To The Cross

by Richard

My Journey To The Foot Of The Cross

I was raised in a Christian home. In fact my father was a pastor but the church I
grew up in as a young man was very legalistic and during
my teenage years I began to rebel against the church and
what it stood for. Without even realizing it at the time
I came to resent Dad and even God himself. My picture
of God was based on my relationship with my earthly father.
Because I was unable to separate the things of value that
I was taught from the things I knew I could never live
up to, I tossed everything away that I had been taught
about God and the Church. This would prove to have a devastating
impact on me and my family. My first marriage ended in
divorce after about 13 years. I had several adulterous
affairs during that marriage and the pain and damage it
caused was too much to overcome. I remarried two years
later and determined to do things differently, but it
wasn’t long until I was right back in the same madness
that I seemingly had no control over.

As I look back now, I realize
that through this entire time God never took his hand
off my life or my family. In January 1990 I recommitted
myself to God and began giving Him the broken parts of
my life. He began healing certain parts immediately. I’ve
had the privilege of seeing all my family members accept
Christ, including my youngest son who had gone through
drug and alcohol rehab and was in and out of the juvenile
court system.

We became involved in our
local church and for the first time I began to enjoy worshiping
and growing in Christ without the baggage of legalism.
All was not well however. There was a dark, secret part
of my life that was hidden from even those closest to
me. It was the life of sexual addiction. While I was able
to remain faithful to my wife physically, I lived in a
sexual fantasy world and I fed off a steady diet of pornographic
images. I would literally cry out to God at times to heal
me of this burden but those cries seemed to fall on deaf
ears. I also experienced deep anger almost on a daily
basis and would often take that anger out on family members
or coworkers. There were periods of times through sheer
determination and willpower that I would cease viewing
pornography and determine in my heart to start over, but
eventually I would always fall back into the same rut
with an even deeper sense of shame and hopelessness. Through
all of this I stayed close to my church family. It was
there that I found hope. It was there that I stayed hungry
for healing.

I continued to participate
in areas of leadership in the church and I learned how
to project a good false image to those around me. It became
increasingly difficult to live this double life however
and I began to feel the need to retreat. I was sure that
the answer to my problem lay in learning to know Jesus
Christ on a very intimate level. Somehow I had to find
a way to expose this area of my life in a safe “God
Present” environment. That meant exposing it to someone
else other than just God. Up to now it was just His and
my “little secret”. I began to change my prayer
and cry to God from, “heal me” to, “send
someone in my life that can help me”.

It was about this time
last year that I determined in my heart that over the
next year the most important thing in my life would be
seeking that personal relationship with Jesus. I would
begin my search in earnest and I began to show God that
I was ready to do the things necessary to allow Him to
come into the secret places of my heart and expose them
as He saw fit. I knew I needed to trust Him completely.
I began by giving up my position on the church board.
I made an excuse by saying I was too busy. It was still
not safe to give even my pastor and friend the real reason
for declining, but I knew I could no longer fake my spirituality
by remaining in church leadership. I was ready to give
up anything that would keep me from my goal of getting
real with God.

It was during this time
that Jeff & Wendy Watros came to our church, shared
their testimonies, and told us about Greater Hope Ministries.
I knew that morning that God had answered my prayer of
sending someone in my life to help and I decided that
I would call to see if I could get in the upcoming Living
Waters class. I went through the application process,
and on November 9th of last year I started the Living
Waters program.

One thing that Jeff emphasized
in his teaching was to allow God access to the broken
areas of our lives, to reveal the source of the hurt and
pain that had caused us to attach ourselves to the idols
that now controlled us. As I was studying for our 4th
lesson I came across an awesome truth. In II Cor.5:21,
I read “For God took the sinless Christ and poured
into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s
goodness into us.” I knew immediately that was a
great verse and I thought I understood what it meant.
I pushed my lesson to the side and asked God to show me
what that verse meant for me personally. As I closed my
eyes, God started to give me an image. I began to take
all my fantasies, the pornographic images as they came
to my mind and put them in a box. When I thought the box
was full I visualized myself going to the foot of the
cross of Christ. He was hanging on that cross and I knelt
there and presented my box of garbage at His feet. Then
I became aware of His blood covering me until I was completely
enveloped. I looked down and realized the box was gone!

For the first time I sensed
purity in my life. The sinless Christ had absorbed my
sin and the purity I experienced was the goodness of God.
I’ve played that image over in my mind hundreds of times
since and each time I’ve been willing to fill the box
and take it to the cross He has proven himself faithful.
Am I completely healed after 30 weeks of Living Waters?
No but I’m in the process. I no longer feel helpless and
hopeless and I’m now ok with the struggle. I’m ok with
the struggle for a couple of reasons. First of all I know
what to do with it. Whenever I’m tempted I simply have
a decision to make. I can take my temptations; the images
and the fantasies that come to my mind put them in my
box and take them to the cross of Christ. If I do that
my work is done. Everything else has already been done
there and I can experience the goodness of God in my life.
Or I can choose to linger just a little while with those
thoughts. If I linger there to long I begin to set up
the idols that would please the flesh and it always leads
to a sense of guilt and shame. Secondly I’m ok with the
struggle because I realize it’s what drove me to seek
that close personal intimate relationship with Christ
and will probably keep me there because I realize my complete
and utter dependence on Him in that area of my life.

There are many other things
that I’ve learned over the last 30 weeks that I could
share with you but space doesn’t allow. My journey during
this time is best described in John 3:19-21. “This
is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men
loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were
evil. Everyone who loves evil hates the light, and will
not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be
exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the
light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has
done has been done through God.” I used to live in
verses 19 and 20, now by the grace of God I’m living in
verse 21.

What Living Waters did
for me is this. It facilitated my journey to the foot
of the cross of Christ. I’d like to thank Jeff and Wendy
for the Greater Hope Ministry and for their leadership,
their teaching, and their willingness to be transparent
as they taught us during this time. I’d also like to thank
all my new friends in Living Waters, especially the guys
in small group for being open and honest and for providing
that God present environment where we could share and
get real with each other and God. But most of all I’d
like to thank my Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ for loving me enough to die on my cross,
and for providing me with hope and healing.

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