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Sensual Glory

May 14, 2010

The word “sensual” has been hijacked.  Think about it.  What comes to mind when you hear it?  If you are anything like me your mind is probably filled with sexual imagery.  In our sex-crazed and pornography laden culture, the word “sensual” conjures up all sorts of thoughts and emotions that leave us feeling dirty and shameful.  Ironically, the true intent of the word stands opposite to dirty and shameful.  It is a word that should breathe forth wholeness and beauty.    

Touch, smell, see, hear, and taste – this is the raw material of sensuality.  To be sure, sex brings us into contact with every sense, but that DOES NOT mean that sex holds any greater a place at the table than a beautiful sunset, B. B. King’s voice, or the smell of blueberry streusel muffins baking in the oven. 

As I make my way through Sabbath by Dan Allender, I am taken aback by the focus on sensuality.  The Sabbath is to be a day where we are struck in each of our senses so as to bask in God’s creation – the result being pure worship.  Dan tells this comical story to prove his point:

The clouds covered the peak of Mount Cook, but its sheer beauty commanded stillness.  I stood at attention only broken a few minutes later by a voice of a stranger.  A man standing next to me said, “Isn’t she incredible?”  His presence irritated me, and I was about to grunt, “No kidding.”  Instead, I turned to look at him in the eye, and the words came out of my mouth before I could stop: “Are you asking me to confess?”

He looked perplexed.  “What did you say?”  I repeated my phrase, and he stammered, “No, I was just saying that this view of Cook is magnificent.”  My face softened and I asked him, “Were you not asking me to confess with you that we are standing before something utterly awesome and breathtaking?”  I doubt he wanted to engage the madman he had encountered, so he simply said, “Yeah, I guess so.”  I asked him, “Whom do you thank for all this glory?”  He looked even more perplexed.

When we encounter the awesome power and beauty of God, worship is the only act that makes sense.  And as we experience the Sabbath we are to tune our senses to all that is beautiful, so that we can turn our gaze toward the One that gave us this playground in the first place. 

I’m not sure yet, what keeping the Sabbath is going to look like for me, and I am not sure yet what – besides sensual glory – it will entail.  I do know that the Sabbath is a time to delight my senses.  Perhaps I will breath in some rich English tobacco.  Perhaps I will prepare a meal with my wife after taking in a sunset.  Perhaps I will simply roll around on the floor with my daughter as she experiences colors and shapes and words with a wondrous curiosity, for to keep the Sabbath is to delight in sensuality.

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