This is another key factor that I suspect has caused a lot of disillusionment for those seeking change in their sexual orientation. It’s easy to wrap up your hopes and take them to the point of expectations of quick fixes, clean slates, and speedy contentment.
When I came to Harvest USA, I did wonder, “How long is this going to take?” One of the women who was going to the support group a year ahead of me told the story of wondering the same thing out loud the year before. The reply came from a lady in cowboy boots (not quite the fashion in downtown Philadelphia), who loudly strode across the wooden floor, “Well, I’ve been comin’ here for yeeeeeears….” Great. Not exactly the answer she, nor I, was hoping for.
After the turmoil and fears and struggles alone, it was wonderful and exciting to finally find a place that offered help, especially after I figured out that the people there were quite normal and not off-the-wall. I was eager to get to work and “get this over with.” But early on I caught the drift that this would not be a sudden transformation. It was hard to hear that – to learn that typically people would go to counseling at Harvest USA for a few years, and then continue to work on this part of their life for many years to come. However, it was good to know, and the staff at Harvest USA did not try to hide that from us.
I also remember hearing similar things from attending workshops at Exodus International. I think it was Brad Sargent who was asked time and again about what was the percentage of people who came to an Exodus affiliate and found a measure of success in seeking change in their SSA. His reply was something along the lines of; 100% of the people who stick with Jesus for the rest of their lives. (Not a direct quote.) But the gist that I got from that was to get set for a lifetime commitment.
And that is something Jesus asks of all of us – a lifetime of dedication, of loyalty, faithfulness, allegiance – fidelity, if you will – to Him as our King.
At around the age of 13 or so, I heard Dr. Tony Campolo give a talk in South Jersey. He spoke about a survey that had been done, asking people 95 years of age and older if they could live life over again, what would they do differently? There were three things: 1. Reflect on life more, 2. Take more risks, and 3. Do something that would leave a legacy behind after they were gone.
When I heard that I figured that even at that age I reflected on life quite enough, and that if I took more risks, I would somehow stumble across something that would leave a legacy after I passed away. It was that second one – to take more risks – that got to me. Dr. Campolo challenged us to think about it – if we were going to dare to take risks in life, he questioned, “Why not risk it all on Jesus?”
That grabbed my heart, my mind, my soul…if I was going to trust in a God I’ve never seen to take me to heaven, a place no one has seen, after I die, how could I not trust in Him to show me how to live in the here and now?
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
― Corrie ten Boom
So I’d already made that commitment, to risk it all on Jesus, although I didn’t think through all of the implications of that challenge in my young teens. Yet here I was, at a ministry that offered help in seeking change – yet making no guarantees as to how it would all pan out. I also did not misunderstand the common use of the term, “cure,” in Exodus circles regarding the process of change – I knew that wasn’t a direct analogy to the medical use of the word. We used to sing the hymn Rock of Ages:
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Sets me free and makes me pure
~ Reverend Augustus Montague Toplady, words adjusted by the UMC hymnal committee
And I love the use of the term in this song, Saviour of My Universe:
I don’t propose that we preserve
All the world inside a fragile ball of glass
‘Cause I’m the first to throw the curve
Bringin’ all that perfect ball down in a crash
Oh, it’s that feelin’ comin’ back again
Turnin’ earth around and pounding sirens in my head
Well there’s only one cure that I know for sure
And it goes on and on
It goes on and on
And when it all is said and done
Until the end
Yes, You’re the only one
And when the world is in reverse
You’re the Saviour of my universe
I don’t suppose I’m prone to trouble
Though I always do the very best I can
My universe a leaky bubble
Pinned by a friend
And only then did it expand
Oh, it’s that feelin’ comin’ back again
Turnin’ earth around
And pounding sirens in my head
Well there’s only one cure
That I know for sure
And it goes on and on
It goes on and on.
~ All Star United
As followers of Jesus, we are “double cured”: set free from the “wages of sin” which “is death” (Rom. 6:23), and also able to continuously be forgiven for our sins and cleansed anew, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9) This is a cure that goes on and on – we can never out-sin our Saviour’s ability to forgive and to make us new.
It came down to this, was I willing to seek Jesus the rest of my life…without promises of a change in my same-sex attractions and desires? Was I willing to allow Jesus to shape the way that I loved people? Yes, although not knowing what would happen made this very difficult to face. But I did have many promises from the Lord that I could count on…
- He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. Deuteronomy 31:6
- He’s promised to provide for every need. Philippians 4:19
- He has promised that He will not leave us with no way out from any temptation. I Corinthians 10:13
- He’s promised that all things will work together for good for those who love and serve Him. Romans 8:28
- He has promised that He will be faithful to complete what He has started in our lives. Philippians 1:6
- He has promised that nothing can separate us from His love for us. Romans 8:37-39
These were promises I could lean on, and would depend on, for years to come. (As I still do today!) These great expectations have not proven empty, or hollow. One of my favorite characteristics of God is His Faithfulness. He is always there, setting me free, forgiving, testing my faith, opening doors, closing others, forever knowing me better than I know myself, constantly loving. His love is as relentless as the waves upon the shore. I encourage you to taste and see that the Lord is good!
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.