‘Why complain when you can act?’
Annette agreed to teach ‘Offering the Gift’ alongside me at Living Waters last week—no small ‘yes’ after a full day with grandkids. We both experienced unusual spiritual warfare surrounding the event and struggled to understand why.
We prepped by revisiting the subject of our marital launch 40 years ago and the countless offerings to each other since, in sun and storm. Exhilarating. The battle became obvious. God freed us sufficiently from our demons to behold in the other a human answer to our cry for connection. While we can tend to major on aspects of our brokenness (addiction, abuse, disordered desires), we must never lose sight of the goal: to offer ourselves to another as to dignify and enhance his or her life. Our familiar ‘spirits’ may trip us still but have no authority to hinder love. Annette and I fall in love’s direction, grateful for reliance upon the other.
The enemy hates the self-giving that saves our lives from isolation and despair. He bristles when we tell our stories of how Jesus makes us fruitful in love.
Annette and I shared about how I ‘Christianized’ her and she humanized me. Both products of CA’s sexual revolution, we diverged as I subjected myself to sexy idols and Annette defended herself from early sexual trauma and scary experiences with an older brother whose ‘gay’-identified life unraveled before her eyes. Still, her beauty won me. I loved Jesus with all my heart but I did not know how to offer my heart to another. Not really. My restless wanderings took a toll yet God provided my antidote in her feminine virtue. I resolved to launch and keep launching into her life.
I was awkward and uncalibrated. I feared I launched like a loser. Unskilled as I was, she received me. And even benefited! She witnessed of how I drew her out of her walls. While still protecting her, I summoned Annette to open to God and others in ways that healed her. We laughed at our head-butting and my sanctimony—I recounted a dismal effort to love her the way Jesus loves the Church. I invited her to pray with me, after which she expressed some tender needs. I was so inattentive that when asked, I could not recount one word she just said.
I was exposed as a divided man in need of this Bridegroom who gave Himself wholly to make me holy (Eph. 5: 25, 26), or at least a little less divided so I can hear and attend to her. He invites this flawed gift into His healing flood. His mercy frees me to launch out again—to give the gift once more, maybe better tuned and timed this time. Time after time. Loving someone requires probing the depths of His mercy and discovering that shame and doubt do not have the last word. Jesus does, and our freedom hinges upon offering our freshly washed gift, again.