Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:7)
The author of today’s devotional reading, George Matheson, writes that this story holds basic truth about the nature of human beings. He points out that his soul is a compound of two worlds — dust and Deity, touching both hemispheres. Man is allied to the God on one side and to the beasts of the field on the other (yet not by an evolutionary process). Adam began with a handful of dust and was finished by the very breath of God.
This first man was not a Neanderthal. He was intelligent and able to distinguish and name all living creatures. But he was also alone and needed companionship, so God created one for him, not another man, but a different creature.
The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:20–22)
Some women do not like the “helper fit for him” part. However, this Hebrew word is “e-zar” and about support not servitude. A word with the same root and meaning is also used to describe God in verses like this one, “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life" (Psalm 54:4). Being a helper is on the deity side of things, not the dust side.
The devotional writer adds a challenge. He asks himself if he lives up to his twofold origin. Does he remember his double parentage and therefore his double duty? As I read that, I cannot help but ask the same question, but also add a third dimension to my God-created and God-given origin.
Yet in this question, I need to remember another basic biblical truth. This creation story describes people before sin entered the world. When it did, it marred all that God intended in who they were and how they were made. Their connection to God was severed by sin, for this is what sin does. Their connection to the earth was also marred in that instead of benevolent dominion, humanity uses and abuses the world. It goes without saying that most women do not see themselves as godly helpers to their husbands either. At best they are equal partners; at worst they are in competition with their Adam as well as men in general.
Yet as a reborn believer in Jesus Christ, I understand God’s intent in Adam. I am connected to God in a living relationship as His child and His servant. I am connected to the earth in stewardship, knowing it is not my home, but acting as an ambassador for an eternal King and His kingdom. As Matheson says, I have a double-duty as a human being to serve my King and the earth where I live.
Yet from this creation account, I must give attention to this third dimension, the one entrusted to women and entrusted to me. I’ve the honored position of being helper to my Adam. This helper role is not one of being ordered about (for God is also man’s helper and no one orders Him about), but working alongside him in his task, using my skills to compliment his.
In forty years of being a Christian, I’ve had many battles with God about this. Sometimes I felt that my Adam wasn’t doing the will of God so why should I help him? Sometimes I felt that I knew a better way, or had greater insight into what God wanted. Sometimes I wanted to be my own person and do my own thing, and was just ornery about the whole idea of helping anyone else. Reflecting on these experiences, I also know that when I’m willing to do the will of God, I sense in myself that three-fold origin. I’m a child of God, but very human. I’m also created to be a helper like God is a helper. For example, when He sees my weaknesses and struggles, instead of berating me for them or dismissing my efforts, He comes alongside to help me be all that He created me to be.
You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip. (Psalm 18:35–36)
I’ve heard said that beside every great man stands a great woman. I don’t think of myself as great, but in the light of creation, I understand that concept. It is exactly what God intended when He created Adam and Eve — and me.
Lord, so often I’ve failed to live up to this lofty three-fold intention of Yours. While it can be a puzzle to figure out what it looks like to serve You, and the dust of the earth, and help my husband, most of the time I know exactly what I am supposed to do. My problem is not ignorance but obedience. Neither can I complain with words like “I cannot” or “I don’t know how” for “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) because You are my Creator and my Helper.