Sunday, September 30, 2007

What If?

History was made last night as the first meeting of the Samson Society in Lakewood, Colorado was held. By God’s grace and through multiplication, many men will find freedom through authentic friendships with other men.

Here is a verse we pondered at the beginning: Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him--a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV) Here is how another version renders verse 10: If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it's just too bad, because there is no one to help him. (Ecclesiastes 4:10 GNB)

I have thought a lot about these verses recently as I have reflected on the objectives of the Samson Society. I don’t want to walk alone anymore. I used to think that a man’s wife prevented him from walking alone. What I have found is that since my wife and I have many times when we are not on the best of terms, I need a friend who can look objectively at my life and help me sort things out.

I came across an article the other day that helped me understand these thoughts even better. It was about lessons from the fall of Ted Haggard. A sidebar written by Nate Larkin, a founder of the Samson Society, provided some great insight. I would encourage you to read the whole thing. Here is a link.

Here are the thoughts I have grabbed from it:

Ever since adolescence, I had wrestled in vain against the unspeakable power of sexual fantasy. I hated the things it made me do and I hated myself for doing them, but I found that I could not hate my sin or hate myself enough to stop. Well, that's not exactly true. I could stop. I just couldn't stay stopped for very long.

I'd tried all the remedies I knew. I'd repented ad nauseam, forswearing illicit sex until I couldn't bring myself to mock my Maker with another empty promise. I'd prayed until my knees hurt, studied until my head swam, memorized Scriptures and repeated them like the rosary. I'd sought counseling. I'd submitted to prayer for deliverance. I'd even confessed to my wife. Each new effort brought some temporary relief, but my hopes for sexual integrity were always dashed eventually.

During the darkest years of my life, I begged God time and again for a private solution to my private problem, but He never gave me one. Today, I'm glad He didn't. Today, I can finally see a purpose in His apparent passivity. My weakness, which the enemy intended to use for evil, God was determined to use for good.

God had not afflicted me, but He had decided not to remove my affliction. He loved me too much to remove from my life the one lever big enough to force me out of isolation and into honest relationships with other disciples. In the end, I found victory over my sin by surrendering not just to Christ, but also to the body of Christ.
That is what I am seeing in my life as well. I’m not going to gain victory over anger or critical speech, etc. by self-improvement and I’m not going to be able to do it alone. Two reasons are that God wants the glory and He wants me in close relationship with other men.

Even though our sins may be different, we are not that different. The solution to our besetting sin may be authentic relationships with others.

So what if this has been the reason all along that even though we have prayed and begged God for help, it has not come; at least until now?


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