|CARE International Photo|
Today is International Women’s Day, and I have my own take on it. I prefer to call it International Ezer Day or IED for short, which I am delighted to say connotes a warning: Be careful and don’t step on an ezer. You will be sorry you did.
Today is a day to celebrate women and to express gratitude their achievements—both well-known women who succeed on the global stage and who have fought valiant battles for all of us and those who live courageously in other arenas and have impacted our lives in countless ways. I am especially grateful for ezers in the church who have stood tall in the face of opposition, rejection, and persecution and paved the way for the rest of us. They are brave ezer-warriors, and I salute them.
Today is a day to heighten public awareness to the suffering, injustices, and atrocities women and girls endure simply because they are female. It is also a day to awaken the conscience of the church over our slowness to engage this battle and to examine how women are marginalized and abused within our own ranks. Growing numbers of Christians are rising up to engage this horrific global battle. But it’s fair to say, we aren’t making nearly enough noise about what’s happening, showing nearly enough leadership in this crisis, or mobilizing nearly enough people, organizations, resources, and governments to bring an end to these evils.
Renaming today International Ezer Day elevates this discussion to a cosmic level. It means this day carries profound importance to the church and places enormous responsibility on us to set the standard in valuing and championing God’s daughters and their gifts.
I keep reminding folks (and I promise not to stop) that when God created the woman he prefaced her creation with the unqualified statement that, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Then God declared the woman an ezer (helper/rescuer/warrior)—the very same descriptor used of God himself. This is not to suggest that women are semi-divine, but rather to stress their role in ruling and subduing the earth along with the man. To accomplish his divine plan, God did not to create another man. He created a woman—an ezer-warrior.
The gifts we celebrate today come from God who designed and entrusted them to his daughters, not simply for their personal fulfillment, but to bless the world and advance the missio dei on earth. To marginalize women’s gifts is to attempt to undermine the kingdom strategy God inaugurated at creation.
The marginalization of women and their gifts and the atrocities against women and girls we are witnessing today are alarming symptoms of a world that is recklessly self-destructing. Desperately needed God-given gifts for the world are being squandered and discarded. The rape, abuse, trafficking, and killing of ezers is an affront to God that gives the Enemy an advantage and puts the world in a perilous state of affairs—more dangerous I suspect than any crisis currently commanding the headlines and unsettling the world for it strikes at the core of God’s vision for the world and has spread like an unstoppable virus, infecting every culture in the world.
So let us celebrate International Ezer Day—soberly mindful of what’s at stake for all of us. And let us resolve with unflinching determination to employ our own strengths and gifts to become part of God’s solution.
“Every morning, as the light of dawn breaks over the planet, countless ezers — women and girls — are waking up all over the world. . . . the potential force for kingdom good and the storehouse of gifts and ability that reside in the church’s ezer population is simply staggering. God’s global vision for women unlocks that potency, unleashing an unparalleled message of hope and an endless array of kingdom possibilities that ripple out from home, family, and community to reach untouched places where human suffering and female oppression sink to unimagined lows. . . . One hundred years from now may it never be said of this generation of ezers that we folded our hands and left God’s kingdom work to others. May it never be said that we ignored the cries of the helpless and focused on ourselves. Let it instead be said that God used those cries to awaken a sleeping giantess and filled her with a terrible resolve — half the church, angered and outraged at the unchecked forces of evil in God’s world. That we made up our minds to do something, that our efforts forced the darkness to recede, and that we left the world better off than we found it. May we be remembered as a generation who caught God’s vision, faced our fears, and rose up to serve his cause.”