Today's post is taken from the fast.pray group who fasts and prays at lunchtime every Monday for singles desiring marriage.
Dear Fast and Pray-ers,
This is your reminder that we are fasting and praying for 1) marriages for those who long to be married and for 2) courage to become the men and women God has created us to be, especially within relationships to the opposite sex. As you pray and fast, you might consider the thoughts below....
Sexuality (spelled wrong in the subject line to, hopefully, prevent the email from being treated as spam!). We have not written much about this topic for fast.pray. in the past. This hasn't been a conscious decision, maybe just the outgrowth of fast.pray. being mostly a virtual community--and there are some topics (including sexuality) that still, we believe, merit the safety of trusted relationship as the backdrop for deepest discussion. But recently, we've had requests to 'go there' --particularly around the questions of sexual sin and guilt. Before we attended to mistakes, though, I wanted to simply remind us of how our sexuality, whether we are married or single, is actually grounded in the character and heart of God. He is the God of sacred intimacy. And it's good to be reminded about the one in whose image we are made.
1) Sacred Intimacy includes commitment to exclusivity. The word "exclusive" can leave some of us feeling uncomfortable, but the truth is, this is the kind of relationship God is committed to and models. "I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God" he says in Exodus 6:7. And he repeats himself later , "You shall have no other gods before me...For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God" (20:3,5). God is into his people and says it's got to go both ways. He's not 'into us sometimes, until we mess up or whatever...' and then switches up. Nor does he want us being into him when it suits, then dropping him for our idol du jour. He is not fickle and he has made us, likewise, to thrive in the context of an exclusive relationship with him.
2) Sacred Intimacy includes commitment to a loving-oneness. God is not into exclusivity as its own end, but he is committed to a loving-oneness within those bounds. Jesus gives us a little taste of this when he's praying for us in John 17: "I pray that they will all be one, just as you [Father] and I are one--as you are in me, Father, and I am in you." And he continue, "that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—..." (20-23). Okay, this is tricky, because we have Trinitarian concepts going on here--but in short, there is deep intimacy and oneness within God and that's what God longs for us to experience with him (and among ourselves), which is why he keeps pursuing us: "How can I give you up, O Ephraim? /How can I surrender you, O Israel? ...My heart is turned over within Me,/ All My compassions are kindled" (Hosea 11:8). He wants deep and loving union with his people (and that includes the 485 subscribers to this blog!).
3) Sacred Intimacy includes commitment to rejoicing over the beloved. God is not just committed to an exclusive and loving-oneness, God is also committed to rejoicing with and over his people. "As a young man marries a maid, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you" (Is. 62:5). God's heart is actually thrilled about us. Heidi, who has written many times for us, says the one message she came away with after 6 months of a listening prayer exercise was this: the God of the universe is crazy about her. Thrilled! That IS crazy. The God of the universe, crazy wild over Heidi? Over Connally? Over Anne? Over Amy? Over Kirsten? Over you? I don't think we can hear it too many times. It is true. He says so.
4) Sacred Intimacy includes commitment to bearing fruit with the beloved. God is committed to bearing fruit in and through us. Deeply connected within an exclusive, loving, & joy-filled relationship with him, we get to get co-creative! "O Ephriam," God says to his people, "what more have I to do with idols? I will answer him and care for him./I am like a green pine tree; your fruitfulness comes from me" (Hosea 14:8). So, whether he wants to bear in and through us the fruits of the his Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, etc.) or, with us as his hands and feet, new or changed lives & communities--there are endless iterations of what we get to co-create with Him--the bottom line is that his exclusive love doesn't suffocate and smush. Rather it generates life, beauty, truth, goodness. And we get to join with him in multiplying his presence. Amazing.
Okay--I know this is all very conceptual; it'll get grittier in weeks to come. But I just wanted to start this mini-series on sexuality with the reminder that regardless of our sexual histories, because we are made in the image of God, we are all carry within us the longing for and capacity for sacred intimacy, even right now. And no matter how this arena might be an area for struggle, this longing and capacity for sacred intimacy--the core of our sexuality--is a VERY GOOD thing. It is a reflection of our Maker. So thank him for it as you pray this week.
Blessings in the Journey,
~ Have a great week!