We came to believe the love of God,
who forgave us and accepted us
in spite of all that we are and have done.
In Step 1 we faced our helplessness. We confessed that homosexuality was more than we could handle alone. In Step 2 we see our hope. Step 2 tells us of a loving and forgiving Father who will meet the unmet needs which cause our struggle.
Step 2 does not say "instantly believed" or even "enthusiastically believed". It says "came to believe" implying that faith did not come easily for many of us. Why is belief so difficult for some?
Our first and most influential ideas about God come from our early relationship with our parents. Unfortunately, many of us did not get on too well with our folks and so formed a mental image of God as Someone who does not really care, who is distant, demanding, always disapproving, harsh, angry, cold, indifferent, rejecting.
This is often compounded by unhappy experiences with people in church who we thought cor- rectly represented God. Some of us shared our struggle with a Christian who turned away from us. We concluded (wrongly) that if they despised us, God must also hold us in contempt.
Some of us were angry with God. We had asked Him repeatedly for help with our struggle, but nothing happened. Why was He so silent? Had He walked out on us? Did He care? Why did He leave us to struggle alone? Why had He not helped? These angry questions raised disturb- ing doubts in our minds and drove some of us not only to question God's love, but to deny His existence.
A number of us really hated ourselves because of what we had been doing and thinking. The guilt and shame we felt deluded us into thinking that God must hate us at least as much as we despised ourselves. So, for many of us, thoughts of God were most unwelcome, bringing only feelings of fear and condemnation.
If you find thoughts of God difficult, please remember, "The only requirement for HA member- ship is a desire to be free from homosexuality." We are not here to cram our beliefs down your throat, but to share with you what has helped us. The struggle with homosexuality will be more difficult in some ways than any you have met before. You will have to deal, not simply with outward actions or even inner thoughts, but with feelings that live at the very core of your existence. In this struggle, we have to find out who we are. We cannot trust our feelings or thinking because our past has distorted them. We cannot trust friends who share our distortions. Who can we trust? Who will gently show us who we are? We have found that only God can help here.
And God does help. We have learned this from our experience and, if you continue with us, you will see Him at work in some of our lives.
Gamaliel Bradford has been called "the wistful agnostic." A pioneer in psychological biography, he was mightily impressed by his research into the lives of men and women who had become real Christians. Perhaps you can accept his testimony. Speaking of the incontrovertible evidence of the transformation wrought by Christ in human lives, he wrote: "What this added power, which comes through Christ and the acceptance of salvation through Him, may be or may mean is another question. You may explain it psychologically however you please. There can be no question as to the fact. Men who have been hopelessly possessed by the devil of drink, have accepted Christ, and have flung drink behind them forever. Men who have found the sexual burden as impossible to throw off as it was intolerable to bear, have gone to Christ for help, have filled their lives with Christ, and then have looked back with wonder and pity at their former slavery." [Life and I, p. 213]
All this may be frightening to you. Just remember, you don't have to believe a thing we say to be welcomed and cared for. You are loved for your courage in entering this struggle. Bear with us. Keep open and honest. Dare to experiment. Try to have an open mind. Work those parts of the program you are ready for, leaving the others for later. If you cannot work on your relationship with God now, work on your relationship with others. God is wonderfully patient and He does understand. Do your best. Keep in touch. And easy does it! One day at a time!
1. Might I have distorted ideas of God?
"Our concept of God propels us forward or it holds us back. Where did we get our idea of God? Our parent tapes and early religious instructions, our experiences, our imaginations, and even our programmed reactions to authority figures helped forge our concept of God.... We project impatience into God. We imagine God turning away from us. We think a thousand things that could never be. The fact is this: God is love, according to the Scriptures." [John Powell, Happiness Is an Inside Job, p. 138]
"There are many of us who really expect God to be silent and distant. Occasionally we throw our prayers and gifts over the high wall that separates us from God. We hope that he hears, but we do not expect an answer." [John Powell, Happiness Is an Inside Job, p. 134]
"One day I heard a new man in the program talking to an old-timer...., "No way I'm going to turn my life over to God! He'd ruin me--and I'd deserve it.' He went on to say that for him God was a giant policeman, and the man's life had been such that his experience with the police was not at all positive. The old-timer...said, 'You ought to fire that God..! You've got the wrong God for this program... The God who operates here is loving, forgiving, and gives you all the chances you need to get the program; he is honest and will always be there for you. I had a God like yours when I first came in here, but I had to fire him and get me a new God.' ...I realized....my unconscious...image of God...was a picture of my human father as I exper- ienced him... My father had not been there for me when I felt I really needed him as a little boy.... So I fired that God...and decided to believe in the God I saw living in the lives of recovering people..., a God who operated exactly like the God...in the Bible." [J. Keith Miller, A Hunger for Healing, p. 50-52]
I Corinthians 1:20,21
"Most of us have an instinctive fear of God that is based on our own weakness.... We either have to become comfortable with this human condition or go on pretending that it is not true. We have to go on hiding behind our pretending. Naturally, I am not suggesting that we simply cave in...to human weakness. I am suggesting that we must learn to be comfortable (with the fact that)....we have sinned and we will sin again.... It is important for me to know...Jesus... the Good Shepherd. I have to keep remembering that he is looking for us lost sheep and rejoic- ing when he finds us.... He takes me into his arms and sobs in relief, 'You're home. You know, that's all I've ever wanted. You're home.'" [John Powell, Happiness Is an Inside Job, p. 141]
