When Resolutions Wear Off

By now, many folks who made a “No More Porn” new year’s resolution have found their resolve beginning to wane. There is only so long someone can white-knuckle it, hanging on for dear life by their will alone. If you realize that you are barely making it, I hope you’ll take it as a time to acknowledge your weakness and the futility of your own strength. The only true freedom comes in the person of Jesus; for freedom He set us free.

We have to recognize that our best effort, on our best day guided by the best of intentions will still come up short. It’s at the end of ourselves we are most likely to find the beginning of Christ. Perhaps the end of yourself will be the end of your new year’s streak? Maybe it will be the decision to come to an EMB workshop? For some men it’s the moment they decide their wife really is not the problem. For others it is when they decide they are going to happen to life instead of just letting life happen to them.

I hope your self-reliance streak ends soon. The quicker that happens the quicker you can fall back into the arms of a waiting Savior.

Exits & Off-Ramps

“Is there something you need to tell me?”

On at least two different occasions during the first few years of our marriage Shelley would ask me that question. I’ll never forget one night as we were lying in bed about to doze off, probably 10:30pm, she asked me completely out of the blue. No prompting, no warning, no preface or qualifiers; just the most cutting question I’d ever been asked to that point. Panic ensued internally. My answer?

“Nope. Nothing. Good night.”

In hindsight, I can see what it was all about. It was God’s grace. It was his Spirit stirring in her soul to give me an opportunity to end my addiction. I simply wasn’t willing to take it. Freedom was a confession away and I was too reluctant to grab hold of it. God tells us clearly in His word that he’ll show up to offer us a way through and out of temptation:

1 Corinthians 10:13 – The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Once we’ve taken the on-ramp to the highway of lies and acting out it is easy to fly past all the possible exits. Unfortunately, when we’ve got the cruise-control set and we’re headed towards wrecking things again, exits don’t really look like exits; they look like road blocks. It can feel like there is no way off the turnpike and we’re paying tolls with our sanity. At first  glance it appears like we would be crazy to crash ourselves into them.

Full disclosure is one such exit. It seems ludicrous to think that telling someone every dark detail of our story would help end our addiction to sin. It feels like things would only get worse, not better, to tell our spouse the truth. But it may just be the way God has planned for you. It was for me. He gave me multiple opportunities to end my addiction by coming clean and telling Shelley the truth. I was unwilling to take the off-ramp. That is, until the day came that I realized I would die if I didn’t stop. Literally, I almost drove my truck off a north Dallas highway early one morning after acting out again. Perhaps God has already shown you some possible exits in your life? Confiding in a friend or pastor, joining a support group, or attending an EMB workshop to name a few.

Sometimes the way out of temptation looks nothing like we thought it would. God, in his loving wisdom, knows exactly what we need and when we need it. Often His offering of hope comes when we least expect it in a way we wouldn’t expect it. If you’re struggling with sexual temptation and sin keep your eyes wide open for exits and off-ramps. God is faithful to show them to you.

Old Running Shoes

This week during one of my groups we were privileged to share a profound moment with one of the members who is an EMB alumni. It was his last day of being 49 years old. He was on the verge of 50 and had been reflecting on what that meant to him. The last year for him has been one of turmoil, chaos, change, miracles and a lot of symbolism. After getting busted in one affair and admitting to several more, he began allowing God to change him from the inside out. The change has been profound. He is being restored personally and his marriage is flourishing!

In his reflection he realized that for the last 30+ years he has been running. Running from his family dysfunction, from his true feelings, from his wife and kids, from the darkest most depraved parts of himself and ultimately from God. He has been running from.

Then he threw an old, ragged pair of running shoes down on the floor.  In tears and with deep conviction in his voice he exclaimed, “I’m tired of running from my life. I’m sick of running away. Tomorrow, 50, starts a new life. Tomorrow I begin running to what God has for me. I don’t know how many years I have left after this, but I’m going to make every single one count!”

The weight of his words and the reality of that moment was stark. He is moving from wreckage to redemption. And the people being hit by his wake are better for it. He is becoming a beacon of hope and inspiration to other men.

Maybe you’re tired of running from? Perhaps it is time for a new pair of shoes to start running to what God has next for you?