by Ricky Chelette, Executive Director
What does real healing look like? That is a question I often get from those who journey through our ministry or from those who wonder what exactly we do at Living Hope Ministries. The simple word “healing” seems to bring about all kinds of preconceived ideas and expectations. I think the best way to think about spiritual and relational healing is to approach it as we would physical healing. If you have a bad gall bladder, you have it removed. If you have a broken bone, you have it set and placed in a cast. But in all cases of physical healing, once something is diseased or broken, the wound causes scarring related to the presenting problem even when the presenting problem is no longer visible. Sexual, relational and psychological healing happens in much the same way.
We must understand that our orientation, at its core, is not really towards a particular sex per se, but very naturally towards sin, regardless of how we choose to express ourselves sexually. A heterosexually oriented person has to constantly monitor his/her desires for opposite sex expression or he/she will naturally gravitate towards some perversion of Biblical sexual expression. Unless our sexuality is submitted to the Lordship of Christ and the teachings of the Word, we will fall into some lesser form of sexual expression; one that neither satisfies ourselves nor edifies our spouse.
Real healing takes time and discipline. It is not as immediately gratifying as sin often is. It requires looking at the temptation for what it is–a momentary pleasure to medicate a long-existing, real need–and deciding to choose the greater good of obedience to Christ and submission to His will and way.
Real healing is not the absence of struggle against lesser sexual desires, but facing those struggles, acknowledging their allure and immediacy, and choosing to obey the truth found in Christ and His Word. Real healing is predicated on a belief that the Creator knows what is best for His creation and has revealed what is best through His Son, Jesus Christ, and His Word, the Bible.
So what does healing look like for those who come to Living Hope Ministries and have chosen to follow the Jesus Way? It looks like obedience. It looks like being transparent and vulnerable about our feelings and desires while choosing to obey the truth of God’s Word regardless of how we feel. It looks like submitting our will to the revealed will of the Father. It looks like freedom from the bondage of sin and addiction that once dominated our lives.
In the physical world we might compare sexual and relational healing to someone who has diabetes. Diabetes does not often go away (though sometimes it can), but it can be controlled in your life as long as you eat appropriately, exercise, constantly monitor your intake, and submit yourself to the recommendations of the doctor. A person who submits himself to his doctor and disciplines his life will find that he can live a much fuller, happier, longer and more fruitful life. In much the same way, those who struggle with deep sexual and relational issues generally will not find their struggle completely gone. The imprints laid down upon the wet concrete of their formative years will not easily disappear. However, they can live in such a way as to not be governed by the impulses of their sinful, natural flesh and remain obedient to the calling and will of God in their lives. They can walk in freedom and truth!
Now please don’t hear me say that someone can’t be miraculously healed and delivered from sexual and relational brokenness in such a way that they never struggle with it again. Of course they can because God is sovereign and can do whatever He chooses to do whenever He chooses to do it. But what we see most often in scripture is God using the struggles of our lives to help us see our brokenness, and our need for a Savior!
Healing is possible and it looks like change! I see it daily in my own life and in the lives of those who seek out help at Living Hope Ministries. I see people walking in freedom, despite the allure of sin in our fallen world, and finding freedom in ways they never expected. I see it in the lives of people like “John” who after 20 years in the gay lifestyle with several long-term relationships, realizes his life is not at all what he had dreamed it would be. Despite his economic success, his social status, and his ability to find quality partners, he was still unfulfilled, empty, and longing for the affirmation, attention and affection of men. Once gripped by his seemingly insatiable appetites, John found true satisfaction in Christ as he began to surrender his will to God. John’s worldview began to change as he realized his created worth in God’s Kingdom. His thinking changed from a focus on ME to a focus on THEE. The years of comparison and envy towards other men was replaced by a deep sense of adequacy as a created man of God and a desire to serve others for the glory of the Kingdom. John is experiencing real healing!
I see it in the life of “Jessica” whose life seemed perfect, but never was. She learned early that men were not to be trusted and women were dependable. She spent years in lesbian relationships, but no one knew it. Falling again and again into emotionally dependent relationships, her life was controlled by others despite her desire to be independent and strong. Today she is finding men can be trusted and women are to be loved and cherished, not possessed or controlled. She is finding the beauty in herself and God’s creation, and discovering there is power in meekness and strength in submission. She is finding her existence is not defined by others, but by her Creator who sings in delight over her and has filled her world with deep joy. Jessica is experiencing real healing!
John and Jessica are two of countless living testimonies of the power of Christ. They are real examples of the truth that our Christian walk is not about how well we obey in our own strength, but how well we allow ourselves to be embraced by God and surrender to His will and way. They have learned to trust God when he says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And they join Paul when he says, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Cor. 12:9).” Real healing looks like you and me looking more and more like Jesus. That is what happens at Living Hope Ministries. That is what God does when real healing takes place. I pray we each might be conformed to His glorious image (Rom. 8:29)!