2. How can I correct my distorted ideas of God?
"We must...remember that none of the appearances of God to man, described in the Old Testa- ment, were the appearances of God the Father. He whom Abraham, and Jacob, and Moses, and Joshua, and Isaiah, and Daniel saw, were not the First Person in the Trinity, but the Second." [J. C. Ryle, "John," Expository Thoughts on the Gospels I, p. 42]
"The eye of mortal man has never beheld God the Father. No man could bear the sight. Even to Moses it was said, 'Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see Me, and live.' (Exod. xxxiii. 20.) Yet all that mortal man is capable of knowing about God the Father is fully revealed to us by God the Son. He, who was in the bosom of the Father from all eternity, has been pleased to take our nature upon Him, and to exhibit to us in the form of man, all that our minds can comprehend of the Father's perfections." [ibid., p. 37]
"Let us...take comfort in the simple truth, that Christ is...God; equal with the Father in all things, and One with Him. He who loved us, and shed His blood for us on the cross, and bids us trust Him for pardon, is no mere man like ourselves. He is 'Over all, God blessed for ever' (Rom. ix. 5), and able to save to the uttermost the chief of sinners.... He that casts his soul on Christ has an Almighty Friend,--a Friend who is One with the Father, and very God." [J. C. Ryle, "John," Expository Thoughts on the Gospels II, p. 290]
Christ, the Son, has perfectly revealed the Father to us because He is God Himself. Therefore He is able to do things which God alone can do: to sustain all things by his powerful word and purge away our sins.
"Our author is not thinking of that general revelation of Himself which God has given in creation, providence and conscience...but of that special revelation which He has given in two stages: first to the fathers through the prophets, and finally in His Son. These two stages of divine revelation correspond to the Old and New Testaments respectively.... The earlier stage of the revelation was given in a variety of ways....yet all the successive acts and varying modes of revelation in the ages before Christ came did not add up to the fullness of what God had to say. His word was not completely uttered until Christ came; but when Christ came, the word spoken in Him was indeed God's final word.... The story of divine revelation is a story of progression up to Christ, but there is no progression beyond Him.... God's previous spokesmen were His Servants, but for the proclamation of His last word to man He has chosen His Son." [F. F. Bruce, "The Epistle to the Hebrews," The New International Commentary on the New Testament, p. 2-3]
"...The 'Son' in His relation to 'God' is represented here by light beaming forth from light, and by exact impress--the perfect image produced by stamp or seal." [W. F. Moulton, "The Epistle to the Hebrews," Ellicotts Commentary on the Whole Bible VIII , p. 284]
God has perfectly revealed Himself to man in His Son. As we behold Christ in the Bible, the Holy Spirit gradually replaces our false ideas of God with truth. As the truth passes from our conscious into our unconscious, healing takes place in our relationship with God.
