As is always the case when I travel, share and hang with other Christians who've walked out of homosexuality, I come back refreshed and ready once again to take on the hostile, "tolerant" world we live in. On April 16, I boarded a plane for a 3 day journey to the land down under. My journey took me to some interesting places. Dubai. Malaysia. New York. I was a little apprehensive to travel, after the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370. But I realized that I traveled 2 weeks after 911 in 2001, so I buckled down and simply did what God told me to do. What was that you ask? Well, He simply said, "Trust". At every leg of my journey where I encountered something tough, the Holy Spirit urged me to trust God. When they couldn't find my ticket, when the flight was late, when I almost missed my connection, when I needed sleep, God showed up to provide. Trusting God wasn't a new exercise for me, but let's just say I could always use practice. While I was on the trip, there were a few times that I was moved to tears. Yeah, yeah, I know what you are thinking, that's like saying Oprah had a Donut or Hilary lied under oath, it happens frequently, but these tears were of a different nature. God was leading me on a different journey than I had ever taken before. In addition to being on a ministry trip in Australia, I was taking an internal journey as well. It was a journey of gratitude. One night while praying, I was contemplating how good God had been to me. In the grand scheme of things, I am just another guy on the planet. I am nothing. I don't say that in a self deprecating way or in a way to garner affirmation from anyone. I say that, because it's biblical and I fully became aware of it over the last year in ministry. Apart from God I am nothing. I am okay with that. Yet over this trip he showered me with love and adoration. He allowed me to be used for ministry in ways that he hasn't before. I published a book in the last few weeks as well. My tears came as a result of these revelations of "Who am I that God should use me this way?" and "I know I don't deserve any of this preferential treatment or a free trip to Australia, but God gifted me anyway." It's honestly hard to put into words, but I walked into a new place while "down under". I found myself humbled and gladly in a place of gratitude and praise for my God, for Jesus, for the leading of the Holy Spirit. I found myself, in tears, because God is a God of restoration and change. God is a God of provision and surprises. All I had to learn to do was trust when I didn't want to. I also had to learn that trust, like forgiveness, is a concept not a one time event.
My journey home started two days ago from a little town called Brisbane. I seriously think they invent new airplane boarding rules daily. It's like the TSA gets bored and they have to come up with new hoops for us to jump through. I jumped when I needed to and let them swab my palms, pants and some other areas when they asked. Heck, I even threw away my newly purchased coke right after they gave me a Business Class upgrade for my 13 hour flight from Dubai to Boston. Healing and transformation is as layered as the pain in our lives. I am still learning of pain that I have sustained despite God's best efforts to rid me of it. I am still learning ways that I have just been, well, kinda dumb. And today I realized that I had a double standard that many gay and ex gay men deal with. I have always said I want to keep on learning each and every day. The problem was that I always considered that learning simply meant new knowledge that one acquires through a class or a teaching. I had kind of closed the door to learning that happens when I made the mistakes that all humans make. My pride takes a hit when that kind of learning rears it's head. Why? One word. Pride. I hated to be corrected as a kid and I haven't grown too fond of it now. In order to move forward and be able to instruct others on the art of admitting your mistakes and moving on, I have to work on that myself. Now the human tendency is to say that I'll just try not to make any mistakes. That's like saying I hope Hollywood is going to make accurate Christian films. I've got to be easier on myself, more trusting of God and ready to learn no matter what "Professor" is teaching the class.
I take the next few steps of my life, with trepidatious baby-steps as I navigate these new waters and incorporate my newly discovered gratitude into my every day. Jesus is the reason I do any of the things I do. He is more important than sharing my story, being right or promoting whatever tidbit of knowledge I have learned. Jesus has never changed, nor will change, it's just our need to be right and never wrong that has changed the perception of Jesus to us and to the lost in the world. I come back now with an even greater desire to share Jesus more than Matthew. To listen to the Holy Spirit more than my own needs and desires. To trust God, because He's God and despite what the reality show of my life projects on the screen of my eyeballs. I left Australia refreshed, with a renew sense of who God is and honestly who I am in Christ. Confident I embarked on a journey and wobbly I return, but new birth always promises a little pain, before great joy is experienced.
I will still share the joyful news that God can deliver men and women from homosexuality, but I'll share Jesus first and foremost, because He is the only one that has the power to change any of us. When I walked out of homosexuality, Jesus met me right where I was at and that was a long, damn way from Him. I thank God that He waited, loved and paved the way for me, when I needed it most.