As the final seconds ticked away on the game clock at the annual Army-Navy football game Saturday, the Navy players and fans were in full voice celebrating their 11th consecutive victory over Army.
I stood in the crowd with a December night growing increasingly chilly shaking my head at what could have been. I had no real rooting interest in the game, but I do have a soft spot for an underdog, and Army certainly fit that description.
Just moments earlier it seemed Army was going to write a different ending to the story. With only one minute left, the Black Knights were marching toward the end zone for the touchdown that would give them the lead.
Then, with only a few yards to go, the Army running-back fumbled the ball and Navy recovered. The drive stalled. Yet again, Navy was victorious.
Sometimes life feels a lot like that. You’re on your way toward something good; a relationship; a better job; these days — any job — and then it stalls. You lose the opportunity that seemed a sure thing.
You had every reason to be excited, to get your hopes up. But then something happened. Something always seems to happen.
In many ways, the sense of loss and the sting of unfulfilled desires is heightened at this time of year. Christmas can be a time of great sadness and depression. There are often many painful reminders of failed relationships; fractured family dynamics or missed opportunities in various areas of life.
One of the ways we often cope with the disappointment of living in a world where great opportunities fall through; where there are touchdowns missed and games lost because of fumbles, is by finding things to fill the void that is created by dashed hopes.
People find things that make them feel better — at least for a moment — and they pursue those things. Food, work and alcohol are not inherently bad, but they can become addictions; ways to take the edge off the pain of failure.
After all, life is hard.
Within the church, one of the main things men — and increasingly women — run to in order to feel better is sex and/or pornography. I know because I used to be addicted to pornography.
I was a Christian man who knew better. But I looked anyway. Over time I got into it deeply.
Maybe as you read this you realize that you are into pornography as I was. Or, perhaps you know somebody who is and you aren’t sure how to help. Statistics tell us that on average 50 percent of the men in church and 20 percent of the women have some problem with regard to pornography. This is the silent epidemic that is crushing men, women and entire families in the church. Most people don’t want to talk about this; therefore, people who are stuck in the sin stay stuck. There is no way to find help because nobody will talk about the issue.
But that is changing.
There are more resources than ever for people who need help. One of the most recent is a book I wrote titled Intentional Warriors: Fighting For Purity And Freedom In A Sexually Saturated Society. (a Kindle ebook - click here to download the free Kindle App for smartphones and desktops)
The book tells the story of my addiction and the path God blazed that led me out of that addiction. If you are anything like I was back when my addiction raged, you have tried and tried and tried to conquer the monster of pornography in your life, only to fail repeatedly. This probably has caused you to give up. I know I gave up a million times before finally breaking free.
My life was a lot like the ending to the Army-Navy football game. I would mount a good drive toward the goal. It would look promising that this time I would win the battle. Then at the end I would fumble it away.
But that all changed for me. It can change for you too.