3. Can I approach God when I have doubts?
"We readily confess that our faith is weak and timid at times. We struggle with periods of doubt.... Do we forfeit God's blessing because we are weak in faith? ...Consider Abraham, the father of believers. His faith was not always unfailing and strong. He had his moments of doubt and despair. Yet...God blessed him.... When the father of the epileptic said to Jesus, 'I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!'..., Jesus heard his prayer... He healed the man's son... Note, however, that this man struggled with his weak faith and asked for help. He received it." [Simon J. Kistemaker, "James and I-III John," New Testament Commentary, p. 39-40]
"Their view of faith was certainly very wrong. They saw it as a kind of power with differing degrees of intensity. But the power of faith is not contained in faith itself but in God, whom we know by faith.... Therefore, Jesus answered that if they had faith as small as a mustard seed, they would be able to order a mulberry tree to be uprooted and it would be done.... God, in whom they put their trust, would work the impossible." [S. G. De Graff, Promise and Deliv- erance III, p. 412-413]
Dr. R. A. Torrey wrote, "I have found no passage in the Bible equal to John 7:17 in dealing with an honest skeptic." [R. A. Torrey, How To Work For Christ, p. 118] He would ask the doubter if he believed there is an absolute difference between right and wrong. If the man said he did, Torrey asked if he would take his stand on right and follow it wherever it carried him. If the man agreed, Torrey said, "You do not know whether there is a God... I know there is a God and that He answers prayer..." [ibid., p. 119] He suggested the man make a scientific experiment. He asked him to read the Gospel of John a few verses at a time praying, "O God, if there is a God, I promise to act upon whatever I find in this book to be true. Show me whether Jesus Christ is Your Son or not, and if You show me that He is, I promise to accept Him as my Savior and confess Him before the world." Torrey said, "If a man is not an honest skeptic, this course of treatment will reveal the fact, and you can tell him that the difficulty is not with his skepticism, but with his rebellious and wicked heart." [ibid., p. 120] He shared the story of "a thorough-going agnostic" who followed this course. "Some weeks after I met the man again; his doubts were all gone.... He had put himself in a way to find out the truth of God, and God made it known to him." [ibid., p. 121-122]
Our God is so good that He not only blesses those with weak faith, but reaches out to those with no faith, if they are willing.
"When we first will to follow--first attempt obedience--God becomes not just some vague force, but very personal. Our idea of Him changes. Then, as He points to the deeps of our person- alities...that we are not in touch with, our idea about ourselves changes. We find that we do not know ourselves very well. Herein is both the identity crisis and its cure. As we will to be in Him, He gathers together the scattered parts of ourselves we have been separated from." [Leanne Payne, The Broken Image, p. 138]
"I prayed for faith and thought that some day faith would come down and strike me like lightening. But faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, 'Now faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.' I had closed my Bible and prayed for faith. I now opened my Bible and began to study, and faith has been growing ever since." [D. L. Moody, Thoughts From My Library, p. 258]
4. Does God love me?
"I have become convinced that the simple affirmation 'God is love' really is the key to every- thing. If we can live this truth, and not just recite it or print it on wall hangings, we may find both the power to combat evil and a place of rest and refuge in the midst of the struggle." [Mark Lloyd Taylor and Carmen Renee Berry, Loving Yourself as Your Neighbor, p. 4]
"Years of experience have taught me that regardless of how much correct doctrine Christians may know, until they have a picture and a felt sense that God is truly good and gracious, there can be no lasting spiritual victory in their lives." [David Seamands, Healing of Memories, p. 95-96]
"The love of God that is the source of the atonement is the love of God the Father specifi- cally.... The love of Christ is not in its biblical perspective unless we perceive that it is love constrained by and exercised in fulfillment of the Father's will...flowing from...(the Father's) invincible love. We must be captivated by the Father's love." [John Murray, Collected Writ- ings II, p. 144]
"Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not the Jews for envy;--but the Father, for love!" [Octavius Winslow, No Condemnation in Christ Jesus, p. 361]
"The love of a holy God to sinners is the most mysterious attribute of the divine nature. The manifestation of this attribute for the admiration and beatification of all intelligent creatures, is declared to be the special design of redemption." [Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology I, p. 427]
"...God's love, expressed through His people, and woven into our lives by His Spirit and His Word can, over a period of time, bring healing even to our deepest wounds..." [Robert McGee, The Search for Significance, p. 8]
"I am convinced that the basic cause of some of the most disturbing emotional/spiritual problems which trouble evangelical Christians is the failure to receive and live out God's unconditional grace, and the corresponding failure to offer that grace to others." [David Seamands, Freedom from the Performance Trap, p. 14]
I John 4:9,10
The room in which you study is full of radio programs. Though stations all around beam them at you constantly, you cannot hear them unless you have your radio on. God too is beaming His love to you, but, for the message to get through, there must be a receiver as well as a sender. If you have wondered whether God loves you, consider these words of Christ.
