Lost in the Wake of Lust

I remember, as a boy, constructing a model boat and setting it sail in a bay lagoon. I was thrilled that it remained afloat and was so hopeful that it would reach the other shore. But its journey was cut short when a ski boat, more concerned about staying on plane then obeying the posted no wake zone, sped through and capsized the model. My anger turned to sadness as hope was dashed on the rocks of selfishness that summer afternoon.

Few things can turn a marriage and family upside down more quickly than adultery. The Lord Jesus, in the fifth chapter of Matthew, makes it very clear that adultery is more than jumping into bed with another person. It begins with the imaginations and intentions of the heart. The apostle James affords us a word picture of a fisherman luring his prey from its place of safety when he writes, ‘But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.’ (James 1:14) He continues to record the results of this self-centered pursuit: ‘Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.’ (James 1:15)

Sexual sin causes significant hurt in the lives of wives and children. Laurie Hall honestly expressed her pain in a letter to her husband, who was addicted to pornography. In An Affair of the Mind she writes, ‘Later you called ‘ and you wanted to talk with the kids. Why? You never had time for them before. Sandy collapsed. Talking with you brought all her angers and fears to the fore. She was crying so hard, she couldn’t catch her breath, and I had to catch her as she fell. Ian spent three hours on the phone (with someone else) ‘ he couldn’t tell me how he was feeling ‘ Dear God, it’s already started. My babies are dying, and I can’t do anything to save them. I don’t even have the strength to save myself.’ (p. 46)

Exhaustion, confusion, embarrassment, disgust, anxiety, depression, shame, shock, anger, loneliness–all these and more represent the thoughts and emotions of those lost in the wake of lust. Coming to grips with the separations that one’s sexual acting out has perpetrated is a necessary and healthy aspect of the healing journey.
Let me suggest an action item if you are tracking with these thoughts. If you’re ready, this exercise will shift your sobriety into a higher gear of recovery.

  1. List the names of the people you hurt with your behaviors and words.
  2. Think of how you hurt each one.
  3. Reflect on how each person must have felt.
  4. Write each one a letter (you may want to write only one or two a week) expressing their feelings and hurts, along with anything else you may want to say. Do not, at this point, mail the letters or share their content with those you have offended.
  5. Read the letters out loud, one at a time, imagining you are talking with each individual.
  6. Share the import of this exercise with your therapist, sponsor and/or accountability partners.
  7. Make appropriate amends, when ready.

This process could take some time depending on the number of people affected, but it will give you an open and honest platform for building relational health. However, let me share a word of caution: DO NOT CONTACT THE PEOPLE ON YOUR LIST UNTIL YOU HAVE EITHER WORKED THROUGH STEPS 8 & 9 OF AN APPROPRIATE 12-STEP PROGRAM WITH A SPONSOR, OR YOUR THERAPIST GIVES YOU THE OK.

That summer day long ago I determined to rescue my sinking boat. So, fully dressed, I jumped into the lagoon and swam hard before it was too late. I retrieved the model and rebuilt it, but I always looked in all directions before letting it set sail again. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to restore your marriage and family? I encourage you to take unusual measures to protect them, care for them, nurture them, and reorient your heart toward them. Chart your new course today.

To get some help, please join us at Every Man’s Battle or New Life Weekend.

A Love Story

God used the prophet Hosea to communicate to his people that he loved them and desired a restored relationship with them.  How?  In a most unlikely way.  God commanded Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman named Gomer.  As soon as Hosea and his wife’s children were born, she prostituted herself and, in time, became enslaved.  In response to God’s command, Hosea then redeemed his wife from slavery and restored her to the family.  God intended this demonstration of unconditional love to symbolize his own love for the people of Israel.

God treated his people with mercy and compassion even though they rejected him and his will for them time and again.  But though God was angered by the unfaithfulness of his people he never rejected them completely.  Neither did he condone their sin by extending unqualified mercy.  He allowed the Israelites to suffer the consequences of their disobedience.  After this, however, he promised to restore them when they repented.

While the story of Hosea’s gracious love for Gomer is the story of God’s love for the wayward Israelites, it’s also the story of God’s love for you.  You, too, choose the way of disobedience that leads inevitably toward suffering and exile.  But as God did with Israel, he often uses the pain of exile to bring you to your senses and lead you back to him.  Then, through God’s unfailing love, you can be restored and enjoy an intimate relationship with him.

Caleb

Steve Arterburn

Do you seek the acceptance of others when you make decisions? You’re not alone. Many men seek approval by often siding with the majority viewpoint.  Unfortunately, in our world system, the majority viewpoint seldom gives God and his Word much consideration.

Caleb, however, was a man who saw things from God’s perspective and stood against the majority opinion.  Do you remember his story?  He was among the twelve spies who entered Canaan.  Ten of these spies–a clear majority–believed that the Promised Land couldn’t be conquered.  They came back with stories of impregnable walled cities defended by terrible giants.  They told the people the task was hopeless, letting their fears and the majority opinion decide the course of action.  But Caleb, along with Joshua, differed with the majority.  Caleb agreed that Canaan was well fortified and the task formidable.  But he also believed that even the greatest of enemies was no match for the mighty God of Israel.  He urged the people to believe in God’s promises.

Sadly the people followed the majority opinion and refused to enter the Promised Land.  It’s easy to focus on the obstacles in our own lives–all those things that make change seem impossible.  But you and I can learn from Caleb.  When the situation appeared hopeless, he knew that victory could come by seeking the God who promised victory.  Caleb knew that self-worth isn’t found in the approval of other people, but only in the loving eyes of God.