own. We have to be willing for God to show us where we have inherited wrong beliefs or where we’ve been taught incorrectly. We have to let Him ENTER INTO where we still secretly hurt over things that have happened to us or places that stink with guilt over what we’ve done to others.
There are places, especially in the South, where Christian women have been more influenced by culture and tradition than by the Word of God. We have tended to either want to do what others do, believing that is best, OR become what others want us to become. A lot more than men, women many times tend to allow others to choose for them what their life will be like. That’s not what God intended.
This kind of believing about our identity can leave us with vacuums in our lives, feeling unfulfilled, but the Holy Spirit can fill these places of emptiness. We begin to change by discovering our true identity and value.
How do you want to feel about your life? What do you want to believe could be possible for you? What dreams in your heart have been covered over or gifts and talents restrained because someone said it’s not “lady-like” or my favorite, “a woman is not permitted to do that”? Luke 1:37 – “For nothing is impossible with God.” Gabriel said that to a young lady who was going to conceive and gift birth to the Messiah. God has always used women to do great works, not just men.
In Genesis, He gave the same assignment to both the man and the woman. So why does it surprise us that He would have great things for us to do today? God created with intention a purposeful, blessed team, an alliance. He knew it would be too much for the man alone. Genesis 2:18 tells us that He understood His creation, that it wasn’t good for the man to be alone, that he would need someone else, a strong helper.
Our Hebrew word for helper or help-mate is the word ezer – e-z-e-r.
Ezer means strong helper, in God’s image or like God, one that aligns with God at every possible level to share His heart, love what He loves, and join Him in His work in the earth.
An ezer is a theologian, created to know God and make Him known. Created to reproduce the likeness of God in others. An ezer is created to walk alongside others in authority, protecting and co-ruling in a Kingdom way to advance the influence of the Kingdom of Heaven where they are. An ezer is a disciple, a mentor, a leader, one who serves, one who brings their spiritual gifts into fullness.
Ezer is a military term, therefore, an ezer is a warrior, called to action in every relationship, season, neighborhood, and walk of life. An ezer is a staunch ally in the life of faith, not in the background of everyday activities, but in the foreground where leadership, prayers, and decisions happen. The word ezer declares strength!
In fact, the word ezer is used 21 times in the Old Testament. Out of the 21, 16 of those references describe how God comes alongside Israel as a very strong Helper in times of trouble!
You’ll find ezers in every aspect of life – the home, church, workplace, community, and government. An ezer is part of a powerful union, a team, an alliance formed and purposed by God. Are you ready for it?
An ezer is a woman. That word translated ‘help meet” or “helper” – yeah, that word is ezer. That is you. God said “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will create an ezer for him.”
This little word, ezer – just 4 letters – is the beginning of you knowing who God created you to be. This word that God chose gives you identity, value, legitimacy, and permission to walk in the life He created and dreams for you. It’s the definition of who you are in the Kingdom of Heaven AND in the earth.
We are ezers from birth. Marriage is just one major area where the ezer stands with the man in battle, but it by no means exhausts the possibilities. Neither man nor woman are limited by where God can call them and use them to be a blessing and bring the Kingdom of Heaven’s influence. Being an ezer is the core of who a woman is and as such is not dependent upon season of life or circumstance.
In Genesis 1:26-28, if the call to rule and subdue the WHOLE EARTH means anything, God calls the ezer to join the man in every sphere of life; not in COMPETITION, but to COMPLIMENT each other. It takes the man and the woman together to learn to display the full image of God. Each one is an image bearer in God’s likeness with different attributes. In other words, we need each other.
God’s plan to reveal Himself to the world involved both MALE & FEMALE. Adam needed Eve’s gifts and strengths to fulfill his calling, and she needed his gifts and strengths, too! She was called to enter his struggles, bolster his faith, encourage his obedience to God. Each was called to promote the faithfulness of the other in a relationship of equality and blessing where they reproduce more ‘image bearers’ that today we call disciples.
God’s never thrown out His original blueprint for men and women to bear His image together.
So…in our search for meaning and significance, this definition is the beginning of who you are. This is the real definition of who you are. This is not an angry-liberal-feminist voice. We weren’t made for that – we don’t need that. We just need to do whatever God calls us to do, knowing He will strengthen and equip us to do it. So jealousy and competition can be things of the past. God is doing a new thing among women today, just like he did about 2,000 years ago.
When Gabriel came to Mary and told her she would give birth to the Messiah, she said, “May it be unto me as you have said.” The literal interpretation of that would read…
“May the Word of the Lord be created in me.”
That’s my prayer for each of you. That the Word of the Lord would be created in you, that the truth of your identity, value, and significance would begin to replace any false ideas of who you are, or what you’re capable of, as a woman, made in God’s image.
We are God’s image bearers, we are ezers. Chosen by God to soldier and live alongside our brothers as a Blessed Alliance, advancing Christ’s Kingdom in the hearts of people all around us, bringing change in our families, churches, communities, and world.
There is no higher calling than to be who God created us to be and bring the influence of His presence where we are, in the way He calls us to carry that out.
If this is who we are, what are we doing with it?
Do we remain where we are, like we are, or do we pour into others what God is pouring into us?
We can choose. We can remain in the box that others want us to stay in, but wouldn’t you rather live with enthusiasm and experience more of who God designed you to be? Wouldn’t we rather live expecting God to do miracles and amazing things through us who are here on the earth?
We MUST gain a larger view – of ourselves and of the Kingdom of God – of what is possible through our lives as God empowers us to carry His love. We are half the church and our story is not over yet – it’s just beginning.
We get one life, you and I. Don’t you want to know more of who He created you to be? God’s definition of us carries in it all the identity, value, and significance we will ever need.
We just have to learn to believe it. Your story isn’t over yet.
Grace for the journey,
(c) Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC – May 2016 (originally posted August 2014)
Sources: All books by Carolyn Custis James at http://www.whitbyforum.com/; Grace Church Ezer Women’s Ministry at http://chrystiecole.com/ezer-body-matters/; Why Women Matter by Loren Cunningham and David Joel Hamilton. Loren Cunningham is the founder of YWAM (Youth With A Mission).