Destiny In Bloom

The Lesser “I Am”

The Lesser “I Am”

posted on May 22nd, 2012 / by Zach Neese / 48 Comments

There are three things which are too wonderful for me,

Yes, four which I do not understand:

The way of an eagle in the air,

The way of a serpent on a rock,

The way of a ship in the midst of the sea,

And the way of a man with a virgin.

Proverbs 30:18-19 (NKJV)

Men look at women. For good or for bad, men look. Why? Because you are beautiful. You are all kinds of beautiful and every type of lovely. And any man worth his salt knows that God has made nothing more stunning, more alluring, more breathtaking, more fascinating than woman.

After fourteen years of marriage and six children it is a joy to say that my wife is still the “desire of my eye” (as God called Ezekiel’s wife in 24:16). The way she moves is mesmerizing. The way her eyes shine when she is pleased, the flavors of her smiles, her hair when it spills across my chest at night, the circle of her lower back–they are altogether lovely.

My eyes still revel in her. And they are right to do so. She’s a “yummy mummy.”

But I think that there is an aspect of seeing women in which men have failed, and our culture has utterly abandoned us. It is the cornerstone of respect, a perspective that our eyes still register but our hearts have forgotten.

What is it? Awe. Wonder. Marvel. The sense of the sacred–the fear of the holy.

We have allowed media and porn and pop-culture and liberal thought to objectify, demean, uncover and profane half of the image of God. We have lost our awe of you. Our awe of women. And when we lose our awe, we lose our natural sense of respect.

On behalf of all of manhood, I am so sorry. We have sinned against our God and against you, the daughters of Heaven. As a husband, as a father of four little girls (and two sons who will one day marry) and as a worshiper of God, my heart aches to reclaim the awe and respect of womanhood.

As men and as a culture, we NEED to respect you. Respect has the Fear of the Lord at its core. It lifts man above the animals and gives family, law, society, and morality their foundation. It humanizes us.

When we stopped being amazed at your womanhood, we lost the nobility of our manhood.

But all is not lost. Here’s a thought: Have you ever wondered why God was so elusive with Moses? Why’d he identify Himself as “I AM”? Every other “god” had a proper name (Isis, Horus, Set, Ra) and a proper religion. The gods of Egypt were predictable and easy to define. They were gods of sun and earth, sky and river, life and death. Each in his proper place with authority in his proper area of oversight.

Then along comes the God of Israel, and how does He identify Himself?

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14 (NKJV)

I can just imagine what poor Moses must have been thinking. His brain was already on tilt after experiencing burning bushes, slithering staffs, and the shock of contracting and being healed of leprosy in the span of five minutes. It had already been a full day. Then God tells him this: “Tell the Israelites my name is ‘I AM WHO I AM.’”

That’s not a name; that’s an existential statement! What on earth can God have meant by calling Himself that?

I have an idea. “I AM WHO I AM” means you can’t define me. You can’t change me. You can’t understand me. I won’t wear any of your labels and I won’t abide by any of your rules. Your theology can’t contain me and your “wisdom” can’t restrain me. There’s no one like me and no one beside me. I AM OTHER. HOLY. WONDERFUL. SACRED. FEARSOME! Mankind, REMAIN AMAZED, REMAIN IN AWE, BECAUSE I AM WHO I AM and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Wow! The only way He could sum Himself up was by fixing His identity in the mystery of His marvelously unquantifiable differentness.

That’s the God I serve! A God of wonder! I will never fully comprehend Him on this side of the grave, but I will spend my life in the pleasure of the pursuit. And He loves to be pursued!

Understanding the I AM is the key (I think) to men understanding the mystery of women.

We (men) have spent so much time rubbing our heads, trying to figure out why you don’t think like us, why you don’t communicate the way we do, why you don’t emote (or refrain from emoting) the way we do, and why for the love of ALL THINGS RATIONAL you never put your keys in the same place twice.

I am so sorry. That is a mold you were never meant to be squished into.