"God's hands are not fists...but hands that bear the scars of love..." [Mark Lloyd Taylor and Carmen Renee Berry, Loving Yourself as Your Neighbor, p. 98]
5. Will God forgive me?
"Christ didn't...love and die for...righteous people... If He had, we would all be in trouble! ...He came to...die for the unrighteous, the inconsiderate,...the selfish. As we grow in our understanding of His love...and continue to grasp that He has rescued us from the...condemna- tion we deserve..., we will gradually become more patient and kind to others when they fail." [Robert McGee, The Search for Significance, p. 86]
Debbie Dortzbach, a missionary to Ethopia, was held in captivity by some of those she came to serve. During that time she wrote:
"Thank You God that though
I have only dirty water
To wash in==
You have reminded me
As I look at the earth below me
That my heart is washed pure==
White as this glistening marble rock
Beneath my feet.
I am clean in the
Righteousness of Jesus!"
[Karl and Debbie Dortzbach, Kidnapped, p. 71]
"I often use a simple illustration in making the meaning of the verse plain. I let my right hand represent the inquirer, my left hand represent Christ, and my Bible represent the inquirer's sin. I first lay the Bible on my right hand and say, 'Now where is your sin?' The inquirer replies of course, 'On me.' I then repeat the last half of the verse, 'the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,' and transfer the Bible from my right hand to my left, and ask, 'Where is your sin now?' The inquirer replies, 'On Him, of course.' I then ask, 'Is it on you any longer?' and he says, 'No, on Christ.'" [R. A. Torrey, How To Work for Christ, p. 33-34]
"Through the Cross, our sin is judged, yet sinful men and women are forgiven...because God has judged that sin in Jesus Christ instead of in us.... That is why the Cross is the 'trysting place, where Heaven's love and Heaven's justice meet.'" [Sinclair B. Ferguson, A Heart for God, p. 108]
"It is mercy to feed us, rich mercy to pardon us." [Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, p. 71]
"Where God removes the guilt, he breaks the power of sin.... With pardoning love God gives subduing grace." [idem.]
"It is a folly to think that an emperor's revenue will not pay a beggar's debt... We have many sins, but God hath many mercies..." [The Complete Works of Thomas Manton IV, p. 481]
"His own racking agony...did not make Him forget others. The first of His seven sayings on the cross was a prayer for the souls of His murderers.... Let us see in our Lord's intercession for those who crucified Him, one more proof of Christ's infinite love to sinners.... None are too wicked for Him to care for. None are too far gone in sin for His almighty heart to take interest about their souls. He wept over unbelieving Jerusalem. He heard the prayer of the dying thief. He stopped under the tree to call the publican Zacchaeus. He came down from heaven to turn the heart of the persecutor Saul.... Love like this is a love that passeth knowledge. The vilest of sinners have no cause to be afraid of applying to a Savior like this." [J. C. Ryle, "Luke," Expository Thoughts on the Gospels II, p. 463-464]
There are many ways to "express what we mean by forgiveness.... A small tribe in southern Mexico says that 'God loses our sins in his heart.' Because God has such a large heart, when he forgives us, our sins are simply lost in his great love." [Richard De Ridder, Today: The Family Altar, May 16, 1986)]
"I. The compassion of Christ inclines Him to save sinners.
II. The power of Christ enables Him to save sinners.
III. The promises of Christ bind Him to save sinners."
[D. L. Moody, Notes From My Bible, p. 209]
6. Will God accept me?
"There may be days when I don't feel like God is my Father. But that doesn't change the truth one iota. On those occasions, I can either believe my inner impressions and feed the self-pity that attends my imaginary state of orphanhood; or I can refute my initial feelings with the truth, and bring my attitudes into alignment with the reality that my heavenly Father is actively involved in my life. His love promotes my highest good; His wisdom determines how to achieve it; and His power accomplishes what His love and wisdom have ordained." [Garry Friesen with J. Robin Maxson, Decision Making and the Will of God, p. 251-252]
"The final truth about life is that we are unconditionally, eternally accepted by God, not because of what we have done but simply because God is love." [David Lloyd Taylor and Carmen Renee Berry, Loving Yourself as Your Neighbor, p. 88]
The words you have just copied have been called "possibly the most important single paragraph ever written..." [Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, p. 173] If some of the terms are unfamiliar to you, these definitions will help.
