I came across this touching story of Nate Larkin in the book I am Second : Real Stories, Changing Lives which vividly demonstrates human frailty :
Nate Larkin went to seminary, where he trained to be a pastor, but he also learned an unexpected lesson. His class took a seminary-sponsored field trip to New York City. They journeyed to the red light districts to witness firsthand the exploitation of women by the sex industry.They walked into the porn shops and saw the graphic reality of the forbidden fruit. “I was shocked by what I saw, disgusted by it,” he said. His face twinged and his eyes closed, forcing those first gritty pictures out of his mind. “But I was also fascinated by what I saw. It hooked me deep. I didn’t just like porn, I became obsessed with it.”
Within days, Nate found himself slipping away from seminary and seeking out a source for this new drug. The claws of addiction sank deeper into his flesh. Each day and every week, the grip got tighter. But it never satisfied. It was never enough. He needed a bigger fix, a stronger drug. The obsession became addiction. Control seemed lost. The addiction sapped his marriage and drowned his will. He never meant for it to get to this, but it did.Nate told himself, “I’ll stop next week. I’ll stop when I graduate seminary. I’ll stop when I get a job as a pastor. I’ll stop next year.” There was always a reason, always a deadline, always a fresh resolution, but the hook set too deep. He couldn’t stop. Porn took Nate to places he never intended to go. “So before I know it, I’m a pastor, married, three kids, and I’m picking up my first hooker on my way to lead a candlelight service on Christmas Eve. I lost any hope that I could stop what I was doing.(Source: I am Second)
The more I read this story the more I am filled with a mixture of sadness and fear! Sadness because one can only imagine the pain that this sharp turn of events brought on his life and those around. Fear because I realise that we are all Nate Larkin. We all just as vulnerable. In the words of Rich Mullins, “we are not as strong as we think we are”. To think that a person can be ushered on a destructive path from a seminary-sponsored trip. Rich Mullin’s song has the following important refrain that expresses our predicament:
We are frail, we are fearfully and wonderfully made / forged in the fires of human passion / choking on the fumes of selfish rage / and with these our hells and our heavens, so few inches apart / we must be awfully small and not as strong as we think we are.
The last two lines really vividly capture our predicament. Our hells and heavens are truly a few inches apart. One minute your relationship with God can be on a high and the next minute you are wallowing in the same sins that you thought God had long conquered in you. Sometimes I look at my own sins and ask - are you really God’s child? I am always thankful to the songwriters like Mullins because they don’t always just convey our predicament but also the solution. And here is how Mullins ends his song :
When you love you walk on the water / Just don't stumble on the waves / We all want to go there something awful / But to stand there it takes some grace / Because we are not as strong as we think we are / No, we are not as strong as we think we are.
It takes grace to stand mumbling and stumbling, with all our messiness. And thankfully grace is fully abundance. Here is the video clip that explains how God turned his life around.