The Adrenaline Rush of a Free-Fall

There’s a “beach” by my home. It’s a little pond in the middle of land-locked Colorado, hence the quotation marks. My hound loves to lollop in the water while I enjoy the illusion of the tropics or do yoga on the “sand.”

Today there was a hawk flying above the pond.

This hawk was magnificent. The grace with which it circled was mesmerizing. After a few moments, however, I realized that it wasn’t flapping its wings. Instead this hawk spread its wings and caught wind currents. In five minutes or so, I counted only three flaps.

There was one moment when the hawk hovered directly over me. It hung in the air, utterly still. Then it dropped. Before I could gasp, another wind current swept the hawk up and sent it gliding in another direction.

I’m a rock climber and I’ve facilitated hundreds of kids, teens, and adults over the sides of cliffs. I’m also terrified of heights. The best part about climbing and rappelling is I have a rope tied to a harness and both could catch a school bus. I know I’m safe.

The worst part about climbing and rappelling is that air looks like absolutely nothing. When I’m stepping off a cliff or talking someone else into doing it, the number-one concern is that the only thing visible is the ground far, far below.

Because of my fear of heights, my heart and stomach were in my mouth just watching the hawk deadfall. The hawk may have blinked, but he certainly didn’t flap his wings. He was expecting another current of wind to scoop him up and he was positioned to catch it.

For the last several months, I have been feeling like I’m in a deadfall. Unfortunately, my response hasn’t been what the hawk’s was; I’ve been flapping and screeching and frantically looking for something to grab onto.

So much for faith.

God sustains all that lives and breathes in this wild, untamable universe we call home. He is the all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-present God who comprehends, enables, and sustains the plans He has for me (Jer. 29:11). He’s like the wind. I may not be able to see Him, but like the hawk knows another current is coming, I know He’s there, waiting to catch me.

But, oh, how often I let my fear get the better of me!

I want to be like the hawk. I want to know my God so well that as I fall, I grin at the sheer joy and adrenaline rush of a life lived fully yielded to the God who dares me to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8)!

Scripture is full of pleas and promises from the God who created and sustains the universe to trust Him so that He can bless us. If we let Him, the God who knows us fully and loves us completely will scoop us up and help us soar.

Echoes of Eve

When you think of a Christian woman, what do you think of? Personally, I think of anything and everything I’m not (which can mean a lot of different things depending on my mood).

What we should be expecting and seeing in the Church, however, are women who are assured that they are defended by the Creator who molded them for a specific purpose that only they can carry out. Because that is exactly who and what we are—beloved, purposed, empowered, and defended.

What I see instead are women who are afraid to tell their stories because they

  • Don’t have it “all together,”
  • Believe their sin is worse than anyone else’s,
  • Expect that they truly are unloveable,
  • Carry overwhelming shame,
  • Know their image is only skin-deep,
  • Can’t keep their house, children, husband, cars, clothes, and dishes in perfect order and happiness,
  • Ache with loneliness for someone to love and be loved by,
  • Feel unnecessary, unimportant, overweight, ugly, too much, too little, too smart, too dumb, not enough and certainly not defended.

Satan has distorted Eve’s story so that all we see are short-comings, doom, and a wrathful God. Historically, western society seems to expect women to suddenly strip naked and offer random people apples, seducing the world into sin and moral depravity. We ourselves suspect that we are less than the woman next to us, aren’t what we should be, and can’t offer anything worthwhile until we “get it together.”

And when we don’t pull off perfection, we expect God: the Old Testament Tyrant to judge us, then smite us for the tiniest mistake. And if he doesn’t punish us sufficiently, we take on the job and replay our mistakes, shames, and failures over and over again until we are incapacitated by our worthlessness.

What a victory for our enemy.

But I have news for you. God made you perfectly you. Utterly capable to achieve the good purpose He created you for (Eph. 2:10). You are an echo of Eve: life-giver, nick-of-time-helper, relationship-inviter, and enemy to Satan.

No matter the availability to evil and consequences of life after the Fall, no matter your mistakes or screw-ups, you are created in the image of God and you have dignity. But you also have an enemy. This enemy wants you shackled, shamed, and utterly deceived about your true role, power, and dignity. You’ll be no threat to him then.

Eve’s power came from accepting her role and identity as prescribed by God. Her extraordinary defense occurred because of her humility and honesty before God. I suspect that I am not the only woman who has been deceived, mocked, cheated, and shamed in my lifetime. We are no longer perfect beings living in a perfect world. That is not our role or identity on this earth. Our role as women is to stand before God and invite Him to defend us and reclaim our dignity, worth, and power.