JUSTIFIED: "The biblical meaning of 'justify'...is to pronounce, accept, and treat as just, i.e., as on the one hand, not penally liable, and, on the other, entitled to all the privileges due to those who have kept the law.... Paul proclaims the present justification of sinners by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, apart from all works and despite all demerit (Rom. 3:21ff.).... The law has not been altered, or suspended, or flouted for their justification, but fulfilled--by Jesus Christ acting in their name. By perfectly serving God, Christ perfectly kept the law (cf. Matt. 3:15). His obedience culminated in death (Phil. 2:8); he bore the penalty of the law in men's place (Gal. 3:13), to make propitiation for their sins (Rom. 3:25). On the ground of Christ's obedience, God does not impute sin, but imputes righteousness, to sinners who believe (Rom. 4:2-8; 5:19)." [J. I. Packer, "Justification," Evangelical Dictionary of Theology p. 593-596]
GRACE: "...God's spontaneous, unmerited favor in action, his freely bestowed lovingkindness in operation, bestowing salvation upon guilt-laden sinners who turn to him for refuge. We think of the Judge who not only remits the penalty but also cancels the guilt of the offender and even adopts him as his own son." [William Hendriksen, "Exposition of Paul's Epistle to the Romans," New Testament Commentary I, (p. 48]
REDEMPTION: "...has its origin in the release of prisoners of war on payment of a price (the 'ransom'). It was extended to include the freeing of slaves, again by the payment of a price. Among the Hebrews it could be used for release of a prisoner under sentence of death (Exod. 21:29-30), once more by the payment of a price." [Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, p. 179]
PROPITIATION or "reconciling sacrifice" or "expiation" "means that Christ has satisfied the holy wrath of God through His payment for sin. There was only one reason for Him to do this: He loves us; infinitely, eternally, unconditionally, irrevocably..." [Robert McGee, The Search for Significance, p. 98] This means, if we trust in Christ, there is no more wrath for us!
I Peter 3:18
"...He hung upon the cross that we might sit upon the throne.... His crucifixion is our coronation." [Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 174]
I John 1:3,4
"Reconciliation to God comes through God's forgiveness of that by which we have been estranged from God; and of all experiences in the religion of sinful men, it is the most deeply felt and far reaching. ...Every one who knows what it is to be forgiven, knows also that forgiveness is the greatest regenerative force in the life of man." [James Denney, The Christian Doctrine of Reconciliation, p. 6]
To sense the power which comes from taking the truth of this step to yourself, consider this letter we received: "Dear Sirs: I just got done reading...Homosexuality: An Open Door? for the umpteenth time. I can't believe it. For so long as a Christian I thought God was so against me. Like I was doomed before I began. Now it's like God is right there in the mud with me, helping me, and saying, 'No matter what happens Me and you are going through this together and I'm not ever going to leave you.' I don't know what to say. Thank you for the book, really. Please add me to your mailing list and send me a list of materials you have. This is like so wild. I can't believe Jesus is really setting me free! Wow!"
7. Will God love, forgive, and accept me in spite of all I am and have done?
"The greatest sinners, if they truly repent, shall have their sins forgiven... Though our sins have been as scarlet and crimson, a deep dye, a double dye, first in the wool of original corruption and afterwards in the many threads of actual transgression--though we have been often dipped, by our many backslidings, into sin, and though we have lain long soaking in it,...yet pardoning mercy will thoroughly discharge the stain, and...we shall be clean." [Matthew Henry, Commen- tary on the Whole Bible IV, p. 9]
"God is the sum of all patience and the essence of kindly good will. We please Him most, not by frantically trying to make ourselves good, but by throwing ourselves into His arms with all our imperfections, and believing that He understands everything and loves us still." [A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous, p. 15]
"The door of mercy does not stand on the jar, it is wide open." [C. H. Spurgeon, The New Park Street Pulpit V, (1859), p. 288]
"If Christ had declined to associate with sinners, He would have had a lonely time on earth." [D. L. Moody, Notes From My Bible, p. 130]
"He was just a little boy, and he couldn't understand the punishment. The punishment was nec- essary that he might learn some important lessons and grow to be a man who would know right from wrong. But he couldn't comprehend all that. All he knew was that his father had sent him to his room without supper--and he was hungry. He thought his father cared for him less than the father's words seemed to suggest. After all, if his father really loved him, he would have allowed him to have his supper. Then the door opened, and his father came in and sat on the bed. 'Son,' he said, 'I know you don't understand now, but some day you will. Some day you will be glad that I loved you enough to train you properly. But I wanted you to know that I didn't eat supper tonight either, and I'm going to spend the night with you, and we will be hungry together.' The boy was still hungry, of course, but it somehow helped to fall asleep in the arms of his father--a father who had identified with his hunger. That is what God has done." [Stephen Brown, If God Is in Charge, p. 51]
"Being angry at God is never helpful.... It is far better to direct your anger at the real source of your hurt than to project it at God, which cuts you off from the very power you need to deal with your hurt. Fortunately, God understands when we vent our anger on him. He knows our minds play tricks on us.... So there is no penalty for feeling this anger or for even expressing it. But recovery requires that you pull your angry feelings back from God as soon as you possibly can and attach them to their real source." [Archibald Hart, Healing Adult Children of Divorce, p. 165-166]
"What ups and downs we experience because we build not on faith but on feeling, not on the finished work of Christ but on our own work and endeavor and experience.... Let us get down to the cross, to the broken heart of our God, down to the propitiation for our sins..." [Oswald Chambers, The Love of God, p. 18]
I Timothy 1:15
"Memorize this...: I have great worth apart from my performance because Christ gave His life for me, and...imparted great value to me. I am deeply loved, fully pleasing, totally forgiven, accepted, and complete in Christ." [Robert McGee, The Search for Significance, p. 61]
I John 1:7
God, having made and blessed us, has a right to expect that we will love Him above all. But have we not often ignored and even defied Him? And yet He loves us still with an incredible love!
