Sunday, February 1, 2009
Ted Haggard on Larry King Live
I was in my office two years ago when I walked into the ladies and found a colleague of mine with a long face leaning against one of the wash hand basins. I rushed to her and asked what was wrong.
“I can’t believe this.” She moaned as she shook her head slowly
“What happened? What can’t you believe?” I asked. I waited and watched with concern as she tried to pull herself together.
“It’s Ted Haggard, one of my favourite preachers, I just heard that he has been involved in some sexual sins and drug use.” At the time I had never heard of Ted Haggard even though I got to know later that he had been labelled as one of the 25 most influential preachers in the world.
“How could something like this ever happen?” She moaned again. And then she launched into a review of the many ways that his ministry had touched her life positively. I tried to console her as much as I could and as I pondered on the events in my heart.
I didn’t hear much about him again until yesterday, when I saw him being interviewed on Larry King Live. After his first sentence, I dropped what I had at hand and paid attention.
He spoke about how he had struggled with the inner pressure and thoughts of homosexuality since he was in high school. The struggle was real but he didn’t know how to deal with it, so he kept it tucked away and continued with his life… until one day after many years of marriage and four grown up children, he gave in and began to live a lie.
He confessed that when the news broke, he lied initially because he wanted to keep his home and his wife. But then after a lot of pressure, he spoke the truth.
Things got so bad that he asked his wife to divorce him; she refused and stood by him. At a point he contemplated suicide but in his lowest moment he heard the voice of Jesus again. Jesus reminded him of the fact that even if he had 99 sheep with him, he will always go looking for the missing one. Ted then sought counselling and after two years, believed that he was on the path to recovery.
His wife joined the interview and confessed that the reason she stayed with him was because in spite of everything, …“I love this man”. She also decided to take a conscious decision to act on Jesus commandment for us to forgive.
As I watched them both, I began to respect again, this man that has fallen so low but who I now believe by the special grace of God, is on the way to recovery. It takes uncommon guts for a person to come clean in public in a continued attempt to heal the wounds he had created. As I meditated afterwards, I must confess that the interview was full of lessons for me. I will share some of them here. ..
Sin starts from the heart and the mind and if not checked, it festers because it is secret and no one else can see.
Persistent temptation in the heart is like a time bomb; if you don’t deal with it, it will explode one day. A wound that is covered up cannot heal; it has to be exposed to a doctor, treated, rested before it can heal.
A lot of sins thrive on secrecy. The day it becomes exposed, the attraction wanes some.
God starts to deal with sin by convicting us in our heart. If we will not repent, He will expose the sin. His main purpose is to create a further avenue for repentance and change.
There are some temptations that are too hard for us to handle alone. In cases like this there is a need for external help and counselling
If you have a good spouse, then that is the best person to share the issues with. He /she has a stake in your life and will realise that they have no choice but to help you through inspite of the pain they may feel.
There is nothing hidden under the sun; one day it will come out. I remember the story of a man in Abuja who had a second wife tucked away in another town. He thought his secret was safe forever but suddenly died in a plane crash. The secret wife stepped forward and his family had to deal with the double tragedy of the loss of their bread winner and the other wife who came forward to contest for her share in his inheritance.
There are probably many more Ted Haggards out there, presenting a front with a holy smile and living a false life. They have their own struggles. The church needs to stop treating our leaders like super heroes and consciously create an opportunity for those who have hidden issues to come forward and deal with them
Church leaders are a gift to the church, to help us build our relationship with Jesus; they are never to take the place of Jesus in our hearts.
Whatever it is, no matter how bad the sin, God will forgive a repentant heart. He promised the repentant thief on the cross a place in paradise. Nobody’s sin is too hot for the blood of Jesus to handle.
Sometimes God will allow us to be shaken to the core and stripped of all we have so that the foundation of our lives can be repaired and the true building can begin.
I pray that Ted Haggard can find the absolute deliverance that is available by the finished work of Jesus Christ; and that all that have been wounded by this will find healing by His stripes. Amen!!