God met me in a gay spa in Puerto Vallarta last week.
Alejandro’s Valentine’s Day gift to me was two hours (deep tissue massage and Vichy body scrub) in one of Puerto Vallarta’s best spas. It’s in Zona Romantica, the gay district, it’s for men only, and it is staffed entirely by attractive young gay men.
Paradise for a gay man, right? Well, yes and no.
I’m a gay man who can appreciate attractive men, but I’m also almost 50 years old, and I have a complicated relationship with my body. I lived for years with crippling shame about my sexuality, and even now my body is one of my deepest insecurities. So the thought of getting naked, even in a spa setting, gives me BIG anxiety. But I love Alejandro’s heart, and I deeply appreciated this gesture. And my body is always achy and tense, and massage is a good way for me to try to love myself, to receive healthy touch and to relax.
So I went, feeling a little awkward, but determined to receive this good gift from this wonderful man and to try to allow myself to feel loved by the good God who gave me my body and calls it “good.” (As always, I am grateful for the profound music of The Many.)
We were in the locker room before the massage and there was instrumental piano music playing. Typical spa music. Until it wasn’t typical. Friends, I heard a classic Vineyard worship song. It was unmistakeable. Verse and chorus, every note.
Kelly Carpenter’s “Draw Me Close” was playing in Puerto Vallarta’s premiere gay spa.
At first I thought it was funny… a strange anomaly of music licensing. But as Jose went to work on my sore muscles, I started to reflect on the lyrics and I got a little choked up.
Draw me close to you
Never let me go
I don’t care what the evangelicals say. This is still the deep desire of my heart.
I lay it all down again
To hear You say that I’m Your friend
I felt God saying “Of course you’re my friend, Matthew. You’re my beloved son.”
You are my desire
No one else will do
‘Cause no one else could take Your place
To feel the warmth of Your embrace
It’s true. Despite all the dramatic changes in my life, all the choices I’ve made over the last five years, I still long for the embrace of Jesus.
You’re all I want
You’re all I’ve ever needed
You’re all I want
Help me know You are near
God was speaking to me. Showing me that He was, indeed, near. I felt a deep comfort, as I allowed myself to rest in God’s love, to receive healing, restorative touch.
Sometimes God shows up when we least expect it, and in places we’ve been told God would never show Her face. Be encouraged, friends. God is here, right here with all of us. We are deeply loved, and all will be well.