Because of our rebellion, we deserve to be cast off forever. Instead, God loves us so much that He gave His Son to live a sinless life in our place and die on the cross for our sins. In Christ, a holy God can fully accept us with all our weaknesses and failures.
Christ rose from the dead. If you have never asked Him into your life, He stands at the door of your heart seeking admittance. He says, "I love you and long that we may be close. I want to forgive your sins. I'm ready to stand with you in all the struggles of life and will help you become all that God intends you to be. Come, share heaven with me forever.
What will you do with Jesus? Why not ask Him into your life right now? You might pray like this: "Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for my sin. I need your forgiveness. Come into my heart. I receive your pardon. I give you my life. Thank you for not condemning me. Thank you for loving, forgiving, and accepting me."
8. Since God loves me, need I worry or fear?
Many of us used sexual activity to deaden emotional pain. When life's difficulties seemed too much for us, we turned to sex much like an addict turns to drugs. As we break this pattern, we may begin to have strong, uncomfortable, even frightening feelings as our emotional numbness wears off. We must resist the temptation to draw back and instead reach out to God and His people to help us through our difficult periods.
"We can only conquer doubts by looking steadily to Him and by not looking at them." [D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones,Spiritual Depression, p. 158]
"We are safer with Him in the dark than without Him in the sunshine." [Theodore L. Cuyler, God's Light on Dark Clouds, p. 50]
"He never promises us smooth paths, but He does promise safe ones." [ibid., p. 75]
When we are feeling emotional pain or undergoing strong temptation, we may begin to wonder how we can go on for the rest of our lives without acting out. Discouragement and depression can lead to defeat. At such times we need to remind ourselves that Christ taught us to live "one day at a time." To get through life's troubles we must focus on the present--the moment at hand, the day in progress--leaving tomorrow's struggles for tomorrow.
We would question the sanity of the greatest football player in history if he tried to play alone against the poorest of teams. Yet we often withdraw from others who are willing to help and isolate ourselves when we are having trouble.
God never intended for us to fight our battles alone. He teaches us to reach out to Him and to His people for help. We must not struggle alone, but strive "together for the faith of the gospel".
"Faith is the cure of care." [Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, p. 179]
9. Will God be with me when I am tried and tempted?
Dr Earl Wilson writes, "I firmly believe that deliverance from sexual obsession cannot take place apart from God's help. I am not, however, suggesting that God is a pill which can be taken as a magical cure. Deliverance is closely coupled with obedience and a willingness to make hard choices....(which) may have to be made over and over again until the old behavior patterns are replaced by new sane habits. In this we all need God's enablement. He wants our cooperation." [Sexual Sanity, p. 82]
Great Britain's hopes for a medal in the men's 400-meter race in the 1992 Summer Olympics "were dashed when on the far turn of the semifinal race," Derek Redmond "pulled up lame, apparently with a torn muscle.... He stood there in agony, now out of competition but determined somehow to...finish the race. As he attempted to hobble toward the finish line, he seemed to reach the end of his strength with about one hundred meters...to go. At...that moment, a man from the stands ran up behind Derek, grabbed him around the waist, and began to...help him... It was his father, Jim Redmond. As Derek realized who was holding him up and helping to propel him forward, his startled expression became a look of relief, and he was overcome with emotion. He grabbed his father around the neck, hugging him and crying as they moved together toward the finish line. With the crowd roaring their support for the two men, Derek finished the race.... We have such a Father." [Chap Clark, The Performance Illusion, p. 79-80]
Trusting God does not mean that we have no responsibility for our own well-being. If we are to recover, we must participate in our healing and in maintaining good emotional/spiritual health. "He who would eat the fruit must climb the tree." [Scottish proverb in Leadership, p. 105]
Jim West of the Betty Ford Center "says that every recovering alcoholic must always be aware of the possibility of a relapse into drinking, because our personality traits are like 'a snake who lies back in a dark corner of the mind and who, every now and then, maybe every three or four years, will open one eye to see if the alcoholic is still on guard.'... Eternal vigilance is the price of sobriety." [Betty Ford with Chris Chase, Betty: A Glad Awakening, p. 169-170]
If we want to stand, we must avoid situations which can lead to a fall. Alcoholics Anonymous has a wise saying: "If you don't want to slip, stay away from slippery places and slippery people." When we have no choice, we need to prepare in advance for the battle. Our greatest safeguard against temptation is prayer. It is also good to tell a friend of our danger and ask him or her to check with us periodically to see if we are having trouble. Remember, "If you fail to plan, you're planning to fail."
