“God doesn’t waste our jaunts into the desert but goes with us. In fact, Desert 101 often affords the best learning environment in the world. In the desert, we learn to crucify our will and follow God’s. In the desert, we learn to grow.”
Eric Greer has spent time in the deserts of secrecy, shame, and the elusive search for affirmation. In his chapter in the book Surrendering to Hope: Guidance for the Broken, Eric doesn’t waste any time exposing the roots of sexual abuse, pornography, and secret behaviors that began in his childhood. He courageously maps out for his his journey to the desert and the struggles faced along the way.
As a Marine he was able to gain some of the self-confidence that had been stifled in his youth. Even so, there were inward battles ahead. After a significant beating outside a bar, he decided to contact American Military Evangelizing the Nations (AMEN) for some help. Here he connected with Captain Tony Smith.
“I was certain he could smell the alcohol oozing from my pores and the cigarette smoke on my breath, and he knew every impure thought I had. yet he showed no sigh of judgment. He treated me with grace … I began to see God in the midst of my desert. Late that summer, I was baptized at a little church building near Fort Sill, Oklahoma.”
Eric’s life took a total change of direction. Attending Christian college to gain skills in preaching and family therapy seemed to set him on the right path. Recalled into military during the First Gulf War, he had a part in an incident that he writes about vividly in the chapter.
Married and in ministry, the unresolved pain of his secret desert continued to influence him. He writes about a cycle in his life.
“The cycle was always the same for me: pain medicated by fantasy, followed by acting out, an act of contrition, and deeper shame – an ever-growing desert. Only now, I had dragged Traci into the desert with me.”
Through the help of a recovery program that emphasized listening to the painful thoughts and finding acceptance in the love of Jesus, family, friends, and mentors, Eric was able to emerge from the desert in which he had lived for so long. Because of his long experience with pain he is able to help others now as a church planter and therapist.
I hope you will want to read all of Eric’s story, as I have only given a sketch of what he experienced. He likens his time in the desert to Moses in Midian, a vivid image indeed. I know that many reading these thoughts will identify with Eric’s testimony … I hope that many more will find hope in the way that his exit from the desert of shame and secrecy was through the healing power of Jesus Christ.
Eric Greer is the Pastor of Restoration Community Church in Kingston, Massachusetts. He is also the owner and therapist at Restoration Community Counseling. In addition he is an adjunct professor at Eastern Nazarene College. He is married to Traci since 1992 and they have two daughters. You can follow him on Twitter (@missional_greer), find him on Facebook, and look for him on Instagram (@devildog1969).
The purpose for these posts is to introduce you to the scope and flavor of Surrendering to Hope … but also to remind you that no matter what you’re going through Jesus Christ is the answer to finding your way out of it. If you’ve been reading you will know that Rex, Les, JB, and Eric will all testify that following Jesus brings the answers your heart has always been searching for. In the next post I want to share a chapter with you that is written by someone who had a secret she thought she would take to the grave. But God had other plans.
No matter where you find yourself, Out Here Hope Remains. Thanks for reading. JED