I felt like I was on top of the world. I had never been closer to God. In my devotional and prayer times I was having a conversation with my best friend Jesus. The Spirit of God was working in my life, directing me. It was during this phase of my life that my call to global work came. The call was clear and direct, like nothing I had ever experienced before. I was on fire for God. Within six months of my calling I was in language school and fully supported. God was providing in amazing ways and there was no doubt in my mind that I was exactly where I should be and that I was doing what I was supposed to be. Language school was a terrific time of fellowship with like-minded people. The memories created within our singles group still lingers in my mind as being great times.
Before I knew it language school was over and I was on the field. I had arrived at my destination ready to change the world! (That’s a topic for another article.) I was immersed into the Latin culture leaving me very little contact with fellow Americans. My days were spent in the hospital learning the ways of nursing in a foreign country. The evenings were spent in my humble home listening to old radio programs from the only English station that came in. It was a lonely existence, one for which I was not prepared. I continued spending sweet time with Jesus, but I longed for fellowship with human beings I could touch. I did spend some time with the nationals I worked with, but the distances between our cultures were so great that I had a hard time connecting with them.
Then ever so slowly one of the doctors started talking to me, taking extra time to explain things. I was so hungry for friendship that I cherished the time to talk. Then because my nursing background was the same as his specialty he asked for me to be his office nurse. Everyone thought it would be a good thing so I started working exclusively in his office. It was all so subtle. When he complimented me on some of my physical features I was flattered, although I thought it a bit personal for a married man to be doing such a thing. It was just so subtle, so slow. Looking back it was as though I was sucked in and didn’t even realize where I was until it was too late. I was already in this deep pit looking up at the slippery muddy slope that was caving in on me, and I couldn’t crawl out. My need for friendship was met, my longing to be rid of the loneliness that welled up inside me was gone, but it was replaced with sadness and grief like I have never known before. I was in the pit of sin.
Then it happened. We were caught. One of my bosses, who lived several hours away, called to ask me about it. What could I do? What could I say? I denied it. That night was the most horrific night of my life as I wrestled with my disobedience to God. I confessed my sin and was devastated to realize that I’d abandoned the call. I’d walked off the path. I’d chosen sin over righteousness. I’d been sucked in. I’d been had. Then there was the flood of thoughts—what will my parents say? They’ll be so disappointed in me. What about my supporters? They trusted me.
At that point I came to the Lord crying out as David did in Psalm 42. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, Where is your God? These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
Just as David lamented his sin, so I wished I’d never fallen into the adulterous affair. But I did, and now I had to deal with it. The morning after my boss had confronted me on the phone, I packed a bag and was ready to go home. I had decided that I was a failure. I went to ask for a ride to the bus station, and that was where the grace of God started pouring into my life. The couple I approached for a ride to the bus station wanted to know what happened and why I was leaving. As I shared with them what had gone on, God used them to start the healing process in me. We prayed together and they encouraged me not to run, but to confront what I’d done with the truth. They promised to go with me and help me through it. It was at that point that I chose to walk in righteousness and do whatever was required of me to get my life back on track. So that day I started walking in the truth, and God took my hand and pulled me up out of the pit. I went to the hospital administrator and confessed. I called my boss and confessed. I apologized to the person who had caught us.
It wasn’t easy, but as I went about doing what was right, more verses in Psalm 42 came alive to me. “By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me. A prayer to the God of my life.” Living on the small compound was difficult those next few weeks as people avoided me, pulled their children out my path so I wouldn’t touch them, screamed at me from their homes as I walked by, threw things at me and called me names (yes all of these people were professing Christians); but God’s word resonated in my soul. His love was directed to me. There was an overwhelming sense of peace as He put my life back together. Every night, even though I’d lived through an awful day of being ostracized, songs of praise would go through my mind like a lullaby to help me rest.
That isn’t a time of my life I want to dwell on. Even now, writing about it years later isn’t easy, but I have to tell you the rest of the story…God healed me body and soul. He brought me back. He gave me people grounded in His word to bring me through, to wrap their arms around the wounded child and let me know that I wasn’t a total failure. God still uses me.
Thornton Wilder said, “In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve.” I see the truth in this. There is so much more grace in me now for others who fall. I’m more apt to give the benefit of the doubt, to encourage them back to a solid relationship with Christ and to tell them that Abba still loves them. I know this because deep in my soul I believe that if Abba can love me, a global worker who sinned greatly, then Abba can love anyone.