It began with a simple meeting between me and one of my elders. At the last minute the meeting was moved up a day and when he poked his head in my office he smiled and told me we would be meeting in the church library. When I walked in the room there were two more elders sitting in a circle, I was told to take a seat. I knew I had been found out. The next words were, “Pornographic images have been traced to your computer”. I’m in awe of the criminal who can lie and deceive trained interrogators for days. These men were kind and I melted into a pool of regret. I’m not saying I didn’t give my secret a chance to survive. At first I lied and said that I knew nothing about it. Next I said it was “research” (how lame was that). It took all of forty five seconds for me to tell them I had a problem with porn. They were gracious, they said this was a setback but in time, we would all get through this. I would confess my sin before the eight hundred folks who came to our church and in the end this would be a “victory”. The “Jeff problem” was handled by a sub-committee and they remained caring and understanding for the next two months. Then they fired me.
It would be a mistake to view me as a victim in all of this. I was the sole reason for all the pain and sadness. A preacher never dreams of a time that they would be the reason for a church to suffer; I was the reason for a serious setback for a great church.
The ugliest part of my life was now public and my life would never be the same. I now know that my life was not over, just different.
Let me say this; “You make your choices and someone else will make your consequences”. Part of the sickness of compulsion and addiction is that you don’t believe that a consequence applies to you. A person caught up in sin is incapable of coming up with a reasonable consequence for their own bad behavior.
There are no throw away Christians! II Corinthians 11: 2-3 "I am jealous for you with a Godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ."
This passage came as a terrific relief for me. Can you see why? For a time I wondered if I had ever had a meaningful relationship with Jesus. Maybe I have been a phony my whole life. These words comforted me with the truth that there are those “broken pots” like myself who once were among those with sincere and pure devotion to Christ. If I once was honestly faithful to God, then maybe I can be again.
Not only can the Godly suddenly sprawl into a ditch from at first being sincere, devoted and Christ centered...many do. And they aren't talking.
Right after my termination a wonderful fellow minister flew me to his cabin on a beautiful lake outside of Tulsa, OK. I was dropped off and I had a lot of time to think, pray, read and write. Looking out over the lake early one morning I wrote the following.
“The bull trout places himself in the brown green eddy covered by a generous fir branch. The cold clear waters pass through his gills giving him deep satisfaction and the occasional crane fly. All in all being the biggest trout in a medium sized river is a good thing. Suddenly passing right in front of him is something he has only heard about. The sequenced form of a coiled up worm promises a meal of unimaginable potential. He strikes with first a cautious tap and then with the reckless strength of the master of these waters. The worm explodes with juice and the flavor is everything he had imagined. Strange; a light pressure in his mouth, not painful but growing in its presence. Instinctively he flees and his tail fin provides more than enough traction to propel him back to the calm behind the rock. What at first was a nuisance now is an irresistible force pulling him upstream against his will. Streaking to break water and rising in the air surely will shake whatever holds him. Still, he is pulled against his will closer and closer to the bank. Exhausted and confused he rolls on his side and submits to being pulled from the stream and out unto the bank. Gasping for life giving water his gills strain for the creek. He was never created for life in this new place. Funny how a day that started with such promise could end so wrong.”
My story does not end here. The night was not so long that there hasn’t been joy in the morning.
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