A Love Story

God used the prophet Hosea to communicate to his people that he loved them and desired a restored relationship with them.  How?  In a most unlikely way.  God commanded Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman named Gomer.  As soon as Hosea and his wife’s children were born, she prostituted herself and, in time, became enslaved.  In response to God’s command, Hosea then redeemed his wife from slavery and restored her to the family.  God intended this demonstration of unconditional love to symbolize his own love for the people of Israel.

God treated his people with mercy and compassion even though they rejected him and his will for them time and again.  But though God was angered by the unfaithfulness of his people he never rejected them completely.  Neither did he condone their sin by extending unqualified mercy.  He allowed the Israelites to suffer the consequences of their disobedience.  After this, however, he promised to restore them when they repented.

While the story of Hosea’s gracious love for Gomer is the story of God’s love for the wayward Israelites, it’s also the story of God’s love for you.  You, too, choose the way of disobedience that leads inevitably toward suffering and exile.  But as God did with Israel, he often uses the pain of exile to bring you to your senses and lead you back to him.  Then, through God’s unfailing love, you can be restored and enjoy an intimate relationship with him.

Knowing the ROCK: Knowing TRUE Intimacy in Recovery: Part 3

David Mackey

Just to review: Just as false intimacy was part of what fed our addiction, True intimacy will strengthen our recovery. So this series will look at 4 of the many facets of intimacy which can be found in an intimate relationship with God AND with others.

This is our design: to have intimacy with both God and Others. In the Psalms, David equated knowing God as his Rock, Refuge, and Fortress with knowing God intimately.

Last month we discovered that David often equated being free from shame as a piece, a deep piece, of having an ‘In-To-Me-See’ relationship. Our struggle with shame might be at the deepest layer that someone can see in us.

In verse 2 of Psalm 31, David, reveals another facet of intimacy. ‘Turn your ear to me” be my ‘rock of refuge,’ be my “strong fortress.’ David equates God BEING his ‘Rock of Refuge’ and Strong Fortress’ with being listened to. Psalm 28:1 and 72:2-3 make a similar connection. But wait there’s more! Over 60 times in the Psalms alone, the psalmist asks God to listen or hear or turn His ear.

Being listened to is part of intimacy!

Listening, at first glance may first be seen as more of a practical or functional piece of intimacy. Most likely, as with most facets of intimacy, something deeper is inferred. These are cries to be listened to with understanding and acceptance. These cries are looking for a listener who does not belittle one’s most vulnerable heart and soul. They seek listener who loves and accepts even after hearing the hurts and pains of one’s heart.

As a counselor, people actually pay me to listen to them. Weird huh? Not so weird if one ponders how important being heard or being listened to is for us. It is such a great need. Think about how frustrating it is when someone doesn’t listen to us with even the most mundane of issues. Now think about what it feels like for someone not to listen to some deeper issues in our heart and soul.

For the practical side of intimacy, listening is a must! How will one share one’s self, or allow someone to ‘See-In-To-Me’ without being heard? The other practical side of listening is of course, talking/verbalizing. Verbalizing/talking about anything deeper then sports seems to be difficult for most men, especially men who have nurtured the secret sins of sexual impurity. That however, is a different article. But take note that David was finding intimacy, finding God as his rock by speaking/verbalizing his heart.

This all started back in the ‘Garden’ (not ‘Madison Square’ sports fans). Adam walked with God. Adam talked and God listened. God talked and Adam listened. There was intimacy. We are strengthened and encouraged when someone listens to and understands our hopes and dreams, our pain and sorrows, our fears and challenges. These tell who we really are at our core.

Take time to explore the Psalms and see the context in which David is often asking God to listen to him. David shares his loneliness, fears, discouragement, and his anger as well his joy. Sharing good stuff is part of intimacy also. Our dreams, hopes, laughter, and praise all come from within us, sometimes deep within us. David shares it all with God and in doing so connection happens. Intimacy is strengthened. He cries out for God to listen to him. God’s response seems to be to listen and accept.

See the picture? David is sitting in the safe intimacy of God as his Rock, Refuge, Fortress and pouring out his heart in all his pain, hurt and even ugliness and God is just holding and LISTENING to David in that safe refuge.

This is intimacy with God. And it is what exists in an intimate relationship with others. Someone listening to the cry of our heart, just listening and understanding and accepting.