Eve’s story guarantees that He will.

Eve Avenged

Woman utters seven words, which declare, “I have been stripped of my dignity, worth, and power by this, my enemy.” Woman confesses her sin and laid her shame bare before the Lord.

No one in history has been more distressed than Woman that day. Why? Because Woman lost everything. In order to lose everything, one must first have everything. Until that moment, Woman had never experienced anything beyond perfect harmony, capability, and utter satisfaction.

If you consider her purpose as in-the-nick-of-time helper, Woman’s sin was ultimately a mis-application of her God-given position and power. I don’t know about you, but nothing wrenches my soul like hurting someone I’m supposed to help.

Woman’s confession was not a beggarly excuse from someone who is weak and incapable. It’s a plea for understanding from the only One who could fathom the depth of her sorrow and loss.

What an invitation. Without hesitation, God confronts Woman’s Enemy and defends her with breath-taking accuracy. He declares a blood feud between Woman and Satan. And He pronounces Satan’s ultimate destruction.

If that sounds unimpressive to you, think back to the last time God declared something. “Let there be light” had immediate and comprehensive effect (Gen. 1:3).

Have you ever wondered why it seems that Satan has it out for you personally? Why he just won’t leave you alone? Satan is fighting so hard because he is a cornered, wounded animal whose doom has been pronounced. He has lost. His time is running out. He knows it. And you are an echo of the original Woman.

God’s vengeance encompasses the enemy that Woman knows about (Mr. Snake) as well as the enemy of creation itself (Satan). You know who else it encompasses? Woman’s faithless husband, Adam.

God reclaims all the dignity that Woman lost to her three accusers. He corroborates her claim of being cheated (Gen. 3:14), letting all three know that God is not deceived by any of them.

He lays no blame on the Woman (Gen. 3:16-17), despite laying blame both on the serpent (Gen. 3:14) and Adam (Gen. 3:17). God declares Woman the conduit for Satan’s destruction through her descendant, Jesus Christ (Gen. 3:15).

Then God returns to Woman the dignity of life-giver (Gen. 3:16) and describes the desire she will always have to return to perfect unity of relationship with her children and her husband (Gen. 3:16).

After God’s thorough defense of Woman, including His pronouncement of Adam’s sin and consequences, Adam repents and reclaims his wife. He names her Chavvah, which means life-giver. He gives her a name that describes her vengeance from God. Every time someone hears it, they will be reminded of the time God Almighty defended her. Talk about being clothed in dignity!

Eve’s vengeance is complete. She, Adam, Mr. Snake, Satan and God all know it. But Eve is still in danger from two quarters. She and Adam:

  • Ate the forbidden fruit, which demands death as payment (Gen. 1:17), and
  • Might eat the fruit from the Tree of Life, which gives eternal life (Gen. 3:22).

God addresses the first threat by appeasing the requirement with a substitute—an animal whose blood mitigates Adam and Eve’s guilt and whose skin covers them from the now-difficult terrain and temperatures of Earth (Gen. 3:21). Why did He bother? Due to the nature of God’s vengeance for Eve, she cannot die childless. He clothed her to facilitate her continued life and vengeance.

God addresses the second threat by sending Adam and Eve out of the Garden and setting a cherubim guard over the Tree of Life (Gen. 3:22-24). Why? Up until now, the Tree wasn’t forbidden, but since Adam and Eve are now vulnerable to the warring options and desires of good and evil, God protected them from bearing the weight of sin for all time.

Eve: Facing the Music

Paradise—freedom, intimacy, contentment, soul-filling work without sweat or toil, as well as unity between man and woman, animals and earth, humanity and earth, creation and Creator. Even the temperature’s so perfect that nudity is not only an option, but lovely, comfortable, and slimming.

Then suddenly, with one bite, nudity is embarrassing. Intimacy is no longer comfortable and welcome. Schisms form in a marriage formerly composed of respect and nick-of-time coordination.

Two details that we need to understand at this point are 1) Adam and Woman have never had trust issues before and 2) Woman does not know Satan exists. Neither has she any reason to despise or fear snakes.

So back to the Tree. What’s so bad about knowing good v. bad? The Hebrew word for knowledge in this verse connotes an openness or experience (“Damah”). An availability to both good and evil. Whereas creation was protected from evil and provided good, there is now a leak and creation is doomed to experience both.

