Laying Down the Sword

Hi Praying Friends–

This Monday, we are praying and fasting (for a reminder about fasting, check the blog from two weeks ago:  http://fastpray.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/why-fast/).  We are asking for the courage (& willingness to change if necessary) for men and women to enter into healthy, God-honoring marriages.  And as you pray, you might consider….

A few weeks ago, I helped lead an evening at Living Waters, a year long, co-ed ministry for those wanting to attend to their emotional, sexual or relational struggles (who doesn’t need that?!).  Anyhow, the evening was the last of three sessions dealing with the topics of misogyny, masculinity/femininity, and the mystery of what it means that we are gendered beings.  The final event of the evening was a time of “laying down the sword between the sexes.”

Talking of how Jesus came to set all things right–even between men and women–the leader lay down a glimmering sword at the foot of a 6+ foot cross planted in the center of the room.  The men–standing on one side of the cross–and the women–standing across from them–then sang to one another, 50-60 people who’d been together, dealing deeply, for 5 or 6 months.  Imagine looking into the faces of a group of men a few feet away as you sang, “Men of faith rise up and sing/Of the great and glorious King/You are strong when you feel weak/In your brokenness complete,” even as they then looked at you and sang back–”Rise up women of the truth/Stand and sing to broken hearts/Who can know the healing power/Of our awesome King of love.”  It was awesome in the sense of being a moment full of awe.  The hugs and handshakes which followed were genuine overflow.

Honestly, until I encountered Living Waters, I had never thought about the “sword between the sexes.”  Growing up, I was a lot more concerned with the divisions between black and white people and the gaps between Jesus and those yet to know him then the tensions between males and females.  But nevertheless, I have learned that the sword is there.  And the more wounds or disappointment that someone has experienced at the hands of the opposite sex, the sharper the barrier to mutual understanding, appreciation, and respect (let alone genuine intimacy or true-self giving).

So this week as you pray, I’d encourage you to ask the Lord:  is there anything I hold against the opposite sex?  Most of us subscribing to fast.pray are women–and so I’d ask specifically:  is there anything I’m angry at men about?  Any tape about “guys” in general or that one guy in particular that I play over and over again in my mind?  Or, is there anything for which I need to forgive men or perhaps one man in particular?  Or be forgiven?  Create a little time in your schedule to prayerfully reflect on these questions.  You might even read through Psalm 51 or assorted verses on forgiveness.  If some of this resonates in your spirit but you’re not quite sure why, invite a friend to talk and pray with you.  Sometimes the sword can cut in ways that are hard to heal alone.

That night, as we stood before one another with the cross in the center, we all sang out the chorus:  “Shout to the North and the South/Sing to the East and the West/Jesus is saviour to all/Lord of heaven and earth.”  Looking at the male and female faces full of freedom and joy, as well those with guarded hints of hope, I couldn’t help but think of fast.pray’s prayers for the “awakening” of men and women (both spiritually and relationally).  That night I began wondering if laying down the sword between the sexes–our intentionally giving and receiving forgiveness–might in a sense cut God’s Spirit free to work in new ways.

So this week, let’s ask God to help us haul our swords (be they battle axes or butter knives) to Jesus’ feet.  Then let’s wait before the One who has been cut and bled on behalf of all our sins and wounds.  And then, let’s look with eyes of faith for what He does.

Many Blessings This Week in the Journey,  Connally

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10 Responses to Laying Down the Sword

  1. Matt Martin says:

    Hi Connally,

    A friend of mine from Michigan pointed me to your website. Great post! I work for Living Waters in Canada so i was excited to hear of your experience, and definitely relate with it myself. Living Waters also made a huge difference in my life, and continues to do so. Blessings to you as you seek God’s healing grace and truth and are a channel of grace to others.

    -Matt

  2. Linda Stoll says:

    Many of us, single and married, haul around past hurts and deep wounds. And yes, many carry dangerous weapons in hopes that they if they brandish them, they can protect themselves from more hurt. Sadly, the opposite occurs … the hurt continues to go deeper because they hold people at arm’s length and are not able to give and receive the close connection they long for.

    Many of us need to tend to those deep wounds so we can drop our masks and put down our weapons …

  3. Connally – Thanks for the wonderful testimony of Living Waters. We (Andrew Comiskey & Desert Stream staff) would like to post your entry on our website. Please consider our request and if please contact me about obtaining your permission. Thanks so much!

  4. It makes sense that there is strife between the two genders, after all we were told there would be in Genesis. Women have been hurt by abuse or dominance of men and Men have been hurt by extreme feminism. The past week, I have been following the message board of a popular Christian blog whose post was speaking of biblical roles and the hate going back and forth between male and female commentators shocked me — it seems we all want the same thing – biblical uplifting marriages, so why are we so skeptical of the other? Why are our words so sharp? I guess it is because we are all carrying baggage from past hurts by the opposite sex.

    That’s why it was so refreshing to read your post this morning and see how we could be proactive about strife – showing some grace, asking for the Lord’s help to forgive and be forgiven, and maybe not punishing all Christian men for the hurt we have received from a few.

    (Non)coincidentally, Scotty Smith wrote a prayer today about God’s mercy in Relational Messes…http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/ Of course, this applies to all relationships, but I felt it had a similar sentiment as your blogpost today — I especially liked when he said the world knows we are his disciples by the way we love eachother. Perhaps the world knows our dating and marriage relationships are different (and thus they may even seek to know our Savior) by the way we treat the opposite gender.

    • Gina says:

      Singlesouthernlady, if we’re thinking of the same blog, then I’m sorry to say that’s very common there. And the bloggers/moderators do little or nothing to try to stop it.

  5. Stacie says:

    today I start my Monday lunch fast & pray! Excited!!

  6. Gina says:

    Connally, you are so insightful. Every week you nail it. I praise God for what He’s teaching you and what you in turn are teaching us!

  7. Tru says:

    Wow! How can I be involved in such a group? Is there one in the southeast (near TN or GA?)

    • fast. pray. says:

      Hi, I’m not sure. I do know that Living Waters is a ministry of Regeneration, and you can contact them directly: http://mrtheme.com/gen/. I’ve heard of other Living Waters programs in other cities (Seattle, Raleigh, etc.), but I hear that they are all a bit different from one another, so I couldn’t vouch from experience for any them! But it’s certainly worth checking out.

  8. Connie says:

    This article nailed something dark and twisty inside me. Thank you so much, Connally.

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