The July 25th Psalm (see “The Songs of Jesus” in the Resources) was Psalm 84:5-8 where it speaks of walking through the “Valley of Baka” – a valley with no water. Dry. Parched. Stretched. No life-sustaining moisture. Spiritually speaking, a perceived absence of the Presence of God.
When I look back on my life I’ve lived the vast majority of it in a pit. A pit that was dark and lonely and filled with stinking, rotting lies, deceit and filth. Praise God I recognize it now as what it was but I deserve no pity. It was a pit I labored long and hard to dig. It was a pit I filled with the snarling demons of self, lust and falsehood. It was a pit I filled with the lies I chose to believe. Yes, I was a sex addict. I had a “diagnosis.” But it was a malady born of my own choices. My … own … CHOICES. For the better part of 45 years I lived in this pit, playing the Godly man, playing the faithful husband, playing the elder, living a lie. The one truth in all of it, the one truth that was buried in the mire, made sick in the muck, was that I loved my wife and family. I know. Truly I do. If you’ve read “Our Story” you must now ask the obvious, and very appropriate, question: “HOW could you have committed adultery all those times for all those years and still claim to have loved your wife?” That discussion is for another blog post but it’s also a question that still lingers in our recovery. It’s a bitter pill for a devoted wife to swallow.
I have been “clean and sober” without a single relapse for three years at the time of this writing. The date is etched on my heart for all eternity. God forgives (thank you, THANK YOU!) and He forgets. I have forgiven but I dare not forget, lest I return to the pit.
I am FREE. By God’s indescribable, unfathomable, majestic Grace, He set me free from the bondage of sexual addiction. At first I would sometimes wonder, “Why me? Why not also the men I know that continue to struggle? I’m not special. Why me?” I would come to my senses and remember that hidden in those questions is the lie that Satan once planted long years ago: I’m nobody. I’m nothing. God hates me because of my sin. But the truth is very simple: I AM special! Am I more special than any of you reading this blog? Absolutely, positively NOT!! That is just one of the fantastic aspects of the incredible (and incomprehensible) Power and Might of an Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, HOLY God. I am special to Him. I am so special He drew me close to Him and set me free. He can, and He will, do the same for you.
So if God has given me His Grace and has set me free from my bondage, washed my filthy rags and brought me home, then after only 3 short years, how dare I experience dryness with Him? HE hasn’t moved. His Presence is still with me. But times right now are hard on just about every front. Some of our kids are struggling with issues (born, at least in part, I believe, from the addicted life I led), I’m working at half salary and can’t find other employment, Lynn’s career is on a plateau, my mother and Lynn’s father both have cancer, yesterday, with no warning, a huge limb broke off one of our trees, wreaked havoc on our fence and flower garden and just missed the porch (so, yes, it could have been a LOT worse) and finally, we are trying to take the gifts God has given us and begin a Freedom Ministry at our church (exciting, daunting and stressful all at once). I feel dry. I feel stretched. I long for His Goodness and a drink from His Hand, to simply BE in His Presence and bask in His Beauty. I have felt and personally experienced the Gift of His Grace in my heart. I am well aware that He is always with me.
This is the Valley of Baka – dry and arid. But it is a perceived absence of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, not an actual absence. It is dry and it is hard but we are never alone. As Psalm 84 concludes, the secret is to keep walking. Focus. Look Jesus squarely in the eyes and never waiver, never look away – and KEEP WALKING – toward Him. There will be refreshment in Jesus’ arms. He says so. Guaranteed.