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His hand is stretched out still!
By justjohn
6/19/2007 12:25:15 PM
Isaiah 9:17 — Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
I have had a few thoughts on my mind lately, and this scripture fits them.

I have to thank my Heavenly Father for never giving up on me. During the decades that I was a practicing addict I was certain that He was disappointed in me to the point that He no longer cared. My mind (under the influence) told me that He must feel that way. After all I felt the disappointment of my earthly father and he didn't know all my darkest secrets like my Heavenly Father.

But His hand was stretched out still!

I was a full blown porn addict by my early teens. I thought I had multiple personalities. One that wanted to be righteous, and one that loved wickedness and the deepest of depravity.

But His hand was stretched out still!

At sixteen I talked to my bishop about it and felt the love of my Savior. I also came to realize that my evil personality was not an internal thing, but the outside influence of Satan. I knew that I needed long term help, but my bishop didn't. I felt all alone again.

But His hand was stretched out still!

Soon I fell right back into my addiction. I was wallowing in the mire once again. Trying then falling...trying then falling...

But His hand was stretched out still!

I fought it extra hard as I was approaching mission age; putting off talking to my bishop until I felt it was behind me. I really did feel that is was a thing of the past and actually had at least 9 months clean. The longest period I had ever had in my life, and longer than I would have for another 20 years. As multiple pressures came crashing in on me I ran, like a dog to his vomit, back to my addiction. In some ways I hit my lowest point on my mission.

But His hand was stretched out still!

I had another clean period of about six months at the first of my marriage. Now I had someone willing to share proper intimacy with me and I couldn't even make it as long as I had before! My wife knew of my addiction, so I was an even bigger disappointment.

But His hand was stretched out still!

Between the ages of 16 and 32 I talked to my mission president and every bishop that I had. I finally gave up because they just didn't seem to understand. I was wasting their time and mine and it wasn't getting anywhere. I tried all sorts of "techniques". I tried every goal setting formula I could find. I read self improvement books and listened to tapes. I searched the scriptures trying to figure out what I was missing in the repentance process. I felt the Spirit at times, and occasionally got the message of certain passages, but much of it I didn't see because of the dark scales over my eyes. The scriptures didn't relate to me. There were no repeat offenders. No one struggled for years to become righteous. All the wicked people who changed did it as soon as they recognized their evil ways. "John, you're such a loser."

But His hand was stretched out still!

As time went on I felt less and less worthy to call on God for help. I had told Him so many times that I was quitting only to fail in my commitment in a matter of days, or at most a few weeks. I even signed a written oath one time. He knew my most depraved acts, and my inner thoughts that had sunk even lower. He of all people must have lost all faith, hope and even concern in my behalf. And yet, even though I couldn't see it, and was sure it wasn't there...

His hand was stretched out still!

Then I found the addiction recovery program and finally started to learn the repentance process that I had often searched for. I found my first real success, but I also had many relapses. At one point I felt like the relapse poster child. Satan whispered in my ear telling me what a loser I was. "Now I even knew what to do and still couldn't get it right."

But His hand was stretched out still!

Thankfully through the help of God and the 12 step program I didn't listen long. I came to recognize that those thoughts that seemed so much my own, so logical that they must be true, were all lies. Satan's lies. God uses feelings of guilt to turn me around when I am headed in the wrong direction. Once I am headed the right way and doing what He wants me to, He doesn't want me to feel guilty anymore. He wants me to experience the joy of following His path. Shame, depression, and feelings of worthlessness are not part of the Father's plan. They are Satan's tools which he uses to keep me down once I have fallen.

As the scales were pulled from my eyes I found many scriptures that related to me and my situation. The captivity of Alma and his people seems particularly applicable. The author even tells us before the story, "I will show unto you that they were brought into bondage, and none could deliver them but the Lord their God." - Mosiah 23:23 Mormon saw my day. He knew of the many types of bondage that would enslave myself and others. He chose to add this story for us. Alma the younger often reminded people who were not in physical bondage of the captivity of their fathers. I think the message is clear: God can save me when no man can, especially myself. The plans of man don't work. I've tried them. God's plan, the Atonement, has worked and is working in my life.

I have come to know that even when my actions incur His wrath. When it would seem that His patience has been stretched beyond its limit. When all my actions are those that He cannot look upon with the least degree of allowance. When the world's greatest optimist would have given up on me long ago...

Both His hands are stretched out still! Because I am His and He loves me far beyond my comprehension.

Thank you Father.

I won't give up.

Comments:

Beautiful words of encouragement    
"Thank you Just John for this wonderful and poignant reminder of the love the Savior has for us all. I don't struggle with pornography addiction, but certainly have many "addictions" of sin of my own to overcome. I was inspired and brought to tears by your beautiful words. My favorite hymn is "I Stand All Amazed" and your comments echo why "I Stand All Amazed that He should extend his great love unto such as I. That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died". He paid the terrible price. Maybe that's why his hand is outstretched still. Thank you for reminding all of us."
posted at 04:56:56 on June 20, 2007 by Mother In Zion
Inspirational    
"I loved your comments.

I am doing a presentation on addiction as part of my stake calling. Can I anonymously use some of your comments as part of my presentation?

Thanks!"
posted at 22:03:18 on June 21, 2007 by doanair
Sure    
"Thanks.

If anything I say seems worthwhile, feel free to use it anonymously or not. The only time I am really concerned about anonymity is around people who would know my kids."
posted at 11:53:02 on June 23, 2007 by justjohn
Thanks!    
"John, that was a very inspiring post. Thank you!"
posted at 09:25:56 on August 26, 2011 by 1day@atime
Thank you    
"This was an inspiring post. So much of it rang true with me. Thank you. God bless."
posted at 18:41:05 on August 26, 2011 by BrainGeek


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"Are you battling a demon of addiction—tobacco or drugs, or the pernicious contemporary plague of ography? Whatever other steps you may need to take to resolve these concerns, come first to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Trust in heaven’s promises. In that regard Alma's testimony is my testimony: "I do know," he says, "that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions."

— Jeffrey R. Holland

General Conference, April 2006