You see, you were created in the image of God. And if God is the Great I AM, you (I have discovered) are the “Lesser I AM.” You know what that means? It means you were made to resemble your Father. It means there is no one like you and never will be. It means you defy definition. You weren’t made to wear mankind’s labels and you can’t abide by culture’s fallen rules. The philosophies of earth cannot contain you and the religions of man cannot restrain you. You ARE who you ARE by the grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10)!

And my wife? There are days when I feel like Moses. My brain is on tilt. I can’t understand her. She is baffling and confusing and marvelously unpredictable. Why? Because SHE IS OTHER. Holy, wonderful, and sacred. I can’t hope to change her and dare not try. Part of her God-given allure is the mystery of her unquantifiable differentness.

That’s the woman I love! A wife of wonder! When I open my eyes to see her, she is awesome. And I cannot help but respect and revere this wonderfully made daughter of God. I cannot help but be grateful for such an undeserved gift.

Of course I will never fully comprehend her on this side of the grave, but I will spend my life in the pleasure of the pursuit. And my beloved loves to be pursued.

So I’d like to take you to the mirror today and show you something–something that is fearfully and wonderfully made, something that defies definition and is aglow in the splendor of beauty. It is you. You are marvelously different. You are alluringly sacred. You are lovely. You are awesome. You are worthy of respect. And I honor the greatness of the image of God in you.


Please be patient with us men. We really don’t understand you. But in all fairness, you don’t understand us, either.

You see, men are the other half of the image of God. At our worst (when we are far from Him) we are devils. But at our best (in His grace) we are sons of God. You will never understand us and you will never respect us until you see us for who we are–Lesser I AM’s. We are what we are by the grace of God, too. And by that same grace, we will each become more like our God as we recognize His greatness in one another.

About The Author

Zach Neese

Zach Neese is a Worship Pastor at Gateway Church where he oversees all areas of worship education including discipleship and worship training classes. Zach is a gifted teacher and writes much of the church worship curriculum. He also trains and advises worship leaders and churches around the world. Before coming to Gateway, Zach taught, worked with emotionally disabled young people, served as a youth and worship pastor in several congregations, and directed the Christ For the Nations Institute School of Worship and Technical Arts where he trained worship ministers from over 50 countries. Zach lives in Keller, Texas with his wife Jen and their six children; Simeon, Judah, Charis, Maggie, Nora, and Sam. They are his first church and the prize of his heart.

Zach Neese

48 Responses to “The Lesser “I Am””

  1. WOW!!! Just, wow. Thank you for that. I feel humbled, edified, and so encouraged by this post!

  2. Dude! Zach, I am always so honored to be considered among your friends.Your way with words is…beyond words. You have an ability to capture visceral things in the limited medium of language, and you do so easily. More important, that ability is not wrapped around silly, meaningless things. I have always thought that the beginning of good communication is knowing WHAT TO COMMUNICATE ABOUT. Your clarity, and your priority point us all to God. You hit the center of the target here! You point us all to the Divine straight down the path of the feminine…So Stinking Good! And So Stinking Important!

  3. …this holds such beauty & truth. Thank you.

  4. Great insight!! Love the perspective and the way you shared it with us!! Yes, man is made in His image and this alone should cause us to stop and be filled with wonder and respect as we daily look into the image of God in our spouse, sons, daughters or even the stranger on the street. His image abounds!!

  5. Thank you for this post Zach. This incredibly tired, overwhelmed mama needed to hear it today!

  6. Zach, wow…. that is all I can say!
    Best article I have read to date! Thank you!

  7. Completely agree…completely. Fabulously written and, more importantly, tremendously revelatory! Thank you!

  8. Anointed and honest. Bold and blatant. Thanks, Zach Neese, for shining a light on God's truth about His own beautiful image bearers.

