No place to hide.

Almost 100 men at Avalon Church are participating in a five week study called, “The Conquer Series: The Battle Plan for Purity” facilitated by Dr. Ted Roberts. It is a gutsy, in your face, fact-filled, Bible-focused strategy on how to cooperate with God in the battle for sexual purity.

I thank the Lord that pornography, masturbation and overt sexual sin are no longer a major issue in my life. Those things consumed me many years ago, almost destroying my faith and my marriage; but in a miraculous and life-changing season, when no one, save my wife, thought there was any hope, God mercifully and miraculously rescued me. The trauma was so intense, the recovery so painful, I promised God to never go there again and He has been gracious to sustain me.

So, I am sitting there on the first two Monday evenings feeling thankful and a bit mystified about why I am there. After 20 years of pastoral counseling, most of the things being taught are not new to me – I use the truths and principles every week. I conclude my presence is to encourage and assist other, younger men.

All good — until the study guide asks me to pray this prayer: “Heavenly Father, I pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal any deception in my life that has caused me to remain in bondage. Shed light to the dark places in my life, areas that no one can seem to reach, not even those who love me the most…” 

The light came on and there was no place to hide. And it had nothing to do with sexual sin. I realized I could either scurry back into the shadows or actually man-up and “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)

Two days later I was sitting across the table from two men with whom I work on a daily basis. They are young; one is literally half my age. I have been a Christian longer than the two of them combined, a pastor and counselor for half of their time on earth. And the Holy Spirit clearly instructed me to tell them, using real words, that I don’t have the answers, that I don’t have it together. They needed to know I was tired, confused, disappointed, lost and somewhat depressed in the moment – no matter what my “no problems here” face implied. It was terrifying to say those words out loud – and deeply releasing. It is an overwhelmingly tiring existence constantly presenting oneself as you perceive others (and even God) expect.

Sometimes I think I am addicted to self-reliance. It really is as “bad” and destructive as pornography, just is more acceptable – until I asked God to shed light in my life and discovered there was no place to hide.

Pastor Jim