Similarly, Adam and Woman now experienced the duality of their form—spirit (Gen. 2:7b) and dust (Gen. 2:7a)—in contrast to the utter holiness of God. No wonder they reached for the nearest fig leaf. Now they knew there was an otherness, a separateness between themselves and God, but also between each other.

Enter God, stage right. He, as the all-knowing Creator, is not surprised at this shift. But rather than descending in power and accusation, He continues in the pattern of their relationship, inviting them to join Him for a walk (Gen. 3:8). When they do not appear, He calls to them (Gen. 3:9).

Imagine what would have happened if Adam and Woman had broken cover and run to Him, spilling out their fear and shame and confusion. That’s what God is inviting them to do. Instead, they hid and He drew them out.

When questioned by God, Adam does not take responsibility for his choice. He accuses God of dooming paradise by creating Woman. Remember, Woman was once perfect, made to match, help, and save Adam from the not-good-ness of being alone.

This is the first time something false has been spoken over Woman’s identity. You know how that feels because you’ve grown up in a fallen and false world full of sin. Imagine the sheer pain, shame, terror, and aloneness Woman felt. For the first time.

Her purpose and calling just rejected her in the presence of the Creator who could obliterate her with a word.

For those of you who consider the God of the Old Testament to be overly trigger-happy in the fire and brimstone department, let this sink in: instead of speaking Woman out of creation, God asks for her side of the story.

Her answer is surprisingly simple: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Gen. 3:13). Unlike Adam’s answer, Woman conveys the facts of the situation: she was deceived and she chose to disobey.

The word she chose to use was hathal (“Hathal”). It means to deride, cheat, or mock (“Deceived”). Her confession isn’t simply an admission of her own guilt; it was an admission of what she lost at the hands of the serpent.

Think about it: when you’re bamboozled, even in fun, you feel smaller, stupid. Depending on the scam, people lose time, a bit of money, or everything. But no matter what size scam, there’s a little piece of you that feels less capable, intelligent, and powerful than it did before you were cheated.

That’s what Woman is describing. She’s not denying her choice. But she’s also telling the full, behind-the-scenes story. And guess what?

Woman had the ear of the Creator God who designed her to embody power and dignity. And Satan had just messed with her.

 

Strong, James. “Damah.” The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996. Print.

— “Deceived.” The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996. Print.

— “Hathal.” The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996. Print.

Eve: Stripped, Mocked, and Shamed

For the last two weeks, we saw that Woman was innocent, perfect, and powerful. She was fully known to herself, her husband, and her God. Woman had no reason to fear the corners and undercurrents of her heart, mind, or soul. She had absolutely nothing to hide and no trust issues.

We have finally arrived at Genesis 3 and it’s going to take some time to set up the context. Here are some details to consider:

  • Both Trees (Life and Knowledge of Good and Evil) were placed at the center of the Garden (Gen. 2:9)
  • Adam was tasked with filling, subduing, the earth; ruling all living things (Gen. 1:28); and managing the Garden (Gen. 2:15).
  • Most commentaries suggest that the command not to eat of The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was given from God to Adam (Gen. 2:15-17). Then Adam passed it on to Woman.
  • Satan is too smooth to use a startling, scary method of temptation, therefore, it’s possible that animals (or at least snakes) originally spoke.
  • Adam was nearby when Woman was being tempted (Gen. 3:6).

Keep these details in mind while we dive into Genesis 3:1.

Let’s set the scene: Woman, ezer, and Adam, steward, were in the center of the garden near the two trees—The Tree of Life and The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This does not necessarily mean that they were flirting with temptation; as the gardeners and stewards, both man and woman had the right and responsibility to tend to all that lived.

Many expect Woman to be seeking trouble that day, but she didn’t have to look for it. It is entirely possible that Woman was simply caught up in Satan’s hidden agenda. In my opinion, Satan tempted Woman while she was operating in her gifting and calling. He engaged her in what must have been a fairly benign (from Woman’s standpoint) conversation.

God told Adam that he could eat freely of any tree in the Garden, except one, otherwise he would die (Gen. 2:16-17). Satan, however, exaggerated the limitation, excluded the consequences, and suggested a gap in the provision of God (Gen. 3:1).

Woman acknowledges God’s provision, but adds a little caveat to the original command: she says that she can’t even touch the fruit or she’ll die (Gen. 3:3).

Who knows whether Adam or Woman added that little hedge of protection around God’s command? Most religions start off with the same kind of innocent bumper for sin. But here’s the problem: God will not provide the consequence to a command he never gave.

