The challenge for many of us who surrender same-sex attraction (SSA) to God is that there is no certainty about what the rest of our lives will look like. For the anxiety that naturally accompanies this kind of uncertainty, God provides us with his presence. The Holy Spirit comes to us and comforts us – right here, right now.
If we cultivate this discipline of abiding in Jesus, we will find a way to walk in peace and rest – even if SSA never goes away. There is a temptation, however, to find a quicker path to freedom. These alternative efforts become our downfall…and it is easy to slip into these traps.
For some, we move from spiritual surrender into the trap of self-effort. It takes discipline to stay connected to the True Vine (John 15). We too easily give ourselves over to the earthy, fleshy and technological forces that lure us into the frantic pace of our material world. When this happens, we are operating on our own. This always leads to spiritual depletion. We may give up if temptations persist.
Some of us exchange spiritual surrender for the trap of self-righteousness. The egregious sinner becomes the culture warrior. We are lured into a performance to repay our debt by battling other debtors. Our work gives witness to a Christ who is set against the sinner we once were. When we turn Jesus against those he seeks to save, we fail to do Gospel work. In a worst case scenario, we engage in the very things we loathe in others (read Romans 2:1-4).
For others, we abandon spiritual surrender for the trap of self-will. There are missions and plans to be accomplished. For me, a temptation was to think: “I am almost 30 years old. I might run out of time to get married and have kids.” These impulses are understandable, but they must be renounced. We must take each day to walk in relationship with Christ where we are – not where we urgently hope (or demand) to be.
One last error is when we turn God’s timing into the trap of self-timing. I have heard some SSA strugglers give God a year or two to take away their SSA. Others express the same idea as they project their future: “My attractions – whatever they become – will determine my identity and how I live my life.” If we have a time-table for the elimination of SSA, there is a high risk that we will embrace an LGBT+ identity over time.
The common denominator in all of these false attempts at purity is anxiety. It is the root growing underneath all forms of self-determination. It is behind every pride – and every fear. It is behind every expectation that others inflict upon us. It is behind every time-table that we condition our surrender upon. And this anxiety is what attaches to the temptations we face today. When we allow our anxious ideas about the future to tempt us away from the present moment, temptations will rule us. The very thing we seek not to do can become the very trap we fall into.
There is only one solution for these tendencies: it is spiritual surrender. One way that I re-enter surrender (because all of us fall into these traps) is to meditate on collages of scripture. When I do this, I am transported from urgency to rest – to the place where God melts away both anxiety and temptation. This is one sure way to experience deliverance; not forever, but for every moment in which it is needed.
This is not a technique, but a spiritual reality that Christ – who we often imagine as being “up there” – lives inside us. He has the power to give rest to all who are weary and burdened by the failures that come from our anxious attempts to achieve purity on our own terms. We need to stop trying…and begin to appropriate His presence so that He can perfect HIS strength in our weakness. Purity is available to us TODAY, because Jesus is right here, right now.
For an example of scriptural collages to meditate upon, contact Bill Henson.
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