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