Holy passion dazzles me
In the glimmers of sweet divinity
Passion awakens us. Breathes life and it gives vitality. Passion connects us to God in a love relationship meant to meld our hearts with His. The more we fall in love with Him the more passion we experience.
But I find that I’m also susceptible to the passion of temptations. As I live life with Him, I find God cleanses me more in the process. So that the cycle itself is actually an upward climb. But the temptations still remain and I find I am weak, especially in the realm of my imagination.
How do we experience the essence of holy passion while protecting it from the elements of temptation?
This is what I’ve been wrestling through this week.
In many ways, I think I’ve always been wrestling with it. The tension of pursuing holiness in a body of impurity.
The first time I was ever tempted with seduction was likely before I could remember.
But my first remembrance of it is very clear. I was walking into the living room and no one was around. Some kind of soap opera was on television. A lady was wearing a black lacey thing unfamiliar to me as a 6 year old. I didn’t know what was happening but I remember experiencing an uncomfortable thought of I should not have seen that. Even as a child there was something about it that felt wrong. And it stirred a feeling of shame.
As I reflect this shows me that innately we can discern between pure and impure.
Over time as we become more exposed to sin and indulge in it, it becomes easier to say yes to it. Temptation always introduces itself subtly.
Fast forward to adulthood and I didn’t need to stumble into the living room to find something tempting to my sight.
It was everywhere around me in school, movies, online, at the mall, in conversations from my friends. And just to throw in a disclaimer, my parents were very protective of us so it was not their fault that the lady in black happened to be on the tv when it was. I was the only one in there. I grew up in a rather conservative household when it came to what I was allowed to watch.
But there comes a time where we must learn how to navigate our sexuality with God in a world where there is temptation all around.
We must find a way to be pure amidst the impurity.
This flourishes in a relationship with our Creator, Jesus, for our own flesh is weak and we need His Spirit to thrive.
I’m finding that God can use the messiness of our own sin to cleanse our palate for the purity He wants us to crave.
When I taste of the Lord and His love it surpasses the taste of sexual indulgence I can find myself tempted by.
But in the moment… the temptation really does taste good.
It’s why we struggle like we do… because in the moment, any form of indulgence, sin, pleasure and temptation fills a void in the short term.
Yet the high only lasts so long and then I realize I need something more than this to anchor me in authentic fulfillment. I’ve only found God to be that for me and the provider of good things that fulfill.
The bitter aftertaste of our mess-ups can propel us back to God.
Every time I fall flat on my face in the mess of it, I’m reminded how much I want God more. And in the moments where I’m not wanting God more, I ask Him to help me want Him more. I see only He can truly rescue me.
Ironically, it would be in ministry training where I encountered more vices than ever before. Where God uprooted darkness in my heart I didn’t know was there. Healed me of brokenness I needed to confront.
My first year in seminary was the first time I ever dabbled in pornography. Yes, you read that correctly.
As I reflect, I see the gateway leading there had been brewing for some time in the form of other things.
My own imagination.
Magazines like Seventeen, Vogue and Cosmo at the grocery store.
Nothing like perusing the flavors of Orbit gum alongside the cover of “19 hot sex tips you need to know.” I was in school after all. $3.99 seemed like an amazing steal for enhancing my textbook collection.
Then there was the infamous 50 Shades of Gray.
When it came out, I was aware of the frenzy but had not encroached upon the theaters to see it. It’s not that I shunned it. It made sense to me why anyone would want to watch it. I had friends who saw it. I was just still very naïve and had never watched such a movie. I had not yet encountered enough temptation to allow myself to do it. But I remember the day I did…
I cannot remember what prompted it, I just remember wanting to find the love scene between the girl and Mr. Gray on youtube. I figured if it was on there then it would be censored enough to not be as bad. Sin always eases us in through subtlety. It never tempts you overtly. It caters to your level of openness to the sin itself and then increases your appetite from there. That’s why its important to eliminate it at the outset before it starts. But human nature hardly ever allows that. Nor did I want to. I kept indulging.
Google made my researching efforts quite accessible and I found it.
The first time I watched it, it seemed harmless. But over and over again, it led to more. And every Google search gave me more results than I bargained for. But it became easier to watch a little more than the last time. Each time, it got worse until I found myself repeatedly going to pornographic websites to watch videos.
This triggered what would become an addiction to watching porn every night for about a year and a half. Going to theology classes in the day. Falling asleep at night to the comfort of a rush I felt from what I saw on my phone screen.
It sounds crazy that I struggled with this while in seminary. Why not in college? High school? I don’t know. But that season of my first couple years in Dallas were the darkest I’ve ever experienced. And many other pains in my life were also surfacing in the midst of it. It shows that spiritual attack and seasons of hardship can make us the most vulnerable to unhealthy coping mechanisms. But I’m thankful God is gracious. He never gives up on us. Now I am able to share my story and hopefully help others who also struggle and feel like they are the only one.
