A Redeemed Leper

The book of Leviticus reveals the strict laws for people who have a disease/condition called leprosy. This disease causes one to be unclean and unworthy of living and worshiping God in the community. Instead, they were banished to live among other lepers outside of the city. They were required to live in shame by tearing their clothes, uncovering their head and expose their upper lip. They must inform people of their condition by shouting “unclean” when they were passing in the street.  It was a life of rejection by normal society. It is a hopeless life filled with shame. Because he has leprosy, he knows that he is defective and unwanted. He lives isolated, lonely, and filled with self-loathing.

Even though this original disease is very rare today, I have a different form of this disease that is a result of my sin. I am a modern-day leper.  The type of leprosy that I have is now called sexual sin.  It’s a condition that takes many forms and can often be concealed in secret.  At least until it is exposed publicly as it happened for me.
 
It all started with discovering pornography at age 9.  Since then, it has been a part of me for much of my life.  I would become disgusted with myself after hearing a sermon and throw away my porn stash.  I made many promises to God that I would not look at it again.  Then, my unwanted desires would come back and I would get more. I asked God to take away my desires but it felt like God was not listening to me. I lived with cycle of bingeing and purging my porn habit that seemed to rule over me. I felt like those lepers; full of shame, disgust, and alone. However, nobody knew about my secret life of pornography.

This cycle continued until my desires were not satisfied by regular porn. I turned to more graphic and illegal pornography. I believed my identity on the innerweb was a secret while searching this kind of porn until a team of federal agents from Homeland Security entered my home and handcuffed me on my kitchen floor. I was later released from those handcuffs and they allowed me to remain free until I was sentenced by a judge 18 months later.
 
My secrets had been exposed and soon the whole town would know. Worst of all, my wife and family!

My wife had to leave her work and come home to talk with the agents in our home.  She was in shock and mortified by what she was learning about her husband. She also had a business trip that required her to travel that afternoon. Leaving me alone to ponder my failed life. That was the worst day of my life. But now I understand it as the best day of my life!

After I delivered my wife at the airport for her trip, I began praying to God while I drove.  “God, please take my life!  Please send a big deer, or a moose in my path as I drive home. Take me out of this world so I don’t have to face my shame in public.” God answered my prayer with a resounding NO! I didn’t even see a squirrel on the road that day.

That night I wrestled with God even more.  I asked him why he didn’t answer my prayers to help me stop looking at porn.  I was mad at him for not taking away my unwanted desires. I even told him that I was struggling to believe if he was even real. Several hours passed as He wrestled me back to the truth of His word.  I finally tapped out and surrendered.  
I chose to believe he was real and I asked him to prove to me that he was.

There was no special miracle or revelation, no burning bush, no dream, just a promise that he would reveal himself to me through his word and through other Christians who understood grace better than I could imagine.

My eyes were drowning in tears so I held my Bible close to my chest hoping that truth would transfer to me just by holding it. That’s the night God redeemed me from my sin.  He touched my leprosy and began the healing process of renewing my mind.

During my 18 months of freedom before my prison sentence, I dove head first into God’s word and learned to do what it says I should do.  I put scripture verses on the mirror, in my car, at my workstation. I learned who I was in Jesus and for the first time and believed it. I began to seek reconciliation in broken relationships. I drove 172 miles every week to meet with other men who wanted freedom from the leprosy that porn and sexual sin causes in our lives. Together we found hope and encouraged each other to continue the journey of freedom.

Through this journey, I have experienced the love and grace of Jesus like never before!  He was with me through 6.5 years of prison.  He is with me now as I am released to re-join this world. I will always carry the scars and labels of a leper’s life; felon, ex-con, sex offender.  The law of this land requires that I do. Some days it increases my desire to hide from everyone and wallow in that old shame. Every day I must make a decision not to wear my shame or let my past define me.

I also must remind myself that God has redeemed me from my sin! I am set free from the chains that once locked me to my unwanted desires. I no longer need to feel rejected, ashamed, unloved.
 
I have a truer picture of who God is and how he sees me; Loved, accepted and redeemed by His grace!

He is with me now and will remain with me forever!  I am a redeemed leper!

My story doesn’t end here because my journey has only begun.  I look forward to what God has in-store for me on this journey.  I am grateful for the work that God has done in my life! For now, I leave you with this promise. There is no sin too great that would cause God to reject you. He is bigger than any sin, any problem that you may be facing. He can heal a modern-day leper like me, he will heal you too! Just ask him.
Submitted by Bryan E. on 11/15/2021

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