Writing this blog post is a testimony. It means I survived.
The past few weeks have been a spiritual battle for me – a battle against my faith, my marriage, my job, my ministry, my future. Of course I didn’t know this then, but I should have, especially after God declared his will concerning me for 2016. After all the identity of Jesus was questioned immediately after God announced him as the Beloved Son. I should have known that The Perfect Day would not come without the night-time storm, crashing waves of insecurity all around me.
It is a little hard to accurately describe all of the discombobulation that has been my life in the past few weeks. Many of the things I would like to share may seem mundane, and for those who don’t know better, there is a tendency to scoff at me spiritualizing these events. But I have learned to recognize God’s subtle signals through mundane events, especially at those times when I cannot discern his inner voice.
Whether you are a believer or not, life is spiritual and we are all having a human experience. So when I found myself reading Matthew Slick’s Christian novel titled The Influence (a fictional story about how angels and demons battle over a Christian’s mind), a book I would not usually pick up to read, I began to identify my recent life events as more than just natural occurrences – a spiritual battle was raging over my mind and spirit, to distract me from the future that God had set out before me.
You know how there is that moment when everything familiar and comforting becomes unappealing? When your natural instincts and traits, the core of who you are, become the very thing that strain your fellowship with God, spark arguments with your spouse, muddy your relationships with friends, and bring you to a state of lethargy that threatens to bring your whole world crashing to a stop.
This has been the script of my life in the past few weeks. Retelling all in a single blog post will be too lengthy, so I will simply try to highlight the moments. Perhaps in subsequent posts, if the spirit leads, I will talk in more details about some of the events.
For some people, faith is a memorized verse that describes it as the evidence of things hoped for and the substance of things not seen. For me, in the recent past weeks, my faith has not been so poetic.
At the beginning of 2015, I talked about my strong desire for my own version of the giving pledge. Looking over the out-going year, it’s humbling to see how God has helped me to fulfill this desire. In 2015, my financial giving to people God caused to cross my path tremendously increased. However, one desire I have nursed even before the start of 2015 was to sow my car as a seed into someone’s life. Sometime in November, for the first time, God began to speak to me about this desire. Unfortunately, plans have not worked out as I hoped and you know what scripture says about “hope deferred… making the heart sick”. My faith became anger at God for giving me a dream and desire bigger than my ability, and bitterness whenever I saw the object of my faith.
My faith also became a struggle with emotional dependency (masquerading as a counselor/counselee relationship) on my office crush while trying to preserve the emotional fidelity in my marriage. My faith became bitterness at God for giving me a spirit of empathy for broken/hurting women, when I did not yet realize how that same gift of compassion can be a dangerous threat to my marriage.
My faith became the inner struggle to quit a job you love, out of fear of being found incompetent, simply because your mind is increasingly becoming distracted by circumstances around the job (that had nothing to do with your ability to do the job).
My faith became a struggle to prayerfully prepare for the New Year because my mind was drowning in despair and depression as the enemy relentlessly attacked, with everything and everyone around me. Even more disconcerting is the fact that I myself was his unwitting accomplice to choke the word out of my own life.
Then as if the distractions were not enough, my wife broke her toe on Christmas Eve and we spent the next few days learning how to navigate life with a cast and crutches. And this, according to the doctors, is supposed to continue all through the first month of 2016.
All of these events, happening in the space of a few weeks, threw my mind into such a twisted and contorted loop of mixed emotions that I could barely find focus in my job, my marriage, my fellowship and the bare essentials of living my life.
I tried praying but could not. I tried to read my bible but could not. I tried to read fiction but could not (except for The Influence). I tried to salvage the joy in my marriage but deep depression kept driving a wedge between my wife and I.
Someone once said the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s word to him…when he becomes discouraged …he needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation”. I am thankful for Paula and Sheila; 2 of my closest girlfriends. I shared my struggles with them over the phone, and they helped pray me in the right direction. I thank God for my wife also – I am learning to be more in touch with her feelings and I know, in spite of her fears, she was constantly storming heaven for peace of mind for me.
I am not totally out of the mental distractions yet. But being able to put down some coherent words in this blog post is sign that I am approaching the light at the end of a dark paralysing tunnel. I am slowly shedding the garment of depression and my vision is slowly becoming less blurry.
No doubt I am shaken by this episode because I have never faced such intense attack on my mind and spirit, but I am also tingled with the inward knowing that satan has me in his cross-hairs because of all the perfection God has prepared for me in 2016.
2 Corinthians 2: 14. Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ…