On a typical Saturday in June, hundreds of people will head to the base of Long’s Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park to begin what could be the most physically demanding day of their lives. Some will begin as early as 2:00 a.m. in an attempt to scale the massive peak that overlooks the plains to the east and the Rocky Mountains to the west. Fewer than half of them will succeed in reaching the summit. Dangerous storms, physical demands, high altitude and lack of sufficient daylight will cause many to turn back.
Those who reach the summit have achieved an accomplishment of a lifetime. When their heads hit their pillows at the end of the day, most will be completely spent, but there will be few regrets. They will have purchased the “I Climbed Long’s” t-shirts and bumper stickers and will share their stories over and over.
My journey out of unwanted same-sex attractions has been like climbing Long’s Peak. The journey began when I moved to Minneapolis in 1985 and contacted Outpost Ministries. It wasn’t going well for me on my own, and I knew that I needed help. I found it through this ministry then, and I am blessed to be part of its staff now 30 years later.
It is certainly true that I never would have chosen to have same-sex attractions. It hasn’t been easy, and I’m still on the mountain. But God has given me many a gift on this trail, and I can now say that I am completely thankful for it. Yes, the Lord could have taken away same-sex attractions in a moment when I placed my faith in Christ (as He has for some). Instead, I have a long list of blessings that have resulted from this satisfying journey. Whatever “Long’s Peak” trek that the Lord has given you, I would like to offer you some encouragement to persevere.
Never, never, never give up. “Never give in–never, never, never, never . . .” Winston Churchill told the students at Harrow School in 1941 in a speech entitled “The Unrelenting Struggle”. Let this be your resolve. Of course it would be easier to stop climbing and head downhill. The culture is constantly telling you to embrace a gay identity, find a same-sex partner and live out your desires. Family members, friends, and others believe that you are denying your true self. Sadly, some churches have the same message. Along with these voices, the desires of our flesh scream for satisfaction. But Jesus said that the “gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction” (Matthew 7:13, ESV). Though there are hardships and setbacks, unfulfilled longings and loved ones who don’t understand, keep climbing.
It gets easier! If you are scaling Long’s–particularly the “Keyhole” route–the most difficult stretch is at the summit, where there is a treacherous two-mile climb. Those in our ministry report that the opposite is true in the journey out of same-sex attractions. Our participants become “students of gender” and come to understand how a gender-related wound or deficit contributed to the direction of their attractions. As they seek healing and growth from the Lord in the area of gender, most experience a decrease in the frequency and intensity of their same-sex desires. Some who have come through our doors have gone on to experience joyful marriages; others, on to victorious and fruitful celibacy.
You are not alone on the journey. You have a traveling Partner who will never leave you or forsake you. The Lord is with you every step to help you up when you stumble and fall, to keep you in His grip as you traverse a dangerous ledge, to teach you valuable lessons of mountaineering, and to encourage you in the midst of fatigue. On the cross, He purchased your perseverance and will see you through to the summit. Praise the Lord for His constant companionship on this journey!
Strength is made perfect in weakness. It is easy to have high expectations about how our journeys will progress and easy to fall into discouragement and disappointment when our expectations fall short. Many have foolishly given God a timetable to “take away” their same-sex attractions, and then have walked away when their timeline was not met. But just as the Lord didn’t take away Paul’s thorn in the flesh despite his pleading, so the Lord might draw out our journeys for His purposes. His response to the apostle: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 2:19). Though you’d like to be past it by now, your still being on this journey is providing you a strength that you otherwise would not have. Be patient with His timeline, and trust that He is sanctifying you and working in the waiting.
God has a purpose and a ministry ahead for you. Our journeys are not without meaning. They are not a dead-end but rather an avenue to bring instruction, encouragement, and comfort to others on the same road. With the recent sudden changes in the culture and the capitulation of some lukewarm churches, the need for strong men and women in our ministry is greater than ever. As you experience transformation and victory, God has a ministry in store for you so that others coming after you will stand on your strong shoulders.
Cling to your eternal hope. As Francis Chan has said, all that matters in this life is that you are ready for the next one. Same-sex attractions are a difficult and unwanted experience, but, as the Apostle Paul tells us, “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). He calls our hardships in this life “a slight momentary affliction” which are “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). It is true that you might be living with unfulfilled desires now, but before you know it, you will be experiencing pleasures beyond what you can now imagine, and to them there will be no end. The longings that believers have for paradise will be satisfied completely. . . just not yet!
Take heart, fellow mountaineers. Never, never, never give up! Jesus said the way is difficult that leads to life. Yes, It is a long trail and challenging climb, but it is worth every step.