By Joe Dallas
“Too often we limit God by focusing upon our need in the present hour rather than how the Lord provides across the span of our entire existence.”
― George O. Wood
Generally, when we’re viewing a Western film, we don’t expect to see a spaceship appear.
We expect conflicts, of course. Gunfights, barroom brawls, horse chases, and an occasional bank robbery are part and parcel of the Western genre. Spaceships aren’t. So if one lands in the middle of an old John Wayne film, we’re likely to ask, “How the heck could this be happening?”
That’s exactly what many Christian families will ask this holiday season. More and more people, encouraged by the staggering advances made in the gay rights cause these past few years, are emboldened to give in to their own homosexual desires – desires they might well have resisted in earlier times – and declare “I’m gay” to their shocked parents who, like moviegoers confused by a spaceship in a Western, wonder how the heck this could be happening.
Nowhere is that tension more keenly felt than during the holidays, when families gather to celebrate not only the holy day, but the holiness and joy of family as well.
That’ll be tough for Christians still processing the “coming out” of a loved one. Tough and bewildering, in fact. Because in addition to the pain of knowing someone they love so richly is outside God’s will, there are also practical concerns they’ll have about boundaries (“Should I let my son bring his boyfriend home for Thanksgiving dinner?”), policies (“Should I tell my lesbian daughter not to hold hands with her girlfriend when they come over?”), and approach (“Should I bring the subject up during dinner? If I don’t, will he think I approve of his choices?”).
When homosexuality hits home, the holidays can be hard.
After all, how does one say “Merry Christmas” and “You’ve crushed my heart!” in the same breath?
It can be helpful, at such times, to consider the arsenal God has at His disposal versus our very limited tools.
God’s Kingdom Advances (Evidence Notwithstanding)
When John the Baptist found himself awaiting execution for nothing more than obedience to God, He sent a message to Jesus which was notably honest and vulnerable:
“Are you He that is to come, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3, KJV).
Translation: “Are You really who You say You are? If so, are You really still in charge? Because my circumstances say otherwise.”
Jesus’ response, both as a gentle rebuke and a reminder of His sovereignty, is one parents in this situation should rethink:
“The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Matthew 11:5-6, KJV).
In short, He seems to say, “Despite your present situation (which I am neither unaware of nor indifferent to), My sovereignty hasn’t slipped from My fingers, My work continues even if unseen by you, and blessed is the person who accepts the immutable fact that I’m still in control even when the immediate outcome looks bleak.”
I should know. When I announced to my own parents, back in 1978, that I was gay, I made it clear to them that my mind was made up, I knew where I stood, and any attempt to dissuade me was futile. They, in turn, were left devastated, but determined to sustain our bond. Outwardly, it looked like the issue was settled, sealed with the old “We’ll agree to disagree” premise.
But it wasn’t. Long after my parents stopped trying to change my mind about homosexuality, the Spirit of God continued to convict, my conscience continued to accuse, the Bible studies I used to attend kept intruding into my memory banks, and my own common sense nagged at me to consider whether I really believed in what I was doing or simply wanted to believe in what I was doing.
Six years later (years that must have seemed like decades to my poor family) I said “yes” to God’s call to repentance, a “yes” which, after three decades of marriage to an amazing woman, two wonderful sons, and a full-time ministry I treasure, I’ve never regretted.
God continued to work in me long after my family had run out of words.
And, as we all know, He is no respecter of persons. His work continues in the person you love long after your own efforts have been exhausted.
Which is, ultimately, a freeing thought. Because it releases you from the burden of finding the right persuasive words, and allows you to do something we sincerely hope you’ll be able to do this Holiday season: enjoy your loved ones, Prodigals included, rejoicing in God’s ability to continue working His will in their lives, and trusting in His ability to sustain you in the midst of what may well be the most challenging situation you’ve ever faced.
God be with you, blessing and guiding you, as you face it this season.
By Joe Dallas
November 14, 2017