As I type the first few words of this blog I am running a race against a computer that has only 35% battery left. I left my cord at a friend’s house last weekend. 34% and I am powerless. Anyway. I was reading my morning devotion this morning, as I do 5 days out of 7 most weeks. I want to be more consistent with my devotion to God’s word; as consistent as I used to be with pornography and masturbation. I never used to miss a day of self-gratification. There never seemed to be a reason to miss it. After all, “it wasn’t hurting anyone right?” Well that is a blog for another day. Suffice to say that pornography and masturbation are a daily dose of gasoline that kept the dim, yet still active fire of homosexuality burning in my life. When I surrendered that to God, my temptations to look at gay porn and my need to find a man to fulfill me began to fade away.
The knowledge and wisdom I gleaned from morning devotions today was so worth sharing. We have been reading a lot in Isaiah. And every day I have been depressed and a little saddened, because of my lack of understanding of the book. I’d pray every morning before we read and I would get little tidbits of wisdom here and there, but never any meat. I kept entertaining thoughts that I must just be out of touch with God. After all, I was reading the bible, as I was encouraging others to do and here I was, bankrupt. ARGHHHHH! Then today happened.
I was staring down the barrel of three chapters in Isaiah. I could feel the anxiety begin to rise, but we prayed as usual and I hoped for God to illuminate something for me. WOW! Let’s just say the brightness of the sun was a matchstick compared with what God showed me.
Isaiah 58:9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. 11 The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Isaiah 58:13 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the Lord honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words, 14 Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
What I got from these two verses was God’s response in times of obedience and walking according to his commandments. If you do these things God says, then I will do these things. I longed to honor God’s commandments in my life, because I know what life is like when I live according the gospel of Matthew Aaron Walker. I left my heart leap in my chest my friend when I read verse 11. The Lord will guide you continually, satisfy your soul in drought, strengthen your bones and that you shall be watered like a garden and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. I long for that kind of refreshing each and every day. We all wake each morning with a hunger and thirst of some sort, waiting to be quenched. I challenge you to see that hunger and thirst through the eyes of your spirit and not through the eyes of your flesh. One way will lead you to God and the other will lead you to man. One way will cause your hunger and thirst to deepen and lead you down a path of self-discovery. The other will satiate your needs, help you meet the needs of others and lead you on a journey of spiritual discovery.
I can do nothing without Jesus Christ in my life. I hated that statement when I was fighting to make a name for myself. I still fight against that statement at times, when I seek to find my value in the applause of man. At the end of the day, I know that there is no truer of a statement. The mercy of God in my opinion, is that the more I learn of His love and wisdom, the less he allows me to run in times of trouble.
I struggle a great deal with self-confidence and situational depression. I stepped out into full time ministry over a year ago. It was amazing at first, when I had expendable cash. As my funds have depleted, it was slowly and painfully more evident what I had placed my trust in; funding, not the God who had called me into ministry. I have always suffered by repeating the pattern of falling back into pornography and masturbation when I think God has forgotten me, times get tough and my future is uncertain. All of a sudden I stop trusting the God who honored his promise just last week, I lose faith in the Holy Scriptures and I cry and whine as if my struggles are greater than the suffering of Jesus on the way to the cross. A few weeks later I will usually crawl back into the presence of God, apologize profusely and ask just what He was trying to teach me. It’s never what I ever expect.
The last few months have been filled with great turmoil for a guy in ministry such as myself. I had two major donors peace out, a go to donor peace out as well and two guys leave the residential program I run. That was like “superman leveling a building worthy ridiculousness” if you ask me. I felt like I had made a mistake in stepping out when I did. I felt betrayed by a bunch of people. And I started to have to use my credit cards to get by here and there. Not the picture perfect ideal way to start a World Changing Ministry right? Well. Once I had brewed myself a cup of “Shut the Heck up and Get back to Work” tea, the phone started ringing again. God started leading people to the ministry. And I started talking to God and confessing to my pastor and asking for help to make sure that I don’t fall prey to depression and self-pity.
I also began to teach myself some pretty amazing things. No matter who shows up at my door or on the screen of my phone, I won’t compromise the things of God. I know that there are certain things are not optional for me anymore. Reading the bible daily is not an option. If my bible is not in my hand then my penis very well could be by the end of the day. It isn’t optional to talk to God for me. If I am not keeping company with God, I will be conversing with the temptations in my head and conjecturing as to the best way to fulfill them by nightfall. No matter how dark, how depressing or hopeless the day seems.
I have to tell myself when I’m struggling with emotional issues that homosexuality, sex and porn and masturbation are no longer options for dealing with my problems. I haven’t physically slept with anyone in over 15 years, but the word of God says in Matthew 5:28 “…I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” For those of us who struggle with homosexuality, we can interchange “woman” with “man”. My particular sin was especially humbling, because the subject of my lust was a man. And through the medium of pornography, I had been living out what scripture calls “sexual relationships” with other guys even during the time I was celebrating my walk out of homosexuality. Do you see your battle of pornography and masturbation in the same way that God does? There is hope for you my brother. It’s a tough pill to swallow for anyone, but I had to be real, open and honest with myself, because I wanted a deep, long lasting, spiritual change at all costs, not just a change perceptible to those around me. I also wanted God to show me the reason I still clung to the selfish and immature act of self-gratification. God is patient and merciful to show us the righteous path.
That is where the constant surrender of my sexuality to God came into play. There were months even years that I enjoyed freedom from the bondage of pornography and masturbation. Those were months of consistent relationship with God and not so much striving to get it right on my own. This fight to stay clean in a dirty world used to be confined to the public sector, but I find that now, even in my church circles, gay Christian influences are gaining ground. It’s tough enough to fight a battle on the street, but when church ceases to be a place of safety, I feel my resolve weaken.
I know this was a bit of a ramble my friends. I am encouraging each of you who feels like giving up to hang on. Trust that God has a plan for you. Read His word daily. Replace the sinful habits that are tearing you down with spiritual habits that allow God to build you up. And last of all, surrender each and every relationship to God for his approval or disapproval. Bad company corrupts good character.
I will close with the first few verses of Psalm 103.
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.