by Gary Zelesky | www.Restored3Ministries.org
I chose my seat in the back of the room at a men’s retreat with my Bible in my hand and a bad attitude in my heart. In the past, I was the one chosen to be on the platform fulfilling my calling as a preacher. However, what lingered in the back of my mind seated me where I thought I deserved to be.
After the “worship service” (which for me was nothing more than Karaoke for Jesus) I braced myself for another message that would create my “Jesus to do list” for when I got home. My lack of intimacy with the Lord made me a performer looking for approval, not a son receiving full acceptance. In 1989 I forfeited God’s plan for my life, not because of the magnitude of my sin, but because of its timing.
While I was a minister, I chose to commit adultery.
Not to my credit, but to this day I have taken full and complete responsibility for that decision. No blame, no excuses, no past to point to. I have also intentionally chosen not to minimize or sanitize my sin. I broke hearts, wounded friends and family, and caused mistrust in other ministers, something they never asked for.
I did, however, marry the woman (Cherisse) I had the affair with and have been married for over 28 years now.
Back To The Father’s Heart
If true healing/restoration is to occur, I believe the following must be the priority. The first heart I broke must become the first heart I mend. My Father’s heart. God can handle my honesty and He doesn’t need my pity. The beginning of healing started with my admission and ownership of how wounded my faith had become. Not because of others, but because of my lack of true intimacy with the Father.I discovered that intimacy had very little to do with a place or space. Intimacy is about acceptance, trust, confidence, closeness and understanding. My intimacy with Jesus was not about His acceptance of me but my acceptance of Him.
Intimacy with the Savior cannot be taught within the confines of a classroom, but must be caught by seeing examples through the lives of those who lead. Christians whose faith has been tested, and even wounded but not destroyed, serve as the greatest of examples. Christians who believe they are fully accepted by Jesus and, more importantly, who fully accept Jesus at His word. Their trust in God is consistent no matter how inconsistent things become around them. There is an intimacy that can be seen through the way they treat others, and they have made the secret place a sacred place.
In that secret place of intimacy with Jesus, stony hearts are transplanted, soil is plowed, seeds of destiny are sown, minds are renewed and His peace rules. All is done in secret without anyone’s awareness. It’s where prayer becomes the weapon of warfare in a closet with the door shut, the place where faith is cultivated without applauses. The same secret place that was once reserved for perverted, fancy, so-called justified revenge, endless critique of others and unforgiveness. Thankfully, healthy intimacy changes our focus from inspecting the flaws in others to realizing our own flaws.
We must call out our sin for what it is regardless how uncomfortable it might make us feel. I am intentional concerning the focus being “our sin,” not the sins of others. Because I have found myself at times more concerned about taking care of the business of others than my own. If I am truly about taking care of my Father’s business in my life, I will not have time to put my nose in what God is doing in anybody else’s life.
Participation is Necessary
I have made up a term called speck-takers (not to be confused with spectators). Speck-takers spend large amounts of time and energy looking for the tiniest specks/flaws in others. They are careful to tell everyone to “pray” for the specks (flaws) in others while at the same time are completely blind to their own. They are “spectators” that have become “speck-takers,” as they stay a safe distance from the battle line. Please consider the following: there simply is no place for speck-takers or spectators within this place of intimacy with the Father. The very nature of intimacy is to participate, not to spectate. God wants our eyes to be open that we may see His love for us, our need for Him and the pain in others.
Simply stated, whatever label you want to give it, be it quiet time, prayer time or daily devotions, intimacy will seldom be found in a place, group or book. Intimacy is found in the secret space that becomes a sacred place in the back of your mind. Jesus has already created the perfect date for just you and Him. He could care less where you meet or even how you meet—His delight is that you actually meet.
Honesty Breeds Intimacy
Committing adultery was not simply a bad choice in a weak moment. At some point or another, we all hit exactly what we are aiming for with little thought of the consequence. No one pulls the trigger for us. There was no one to blame but the one who pulled the trigger. My sin wasn’t a mistake that was made in a weak moment like running over a speed bump accidentally. I chose to miss the mark with complete intent and disobedience. But I learned the importance of not sanitizing my sin with descriptions that do little to expose the absolute vulgarity of my actions.
Honesty/transparency must take their rightful place in our lives as believers, for without honesty there can be no intimacy. It is my conviction that if one is living with intimacy with the Savior, honesty will become normal. I am so grateful for His grace. After 30 years on “the forgiveness tour,” I have received unconditional love from family, friends and countless people I never knew but I deeply hurt. May those of us who serve in ministry be accused of longing to be with the Father more than our ministry. May leaders continue to be led by the Spirit to their secret place that has become their sacred place in the back of their minds through cultivating spiritual fruit, not simply spiritual gifts. May leaders show even greater significance off the platform than on it. If we want to live our lives the way He always intended, it all begins and ends with intimacy.