When Woman touches the fruit in Gen. 3:6, nothing happens. Suddenly, there’s the possibility that God is lying.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s one more detail I’d like to point out. If we can assume that Woman was fulfilling her calling and gifting to help Adam in his responsibilities, then what Mr. Snake suggests next is crucial.

He says that the fruit will grant wisdom (Gen. 3:5). The Hebrew word used here is saw-kal, which means to have skill, understand, and guide (Strong 535). Remember, if Woman wasn’t willfully eyeing this fruit, then she was performing her job—to be the in-the-nick-of-time help for Adam— and what better tool could she use than wisdom?

Next, Woman double-checks her information. She knew God created the fruit and trees in the Garden to be pleasing to the eyes and good to eat (Gen. 2:8). So she examined the fruit and found it pleasant to the eye and good to eat (3:6). It appeared to align with what God had planned, just as Satan knew it would.

I’m not saying that Woman is the victim and isn’t responsible for her choice. Ultimately, she chose to believe Satan and disobey God. But what I’m seeing here is a pattern that the Enemy has used on me over and over again.

What I’m seeing is a tailor-made trap to strip Woman of her God, her power, and her dignity.

 

Strong, James. “Sakal.” The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words, Thomas Nelson, 1996, pp. 535.

Dangerous Reflections

Genesis 1:26-7 reveals that the Trinity’s intention in creating man and woman was to reflect His likeness. We are made in His image.

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I believe God gives us a little glimpse into what that means by giving us children and bloodlines. When I was 8, I couldn’t tell which school photograph was mine and which was my dad’s.

When I teach and a student says something demeaning of themselves, you can believe I sound like my mother. I even stand like her and use the same gestures.

I reflect my parents, some in looks and some in personality. My sisters, neices and nephews all very obviously belong in my family. We’re unique, but we reflect one another.

That is what I believe Genesis 1:26-27 is talking about. We are each unique, but if you look closely enough, you can tell we belong to the same Daddy.

And I believe that each sex has something unique that captures a different facet of God that the other is missing.

Most women seem to have three things in common: passion, relationships, and communication.

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I recognize that not all women are the same. I am as bizarre and oddly female as they come. Just ask my Bible study ladies. They have been wondering about me for some time now.

Regardless of the specifics, women long for relationship of some sort, be it romantic, soul-friends, or just acquaintences. We want to be known. And we go out of our way to communicate with others in order to achieve that “known-ness.”

Some of the women I know prefer online relationships and are silent in the face of another person. Other women want to be a couple inches away from your face as they communicate their depth.

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But here is what makes us unique from men: we want to communicate ourselves deeply and fully, sharing our experiences, joys, sorrows, and confusion with one another.

Maybe it’s just me, but men tend to share information. Women share life.

So how does that reflect God? Consider Genesis 1. God existed in perfect relationship with himself. He needed nothing, but He created the world, everything in it, and a man and a woman.

He walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day (Gen 3:8). Why? Considering His track record, I’d expect He wanted relationship.

And then, when Adam and Eve chose themselves over Him, God sent His Son, who would be a sacrifice so pure, it would restore our relationship with God forever.

Our craving for relationship as women seems to stem directly from our Father who made us.

In addition to restoring a relationship with rebellious people instead of destroying them, God spent thousands of years and used dozens of authors to put His heart and soul into a 66 book love letter to us.

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Then He sent a part of himself (the Holy Spirit) to live in us and translate His word so we would understand the depth of love He put into that letter and the character of the One who crafted it.

I’d say the desire for communication seems pretty familiar as well.

You and I reflect the image of God. And if we truly grasped and experienced the depth of His extravagant love for us? If we explored the depth of His character and allowed Him to do the same with us?

That right there, friend, is what Satan is so afraid of. 

If we experienced the depth of relationship and love with the God of Time itself that He wants us to, there is no power in this universe that could keep us quiet. 

Because we as women have the capacity for passion, relationship, and communication that makes us dangerous to the kingdom of Hell.

Becoming a Warrior

I’m starting to suspect that we women, especially if we have a relationship with the Creator and His Son and truly grasp that we are the crown of creation (Genesis 1 and 2) and Beloved, we are one of the biggest threats to the Enemy’s plans.

Women have an enormous capacity for passion and action. During times of struggle or terror, if you get a women invested in the cause, she’s going to be a force to be reckoned with.

I am not saying that the feminine is all-powerful. I am saying that God created women for a divine purpose. And it wasn’t just to shop and eat cookie dough and make doilies. Nor was it to dominate men.

