The Embrace That Changed Me

Greetings, friends. I know, it’s been WAY too long since I last posted. There’s no particular reason for it. I just haven’t had any reflections that I’ve wanted to broadcast (that’s not to say I haven’t had reflections!) The purpose of this blog has always been to observe the ways in which the Gospel invades our existence, and so I’ll get back to that task.

This past weekend I preached from 1 Corinthians 6:13-20 on fleeing from sexual immorality. I don’t think that it was a particular good message homiletically (that’s the science/art of speech-making/preaching). No powerful stories. No bells and whistles. No clever videos or rephrasing. Not a lot of humor or great visuals. I just didn’t have time for that. I had 35 minutes to plead with my church to flee from all sorts of sexual immorality. So I studied, read, prayed, fasted, and wrote. And then I wrestled with God that if he didn’t do something with the pathetic manuscript that I had put together, we would all be in big trouble.

I’ll leave it for you to decide how it turned out. As I finished the message in each of our three services, our music team created space for people to “linger”. That’s when people just occupy a space and “be” – with no hurry to get to the next thing or pressure to vacate. We invited those who needed to just be with God to seek him. Those who wanted prayer could meander forward as the service concluded. There was a holy hush over the entire 1200 person auditorium, interrupted by the staccato of sniffles and heavy sighs as people experienced grace in confronting personal sin.

At the end of the last service, there sat two beloved gals in a same-sex relationship. They just lingered, waiting for me as I finished praying with the last person. As I walked over to them, my mind was racing particularly concerning one of the gals. What was she feeling? I had just talked about homosexuality as a kind of sexual immorality (in the same vein as pornography, cohabitation, and adultery). I was so afraid that my words had hurt both of them, added to their pain, or given them one more reason to be distanced from God. Then the unexpected happened.

As she stood, I just embraced her. And she wept. She burst out in tears and with every sob, every heave, I sensed the pain, the hurt of rejection, the confusion, the betrayal. All I could do was whisper, “I’m so sorry…” I hugged her for a few minutes as she drenched my shirt with her tears, and I wept with her.

Somewhere in the midst of that embrace, I sensed the presence of our Savior, enveloping both of us in his arms. I know that sounds super cheesy, but it was a real presence the likes of which I have only experienced in the most powerful moments of celebrating the Lord’s Table. In a way, it was a release for me as well – weeping over all of the confusion, pain, and rejection this image-bearer must have felt, weeping that the world was so broken, that the church was so impotent, and that it had to come down to a gal I care so much about sobbing on my shoulder. It was beautifully painful.

I don’t know where we go from here. I don’t know where the path will lead – what decisions for obedience we will need to press, or how our lives need to reflect the commands of Scripture. I anticipate that we will have some disagreement, confusion, and a lot of awkwardness. I can only respond to those things as they come.

But here’s what I do know: I will stay committed to these gals by that which I can choose: understanding, humility, patience, and love. I care about these young women beyond their sexual identity, and my embrace steeled my resolve to do whatever I can to point them to the One who embraces all of us and to call them to obey him – in whatever shape or form, as sincerely as they can.

8 thoughts on “The Embrace That Changed Me

  1. Mitchel, I think you did a fantastic job! I truly felt the power of the Holy Spirit, and was rightly convicted. It brought me to tears. I really needed a place to go and weep, but I had to get back to being an usher. Through the power of God, you gave those in the darkness a voice, and I pray they begin the journey outta the darkness.

  2. While cleaning up the stage, I witnessed your meeting with her. And you were not the only one feeling Gods presence, the whole room was practically alive with it.

  3. I’ll be praying for these young women and you Mitchell as you walk alongside them in a shepherding relationship. I long for the day that the Holiness of God is the longing of Sean’s heart and the others I know who struggle in that sin. I long for the day when I am free from the struggle of sin in general and our Blessed Savior comes for us all and I’m found complete in Him. God Bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you and give you strength.

  4. “For thus says the One who
    is high and lifted up,
    who inhabits eternity,
    whose name is Holy:
    ‘I dwell in the high and
    holy place,
    and also with him who is
    of a contrite and lowly,
    spirit,
    to revive the spirit of the
    lowly,
    and to revive the heart of
    the contrite’.” Isaiah 57:15

  5. Mitchel,

    God’s message through you was a blessing. His hands are all over this. Thank you for speaking the truth in love.

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