I am a fighter. I learned to defend my small stature early in life. I protected my younger siblings. I competed for the highest grades and best jobs. I became skilled at arguing persuasively and powerfully with sarcasm and wit.
Fighting is not always a good thing...
...but sometimes fighting is important. In college, I became a Christ follower and learned to use prayer as my weapon in spiritual battle. I began to fight daily against my selfish sin nature. I have become more involved in fighting for justice and causes that reflect God's heart. When I married Steve, I began a slow transformation of learning to discuss and disagree with my husband in healthy ways rather than divide and attack. (I'm still in that process.)
Recently, I have come to understand what it means to fight as an ezer in God's army. Carolyn Custis James does a great job of describing this relationship, called the "Blessed Alliance"¹ in her book, Half the Church. Carolyn explains that the Hebrew words ezer kenegdo used for women in Genesis 2:18 and 20, commonly translated “helper suitable,” are very misunderstood outside of the military context in which they are always found. The word kenegdo implies a counterpart, and ezer means help. Carolyn points out that Biblical authors use the same word ezer 19 additional times in the Old Testament; three times for country allies (Is. 30:5; Ezek. 12:14; Deut. 11:34), and sixteen times for God Himself when Israel needed help in battle (Ex. 18:4; Deut. 33:7, 26, 29; Ps. 20:2; 33:20; 70:5; 89:19; 115:9, 10, 11; 121:1 – 2; 124:8; 146:5; Hosea 13:9).²
From these verses, Carolyn encourages women in their God-given role as image-bearers and as "rulers" of His creation. She urges all women to join as full-partner, strong godly warriors with men in the spiritual battles we fight against evil in this world. This truth presents many opportunities for women, and I am certain that women can best contribute all that they are to the mission as they embrace their value and calling before God.
Even before I knew the word ezer, it has been my privilege to co-warrior with Steve for almost 30 years now. For a long time we have done battle together for our marriage. Staying together has required a unified offensive attack against temptations, routine-ness, and busyness that could otherwise destroy our intimacy. I cannot assume that Steve will carry that responsibility alone. It takes both of us fighting shoulder-to-shoulder to keep our marriage healthy and strong.
Steve and I have also fought for our children's wise choices and future; together we've taught them, disciplined them, cared for them, counseled them, and prayed for them. Again, this is not a battle to be delegated to just one person. We hold the line together here.
We've also been committed to many other ministry challenges together, leading college students, professionals, families, women, athletes, and others to God's love and hope. We have served together, each drawing heavily on the other's strengths to avoid minefields, flank attacks, and discouragement from the enemy.
I've grown to understand that being an ezer means that my unique gifts and abilities are crucial for victory - otherwise only half the army is fighting the war. During different life stages, my participation varied - sometimes I was on the front-lines with Steve, other times I was nursing the wounded from our base camp. No matter how I engaged, Steve always appreciated my help and partnership at his side.
We both challenge and motivate the other to build the character, skills, and confidence to do our best. Wars require everybody's cooperation and sacrifice; spiritual battles more than any other.
I hope this is encouraging to you. You are necessary. Your part is essential for victory. How will you get involved as an ezer?
Terry desires to love, live and lead in HIS strength and grace - with HIS passion and compassion - reflecting HIS wisdom and hope to others… preferably with a strong, black cup of coffee in hand. She writes from her heart journey as a wife, mom, ministry leader, and daughter of the King. Find her on twitter or blogging at MaturitasCafe.com
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¹Custis James, Carolyn. Half the Church. Kindle version. (p. 19) Retrieved from Amazon.com
²Custis James (p. 112)
**woman boxer image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net