"There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself." [The Midnight Raymond Chand- ler, p. 490]
I Corinthians 10:13
"...Often people....say, 'I couldn't help myself.' What most people mean when they say that is 'I didn't help myself.'" [Mildred Newman, Bernard Berkowitz, and Jean Owen, How To Be Your Own Best Friend, p. 11]
"Some people stumble into sin; some fall; some play around on the edges until they fall in; and others jump." [Ed Hurst with Dave and Neta Jackson, Overcoming Homosexuality, p. 86]
We can only stand firm as long as we remember our helplessness (Step 1) and our Helper (Step 2). When we become self-satisfied and/or self-confident rather than watchful and God-confident, we are ripe for a fall.
"The Lord direct your heart into the love of God!--just as it is, hard, cold, fickle, sinful, sad and sorrowful. Christ's love touching your hard heart, will dissolve it; touching your cold heart, will warm it; touching your sinful heart, will purify it; touching your sorrowful heart, will soothe it; touching your wandering heart, will draw it back to Jesus. Only bring your heart to Christ's love. Believe in its existence, its reality, its fullness, and its freeness. Believe that He loves you..." [Octavius Winslow, The Sympathy of Christ, p. 165]
10. Will God forgive me if I fall?
We all have differing struggles and recover on different schedules. Some of us are acting out. All have problems with thoughts. Some are out of control. Others gain and lose command of themselves several times as they work the Steps. Recovery begins for some with a certain Step while it may not come for others until all the Steps have been worked. Healing may be sudden or gradual. We are all unique.
We must be patient with ourselves and each other and trust God to heal us in the way best for each one. In all our struggle, we must not allow guilt, pain, confusion, or despair to overwhelm and isolate us from God or others. If we turn to God, He will forgive us. He will not abandon us, but will stand with us in all our battles till freedom is ours!
"We're told to hate the sin and love the sinner, but we're too apt to twist it around the other way. We hate the sinner in us and cling to the sin. Don't glorify your lapses. Just try to understand why they happened and steer yourself back on the right track." [Mildred Newman, Bernard Berkowitz, and Jean Owen, How To Be Your Own Best Friend, p. 56]
"As you go through life, brother
Whatever be your goal,
Keep your eye upon the doughnut
And not upon the hole."
[Mayflower Coffee Shop slogan in Leadership, p. 100]
"Moses was a murderer, but God forgave him and used him to deliver Israel from Egypt. David was an adulterer and a murderer, but God forgave him and made him a great king. Peter denied the Lord, but God forgave him, and Peter became a leader in the Church. God rejoices when His children learn to accept His forgiveness, pick themselves up, and walk after they have stumbled." [Robert McGee, The Search for Significance, p. 88-89]
"I have written in the back of my Bible, 'You wouldn't be so shocked at your own sin if you didn't have such a high opinion of yourself.'" [Stephen Brown, No More Mr. Nice Guy!, p. 108]
I John 1:9
"The devil has two false glasses, which he sets before men's eyes; the one is a little glass, in which the sin appears so small that it can hardly be seen, which the devil sets before men's eyes when they are going to commit sin; the other is a great magnifying glass, wherein sin appears so big that it cannot be forgiven, which the devil sets before men's eyes when they have sinned." [Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, p. 88]
"Many Christians who struggle with sexual temptation have experienced repeated failures that have deeply affected their relationship with God. It is hard to go back to God again and again when we are so painfully aware of our failures. Satan wants us to feel unworthy so we will not go back to God. He makes us forget that God is longsuffering and always willing to forgive." [Earl Wilson, Sexual Sanity, p. 108] "Many Christians...have trouble...because they hope that once forgiven they will not repeat the sin. I...know that often when I try the hardest I fail. As a believer I am responsible to...bring my sin to God, whether it is a repeated sin, or not.... If ...I spend all my time loathing my habit, I am doing nothing more than insuring...it will con- tinue. I need to focus on Christ, not sin." [ibid., p. 109] "...The worst thing we can do if we want to stop a habit is to focus on it.... Don't waste time thinking about how not to think about it.... Focus on Christ..." [ibid., p. 110] "When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we see victory.... When we fix our eyes on our recurring sin, we...see only defeat and will become ashamed to look at Jesus. We don't need...hopelessness. We need to get our attention back on the source of hope." [ibid., p. 111] "If your obsession is strong, you might need to confess your sin and receive forgiveness a hundred times a day. But it is not futile. It is a process." [ibid., p. 117]
