By What Are You Surrounded?
By Thom Hunter -- http://thomhunter.com/
I tire at times of wondering what is happening to me Who I was and who am I and who I'm meant to be. Like going in and out a door with choices in between Choices close and clear now, but for so long so unseen. I was here and I was there but I was never anywhere, Surrounded by a self that I could never dare to share.. When wondering turns to wandering we're not where we want to be, Self-surrounded, not surrendered, and unable to be free. Looking out, we reach for those who claim to want us free But box us in and see us as they think we'll always be. Look up instead, the God of Wonders, makes our wondering cease The only God of love and grace; He gives the wanderer peace. -- Thom Hunter How can you be lost and alone and yet surrounded by a smothering presence? How can you be so in need of insight from others and yet drowning in it at the same time? How can you stay perched upon a fine line between hope and hopelessness so long your body aches, your soul cries out and your voice comes back like a whiplash against your mind?
How can you find yourself in this place where up and down and back and forth merge into a motionless state where it can seem at one moment that a gentle nudge could you send you sailing or a tiny word could send you flailing? How? By finding yourself, through no choice of your own, in the confusing and confounding cocoon where Christians who struggle with gripping sexual issues curl up and mentally confine themselves, fighting too much on their own a temptation with tentacles that wind around and in, like some alien invader who lets you seem okay outside but claims the inner territory set aside for the soul . . . and wages a battle for control. Unfortunately, many Christians who might be equipped to help you are so entranced by what seems like a hideous hitchhiking alien that they don't see the heart of the host. Just try revealing yourself to someone who is not equipped to handle the news. Or, worse yet, take some unfortunate step or stumble, succumbing to sexual temptation. "You're surrounded." It gets very hard sometimes to tell the difference between the well-meaning and the mean. The loving and the leaving. The help and the hate. 'Tis a dilemma. Despite all the hard work of numerous para-church organizations and the eye-opening crusades of culture, most churches and many Christians still border on clueless. Finding out that a "brother" or "sister" struggles with homosexuality or, even worse, has been in a homosexual lifestyle and wants out, is as likely to bring a "Get thee behind me, Satan," as an offer to stand beside you. My harshness is not based strictly on personal experience, but even more so on the recounting of others who have felt their inner pain expounded upon by those they turned to for answers. in the absence of answers, fingers point. Prayers are said, yes, but followed up quickly by checklists to see if they've been answered promptly. Admitting to sexual sin is like volunteering for a Christian-brother probation list. Rather than "They'll know we are Christians by our love," it becomes "We'll know you're a Christian by your change." And, if the change is not clear in their eyes, you can swiftly move into a new category: condemned. Can. I did not say, will. In fact, I have discovered, perhaps through the longevity of my own struggle, that there are many Christians who do not struggle with sexuality, but see sexual sin as sin, something with which they themselves admit familiarity. Familiarity with and recognition of their own sin
has lead them to realize it is God that heals, not angry church leaders or hurt members who are more inclined to ponder the momentary impact on them of your sin than the death it is dealing you day-to-day. The response I hear from more and more Christians regarding reaching out to the sexually-broken is "this is needed." But . . . what about when people demean you or doubt you? If you are truly seeking repentance, not playing on the edges, but striding straight into the middle of the battlefield, arming yourself as best you know how, honest before God . . . then dismiss their demeaning and their doubt. You'll have enough of your own without laying awake at night and dwelling on theirs. Sometimes we need a little separation from the self-righteous in order to get a glimpse of the reality of righteousness. But . . . what about when people accuse you falsely and label you unjustly. I'm not going to say "blessed are you when . . . " because obviously they're labeling you out of what they know and believe about you because of what they may have seen or heard from you yourself or from others who are inclined to spread the news of your sinful state, whether it be past or present. False accusations usually come from fear, ignorance or susceptibility to the devil's schemes. He would like nothing more than for you to spend your time and energy battling others rather than battling him and the temptations he will pile up before you during the distraction of defending yourself from the ones who point. Again . . . . sometimes we have to move away from people to find God outside their shadow. Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations. -- Psalm 27:11-12 Let the Lord lead. But . . . what about those people who think you cannot change? Pray that they do, and that they discover the depth of God's grace and do more than pay lip-service to His unlimited power. The truth is, many of these people believe in change for almost everything else, but impose their own doubts on God when it comes to sexual brokenness. It goes on the "yeah, but not this, list," as though God has asked them for advice on how He should wield His mighty pen of restoration as he draws the course upon which we tread. I myself have been guilty of looking at those who label me beyond
repair and saying to myself: "They'll never change." God forgive our opposing declarations of dismissal. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. -- 1 Corinthians 6:11 "Were" equals change. But . . . what should I tell someone if I fall? Won't they just say "I told you so?" So. Satan would much rather you focus on what they are saying so you won't see what God is doing. Through our trials and temptations, even when we stumble and fall, we learn about His grace, His provision, our salvation, the patience of our Lord, and the strong hand that reaches out. Yes, "I told you so," is painful. For every stumbling sinner, there are a multitude of prophets. Again, if you are truly repentant and you are truly praying, focus not on the "I told you so's" of men, but on the "I will's" of God. I lift up my eyes to the mountains -- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip -- He who watches over you will not slumber; -- Psalm 121:1-3. Our help comes from the Lord. But . . . I feel like I'm always starting over. This is not a race. We don't spring from the blocks at the start of a pistol and try to beat everyone to redemption. We walk with the Lord, and pray for Him to set the pace and stay beside us all the way. He doesn't rush to the finish line and say, "Oh well." He takes each step with us until we get there and then He says "Well done." We don't start at the same place, run the same course, mark the same time, but we have the same Savior walking beside us as those who seek repentance for sins far removed from sexuality. Their path is different and perhaps just as hard, but the finish line is for all. Don't turn your back on the finish line and turn around and start over. Go on. Every time you get back up, the finish line is little bit closer if you keep heading in the same direction.
Some have . . . given up and given in. Others think they have and will find out later that their love of the Lord calls them back out of falseness and out on the course to complete the next lap. The only giving up and giving in we need to do is to give up ourselves and give in to God. What an awesome God who does not scratch us from the team, who looks beyond our inadequacy to see Who helps us up and on, seeking the good soil for our impoverished roots. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. -- Luke 8:15 Perseverance produces. To whom are you listening? By what are you surrounded? Sometimes we listen too much. Sometimes we enlist soldiers from among the armor-less. As a struggler, it is very important that we ourselves know the Word of God so we can know to whom we should listen. When you hear people -- wellmeaning or not -- proclaiming a way that is not the Lord's, then you are in serious danger of being cast into some very bad soil. The very ones who plant you there will be the ones who later lament your lack of fruit and get anxious to yield the pruning shears. Sometimes perseverance comes through clearing. Clearing out the clinging vines that choke the progress of growth that everyone -- including you -wants to chart. Bear fruit. That first grape is the sign of an orchard on the horizon, God Bless, Thom (Note: My new book, Surviving Sexual Brokenness: What Grace Can Do is now available. You can purchase it by using this link to my website:ThomHunter.com, or on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com or through your local bookstore. The book is available in soft-cover, hard-back or Kindle and Nook e-books. Autographed copies are available through http://thom-signsofastruggle.blogspot.com/Thank you!)