Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dance With Me

It takes a lot to halt a man.  He was made for labor.  Says so right in Genesis. 

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” 

Even before the fall, man was made to work, to move, to find purpose with his hands.  The fall only made his work harder.  So when a man is laid up on a couch for whatever reason, my heart can’t help but ache.  Because it takes a lot to halt my man.

Man was made to take care of the garden he was given.  Protect and provide.  And it was not good for him to be alone.  What if he gets sick?  So God ripped bone right from his flesh to provide him a help-meet. 

“But for Adam, no suitable helper was found.  So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”

As a helper.

Wrapping my tiny little mind around this mighty big God who created men for labor and women as helpers in the midst of a you-can-do-anything-be-anything, me-me-me culture is nearly impossible.  God’s intentions get lost in a world that believes equality comes by way of dominance and supremacy.  My surroundings tell me I can be CEO, President of the Board, of the country!  My surroundings tell me I should want to be those things. Certainly more than a helper.

But God wants my surroundings to be full of Him. And He wants me to see things differently.  So He has been showing me His purpose for man and woman, His perfect design as He created them and established them in holy matrimony right there in Eden, walking with them for a breath before the fall. Equal but different. 

I see the pure perfection of what he intended, the beautiful dance He set to music… before that fateful encounter with a slimy serpent who unleashed a belief that helping is worth something less than the actual labor, that helping doesn’t involve labor. 

I’ve done labor.  But my labor was in vain.  I built a career holed up in a high rise of pride surrounded by concrete hearts looking down on the path my feet were meant to walk on.  I’ve had the burden of expectations, the pressure of performance, the responsibility of provision.  I’ve walked the lonely road full of people who want more of you than there actually is, feeling the weight of my failures as I pass by each one of them. I’ve seen the darkness of a world that infects the space where Holy dwells.  And it started eroding my woman heart to help anyone but myself.  Because my heart was only full of myself.  And I needed a Helper.  Someone to help me see what is true and sure.  All this made me think maybe my husband could use help to see it too.

God, He chooses different paths for each of us.  And He knew I couldn’t find Victory on a path like this, on a path where I was fighting to be the victor.  But, for those who are asked to turn the soil, it can be a hard, dark place.  After one small bite from a forbidden fruit.  Painful toil.  Thorns and thistles.  And somehow we are to bear fruit. How did this happen?

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

Right there in the abundant orchard communing daily with God, at the last perfect moment of human existence, it was Eve who influenced man to eat from the tree.  Woman. The helper.  She helped us all right out of Eden. Man is to blame too.  I get that.  But the influence of woman in this moment was greater than what man knew to be true about God and His commands.  It was like a needle scratching across a record in the middle of a beautiful waltz.  It threw everything off.  And we’ve been straining to hear the rhythm through the noise ever since.

I have sought desperately to understand the godly husband and wife in the midst of the culture we live in.  The message that tries to engulf me is in direct opposition of what He intended.  Being a helper might be about laundry or dishes or dinner or child rearing, which our culture seems to frown upon. It might even be about my contribution of labor.  But, really isn’t it about my influence?  Isn't that how I can help most?  While my husband is out turning the soil and enduring cuts from the thorns and thistles, isn't this when I can be the most helpful, tending to his wounds with the salve of God's word?  By making sure my voice echoes what is sure and true, what is godly.  By influencing him to be the man God intended him to be? Because it’s not about me at all.  Or him. It’s about God.  

It's a rare source that implores me to do this, to serve my husband in a way that would bring out his godliness.  But what would happen to our generation of men if they had godly wives by their sides influencing them and building them up. Whether in heels at the office or bare foot in the kitchen. What if I was supporting his efforts and encouraging his dreams… so the word of God spread.  What if I, the helper, the woman, his wife, surrendered all that I am to God, let the Holy Spirit run wild in me and within me birthed wisdom that turned into influence for the glory of Christ.  What if I could influence him away from the forbidden fruit towards the very heart of God?  What if…

This subject has way too much theology wrapped up in it for me, the average Christ-follower, to neatly unfold and understand, let alone wow you.  And it’s full of controversy I don’t mean to engage in.  I’m just wrestling through what it means for my marriage.  What it looks like to help my husband, to influence my Chef for the kingdom of God... so the word of God spreads – to our children, to their children, to our neighbors and beyond.

This is hard, really hard.  And, it’s complicated, truly complicated. It’s relationship. And very little about relationships is easy.  Sacrifice and humility are certainly required.  Because most of the time my flesh wants to scream, “I want more!”  But my spirit knows better.  My spirit knows to spill continual thanks straight to heaven. Because this is more.

My spirit knows to offer constant, sweet whispers in the Chef’s ear too, regardless of our circumstances or how I feel in the moment.  Because opportunities for influence hardly ever come when I am in the mood.

"I love the way you love us. You are an amazing man. I see God in you and I know He has amazing things for us. Not amazing like the world sees amazing. Better than that.  God is holding us in the desert, in this land between. Our manna is still falling all around us. Don’t lose heart. Let’s worship Him in this desert. Dance with me in the kitchen?"

When the storms of life hit, when the anxiety is high and the checking account low, when the waves are crashing all around us but we can’t find the streams in the desert, this is an opportunity for influence. And I can influence us to the forbidden fruit.  Or I can influence us to worship God in the desert as we slow dance in the kitchen. 

May I always choose to dance. For the glory of Christ. So the word of God spreads.