Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Romancing the Stone

Do you remember the movie called "Romancing the Stone" starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner? Now usually when I talk about movies I can tell you the plot and some dialogs etc. but this one I cannot. I know they were on an adventure in search of treasure, I guess the title would be the clue – a stone. LOL!! But it was not one of those movies I really paid attention to, no matter how many times they aired it on television. Even here in France! J Anyhooo, this movie title came to me because of a couple of “stones”, and romance.

The first stone was my heart. Yep. I didn’t know my heart was hard because I consider myself a nice person. LOL!! I’ve given away so many things in my short years on this earth, and I’ve ministered to so many, and assisted others in pursuing their dreams and desires and goals. Doesn’t this mean I’m a softy? I’ve given away money when I had it to give and when I didn’t. I’ve lost sleep praying for and crying over people, pleading their cause with God. Surely this means my heart is soft right? I’m not boasting about myself here, but I think if I’m open and honest with you, you may feel comfortable being open and honest with yourself when you look in the mirror. It was not easy swallowing the truth of the state of my heart – my heart has been hard for many years, even as a minister. But how can this be? How did we miss this? How could I not know this about myself? Why didn’t others see this about me, or did I cover it up so well under a lot of . . .? Hmmmm. Four m’s that time.

Oh, yes I’m an avid reader of the Bible and I can show you some scriptures I’ve read for years and I thought “well He’s not talking about me, so He’s not talking TO me”. Yep, ahem. Let’s look at a couple of those now if you don’t mind. The two that seem to stay with me are both found in the Old Testament book written by the prophet Ezekiel, chapter 11:19 in which God says: “And I will give them one heart [a new heart] and I will put a new spirit within them; and I will take the stony [unnaturally hardened] heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh [sensitive and responsive to the touch of their God],” Why? Verse 20 gives His reason and purpose: “That they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them, And they shall be My people, and I will be their God.” (Amplified Bible)

Do you ever find yourself repeating yourself to emphasize an important point, or when you feel your audience just didn’t hear or understand you the first time? Well, you can’t get anything past God, for He knew the folk were hard of hearing, and hard-headed, and hard-hearted (you get the word “ear” from the word “heart”. Just fyi.) so He repeated Himself to Ezekiel in chapter 36:26 like this, “A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the STONY heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Again why? Verse 27 gives us His reason and purpose: “And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall heed My ordinances and do them.” Have you ever tried to hug a rock? What about kissing one? Making love to one? Talking to one? God did. Romancing the stone.

Now if you and I kiss a rock, nothing is going to happen. If we talk to it, or embrace it, we will see no visible change. We can put it on the shelf and use it as a paperweight, or book ends, and I’m sure artistic folk could carve and draw pictures on it making it interesting artwork for the home, for they do this and make a living doing so. But God was the first one to do it and get more valuable results. He’s the only One Who can romance a stone and get love from it. J Atlas pushed that stone uphill and got muscles, but it didn’t change his love-life. LOL!!

I’m in a season of deep introspection because my life has changed and is changing and I desire to move forward in a certain direction. I thought by moving towards my goal I could get to it quicker, but that doesn’t seem to be the way for one who is in relationship with Jesus Christ. With Him the way up is always down, the way in is always out, and the way out is always through! Now figure that one out. As I said before, I really didn’t think I was hard because I was so “romantic” in my thoughts and desires. But all of us have that somewhere as a potential in our character, but to manifest it is another thing entirely.

Romance is not all physical or sexual, even though within the right context it can be a part of it. Romance begins on the inside, with our thoughts and feelings. It is also intellectual but not in an academic-Wall Street kind of way. But it means that ones mind and knowledge is also involved. Being romantic doesn’t mean one is blind or stupid or ignorant, even though many novels, movies and even real life actions have misrepresented it to be so. Romance is the expression of an intimate relationship with someone we love and with whom/Whom we are in love and Who/who is in love with us. It includes soft eyes and gentle touches, warm conversations and quiet listening, and it involves one-on-one attention and mutual respect. Depending on the relationship it will eventually involve hugs and kisses, and between lovers – preferably husbands and wives, the physical act of sex will be the highest outward expression – the Everest! of this internal, spiritual, and soul-to-soul romantic relationship.

The problem in our world is the lack of understanding of what romance is and is not. Romance is not seduction, or sensual even though the senses are involved, and neither is it manipulation. Romance is not a “what can I get out of this relationship” attitude or pursuit because romance seeks to give. Although romance is not about TAKING, it results in all parties receiving something desired and needed. It focuses more on “what can I give that will help you, comfort you, touch you positively, add health to your well-being, soothe you, move you to become all you can be?” This is romance and what being romantic is all about.

Another problem with our world is how we create boxes and stereotypes for certain words and expressions we fear, and or just don’t understand, and therefore we close off ourselves (and our future generations) from the true life and power within those words and expressions. Those of us raised in certain cultures, like the Black American Pentecostal Church – just to name a few, have shunned the word “romance” because it has been associated and just down-right confused with words like: promiscuity and adultery, incest and molestation, fornication and lust of the sexual kind (oh not gluttony, gossip, criticism, and judgmentalism, - spell check doesn’t like my new word.). No, these are the okay sins. Not on your life!

