By Stephen L France
My greatest, most embarrassing, humiliating wound; my most potent weakness, is that I’ve never been able to call someone my girlfriend; my partner. I don’t blush, but I can feel my face heating up as I write this…
In the past, if someone desired to do me the most harm, this would be the optimum assault one could utilise. It’s something so normal, so simple in both the secular and Christian world and yet it’s an experience that’s completely escaped me – and it hurts…a great deal.
To be able to walk hand-in-hand down the road…to be able to go to the cinema…to take in a sunset or night sky with a partner…it’s ridiculous, I know, but these are simple activities I’ve never, ever, experienced.
I’m aware many people take having a partner for granted and fail to recognise how much their significant other contributes to their overall behaviour and confidence in life; similar to the lack of appreciation for being gifted with three meals-a-day or having a home. But there it is – my greatest wound – and my awareness that it will be appreciated as a true God-given miracle when I do meet the right person.
By my old perceptions, this was a rejection from the world and for over a decade, I felt it to be a rejection and betrayal from God the Father.
EEC RESTORATION ENCOUNTER WEEKEND
During the recent Emmanuel Evangelical Church Restoration Encounter Weekend (July 15 – 17, 2016), we were compelled to confront our most profound moments of hurt and seek healing through prayer and forgiveness of self, forgiveness of others, and in some cases, forgiveness of God. Transparency of our shames and guilt in a steadfast, honest manner was necessary to this psychological and spiritual process, freeing us from the internal strongholds that the world had inflicted to keep us prisoner of our own minds.
It was a true working of Ephesians 4:23 and Romans 12:2, tearing down the deceptions that were constructed in us from childhood, through to adolescence, right up to the present day.
It wasn’t a simple matter of putting the past behind us like so many new age philosophies instruct. We were guided to revisit and visualise those most painful issues where the lies were implanted and speak truth into them through the power of the Holy Spirit.
My deepest lies are: I will never be chosen. I will always be alone. And God doesn’t love me. My mission is to discover the truth about who I am through God and His Word.
There is no doubt that this was all part of the Lord’s perfect plan for me and I’m certain all attendees felt the same with the honest, humble, transparency in fellowship we experienced through God.
MEN’S PURITY GROUP
I’ve been laughed at. And I do mean really laughed at for what I’m about to say…but, it’s what I’m facing now and hiding away from it is just not the Godly way.
In my Feeding Faith blogs so far, I keep referring to March 26, EEC Easter Conference, because it was here when everything changed and I was placed into ‘the wilderness’ – the ‘trials ground’ of faith. It’s not easy and I’m currently at a stage where I have no idea where my life will lead tomorrow, but the good Word says when you put your life into God’s hands, this is how it’s supposed to be; living for every day as it comes: Matthew 6:34.
Since then, I’ve had to face off with the most challenging aspects of faith. I only know they’re the most difficult by talking to multiple ‘veteran’ Christians.
The first crucial area I had to deal with was ‘rejection’ in the aforementioned form. Rejection–as we know–is huge, and effective, efficient healing of the past is vital in order to move into a solid foundation with God for the future.
The second area that has emerged is the one that even as I write these words, I’m slightly afraid to say, because it’s shocking even in Christian circles.
When EEC Pastor Peter told me ‘no sex before marriage’ when I first joined the church in January 2015, my mind quietly laughed and said that’s madness. But by power of God, I have been celibate until present amid a horrible pulling sensation in my stomach that sometimes occurs telling me:
You’re missing out Stephen.
You could be enjoying yourself.
What the hell are you doing?
You’re going to regret this!
You’re wasting your life!
But I know that voice.
It’s not my friend. It’s not my friend at all.
I’m also aware of the absolute truth: 2 Samuel 22:31. If I decide to go my own way—bars, pubs, clubs, I will end up hurting…a lot.
Keeping that all in mind, Matthew 5: 28 – 29 is the verse that poses the greatest challenge for single Christian men around the world. This line takes one’s Christian life to that point where I had to ask a blunt question. Will I follow God’s way or choose my own?
There is a great deal about sexual immorality in the Bible, but this is the focal verse that informs us that looking at certain pictures and videos is wrong. It took a year and two months of asking God about this, before I had that logic-defying answer from Him that put me on the path of spiritual purity, joining a men’s purity group through the Kingdom Conquer Series.
All I can say about this is there are countless distractions and I cannot deny my trepidation – it’s a movement that has now made me live every day as it comes and I’m honestly unable to see my future. I have finally let go of all control of my life. I would not be telling the truth if I didn’t confess my fear, and also the feeling like I’m a monk.
The fact is on December 22, 2014, I emerged out of a sex-rampant country where infidelity is rife.
To make such a transformation of mind is not easy, but only the Holy Spirit can get me through and I’m praying I meet that special woman soon, because it’s also drawn a complete blank as to who she will be, how I will meet her…how I will talk to her…everything.
SIGNS FROM GOD
Moving forward with God, my connection with the Lord has to progress into a more personal and direct relationship. For someone like myself who stands with a logical and methodical mind, this is very hard.
Signs from God are what people in the secular world will often term as ‘coincidence.’ As an individual who has difficulty hearing from God, He uses my attention to visual details to send His messages. For me, Restoration Weekend was part of God’s perfect way. Two days before, I’d bought a book—Switch on Your Brain—that had been recommended to me from a member of my purity group. To then see that this was the sole book promoted at my Restoration conference, despite thousands of secondary Christian resources that could have been there, was communication from God that I’m on the right path.
If you’re a new Christian or even if not, how has your journey been with the Lord to the present day?