  9. With tears rolling down my cheeks, I say, "THANK YOU!" Perfectly written and perfectly timely. :0) Again, thank you, Zach~

  10. Wow!!! Zach, I will read this over and over. It so touched my heart. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  11. Thanks Bob for saying it in ways I can't. True. True. True!!

  12. Beautiful. I mean, really beautiful. LOVED the definition of God, and the reverence for the Lord you show here. And I loved the p.s. as well… I think you have not only defined fearfully and wonderfully made for both men and women, but also demonstrated it as you wrote. Keep leading! What a great example to follow!

  13. Amazing!! Great word.

  14. He sings, plays guitar, writes books, and preaches a mean sermon. Is there anything Zach CAN’T do? Methinks you are a little more “I AM” than most of us guys.

    The ideas you present here are paradigm shifting to the malleable heart, and convicting to the more obtuse of us. I need to ponder this some more.

  15. Thank you for sharing this!! This is a message that the body if Christ needs to hear. So beautiful!!

  16. The brilliant thing about Zach Neese is that he is exactly who he says he is, exactly who you think he is. He rocks. His wife is well-loved, and his kids are amazings. Calling out healthy womanhood is in him. Go, Zach, go!!!

  17. You honor me, my friend.

  18. Zach, this was really beautiful. You are an inspiration from God.

  19. Man…there are many things that I do poorly. My wife excels at some of those things, which gives me the opportunity to sit back and enjoy the glory and gifting of God operating through her.

  20. Wow! Conviction that pierces the heart!!

  21. So good, wow. I love the I AM part. Thanks for opening our eyes to see things differently!

  22. Amazing! Amen, needed to be said! Thank you!!

  23. Wow! I'm in owe of words. This is a great lesson to learn for both woman n man. We are humanbeen n we all have been fearfully made in His own precious image. Thx u thx u thx u for being such an amazing example for other man n also woman. To me this was a great word of wisdom send from God above reminding me that how a man should see me n treat me n vise verse on how I should treat n respect man ;) Once again thx u for opening ur heart n sharing this w us.

  24. I am a middle aged widow of almost 8 years now. I've been struggling with the aching question "who am I?" How am I relevant? I needed to hear/read this marvelous article today. Now, even though there is no one to physically or emotionally validate me anymore, I know…I am a "Lesser I Am". Thank you…you blessed me.

  25. Dude! Me um likey the speak you write… I've never felt loire like a cave man:)

  26. Zach, these are healing words to deliver us from our destructive ways of relating. Thank you for sharing the relationship of honor between you and your wife, we've been given a taste of something lovely to hope for.

  27. …and not a single cliche'. Beautiful love letter to His daughters–particularly your wife. Beautiful note of thanks to Him. Thank you for the blessing of encouragement.

  28. So touching, uplifting and inspiring. I will print this out and keep in my Bible to read again and again. Thank you Pastor Zach!

  29. Humbling. Thought-provoking. Moving. Encouraging.

    Thank you.

    Emonne Markland

  30. Ya. Seriously …. thank you! Thank you for the value of women that not only resonates in your words BUT in your life in every way. We were incredibly blessed when you agreed to be a part of this project. Humbled really … knowing our lives would be touched as well as sooo many woman seeing something about themselves so new … so needed. Thanks feels so thin but yes THANKS!!!

    Great Love! ~Ris

  31. From the first day I took a class you taught until now, you are deep water; right on; transparent; relevant & always true, without compromise….to point us to our one source who brings heaven to earth when we see just how He created us to see, think & feel In His image. Rocked it! As usual… Soooo Zach.

  32. Loved this post Zach. Artful in your delivery. Honoring in your manner. You have given all of us a lot to contemplate. Thank you.

  33. Very touching word, Zach. Stirs emotions, warms the heart. Thank you, for making us feel special, loved, created differently – on purpose. May lots of men read this post! I've gotten to know Jen a little, and she IS special. I'm sure she thinks you are too, and it comes out so clearly in this. With men writing like this, there just may be a revolution!

