So, what has Jesus done?
Big question. I could go with the Gospel, any of the things He has made, the travails of the Hebrews in the Bible, or even all of Creation. Any of that could take a long while.
I think I’ll start small and local instead.
So, What has Jesus done… for me.
Some background on me: I grew up in Los Angeles, only child of wealthy, conservative parents. Dad was a businessman who was always working or on trips. Mom was into politics. We went to church for Christmas. I attended Catholic high school because they knew how to teach and make it stick, but the Bible never made sense to me. I knew that Jesus is the son of God, but I didn’t think about it much.
Important details? I was bullied in 6’th grade (rocks were involved) and it left dark marks on my soul. I spent most of my time alone immersed in fantasy novels and my imagination because I never really fit in anywhere. Also, I had a growing addiction to porn starting at around 13.
At my first college I went vampire. Stopped going to classes, stayed up nights with friends or on the computer, slept all day. Never really wanted to be awake or live in reality. Was surrounded by atheists and pagans and leaned toward the magic talk of the pagans.
One bright memory: I stayed up all night once and came out to see the sunrise after a storm. Glorious. Rich. Wonderful. Pure. Holy. It stuck with me.
I failed out of college, moved to South Carolina, got back in college, met a sorceress (seriously), lost my virginity. To the sorceress.
Dark dark times. I don’t like going into it much. I was a selfish person filled with need, hatred and crazy. I got kicked out of some lives and indulged in twisted revenge fantasies for weeks.
I drank bitterness like coca-cola. I had betrayed my best friend in the worst way, but all I wanted was for him and his to suffer.
God broke me then. Took my car in a crash. Cleared all the noisy people out of my life. Gave me a new friend to drive me around and teach me truth. It took a few weeks for me to quiet down and listen.
I heard Him on October 31st, 2003.
“All things in heaven and earth for the greater glory of God.”
I went to church that weekend and found out that God had sent His son Jesus to die for my sins and give me life with Him.
Boom. Sunrise! New me.
Seriously. Murderous heart: gone. Taste for revenge: gone. Involvement with magic: gone.
Bad news: the porn stayed. I tried, but I couldn’t get rid of it.
Fast forward nine years as a Christian. My life still looked like a failure. I was back with my parents living on their farm, I had no job, was back in school and I occasionally got something done for Jesus. The porn was still around, getting worse. I had basically given up on trying to get rid of it.
I had started and was almost finished with an English MAT degree. I was headed toward becoming a high school English teacher when I was done. I would finally have a career. Maybe find a wife. Get somewhere.
One day I was standing in front of a classroom, scared because that was my first time teaching (for my internship). I froze.
Clear in my head I heard a voice, not quite my own, say “Maybe I should be doing something else.”
I went down in flames and crashed out of the internship program. Finishing my college classes that semester felt like running the last 5 miles of a marathon with broken legs. I constantly felt weak, broken, incompetent and condemned.
Dec 13th, 2012. I was trying to get some farm work done. My mind was a storm. My heart was crushed. I couldn’t do anything. I began to cry to God, “I’m yours, I’m yours, I’m yours.” (It worked for Martin Luther.)
I kept that cry up for hours.
Near sunset, a song filled my heart that I hadn’t remembered in years. Isaiah 41.
“When you walk through the waters I will be with you, and the waves they will not overcome you.”
“When you pass through the fire I will be with you, and the flames they will not consume you.”
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine. For I am the Lord your God. I am the Lord your God. I am the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I am the Lord!”
I almost felt at peace.
That night a friend read out the daily scripture off a droid app. I hadn’t checked the internet all day.
It was Isaiah 41.
I stopped. “Lord?”
I took note of it.
Month later things were about the same, maybe worse. Then twice within the same hour, from different sources, I got scriptures saying “I will free you from the snare of the fowler”.
Again I took note.
A few months after that a relationship went bad and I got really really angry at God. I decided I was going to do whatever I wanted and went and sinned to sin.
When I woke up the next morning something I couldn’t see gave me the intense, vivid impression that I had sinned against the Holy Spirit and was damned forever.
I managed to ask for prayer and counsel instead of killing myself. I felt the desire to sin sexually but felt conviction and Christian identity restraining me. I realized I still belonged to Jesus.
The next several months were Hell. Literal Hell. I was tormented continuously. I never felt like myself. I never felt like I was saved. Sometimes I felt like I was split into two different people. Sometimes like there was no Jesus Christ. I never had peace.
I battled to possess truth, to find the fundaments of the faith, to know if I was saved.
Jesus died for my sins. I knew this. I kept reciting this.
One night, lying on the bathroom floor, I knew that something was missing.
Jesus died for my sins…
And rose from the dead.
When I said it out loud something I couldn’t see recoiled against me as if I had stabbed it. I had found bedrock, the bare minimum I needed to know, that I could put my faith in and take a stand in.
Jesus, the Son of God, Himself God, had died in the flesh for my sins and had then risen from the dead such that the power at work in me was the power with which the Father raised Him from the dead.
I still didn’t have peace, but I was clinging to this truth to get through each day. At the same time, I was trying to get off porn.
That was also a battle. The first battle was to submit to my brothers in full accountability.
I did, finally.
The second battle was to make them pray for me and hold me accountable.
I got after them daily, whenever I was tempted.
The third battle was the hardest. The website I was taking anti-porn classes on was pushing for radical amputation. I didn’t like that. I thought I could handle it on my own.
I also liked my smartphone, and I kept getting the impression that that was what needed to go.
I held onto it until one night I was reading a book on how to know if I was really saved. The author contended that I had to submit to Christ or I was going to hell. I’m not sure if I still agree with the way that author teaches scripture, but that night it brought me to despair, which was where I needed to be.
Suddenly I was looking at Christ and His Cross on one hand and in the other… my smart phone.
I didn’t want my smart phone anymore. I went in and gave it to my mother, told her why, and told her it was hers and we were transferring it to her in the morning.
It was done. No takebacks.
I went to my room that night and opened to the next psalm in my Bible. I didn’t know which it would be as I let my bookmark keep track of that for me.
It was Psalm 124.
“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side–let Israel now say–if it had not been the Lord who was on our side when people rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; then over us would have gone the raging waters.
Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth!
We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped!
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
Promise to be with me through the waters? FULFILLED.
Promise to free me from the snare of the fowler? FULFILLED.
The next morning the temptations couldn’t touch me. It wasn’t that I was strong enough to control the addiction.
The addiction was just gone.
Almost a year now with no porn. I can even be where I KNOW I have immediate, unmonitored access to something bad and I’m not interested. I get tempted, but I don’t want to go there. I stay away from places of temptation not because I get dragged off anymore but because the idea of going there makes me feel sick.
I’m not strong.
I did not overcome a 20 year porn addiction.
Jesus is the one who did it, with 9 years of patiently walking with me in my hardheartedness and with a power to bring new life to broken hearts that the world cannot comprehend.
I’ll deal with the promise to be with me through the fire in another post. I think that one is still ongoing.