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Are You Still in the Desert?

Each month, I hear from dozens of Christians who are coming out of a homosexual background. For most, life is a hard struggle. Many wonder if it's worth the effort to keep trying, especially, when they have just fallen sexually and feel like they are right back at "square one."

Church activities have become routine and boring. Sexual temptations still hound them and they wonder if there even is such a creature as "ex-gay!" Their situation reminds me of God's people as they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land. Although they were only about 10 days journey [by foot] from their goal when they left Egypt, many of them never made it, even after wandering in the desert for forty years. What were some of the problems? Our Journey. There are some interesting similarities between Israel's experiences and our own journey out of homosexuality. Israel's initial deliverance was supernatural. No one but the Lord God Almighty could have rescued His people from the terrible bondage that was destroying them. Forced to be slaves for the nation of Egypt, their lives were made bitter with hard labor. Their escape from the grip of the Egyptians was accompanied by some of the mightiest miracles in the Old Testament: the ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, and the sun standing still. Any of us who have come out of gayness realize that it takes a Power greater than ourselves to make it a reality. Only God can give a person the courage to leave the security of the old lifestyle, to begin again to rebuild their whole life structure. Israel's Progress Was Marked By Hardship. As the weeks of Israel's journey stretched into months and then into years, the people began to get discouraged. From my own travels through Sinai, I know that this is a harsh, desolate land. Has your own initial excitement about leaving homosexuality to follow Christ turned to disillusionment? Many of the Israelites longed to return to the old lifestyle. In their memory, it seemed so much easier. back in Egypt, food was plentiful and had great variety -- their flesh was fully satisfied. One of the major signs of still being "in the desert" is that a person's focus is on the past. They concentrate on how life used to be. They think about all the things they have given up. Some former homosexuals have given up gay sex, but still continue to cruise, to nurture homosexual fantasies while masturbating, to hang onto their gay friends who are not interested in following Christ. If you have sincerely made the decision to follow the Lord Jesus, you must put your hand to the plow and not look back any longer. (Luke 9:62). Sure, life for the ex-gay is not easy. Anyone living for God has rough times. There is the wrong idea in some church circles that becoming a Christian is a shortcut to peace, joy, and bliss -- no more problems! Nothing could be further from the Biblical perspective. Jesus said, "In the world you shall have tribulations," (John 16:33), a statement we'd like to ignore. It has helped me to know that everyone has their struggles, no matter how serene they appear on the outside. Israel's Progress Was Hindered By Ungratefulness. In the wilderness, God was always watching over His people. He faithfully supplied all their needs: they were given manna daily, they received meat and water, their clothes and shoes never wore out. But Israel still got disheartened. The people forgot where they had come from and why they were on their journey. They began rebelling against what the Lord was trying to accomplish in their lives. Their grumbling was the key reason that many never made it out of the wilderness (Numbers 14:29). They stayed there until they died. A second sign of being "in the desert" is that you focus on what you don't have rather than on what God is providing. This results in discouragement and a desire to turn back. Unfortunately, I hear from many people in much the same position. A negative outlook will destroy you. Thankfulness is a choice, not just a feeling which depends on outward circumstances. Israel's Victories Were Won In God's Strength -- Not Their Own. As God's people traveled to the Promised Land, there were many enemy nations that tried to stop them. They were woefully outnumbered and were certain of defeat many times until the Lord rescued them. You may be encountering opposition from all sides: from your old gay pals who think you're crazy to want to change, from liberal Christians who don't think you need to change, even from conservative Christians who don't want anything to do with you until you have changed! There is no way we can maintain victory on our own. Many ex-gays are barely making it. They have never gotten beyond the point of struggling against strong temptations every day. They begin to be bitter against God for their past, and think that He has deserted them because they have failed Him. But one point we constantly emphasize in our counseling is the need for a quiet time with God each day. Does yours even exist? Many Christians have lots of problems, but they have no time for prayer; their Bible sits unused from Sunday to Sunday. Their main weapons for change and victory lie on the sidelines of battle. Israel's Progress Was Marked By A Lack Of Goals. The Israelites began to also lose sight of where they were headed. "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Proverbs 29:18a). Getting some goals to work towards is vital for anyone. Ask God for some if you have none. What areas of your life need changing? What activities could you take part in to effect change? Without something to aim for, the Christian life can become routine, lifeless, and boring. The Promised Land This territory was promised to God's people. But most of them never entered it. God's Word has many promises for us. But for many, they are never taken hold of. "Old things are passed away ..." and yet there is continual falling back into homosexuality. "Anything is possible ..." and yet there seems to be no way out. God wants to change that for you! But no changes will come if you respond as the children of Israel did. With Fear. One of the roots of fear is a distorted view of God's character. We don't know Him, so we don't trust Him as we should. This can only be changed as we come to know God through prayer and study of His Word, as well as through spending time with Christian friends who do know Him well. Individuals who have an enthusiasm for God and an excitement about serving Him can kindle the same positive outlook in us. Another root of fear is holding onto things that should be fully released into His care. Two years ago, my greatest fear in life was that people would find out that I struggled with homosexuality. When I released that area of my life to God, He helped me to face that fear. Today, I sometimes feel that half the world knows I'm ex-gay and it doesn't bother me at all! With Unbelief. The more we see the hand of God at work in our lives, the less we have to deal with doubt. When you pray, be specific, so that you will know for sure when He answers. ask others what God has done for them. God invites us to test Him (Malachi 3:10) and watch how He comes through. So do it! Above all, remember that the longest journey is traveled one step at a time. Know that no matter how barren things seem right now, Jesus walks beside you constantly. Don't give up. Keep looking ahead and hold fast to the promise of Isaiah 43:18,19: Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder the things of the past. Behold, I will do something new. Now it will spring forth: Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.

This article is reprinted by permission from: Bob Davies.