11. How does one react when experiencing God's love?
"Till you know the depth of the pit into which you have fallen, you will never properly praise the hand which raises you out of it." [D. L. Moody, Notes From My Bible, p. 70]
"In prayer we act like men; in praise we act like angels." [Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 15]
MY EXPERIENCE WORKING STEP 2
Step 2 was not easy for me. It was difficult to believe that God accepted me when my conscience condemned me. I felt that the Scriptures which spoke of judgment all applied to me, and that those which spoke of mercy were for others. My experiences in life had taught me that people only love you as long as you please them. Did God love me in spite of all? Seeing family and friends turn away made it difficult to believe that God's arms were open to receive me. Since I was so depressed that I no longer cared what happened to me, is it any wonder that I doubted God's love and care?
The Holy Spirit helped me see that the Scriptures which speak of judgment are directed at the stiff-necked sinner, not at the one who is struggling with sin; at the defiant, not at the defeated. He showed me that God's promises of mercy are to all who trust in Christ and challenged me to accept them in simple faith. The more I beheld Jesus in the Word, the more my fears sub- sided, and, in their place, peace and joy began to blossom. There were some old friends who did not desert me. There were new friends who, knowing all, still loved and accepted me. These provided tangible proof of God's love. So, I came to believe.
Yet Step 2 is still not easy for me. My father, a good, able man, had dreams for me I could not fulfill. I always felt I was a disappointment to him. So I constantly hear in my mind, "That's not good enough. You don't measure up. I'm not pleased." When I do not consciously resist these thoughts by faith, I sense a pulling away from God evidenced by a reluctance to pray and study the Bible. Worship becomes a drudgery and thoughts of God distasteful. Only as I make a conscious effort to claim by faith the blood of Christ which cleanses from all sin and the righteousness of Christ which makes me completely acceptable to God does the sense of condem- nation dissipate and a sense of thanksgiving to God for His unspeakable gift move me to draw near to Him.
Is it worth all the work? It sure is! As I claim the truth that God is for me in every circum- stance because of the blood and righteousness of my Savior, solid peace and joy drive away the old depressions which were so crippling. As I accept the truth that God will never abandon me because Christ has endured all the wrath I deserve, I know I am never alone when temptation strikes. God is right there in the midst of the battle with me, not condemning me, but loving me, forgiving me, accepting me, counting me righteous in His Son, holding my hand, and sus- taining me as He and I walk out of this together. He promises to stand with me in the heat of battle and in the depths of despair, so nothing need overwhelm me. My past is forgiven, my present is secure, and my future is certain. What can I render to God for going to such lengths to save me and call me His friend?
HOW YOU CAN WORK STEP 2
1) In your journal, write out as many examples as you can recall of your tendency to doubt the motives of people (especially your parents) when they were thoughtful and kind to you. Then write examples of whining, complaining, and detachment from God which reveal your doubt of His love and acceptance. Discuss what you have found with your step coach.
2) Read aloud Psalm 23 every morning when you awake and every evening before you go to sleep, praising God for the truth of His love to you despite your shortcomings and failures.
3) Listen to the tape Loved At Last! listed under "STEP 2" on the "HA Book Ministry" list. Read the brochure Homosexuality and the People of God listed under "FOR THOSE WANTING TO GIVE OR RECEIVE HELP WITH HOMOSEXUALITY" on the "HA Book Ministry" list. Read the material in Experience, Strength and Hope up to Step 3 while continuing to work in your workbook. Journal what you learn and share your findings with your step coach.
4) Memorize one of the verses you found helpful in this chapter.