Thursday, April 9, 2015

"Such Were Some of You"

Doug [not his real name] joined our small self-help group and found new hope of strength for today and new possibilities of an improved life in a better tomorrow. I had recently joined this group that was primarily students, but included a few non-students, and we met at the Seminary where most of us were students.

All of us were active participants and there were no sideline spectators. Some were earning academic credits. A few faced issues with which they needed some assistance. In time, all of us would experience much more than just an academic credit as we discovered areas of personal growth and maturity and became more thoroughly committed disciples, in a group setting that was covenanted together in a circle of trust using the focus of Integrity Therapy developed by Dr. John Drakeford and Hobart Mowrer.

Doug was a member of the group when I came in. He had been dismissed from his Church Staff position after his third arrest, losing first his job and eventually his family. This floundering church musician now existed as a man without a country, until joining this small, close-knit circle of Christians. In the eleventh hour of Doug’s career, he came into the group and they loved him in spite of his homosexual behavior, giving him a place in their circle and room to rediscover himself.

Everyone accepted Doug as he was; socially rejected, personally defeated, without friend and sustenance, and at the end of his rope. He knew he was loved although he no longer loved himself. He had the support of the group just as he was, and time and space to become who he wanted to be, as well as encouragement to become all he could be in Jesus Christ.

Tediously, Doug scratched and clawed his way out of his emotional pit of hopeless disparagement and social abandonment. By the grace of God and the encouragement of his Circle of Support, life took on a new look for Doug, with new meaning.

Life for Doug slowly turned from a journey of repetitious defeat to a life of recovery in which he discovered God’s transforming power of metamorphosis. Like the tiny worm in nature that disappears into its cocoon and later reappears as a lovely Monarch Butterfly, Doug discovered happiness, wholeness, and a whole new sense of personal well-being.

The group taught Doug how to interact--openly and honestly, without rationalization and deception. Each group member became a conduit of God’s grace, as living waters of God’s healing grace flowed through our interrelationships and poured Doug’s life. Doug found new reason to hope for tomorrow through his new relationships with his new friends.

Through Christian discipleship, Doug discovered fresh reassurance when he discovered, “And such were some of you” (I Corinthians 6:22, RSV, italics added). Supported by this trusted circle of friends, Doug took the necessary time and painfully worked his way through responsible restitution and restoration of formerly broken relationships.

Doug consequently discovered new peace where once he had known only turmoil. New possibilities for further transformation of life invigorated him and he experienced further satisfaction in productive behavior and wholesome relationships. Like the Psalmist David, Doug discovered a new man within--a man after God’s own heart, a man of strong faith, an overcomer in spite of earlier failures.

Like many others whose personal struggles the Bible reveals, Doug eventually found that in his new friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ he had tapped into that power line described in John’s gospel as power “to become children of God” (John 1:12 RSV).

From Warner's World, I am


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