After my life-altering decision to follow Jesus Christ and give up on ever having a sexual relationship with another guy, what happened next? My high school years were surprisingly happy and full of powerful spiritual experiences — and also surprisingly free of sexual baggage.
As an introvert, of course I spent a lot of time alone with God, worshiping, reading, praying, and considering future plans for my life. In addition, I started to have the energy and desire to get involved with people in a very “non-introvert-like” way. I met other Christians in my public school and soon became friends with several of them. They invited me to a home Bible study where I met even more Christians who invited me to a church with a large youth group.
I still vividly remember walking into that youth meeting on a Wednesday night. There were around 500 high school and college-age people there. Most of them were NOT church kids, but instead had unbelieving parents. Many of them had very recent and dramatic conversion experiences. It was different than any youth group I had ever heard of.
The worship band was average, at best, but they sang and played with a passion for God that grabbed my attention. It seemed everyone in that room was singing with all their heart and voice with a very infectious, godly joy. Alex, the youth pastor, gave a message about God walking with him and helping him constantly.
I knew it was all genuine!
I got more and more involved, joining a small group and seeing God at work in the lives of others. There was an amazing sense of community. I knew I was not alone in my Christian life!
In that small group, I saw an especially amazing work of God with two of my friends, Sean and Luke. Sean was a newly converted believer who played basketball at a different high school from mine. He was tall, good-looking, very heterosexual and masculine. Several of us went to a large outdoor festival with Christian music and preaching where we camped together for around three days.
Sean began to desire a deeper experience with God, so a few of us gathered around him to pray. I will never forget that spiritual experience for the rest of my life!
As we were praying, Sean began “speaking in tongues” for the first time, praying and intensely worshiping God. I emotionally and spiritually felt the presence of God along with a great, powerful joy that made me want to worship God along with Sean. He continued praying and worshiping God for hours, mostly on his back, eyes closed, arms extended to heaven.
Every time I saw or heard him worship God, I was hit with an overwhelming sense of God’s presence, making me want to drop everything and just worship God with him.
After that experience, Sean decided to start meeting regularly at school with Luke, another guy from our small group who also went to his high school. Sean and Luke started inviting their friends to meet with them there and then come to our youth group. They preached the Good News of Jesus Christ with a genuine love and demonstrated their faith by the way they lived. Within a year, there were around 40 from their high school that became Christians and joined our youth group.
I remember having many helpful and encouraging talks with Sean, Luke, and other friends in that youth group. Those memories have always stuck with me, giving me great hope that God can continue to provide me the deep friendships I need the same way He did in high school.
You may have noticed I didn’t mention same-sex attraction during this post about my high school years. That is because it seriously became just a minor issue for me. I was still tempted to think sexually about guys, but that temptation just had no power over me.
Yes, my joy in God was so great that it pushed out the desire for the pleasure of sin, replacing it!
That experience in high school was not at all the end of my dealing with SSA. But it showed me how a good relationship with God and good friends could help me in my fight against sexual sin.
What was your high school / youth group upbringing in the Church? Have you ever been inspired by fellow believers in your own walk with Christ? Can you recall a time when your happiness in God led you to worship God and helped push out any sin from your life?
Answer to the first question is easy: No, because I didn’t go to a church that had a youth group. And there was nothing like that at high school as it was a boarding school and we pretty much ate, slept, worked, showered, played together all day so who would want to go to a youth group? Unless it was off campus, of course! But then who would start a youth group off campus when our school was bigger than the village it was situated in.
Inspired by others in my walk with Christ. Oh, yes. Lots, once I came to Christ and got involved. And then the worship at the church I joined was very special and there were many times I got so lost in it and entirely focused on God to the exclusion of all else. But those were special times and it seldom carried over into life in general. I wish it had somehow. Well, I say that, but actually it probably did carry over into life in general but without an obvious intrusion. Without the worship life would have been harder, I’m sure.
Jeremy, thanks for opening up so much of yourself here in these comments.
That experience of worship in church is something I like to carry over into the rest of my life, adding to my joy. The way I think of it is that I demonstrate with my very life and obedience that God is actually better than sin. I show my love for God by glad obedience. Knowing that God is with me always makes me able to worship Him in many different circumstances.
Thanks, Marshall. I so understand where you are coming from, but that is not an option for me any longer where I live, sadly. And even though I might be able to participate in the worship section of a church service, just having to put up with anything more in the service is enough to keep me away, so that it does not draw me. I must be satisfied with losing myself in a worship song at home, though it’s nothing like the beauty of corporate worship. I long for that revelation picture of us all standing before the throne of heaven in worship. What a day that will be! For the moment I have to content myself with following Him as best I can on my own, with a little bit of help here and there from the internet.
I like the title of your post. It accurately tells of the power of our will, and that we can determine in what direction to flex it. Either we will to worship Jesus or give our worship to another. It is that simple :)!
Your high school years I envy. Mine were a desert experience with no church, no friends, and only mega SSA. I grew up isolated on a poor farm miles from school and having to take a 45 minute bus trip to get there. As quickly as I could I left for the big city. It wasn’t until postgrad in university that I came to a Christ community and had real friends. But how could I tell any of them about my SSA since I was mega attracted to most of the good looking hunks in that CC group. It was a terrible time. I plunged into a funk, became morbidly depressed, and hit the drugs big time to numb it all. But despite my own bad choices Jesus never gave up but pursued me and pulled me out of that muck. It took years and more pain but as we choose to flex our wills even incrementally toward Jesus, we get well. What that means for me is that there continue to be ‘two of me’. One with mega SSA and another with Godly desires and redeemed attractions. Daily, moment by moment I can choose in which ‘me’ to live. But now I’m not alone because Jesus helps me big time such that it isn’t as schizoid as it appears but instead an enjoyable journey :).
Jon, yes, we can all relate to that “two of me” you talk about. Tom Zuniga here on this blog likes to call it ” Two Beckonings”.
Yes, I must choose the right way with my will, but my will is not strong enough without God’s help in the form of joy and understanding. God and His joy are actually better than the pleasure of sin! Why would I choose the destruction of sexual sin, when Jesus offers eternal, complete joy? So, we all need to experience a taste of that immense joy. Then we will understand that we are choosing the best!
I pray that God will let you experience enough of His presence and joy that you will gladly choose to drop lesser pleasures!
While Jesus offers the free gift of Grace, he nonetheless asks something of us. The Good News has the call to obey and repent. It thus requires even a “not strong” will to be flexed and to choose. And so, as in the Revelation letters to love Jesus is to flex our will and repent as even a weak will can still flex. We have no excuse. Your question: “Why would I choose the destruction of sexual sin, when Jesus offers eternal, complete joy?” is surely rhetorical? We must not choose sin. Yes, thanks for your prayer.
Jon, yes I meant that question as rhetorical. There is an obvious answer. My main point is that of course a choice of the will is essential, but also joy in God and knowing that He is with you help my weak will make the right choice.