Sunday, August 21, 2011

Weddings: 'Tis The Season

I have a love-hate thing for weddings. On the one hand, I dread them because they nag me like a thorn that I'm still single. And if there's any lapse of awareness of my single status, then I am soon corralled into a mob of chest-beating dudes competing for a flying garter belt. And yet there's a part of me that delights in weddings because they silence the skeptic within me and remind me that fairy tale love stories are absolutely true. That the magic of God-breathed love still peeks into the darkest of worlds. It reminds me that there is more to life than what I often live for, and much more to savor than what I often see just in front of me. Weddings are always proof positive that there are many more miracles to be encountered in my life. So, if there is anything to celebrate with extravagant dining and dancing, it is surely love finding love.

Yesterday, two amazing people became one. On the outside looking in, it seems like tying the knot is the closest thing to being born again. I know that life doesn't start when you're married, but it certainly seems to redefine life itself. To go down that road with someone is to embark into sheer mystery. It's a unique road that nobody has ever travailed, because no person is the same. And what's more, no combination of two people are ever the same. You two are daring to write a story that's never been written and will never be erased. For us who are single, we wonder what chapter of our love story we are currently living in. Every love story begins with singleness. It's not the prequel, it's an intricate part of the love story itself. It establishes the plot which makes for an epic romance in the end.

It's always amazing to me that it takes years and years for someone to arrive at her wedding ceremony and then it's over within a matter of minutes. I always wonder what is pouring through the couple's minds in those fleeting moments. Me being the skeptic, I find myself looking for signs of doubt or disappointment, but all I see is a deluge of blushing joy with a little terror. I wonder if those moments are like dying, in that a person's whole life flashes before his eyes in perfect clarity. Perhaps, the ghost of the past shows up at that wedding altar and smiles with a smug look of accomplishment. I'm sure that in that moment, looking back on your life's script is like discovering gravity, it was there all along and yet now it makes more sense.

The thing about running after love is that you never know if you're running in the right direction. It's very elusive. I can't think of anything more elusive. And I can't think of a better reason to pray. If God is love, then He no doubt has it all figured out in a way that I don't. I don't want to force something that isn't meant to be because something always breaks when I try to force anything. I don't think it's really a miracle for two people to get married just because they're bored of being single. But it's certainly miraculous for someone to get married because they found that one person in the world that makes them want to live life in a whole new way. That's my prayer, both for me and the girl I will marry. It is always weighty to realize that my prayers and decisions about my love life are affecting atleast one other person somewhere in this world.

Not too long ago, if you would have asked me what kind of a girl I'm looking for, then most likely I would have listed off a set of noble qualities. But now I realize that it goes deeper than that and that I'm actually hoping for that acute feeling of finally being at home with someone. A glass slipper moment. Indeed, love is an ocean and God is my breeze, and someday this weathered ship will happily crash into another that has been flying the same flag as mine through sunshine and storm for all of these years.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Path of Purity

So, I've been meditating on purity. I'll share with you what God has shared with me. I've found that there are five essentials in the path of purity, and they all conveniently start with the letter P. To walk in purity demands more than reading a good book or attending a conference. It demands more than information or scare tactics. We are holistic creatures and therefore purity is a holistic discipline. The battle must be won on all fronts, in our mind, body, and soul. Compromise in one area affects all other areas of our life. The path of purity is both spiritual and practical.

The first essential is Passion. By that I mean, the quest for purity begins by having a strong passion for purity. You've got to want it. You've got to see the precious value in it. To be dragged along by sexual impurity is to remain outside of God's will which means that we will miss out on God's dreams for our lives, we will be less than who we were meant to be and we will not know God as joyfully as we could. Passion for sin robs us of our passion for God. For most of us, we've tasted the dirt of the darkness enough to know that we crave something far better. We are not willing to settle for anything less than the wholeness and peace and ecstasy of God's purity. More importanty, it is enough to know that God has placed eternal value on purity.

The second essential is Prayer. We need God's strength to fight for us. We need to pray daily "Create in me a clean heart, Oh God." We need to be so full of God's light that there is no corner or crevice left for darkness to spread. We need to pray that our pleasure in God would incinerate all other passions. Prayer turns our eyes to God and off of the temptations of this world.

The third essential is Partners. "Two are better than one." We need other people to have victory in this quest. We need brothers or sisters to fight with us. James says "Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you can be healed." Identify a friend of the same-sex who is equally passionate about purity. A friend that you can meet with weekly and discuss in explicit detail your tempations and stumblings and victories in the last week. Consistency and honesty is vital. This essential will bring sin into the light. Sin dies in the light. Everyone struggles with assaults on their purity, freedom comes in being reminded that you are not alone in your struggle.

The fourth essential is Promises. Meditate on the promises of scripture that pertain to purity. "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." That's a positive promise. But there are sobering promises as well. Scriptures like "Without holiness, no one will ever see God" Hebrews 12. God takes purity very seriously. As we fill our minds with these cleansing realities then they will transform the way we think. Eventually our thoughts become more inclined toward pure thoughts.

The fifth essential is Position. We must position ourselves to minimize temptation. The Lord's Prayer tells us to pray "Lead me not into temptation." The truth is that some roads lead us into more temptation than others. We must be wise about the movies we watch,the internet sites we visit, the music we listen to, the places we go, the people we look at, and the kind of people we spend time with. We must setup practical safeguards so that we are not putting ourselves into a situation where we are constantly tempted by sexual sin. Many temptations are self-inflicted. Identify what exactly is triggering your temptations and seek out ways to minimize your exposure to those triggers. This essential is not based on fear but on passion. The New Testament tells us to "Flee youthful lusts" just like Joseph fled from Potiphar's wife. He put himself in a better position by getting out of that dangerous situation, it was his passion for purity that compelled him.

So there you go. . .Passion + Prayer + Partners + Promises + Position = Purity

If you are weak in purity, then it's because you are weak in one or more of these five essentials. Identify which one you are weak in and make a change. Purity is our true birth right.