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

Thoughts on Weariness in Recovery

G. Mike Clark

This last week my wife and I, along with our Bible Study class of forty-three, including children and adolescents, went to the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Kentucky on a mission trip to Solomon’s Porch. This little community of Lynch was once a thriving mining town. If you were to ask the people of Lynch about the recovery of this town they would say, ‘Recovery of what?’ If you are talking about the coalmines and the boom related to that growth, the answer would more than likely be, ‘No’there is no chance of recovery like it once was during the boom time.’

US Steel and International Harvester, as I understand, moved out of the area and closed the mines within the last ten to twelve years. On the other hand, maybe the recovery of this community could be done through drawing small businesses there to strengthen the economy. They have drawn some small businesses into the area, but this alone is not going to recover this small community of Kentucky economically.

Many of those living in the Appalachians are weary.

Webster, 2nd edition, defines weary as without further liking, patience, tolerance, and bored, becoming wearing. Interestingly it also includes in its definition the word drunk. If you were to ask most of those living in this part of the country if they were weary, any of those descriptions would be heard. Many of them have lost any sense of hope in the recovery of their community and have become weary.

In Proverbs 23:4-5, the writer tells us, ‘Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings, like an eagle that flies toward the heavens‘, (NASV).

The kind of recovery needed in this community is spiritual renewal. We are in a spiritual battle. Without spiritual recovery, no amount of economic recovery will make a difference in this community; or any community, or person.

Up to this point, we have been speaking about a small community recovering economically and a sense of weariness that members of that community may have experienced in the past and still experience today. These same kind of issues are experienced in each of us who are in the recovery of sexual addiction, i.e. without further liking, patience, tolerance, and bored, becoming wearing. In addition, one can experience loneliness in the process of recovery whether in a small community or facing sexual addiction.

Loneliness can be crippling to anyone of us in our daily life even during the process of recovery.

As we face any addiction, each of us will experience weariness and loneliness. Isaiah, in chapter 40 verse 31, gives us hope during our pilgrimage. ‘Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.’ Here he gives us hope, strength and endurance to run this race. He goes to say, in chapter 50 verses 4-5, ‘The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples. That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.’ He goes on to say that, God wakes him in the morning; He awakens his ears ‘to listen as a disciple,’ and he was not disobedient, verses 4-5.

There are many references to the word all throughout the Scripture. In the Gospels, Jesus makes references about the word, Matthew 4:4; 7:24; Mark 4:14, 18; Luke 1:2. In John 8:32, Jesus says that truth will set you free.

Two important principles found in Isaiah: listening and obedience. First, are we listening to the truth found in God’s Word? As we listen, how is God’s Word changing our lives and transforming us from the inside out? Listening to God is not just sitting in our comfortable chair. It includes asking God, ‘What are You doing around me and how can I join you?’ Second, are we obedient as we listen to God’s Word? Do we have a teachable heart with listening ears? In the process of recovery, this requires us to look beyond ourselves. If we look only within ourselves, there is not much hope. Through God’s grace working in and through us touching and ministering to others gives us hope and purpose.

As we look to God, we need to reach out to others for help and to help. In recovery, this is where having an accountability partner gives us hope and strength during the good times and the tough times. As brothers in Christ, our mission is to give each other support and encouragement to the other person needing help when weary. We are not alone in this battle, and it takes time to recover. Lastly, Jesus gives us a promise in Matthew 11:28-30, to hang onto daily. It reads as follows…

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light‘, ESV.

This is God’s promise to you and me in the process of recovery during our pilgrimage, and strength to the weary. He will not leave us alone to face life.

For more help see Every Man’s Battle.
Also, please see Being Christian: Exploring Where You, God, and Life Connect.

Thoughts on Courage in Recovery

Mark Verkler

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.” –G.K. Chesterton

 “Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it.” –Mark Twain

“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” –Sir Winston Churchill

It takes courage to face the real me. Those dark parts of my heart. The places I’ve tried to ignore or deny or cover up. I find it much easier to focus on the darkness of other hearts, or the passing pleasure of sin, or escape’anything but look at the darkness of my flesh. In Psalm 32 from the translation entitled The Message, we read of the freedom that comes from facing the darkness inside and letting it out into the light:

Psalm 32: 1Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be–you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean. 2Count yourself lucky–God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him. 3When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. 4The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up. 5Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.” Suddenly the pressure was gone–my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared.

We try to do it our way; we try to ‘fix ourselves’–anything to avoid the dreadful exposure of our darkness to another.

In C.S. Lewis’ ‘Voyage of the Dawn Treader,’ the young man Eustace describes how he changed from a dragon back to a boy, but only after unsuccessfully trying to peel the dragon skin off of himself three times before. After these failed attempts, Aslan, the story’s Christ figure, removed the dragon skin for him. In Lewis’ story, Eustace retells the event like this: The very first tear he [Aslan] made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off’.Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off’just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt’and there it was lying on the grass; only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been.

Jesus said to find life we would have to lose it for his sake (Matthew 16:25). It may seem a perilous thing for us to say, “search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24). How can we have the courage to let God in? To let others in? To look at ourselves?

First John chapter one teaches that this begins with the honest admission of sin. If we say we have no sin or have not sinned, we are lying to ourselves and to God, the apostle tells us. But he also tells us that if we have the courage to confess our sins, the cleansing comes. A simple definition of confession is to agree with God. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, and we must agree with God about it. Sin is there; sin is evil; and sin deserves punishment. When we honestly confess the blackness of our sin before God, we can then thank God for the cleansing blood of Jesus that was shed on our account.

Do you have the courage to consecrate yourself to him, or will you hold back? Do you have the courage to face the depth, the breadth, and the blackness of you sin, or the pain that it has caused you, others, and even God himself? Have you become so accustomed to denial, excuses, and self-justifications as to be content to stay in that neighborhood? Do you have the courage to move into the unknown–the unknown territory of confession, surrender and consecration?

We find exhortations in Scripture to take courage! The Lord wants us to face the unknown, knowing that he is ahead of us and with us. “Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because GOD, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). “Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. GOD, your God, is with you every step you take” (Joshua 1:9). Friends, we can know, with anything God is asking us to confront–in ourselves or otherwise–he will be with us. So, in the words of John Wayne, “Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway.’