Wednesday, September 17, 2008

On MY Road to Damascus

I don't remember exactly when I started down this road. It may have been when I was molested for the first time. Or it may have been when I viewed my first pornography...or the second...or the thousandth. I may have taken the first stem on that spring day when I first discovered the pleasures of masturbation. Or was on my first sexual encounter with another boy near my own age. I'm not sure I will ever know. But, sadly, I've discovered that this road leads away from life...and toward a lonely, painful death.

I recently read the story of Paul in the Book of Acts again when he had his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He went by the name of Saul at this point in his life. He was a strict Pharisee, as religious as they came. And he hated anyone who believed that Jesus was who He claimed to be...the Son of God. So he started down a path...a road...to try to rid the earth of as many Christians as he could. It appears that he was doing such a good job that he wanted to go after those who had moved out of his "hunting" range. Paul got permission from the big mucky-mucks in the church and went out of country to arrest Christ's followers.

But a funny...or not so funny, depending on your perspective...thing happened to Paul as he and some of his fellow travelers where walking down a dusty road leading to Damascus. God didn't seem to like what Paul was up to so He paid him a little visit. Appearing as a bright, blinding light, Jesus touched Paul and he fell to his knees in awe and fear. And in blindness. After a few words with the Master, Paul picks himself up off the ground to find that he can't see and his travelling companions guide him into town where he decides to fast for three days.

It's the next part of this story that has had the greatest impact on me. God tells a Christian living in Damascus to go to Paul and pray for him so he can receive his sight back. And when this man, Ananias, prays for Paul, the Bible says that "scales" fell from Paul's eyes and he was able to see again. I know what that must have felt like because I had been living with scales on my eyes for years...probably decades.

As I look back on the season of my life when I was more or less addicted to pornography and chat on the Internet, it is still difficult for me to comprehend how I could put so much at risk to look at some pictures or read the words that someone I didn't know and would never meet had written for me. How could I prefer to spend hours and hours in chat rooms with "fantasies" when the real world that surrounded me contained all that I loved and cherished. Many people have asked me that question and I never have a good answer. "I don't really know or understand" sounds pretty lame even to me.

More than one person has told me that I couldn't see it, even if I had been looking for it, because I was completely and totally blinded by the sin that I had allowed to creep into my life and establish a stronghold. Even though my wife Paula had told me in no uncertain terms that if I ever went back on-line to chat with boys again, our marriage would be over and I would lose my kids and grandkids, it didn't sink in. Even though I had sat in meetings where we were warned against the problems of pornography in the schools and among professional educators and the consequences if they got caught, I never saw it. And even when a teacher in one of the schools in the district where I was working as an administrator was suspended for having pornography on his school computer, it never occurred to me that anything like that could happen to me. I just couldn't see it!

In the Book of Acts, Paul thought that he had it made as he started out on his little trip to Damascus. He couldn't see the truth of the ancient Hebrew Scriptures that he most likely had memorized. All around him, prophesy was being fulfilled, but he didn't see it. It took an interruption into his life by Christ before he was able to actually see the truth that he had been seeking his entire life. As we read through the remainder of the Book of Acts, we see that the truth for Paul would bring him pain and suffering, and ultimately death. But at least he died seeing the truth.

Like Paul, God interrupted my life as well (not that I can compare myself to Paul). I was living in a life filled with sin that had blinded me from the beauty of the life that God had given me. So He showed up in a big way. I never saw the possibility of the FBI showing up in my office as I would sit at my computer for hours on end. The thought of having to face my board of directors and submit my resignation for being in possession of child pornography had been as likely in my mind as being elected president of the United States. The image of me curled on the floor of my condo, cold and alone, with tears spilling out and staining the carpet as my wife drove away had never entered my mind. But all of it happened.

I can look back now...from a distance of nearly five years...and most of the pain is gone. The loss is still there. My wife and family are still gone. My career is history and can never be an option for the future. The reputation and respect that I had enjoyed for years is still tarnished, though there are a few spots that still have a little sparkle to them. But something else is gone as well. The blindness to the sin that had bound me for so many years is no longer there. Like Paul, the "scales" that were on my eyes fell off...or more likely, were washed away by gallons of tears. I celebrate the day on the road to MY Damascus when I encountered the reality and relationship of God for perhaps the very first time. The day He took away my blindness. The day He turned me around and started me down a road that is leading to life...a new life...and not the death and Hell that I was living in.

1 comment:

Deb said...

Very nice connections here. Your writing just gets stronger and stronger. I'm so proud of you. I love you.