So we find another piece of a wonderful invitation God gives us through David! God invites us to be heard and known while sitting in the Rock, Refuge and Fortress!

Intimacy: Knowing God as your Rock.

What will recovery be like knowing God in a way in which we are listened to, loved, and accepted? We can sit and look Jesus in the eye and share our deepest struggles.

What will recovery be like listening to and being listened to by others? Knowing others in a way in which they hear our hearts. We can sit and look one another in the eye and share our deepest struggles. How powerful is that in recovery?

In your recovery pursue the path of true intimacy with all your being. This is not a command from God but it is an invitation. Terrifying, in our sin to be sure, but it is what we were created for and it will bring real fulfillment and a strong recovery.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5

Knowing the ROCK: Knowing TRUE Intimacy in Recovery: Part 1

David Mackey

If you attended the Every Man’s Battle Workshop (and if you haven’t you are missing out) you will recall a session on False Intimacy. It seems that those who struggle with the Battle quite often struggle with intimacy. Which are what we were created for; Intimacy with God and Intimacy with others.

In Mark 12, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is and His answer is ‘to be intimate‘, i.e. ” to love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. To love with your whole being. Not just God but others as well (Matthew 22:39 says, ‘The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor’).

Agape (gr.); unconditional love with one’s whole being. Quite often, those who give themselves over to acting out become great avoiders of true intimacy. Truth is, those who act out, very often never experienced intimacy as a child, nor with a spouse or a friend and certainly not with God. Sexual impurity can trick us into numbing even the need to have intimacy with a real person. Acting out can somehow, for very fleeting moments, seem fulfilling’ it is false but an effective numbing agent for our true intimacy needs.

So, one might ask, what is true intimacy and how does one develop real and true intimacy? I’m glad you asked. There is not a simple and easy answer. There is no formula or 3 step process toward developing intimacy’it is quite mysterious. But a simple definition, someone once said, was that intimacy is just that’In-to-me-see. That’s a pretty good definition because intimacy does involve seeing into each other. Seeing each others whole being and allowing another to see within us. It has many facets but God has offered us an intimate relationship with Him and with others. He has given us glimpses, through His Word, of what that intimacy can be like.

This is the first of five articles examining some of the facets of intimacy. We will not come close to exhausting this subject but will focus on David and some of what made up his intimate relationship with God. Especially as one reads his Psalms, it is pretty clear that David knew God intimately. God told Samuel that David was a ”man after my own heart.’ The Psalms are full of emotion with David speaking to God from his heart, soul, mind, and strength. Throughout those Psalms David commonly uses phrases and the same word pictures repeatedly. These pictures seem to include some common facets of INTIMACY.

Specifically we will look at Psalm 31:1-5. Throughout the Psalms, David repeatedly mentions knowing God as his ROCK, as his REFUGE, and as his FORTRESS. I suppose we all have some idea what they might mean but David seems to have a lot to say in these word pictures. David uses them interchangeably throughout the Psalms, as in verse 2 when he says: ‘‘ be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress’‘ In further study we will find that David also uses these words repeatedly to connect with some of the In-To-Me-See aspects of intimacy.

That’s where we are going! Discovering what it is to know God as our rock, refuge and fortress. To have intimate relationship with God and in turn learn how to be in intimate relationship with others. Scary thought isn’t it. Inviting our Holy God to see in us and looking back toward Him. To look in the face of Jesus, inviting Him to see within us. It is joyous mystery’though scary nonetheless. Especially for those of us who, in our acting out, ran and hid from just such a prospect. It is not much less scary to do the same with another person who we can see standing beside us. Is it possible that prospect is even more terrifying? For so long, we have run and hid in our acting out.

Listen, my friend and brother in the Battle! God invites us to know Him and be known by Him at the Rock of Refuge. A stronghold and fortress that provides safety. These things are terrifying because we have not yet experienced them. Trust God; He invites us to rest with others on the safe Rock and Fortress of Refuge with Him.

One more thing. If you are already fighting in the Battle, you likely have already begun to taste of true intimacy. You have begun to find safety and protection in God’s forgiveness and acceptance. If you have an accountability partner, someone you told about your struggle, a group you attend, or a band of brothers, then you have begun to taste of intimacy in those relationships. And Our Holy God offers us even more! Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5