  34. So awesome! Simply amazing! So honored to have been taught closely by you, Zach. May God inspire you even more each day!

    Would you allow me to translate it and post it on my blog? The Portuguese-speaking people need to read this ;)

  35. So so so GOOD! I am loving all the encouragement that is pouring out of DIB this week and how with every post I read, Bob's, Alan's and now yours Zach, I walk away with a shift in my perception. I love how the Lord is ever so gentle and loving in the ways that He is revealing to me truths about who He says I am and why He created me and with what purpose I am here….I am going to need to sit and meditate on all of these amazing post. Seriously in tears, I feel as though I am marinating in some truth that have needed to be pointed out in my heart for some time now. Thank you for hearing God and sharing. AMAZING!!

  36. An absolute delight to read!

  37. Zach you have hit the mark and I really appreciate that. Thank you for making this slightly overwhelmed and a bit down trodden Women feel lifted up and remembered as worthy of Love and Respect for who I am in Christ.

  38. [...] sex (or are we?) The Stronger Sex and yesterday Zach Neece wrote about the mystery of women in The Lesser “I AM” . These two articles are equally freeing and beautiful and I actually want to write a post a little [...]

  39. WOW!! That's all I can say. Blessiings!!

  40. WOW!!! That is all that comes to mind right now. Pastor Zach thank you so much, you give us all so much to think about but most of all that God is so awesome and loving.


  41. I'm beyond amazed and constantly grateful that God has given me a husband the reveres me and holds me in awe just as you described. I have known and experienced the pictures of truth you painted above, but had not been able to put words to the I AM-ness that my husband seeks out in me, and calls out of me. I didn't realize until today that it's another secret path in his pursuit of the Great I AM. I love learning that He seeks God through me, the Lesser I AM. Thank you so much for reminding me to seek God through my husband's I AM-ness too. And thanks for dressing such awesome truth with eloquent words.

  42. Pastor Zach,

    I am always impressed with your insight on things pertaining to life and godliness. I am so glad that your insight will not die with you, but that they will live on in the life of your children down to a thousand generation. I am so honored to studied under your tutelage at CFNI and as a member of Gateway. Sir, you keep on writing and I will keep on reading the things you write. I'm a fan! Lol!

  43. "You were made to resemble your Father….." Oh so perfect to hear today. Thank you

  44. Zach ~ Hot but silent tears ran down my cheeks this morning as I read. These words are so healing. As a woman who has been told I can't lead, shouldn't lead, is wrong to lead in the church ~ I needed to heal from the church – Thank you for being a part of that voice.
    With abuse in my past it has felt like such a long uphill battle as a woman to be defined through God's eyes. I am now becoming an advocate for victims of abuse and for the fight on Human Trafficking ~ each of these are the abysmmal reality of woman objectified to the extreme. My personal definition of trafficking "the cannibalism of another's soul" a man's effort to consume the imago deo of another person. Most of the time this is from men to women ~ but I am well aware that the imago deo is threatened in men every day too.
    Stay strong in this fight ~ thank you for raising the standard~ and for being another piece of the healing God so greatly desires for me! In Christ~Through Christ~ Because of Christ ~ Cheryl Meakins

  45. Zach,

    You astound me, sweetheart. You live every word that you expressed. I am left a bit awe struck at how little I know you, I mean, really know you. You daily embrace me with unconditional love compelling me to continue the search. I will. I relish the thought of what will become of me in the pursuit of you! I know this, I will be more the flavor and scent and heartbeat of Christ as I receive your love and by God's grace most humbly and unconditionally give you mine. I love you!


  46. I almost don't know what to say! This was incredible, encouraging and thought-provoking. Not only did it help me see myself through the eyes of God, in His image as a "Lesser I AM", but it also challenged me to see my husband as a "Lesser I AM"! I love your heart for God, for worship, for Jen & your kids, and for those to whom you minister! Thank you Zach!

  47. Melodiously succinct.

  48. Zach…This is BEAUTIFUL!. I love it!