Without romance our marriages and homes have been like cardboard boxes and we’ve tried to convince ourselves and the world that “Jesus Christ, the Lover of all lovers lives here!!” All of us cardboard people go to church week after week and our churches are just as “boring” and lifeless, because there’s no romance at home. We are unhappy, unfulfilled, secretive because we can’t share our emotions and affections lest they be misinterpreted and misunderstood to mean we’ve become sexually active and adventurous and . . . We’re hurting inside and we have severe personalities and personality disorders because of the structure and restrictions of our environments. We don’t know how to touch and be touched by others without suspecting that they’re trying to take us to bed. We’re afraid to smile or speak softly lest someone think we’re trying to seduce them, their husband or wife, son or daughter, cat or dog, etc. Yes, of course there are some who are doing these things, but not everyone!

The problem with the absence of romance in our lives is that we become hard, and we don’t know we’re hard. We come across as mean, severe and lacking compassion, but for us it’s a normal part of the personality. It’s what we’ve known and have been shaped by. Yet we wonder why so many avoid us after spending private (another suspicious word) quiet (oops, I’m just letting them slip out more and more) time (ah, I think this one’s okay) with us. “What did I do?” “What did I say?” “Why is it difficult for me to make and keep real friends?” And if we have the Lover of all lovers living inside our hearts, why are "Christian" marriages ending in divorce now at a faster rate than non-professing Christians? You research the statistics, or just visit your local church. Or, your house too? Hmmm. A special friend of mine knick-named me T.O.F. = Tongue of Fire because I tend to speak with a lot of heat, especially when I’m passionate (uh oh, another bad word).

Well, since most of these prohibited words describe the character of Jesus the Christ, what are we going to do with Him? The Pharisees' gang tried to throw Him off a cliff! But since that didn't work, they managed to crucify Him on a cross. He was and is so passionate and compassionate, affectionate and personal. He was and is touchy-feely, and He loves to caress and massage and to be caressed and massaged in turn. He’s love-struck and in love. He’s a helpless romantic for romance began with Him. King Solomon wrote the Song of Solomon from spending time with Jesus and in it He describes how Jesus Christ feels about us. Solomon told the Lord, “Look JC, let me put some music and contemporary words to your feelings so the folk can understand fully your heart.” So Solomon took liberties to use elements from his earthly romance with the girl of his dreams, to describe Christ’s pursuit of us.

When we lack romance, we are incomplete. Parents, how did you become parents without romance? Why did you become parents without romance? Sexual desire should start in the brain, not the genitals. God created physical attraction between males and females so we would not be confused and get it twisted by pursuing the animals and the same gender instead. I know, a little TOF (it’s tough, but it’s right. Tight but it’s right.) AND the truth will make us free, not stupid; free to be who and what we were really created to be! Dr. Dolittle said to "talk with the animals", and that's all!

Parents – you must romance your children with boundaries of love. They came from your bodies, but they are not your play toys, nor sexual objects to be abused and exploited, nor are they your servants and slaves. They are the products of a real life romance – first from God to you, then through you to each other as lovers. Marriage is the earthly representation of the romance between our spirit and God Who is Spirit, and children are God’s “reward”, not in the sense of winning a competition, but the epitome of His expression of love to and through us. Love them tenderly and firmly, gently and seriously, emotionally and assertively, attentively and academically, affectionately and authoritatively (not with or by authoritarianism), faithfully and spiritually, and unconditionally. And there are so many –allys – please drive down as many of the positive ones you can and live them with your families. Lead them but don't leave them. We have enough people on the earth who have not been romanced from birth and childhood, but who instead have been mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically raped, seduced, manipulated, molested and almost destroyed because we don’t know who we are, Whose we are, or why we are here.

I suggest that even if you’re not one who reads the Bible of the Christians and Hebrews, that you at least read the Song of Solomon. Read it first with the eyes of Jesus looking back at you, and feel His heartbeat for you and for your life. Cry and laugh with Him, and let His love overwhelm you and melt you inside, transforming your heart into a real heart of love. Let Him romance you and heal the little boy, the little girl in you, the teenager, the young adult, the senior, wherever you are in this life, so you can become a “whole” person – so your latter days will be better than your former.

Then read it again, the Song of Solomon as a man, a woman, married, single or divorced, and allow that part of you to be healed by the pure romantic love of God for you as a vibrant being destined for a great relationship with your earthly spouse. He desires for our relationships to reflect His love on the earth through romance.

Romance is God’s idea. Hustler and Playboy, or Playgirl know nothing about romance. Prostitutes (male and female) know the art of seduction and manipulation, but they know nothing about pure romance, for if they did, the industry would collapse upon itself. For once we’ve tasted true and pure romance, we won’t want to settle for less.

The reason we reach out and touch and give away what is precious to the dogs is because we have not been romanced, and we don’t know how precious we really are. That empty void seeks to be filled and we seek to be FULfilled. Jesus is the Great Romantic and He wrote the book on Romance. Don’t reject Him hoping and looking for somebody or something better, because there is nobody better! (Isaiah 26:3-4) “Jesus asked them, Have you never read in the scriptures: the very stone which the builders rejected and threw away has become the cornerstone; this is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes?” Matthew 21:42. This is the second stone to which I referred in the first paragraph of this short message. J

In this verse Jesus was talking to the chief priests and elders about Himself. Every building has a cornerstone which gives special information – the time and date/era when the building was constructed, and it’s the stone that all the rest of the building is built upon. Romance comes from and rests upon Jesus Christ, and it is the spice of life! To be honest with you, I’m ready for a little romance in my life. What about you? Puts a whole new twist on the phrase “Romancing the Stone” doesn’t it? He loves me, He loves me like a Rock!! He loves me, . . . J