As I was driving yesterday to pick my father up from the airport, I tried to use the time to pray. The drive from my house past a gazillion tollgates lasted about 50 minutes. Long distance drives and toll roads in Central Florida remind of playing monopoly, when you don’t own Boardwalk and Park Place, there are hotels on both and a roll of the dice could bankrupt you. Anyway. I was praying, rather sporadically, for friends, my dad’s flight and guys that I mentor. A few seconds into the prayer I realized I was like Obama without a teleprompter. Why was I so ADHD while I was praying? I thought, if God were one of my human friends and I communicated in the same way, I probably wouldn’t have a lot of friends. We don’t just take in relationships with people. It’s give and take. That is how a good relationship evolves.
What was wrong with me? I had a 50-minute block of time to talk to the creator of the Universe and there I was acting like Zechariah after a visit from Gabriel. It wasn’t pretty or respectful. So I tried to do better. I succeeded, marginally, but it led me to reevaluate how I communicate with God. There are a few well-known ways to fashion one’s prayer so that it is more effective. Different religions have different ways to communicate with God. I like to sit down and have a one on one conversation with God. I don’t burn incense or lock myself away or go through a mediator.
In 1 John 2, the bible says that in Jesus “...we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” The bible calls Jesus our High Priest. Hebrews 4:14 ‘Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (And here is the best part, in my opinion.) 16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. We have a direct line to the Almighty, Creator of the Universe.”
The drive and my “irreverent” prayer made me think. God is not a “Cosmic Cash Machine” or simply protection from the schoolyard bully. God is my Father. That was a hard concept for me. I grew up hating my father. He was distant and cold. We didn’t get along. He was the strict disciplinarian, who made Christianity too lofty a goal. The distance from my father was a contributing factor to the development of homosexuality in my life. My brother seemed to be my dad’s favorite son. Ultimately, I didn’t get an accurate understanding of the true meaning of the word, father. Maybe you are in the same boat. When I turned my heart and life to Christ and away from my sin, I began to see a completely different side to the word ‘father’. Sin in my life had blocked me from receiving anything from my father.
Over time, God humanized my earthly father, allowing for a love to develop between us and for Christianity to seem attainable. God stepped in as a loving Father and introduced me to the only perfect, human example, Jesus. He did it in a loving way, at a point in my life where my bitter heart was finally accessible. I met Jesus at rock bottom, while others have met Him at the top of their game. And I am so okay with that. Last seat on the plane to Fiji is still a seat on the plane. So many people’s lives are steeped in pride and entitlement. The love of Jesus has difficulty penetrating their hardened hearts, until everything else has been stripped away. Without the sin of homosexuality in my life, I would have never known Jesus in the way that I do. I ran across a scripture today in my daily reading; it was convicting, challenging and ‘the reason behind the write’ here today.
Luke 4:42 At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them.
I sat there for a moment and wondered. When was the last time that I searched desperately for Jesus, found Him and then begged Him to stay? If I am being honest, my friends, it was a very long time ago. As a man coming away from a gay life, I thought of this a different way. When was the last time I longed to sit and stare into Jesus’ ‘eyes’ the way I did so many guys back in the day? I pray. I spend time in the word, but ‘window shopping’ and investing your heart are very different. My goal is to remedy this ‘problem’ I have. I longed my entire life for a Father and a friend. Then He shows up and some days I treat him like Burger King rather than the “Heart Surgeon” who saved my life.
My father is sleeping soundly in the next room. Oh the journey that God has taken us on. I was once convinced that I didn’t have a thing in common with him. I let the sin of homosexuality steal away the very blessing that family can be. I mistakenly viewed homosexuality as a gift from God for so long. Now I can finally see it as the curse that blinded me. All the while satan used it to strip away every anchor I had in the world in order to set me adrift on a sea of sin.
Life doesn’t have to be that way for you my friend. While you still have breath in your lungs, you can change your future. The love of a family fulfills a soul much better than maintaining your pride. Take some time today and recommit to Jesus. God has a plan for your life. If you don’t know Jesus or have been angry with Him, He’s okay if you’re reaching up from Rock Bottom. He was there before you, so your trip wouldn’t be so bad. Romans 10:13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” You’ve been longing for a new start for so long. Let today be the day you dust off that bible and make the connection of all connections. Talk to Jesus like you would an old friend. Rest from your long, exhausting journey can be found in His arms.