When we women finally lay down our rights and trust in the God who made us– unique, fierce, intelligent, and beautiful– when we believe that He has only good for us and choose to walk in obedience, that is when we become a threat. 

I don’t want to be collateral damage. I want to be a warrior. I don’t want to be a victim anymore, but a soldier with a life that matters. With a purpose and a King to fight for.

The moment I truly decided to take strategic, defensive and offensive action in obedience to my God, the Enemy attacked.

I am not sitting at home, enjoying a nice cup of tea and writing something theoretical on this blog. I’m sitting in a corner, praying for my husband, and wondering what is going to happen in the next ten minutes.

I’m in the middle of a battle right now, fighting for my husband, my life, and my marriage. And I have been all summer. Why? Because, by the grace and power of my Lord Jesus Christ, I have joined the ranks of Christian soldiers who threaten Satan’s survival.

Wait…Who’s a Threat?

The Enemy does all he can to separate us from the Creator’s love and open arms. So, my question shifted from “what’s wrong with me” to “what’s threatening about me” when I realized that one-half of the Creator’s children (i.e. women/feminine) is so profoundly exhausted, harried, lost, unprotected, fearful, and hardened. In a word: war-torn.

If I’m considering taking someone or something out, I will attack on of three things: 1) the weakest point, 2) the most beloved, or 3) the biggest threat. It’s simple logic! I’m not going to attack the bigger, more capable enemy, I’m going to either remove the biggest tactical advantage or damage the most meaningful thing or person to my enemy. Countless movies and books are written and sold out based on this premise.

My worldview proclaims that as humans, we are vulnerable because of our separation from our Creator.

Automatically, as fallen human beings, we are weak and generally unaware that we’re being slavered over by a vicious, ruthless, unseen enemy. Satan can attack us with impunity because we don’t even know we need a defense, much less how to go about setting one up!

If, however, we enjoy the re-connection with our Creator, then we have access to secure, foolproof defense and devastating offensive weapons that allow us to live in confidence, peace, and bad-ass security.

How does that work? It comes back to the fact that you are loved. God is so passionately and dizzyingly in love with you, He made a way for you to move from defenseless and broken to defended and whole. No wonder the Enemy doesn’t want us reconnecting with God! It’s easy to win a battle against broken, hopeless, defenseless people who don’t know a battle is raging. But through God’s miraculous love, you and I become very dangerous.

What’s So Threatening?

I often wonder what would happen if I just became. If I stopped trying to be or act like any- and everyone else and truly accepted me. Of course when people ask what I’d change about myself, I say I’m pretty happy with myself. Which is true– isn’t it?

My husband once took 24 days to hike the Colorado Trail (approximately 500 miles, with all the variations on the trail that he threw in for himself) from Denver to Durango. By himself. Straight through. He talks about how those 24 days were a microcosm of life and all he had was himself— to enjoy, confront, wrestle, and embrace. As he starts the story I find myself nodding and dreaming of doing the same. The some hidden, dragonish speck of my brain whispers that it’s just me. Alone. With myself. And immediately, the rest of my brain scuttles into houses, closets, under beds, bolts the doors, shutters the windows and nary a curtain waves in the breeze.

What is so terrible about me?! Some– not all– people like me. Several even love me! My husband– poor soul– knew many of my flaws and still chose to be my life buddy. If he can choose me for (hopefully) 50+ years, why do I run from the thought of myself for 24 days?

But lately, my question has shifted from “what’s wrong with me” to “what is so threatening about me?” Why the shift? I believe that there is a battle raging in the universe– impacting even the most mundane grocery run– I believe that we have a Creator who made each person, mountain, stream, raindrop, frog, flower, bug, cat, dog, and– yes– woman with a purpose of glory, meaning, impact, and beauty.

The battle started when the Enemy– he’s not my personal archenemy but God’s– decided he wanted to be the Creator. He wanted to be as beautiful, holy, worshipped, necessary, omnipotent, good, and beloved as the Creator was.

Does this sound familiar, ladies? It should. I’m convinced our catty comparisons and jealousies are an echo of this supernatural quarrel. So you can guess that happened next. That’s right. The enemy carefully and oh so casually went to the Creator’s most beloved friends and started a rumor. And just like that, relationships and reality unraveled just as the Enemy intended.

You may be wondering how this fits in with womanhood, but stick with me. It’s coming up. The unseen(ish) war between Creator and Enemy is conducted in the lives and interactions of the Creator’s children. The Creator has never given up on us and has gone to Hell and back to restore us to Him. So, if we are the Creator’s beloved, what will the Enemy attack? The beloved.