How I got delivered from it is only a testimony that speaks of God not me. He rescued me from it in a very unique way that completely changed my routine and pulled me out of it.
I am thankful that I have been free from it now for 2 1/2 years but other temptations surface. And I find myself having to bring that before the Lord and navigate the ever changing terrain of sexuality in a world laden with temptation.
If you are still struggling with it, do not lose heart or feel ashamed because God actually really loves you and He is not disappointed in you. He is fighting for your deliverance even now. He is on your side.
His holy passion is strong enough to cover the tempations plaguing you. His love is greater.
I’ve talked to many folks who struggle with pornography and every story is different. I wish had an easy answer. I wish I could make it stop for you because I know how much you want to. What I do know is a relationship with Jesus is only antidote. Because there is no other power strong enough outside of His Spirit.
God is creative and He will rescue you in an unorthodox way that a sermon can’t preach. That’s why I leave that part up to God. You keep following Him and when you struggle know that God is working in it in His own way. Keep pursuing Him with your whole heart. He loves you more than you know.
I’m thankful that Jesus chases us faster than we run to other things. He doesn’t relent in fighting for us. Jesus keeps wooing us back to Him in a love that makes no sense that He should remain with us after we mess up, but He does.
This love from Jesus becomes more satisfying to me the more I encounter His love unlike any other.
This is what Jesus says to you…
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
1 Peter 2:9
Jesus Himself is the one who covers you…
When He looks at you, He sees glory.
He sees holy.
He sees beauty.
He sees not your past.
He sees the goodness in front of you.
He’s not looking to condemn you.
He’s looking to liberate you and empower you to flourish as the person He created you to be. A person with beautiful, intricate complexities and giftings that bring beauty into the world.
There is room for our mistakes in his shaping of our life and beauty.
Ultimately, God wants to redeem us and restore our view of sex so that we don’t see it as dirty because of our past associations with it.
But rather, we will see sex as good and pure.
Something that brings delight and connection.
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine.”
“Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue. The fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.”
Song of Solomon 1:2, 4:11
God delights in sexuality.
He created it for our pleasure.
It is pure when it is saturated in Him.
God said that Adam and Eve were both naked and they felt no shame (Genesis 1:25). That is what God desires for you to experience… the feeling of goodness and delight, no shame, in the sexual pleasure and connection He created for His people in covenant love.
No matter what you have experienced, God loves you and covers you. Jesus can restore to you the purity that was lost.
He can renew your body, soul and mind.
I like to read Song of Solomon because it is a beautiful picture of holy passion. And it shows me that we can experience love and passion because God approved to put it in the Bible.
It’s a picture of God’s love. And it’s love poetry between 2 people. It’s rather seductive as well. And beautiful. But what I remind myself is that these 2 people have a relationship and can share that with each other. I’m reminded I need to restrain my passion and then when I have a husband, I can share my passion with him.
This week I’ve had more temptation surfacing as I was reading some romance poetry that was not in the Song of Solomon. In many ways Song of Solomon is more seductive but the fact that it was not scripture changes the way I view it. Now that I am free from the clutches of pornography, I find temptation finds me in other ways that I must guard myself against once I realize it.
I discover God continues to strengthen me along the way. I need Jesus to remind me He is with me in my weak moments. And I can let His Spirit cultivate good fruit within me.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
I find that single people wrestle with sexual temptation in various ways because we don’t have a healthy outlet to express it the way God designed. And that makes it difficult to be human in this area of life. But Jesus can empower us by His Spirit. And my love with Him overtakes me so that it becomes easier. I have to believe He cares for me and will provide in His time if that is what He has for me. Navigating my sexuality in my relationship with Jesus brings me closer to Him because of how I connect with Him on a deeper level.
Being wrapped up in Jesus is the best antidote I have found. He is the only way to life. And being in love with Jesus feels good. It brings joy and passion.
For me, being a single woman, my sexuality has travelled through many different seasons. I feel content in in the Lord and His love for me but I still find that I long to be loved and taken care of by a man. And that is a good desire. I used to not feel that way. I used to feel like my desire for a husband revealed my lack of love for Jesus or created more angst and it was easier to suppress it. But the more I get to know God, the more I get to know His heart and that He wants to bless His children. He wants to give us love. Wanting companionship… wanting to be sexual… it’s healthy and normal. It’s how God made us. Knowing God’s heart for us helps us to trust Him.
So I want to entrust my future to that God… the God who loves me and has good things for His children.
I believe God redeems the broken parts of our lives.
Jesus’ love never ceases for us. What we have been through will not erase the future He already wrote. He works it into our story and uses it for good because He is our God and He takes care of us.
“And I will bring my people Israel back from exile. “They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit.”
For in Christ we claim a holy and royal identity.
We claim a place in heaven right there with Jesus where no stain from our past can keep us away.
We claim a passionate dance with Jesus right there in the throne room.
We claim a kiss from the Son of God reaching down to say I’ve been waiting for you.
Because God is love…
And love with God is holy passion.