The last 4 years have been a ferocious mix of discovery and rebuilding my legacy in Christ. I would love to tell you that it has always been easy, but it hasn’t. Finding places in my life that have forced me to forgive others and myself, and asking for forgiveness from those I have hurt. The only way I have been able to take this path of recovery, the ONLY way, has been in knowing I haven’t been walking it alone. There have been so many people who have walked with me and encouraged me as I have worked the 12-steps. Perhaps the greatest measure of my recovery has been walking side by side with the most courageous people I know. The guys in the SA group, who have affirmed me time and time again as a man, not as a label… the worship band, men and women in the whole program have given me a completely clean perspective on my life. David Bruns is the best big brother a guy could have. His wisdom has been crucial to my survival and his compassion is so Christ-like it overwhelms me. I have moved from fear to faith, from hopelessness to dreams of a noble future, from death to significance, from self-reproach and the indignity of my past to a life filled with purpose. I have finally found the relationship that I have longed for all my life…Jesus Christ…the one who knows me…and I know Him.
Two summers ago, several of us went to the Celebrate Recovery summit at Saddleback. One night, we decided to drive to Laguna to have a nice relaxing dinner, and perhaps wade in the Pacific. After dinner, we drove down the boulevard until I saw a side street that looked like it went to the beach. We parked on the boulevard and walked down the street to steps that would lead us to the sand. I began to notice that things looked vaguely familiar. I walked to the railing of the steps that looked down on the beach. There it was. The rock I sat on 10 years earlier. God, somehow, never ceases to send me bolts of lightning out of the blue…signs of His mind-blowing love for me. I ran down the steps, took off my sandals and ran to the rock, climbed it and sat down in the exact same spot where I sat 10 years before. I looked around and again saw men walking the beach. This time I saw something entirely different. An endless procession of humanity, forever traveling a shadowy, gloomy path that will never lead anywhere other than the place it began…misery, always seeking but never satisfied, searching for the next “fix” to numb the fear, shame and guilt of a life never lived.
I can’t say the old feelings were completely gone. That there was no temptation. That the pull of the past wasn’t still lurking in some corner of my less than perfect heart. But, I did know that by the grace of God, I never ever want to go back there again. All I could do was sit on that rock and thank my Father for being so faithful to a sinner like me. Refusing to let me go when I desperately wanted Him too. For walking with me during my recovery process and gently whispering His encouragement to my less than perfect heart and reminding me that I am His son, and that He is the lover I have longed for all my life, the lover of my soul…and He will never ever leave me.
But, there was something else I felt last sumer atop that rock. There was a marked sadness and a feeling of loss that I couldn’t immediately account for. I looked out at the starry night and watched the foam of the sea crash on the sand when it suddenly hit me. That guy 10 years ago. The one with all the dreams, hopes, visions of what he wanted his future to be. Where did he go? How had he gotten so lost? A deep sense of sorrow set in. I know God had to take me to that exact spot or I would never have realized that it was there that I made my choice and turned away from the Truth a decade earlier…trying to make it on my own, by my own devices. But, there was this new setback, a different obstacle that I didn’t understand. The Lord helped me realize then that the choices I make in my life are not isolated. They ripple through the entire spectrum of my life, compounding on each other, anesthetizing every direction I want to take. When we got back to the hotel, I sat by the pool and cried out to God. “I understand why you had me go back there. I’m so thankful to You for revealing to me the victories You have performed in my life. But, why did You let me face the loss and regret of all my unfulfilled dreams? They were good dreams. They meant something to me.”
And the Lord whispered to my heart. “You chose to walk with me to a place of recovery and victory. We’ve come full circle…we’ve come full circle together. Now…let’s start over, from that long ago place…Let’s look for and reclaim that man and his dreams.” I believe God is in the resurrection business. I believe that includes dreams that have died. In Joshua 5, God says, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery.’ So that place has been called Gilgal to this day.” Last summer, God granted me my Gilgal. My place of rest. He rolled away forever the shame of my slavery.
One of the questions I get asked most is whether or not I think I was born with these desires or did I learn them. Nature vs. nurture. My stock answer was this. Does it matter? Either way, my desires are the same. Then, Tim Lundy gave me this verse. It is now one of my many life-verses.
I don’t believe I’ll find absolute victory in this life. But I can tell you this…I claim victory every day of my life. I believe as my recovery progresses, since it never ends until I finally see Jesus face to face, that Jesus will keep returning me to more rocks, giving me the chance, courage and faith to find new places that we can walk together toward healing and victory.
Victory is never won without a battle. Victory is not worth being called victory if it is not gained at a life transforming cost and sometimes great loss. But the taste of victory is very sweet. The smell of victory is an unwavering desire for profound life change. It is a pleasing aroma to our Father. Running the race is worth the pain. And I find myself now, willing to climb and sit down on top of every rock in my path if it gives me a clearer view of my Savior, my Redeemer, my best Friend, the One who has rolled away the shame of my slavery, the One who tells me “I know you…and you know Me!” I have found my authentic ‘safe place’ high atop the true Rock. Psalm 61:1&2 – “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
Am I cured? No! There will always be places in my life that need work.
Have I been delivered? Yes! I have been delivered from the chains of loneliness, the prison of isolation and the dark, dreary dread of an uncertain future into the arms of a ridiculously wild, fiercely passionate and outrageously unrestrained love affair with Jesus Christ.
Thank you for letting me share.