The Path of Freedom (part 1)
God broke the chains of sexual sin that held me prisoner for 25 years. Not only did He break the chains, He led me out of prison and I haven’t looked back since. I want to describe what happened that night and summarize what it’s been like to walk the path of freedom with God.
On November 30th, 2016, I made a series of horrible decisions that resulted in me being unfaithful to my wife. I was 35 years old, had been married for almost 10 years, Maty was five months pregnant and I’d been in bondage to sexual sin since I was 11 years old. Looking back now, and reviewing what I wrote in my journal, despair seems to be the best word to describe how I felt. Any hope I had for the future was lost. I started to believe that my life was over. Shame dominated me. The following is what I wrote in my journal on December 1st: What am I to say? What am I to do? By myself I am a broken sinner. The only thing I know how to do is follow my flesh and walk in destruction. Oh, God, I cry out to You and at the same time I hide my face in shame for I have sinned against You, Maty, and myself. How can I stand? This will take time. I’m broken.
While writing those words not only was I thinking about what I’d done, but I was also thinking about 25 years of failure. It all started when I was 11 years old. An older boy who I knew sexually abused me numerous times. All my sexual boundaries were shattered. Soon I was hooked to pornography. As I entered high school, I was sexual active with numerous girls. I never felt fulfilled and always knew something was wrong. But I continued. After a while, I was introduced to strip clubs and the dark world of lust that goes along with those types of establishments. As time went on, I still knew in my gut the struggle was tearing me apart inside, but I didn't stop. I also didn’t tell anyone.
In 2003, I gave my life to Jesus. Once I made this decision, there was a season of purity. I asked God to forgive me of all my sin and I placed my faith in Jesus. A few weeks after I was baptized, I was transferred overseas for my job. My new life was exciting and presented an opportunity to start over. I poured myself into my work, enjoying the Belgian countryside, studying, and serving in a local English speaking church. For the first time in my life, I was not caught up in sexual sin. I was pure and determined to remain so!
But human determination often disappoints. While in Germany on a work trip, I had dinner and drinks with my coworkers. Later that evening while socializing, I met a lady and one thing led to another. I remember going back to my hotel and standing under the shower crying for what I’d done. I was hoping the water would wash away my sin. It didn’t. Sorrow was overwhelmed by shame. That shame silenced me.
I tried to move on with my life and was determined to be more careful. But that didn’t last. Not long after, I was back into my old habits. My relationship with God was strained. I prayed for forgiveness and tried to stay pure, but I couldn’t. This pattern defined my life all the way until last December.
There were times over the 25 years when I wanted more than anything to be free, but after so much sin, I believed that I would be in bondage until I died. But after being unfaithful, I was at the end of myself. While crying out to God all night and having the chains broken in one moment, I started to see clearly for the first time in my life. I decided that night to change, but this time I wouldn’t rely on myself, I would rely on Holy Spirit.
That night I confessed everything to my brother and my best friend. They responded in love and grace and helped me in those initial days. I started to pray, study the Bible, and journal about what I was experiencing. The way I describe that experience best is that I met God at the foot of a mountain trail. He looked at me and I looked at Him. He placed His hands on my shoulder with a tight grip and said, “I’m proud of you son, are you ready?” I took a deep breath, looked at the path before us and looked back at Him. “Yes, I’m ready”, I said. And then we started to walk.