Pursuing Intimacy

I was married for no longer than a year when I found my skin recoiling at my husband’s touch.  Not only did I lack a desire for intimacy, I had a fear of it.  It somehow made me feel stained with shame.  Months would go by without coming together and because of it we found our marriage snagged by bitterness.  We were 22 and we fought and we fought and we fought.  One could insist that we were simply the result of two people who were married far too young but in hindsight I know that’s not the case.  Let me tell you what I know now: 

I was angry. 

My parents had always lovingly taught me to save sex for marriage.  Not because they would ever see me as less but because based on God’s perfect design for sex and marriage they knew the pain it would bring me if I didn’t wait.  Long story short, I failed to heed warning.  By the time I met my husband, Bryan, I had a background of intimate encounters with people who I knew would never end up as my husband.  But pre-marital sex didn’t stop there because Bryan and I brought the marriage bed into our dating life. 
Just like every other relationship before, I had been impatient, ignorant of the suffering that was waiting on the other side of my wedding day. 

I want to emphasize that sex has an absolute perfect design, crafted by two Divine hands, which hold the sacred truth of it.  When we decide to step outside the boundaries of God’s plan we will see the consequences.  When I look back on the eight years spent with my husband (one dating, seven married) I can see Satan’s cunning with 20/20 vision.  You see, he will let you ignore the power of sex to your hearts delight when you aren’t married but say, “I do” and the tables turn.  It’s the ultimate bait and switch. 

Why is that?  Because Satan knows that when a husband and wife come together, it represents Christ’s convent to His Church in the most profound way.  Sex gives, sex is selfless, sex is sacrificial, sex binds.  A marriage needs it because time and time again it whispers promise.  A promise to keep pursuing just as Christ pursues His Church. 

Though I grew up in Church it wasn’t until around the time I got married in my early twenties that I experienced Christ in a way that I never had before.  All the sudden I was aware of my nakedness in new light.

Here’s the thing:  even though every sexual encounter I had had with another man played a role in contributing to this weight that I was bearing, none of them had ever claimed to love me.  Not one and that made it easier to forgive them.  Bryan though, he had loved me but he hadn’t protected me.  He hadn’t pursued patience; He hadn’t led me towards God’s design, as a man who claims to love should.  So when sex in our marriage left me feeling indecent, anger was born and it bled into most aspects of our life together, almost resulting in divorce.

It took the better half of our third year of our marriage for me to finally accept freedom.  I don’t have the time to go into detail here but it was through intense prayer and devotion that Christ finally gave me the answer I so desperately needed:  I needed to forgive my husband. 

If you find yourself relating to my story let me tell you something:  in order to pursue intimacy you have to first pursue forgiveness.  Sex before marriage has its consequences but it does not get to mark you as unworthy.  Get to the cross and claim your mark of crimson, which deems you forgiven.  You have got to realize that God sees His Son in place of your sin and He is so tenderly calling you back to His original design for intimacy.  Once you have this revelation He will give you the grace to extend forgiveness to your spouse. 

I was overwhelmed by the freedom gained in forgiveness.  I no longer looked at my husband through a veil of resentment and I could finally welcome his touch.  We have found great joy in intimacy and pursue it often.  It’s a privilege to reflect the character of Christ to one another when we come together.  It has deepened our faith and strengthened our love for both each other and our Creator.

Dear reader let me give you hope in this: marriage is from God and for God thus He cares deeply for it.  Seek Him first and He will profoundly bless your pursuit of intimacy.

A Woman After God: The Audacity of Rizpah

A little while ago I downloaded a study onto my phone centering on the stories of over 40 men and women of the Old Testament.  I am slowly working through as every so often I will search God's heart through the account of an Old Testament life.  It's a humbling thought that God uses people, broken people to showcase His glory.  I love this study because it is teaching me to look into every man and woman with an eye expectant to see the Lord.  I will admit that I got a little sidetracked because in the 40 included there is one woman missing who I have grown to dearly love and that's Rizpah.

I can remember the first time I heard Rizpah's name.  It was Mother's day, seven years ago while I was pregnant with our first child.  Bryan and I were living in Tennessee at the time and a guest speaker at our Church devoted an entire sermon to the Biblical account of her.  Though the thick of Rizpah's story only spans the length of one verse found in 2 Samuel 21, I couldn't help but feel impacted.  Today, I want to hold up the magnifying glass.

There is a complicated history behind Rizpah's story that I don't have time to go into here but here's the short version:  During the reign of Kind David, Rizpah's two sons were hanged for the sins of their father, Saul, which had put the entire nation of Israel into a three year famine.  They were hanged and their bodies were left on display to be defiled by their murderers.  This is a harrowing story to say the very least but what their mother does next has my eyes brimming with tears.

Rizpah stays with her two sons until she is granted burial rights.

Here's the account:  "Rizpah, Aiah's daughter, took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on the rock from the beginning of the harvest until the rain poured down from heaven on the bodies.  She kept the birds of the sky from them by day and the wild animals by night." - 2 Samuel 21:10 

Her sons were murdered along with five others at the beginning of the of the barley harvest.  Which means although it can't be certain, the text suggests that Rizpah remained with their bodies for the span of six months.  Can you imagine?  With grief heavy on her back she fought off scavengers with sticks, endured the elements with nothing but a sackcloth, but most of all she sat beside the boys she loved as she watched the flesh rot off their bones.  Day after day the public must have passed her by with mocking stares and words of contempt.  No compassion, no empathy.  She was a fool to challenge the king, who would help her?

But she held on.  Her severe care for the dead reminds me of our God, who generations before her time reached out of heaven to bury His servant Moses with His own divine hands (Deuteronomy 34:6).  They were her sons and whats more, they were God's sons.  Bearing the image of her Creator, she would demand the honor due.  The honor that by God, who is so profoundly aware of our mortal human condition, is required.

When the audacity of Rizpah was reported to King David, he granted her desire.  He gathered her sons along with the five others and buried them with their father, Saul in their family tomb.  And as the story goes:  the rains came. 

Did you catch that?  Is it coincidence that the famine was lifted at the peak of Rizpah's victory?  You could argue that but I would argue that God blesses the obedient and I believe with my whole heart that's what we see here in 2 Samuel 21.

Fierce audacity.

Foolishly devoted.

A woman after God.


Are you answering the call to be set apart even as the world promises mockery and shame?  I pray that you and I would be emboldened to obediently bear the image of God knowing that His promises far outweigh those of the world, which is passing away.

Walk as a reflection and in turn, you will walk in favor.