I rarely write about religion. It is a very personal subject and even if all my posts were written without ill-intent, there is a total lack of control as to how my words are interpreted. However, even as my innate hesitation begins to take over, I am forcing myself to continue writing this piece for reasons that cannot be explained, just a constant and urgent tug in my chest.
I write this because for the first time in my life, I actually faced what I finally have come to realize is a “spiritual battle”. For the first time, I actually felt like I was staring the devil in the face. For those of you readers who are non-Christian, bear with me, for I only hope that my words will at least entertain you if not cause you to do some self reflection.
Without revealing the parties involved, all being close to my heart and a fundamental part of my life, a trial of enormous magnitude had been placed upon them, upon us. It pushed us to the emotional limits, to the point of mental breakdowns, of close brushes with death, and more. Nights of crying, of anger and resentment, of guilt so deep it led to deep depression persisted for months, for years possibly. Denial led to blind eyes, to resentment and bitterness that the soul that once was good was slowly being eaten away by evil.
All the while, there was prayer. But perhaps the prayer was not enough. I saw prayer out of desperation, and yet the true message was never completely accepted. For indeed, the truth can be hard to bear. Slowly the souls succumb to a disintegration of all that makes people human, of what we as Christians should strive to be. I hadn’t realize how bad it was until I finally saw it first hand how much the spirit had been broken. I thank God that I was removed from it so that I could see clearly, and yet my heart was so broken to see these people, good people with hearts, with souls, with the desire to do good, and some who strove to grow in Christ, fall so low as to engage in denial of the Word, of each other, of integrity, of truth, and faith.
Worse, was when I looked into the face of one of these people, I saw desolation and desperation, but most of all, I saw hatred. In their attempts at fasting to condition God on a desired outcome, while based purely on desperation, they had twisted the entire purpose of fasting and the Word that it was taken from. And they hated that I was trying so desperately to show them where they were. I saw hate and anger so deep it was like I was staring at the devil himself. Now I claim to be the most terrible Christian when it comes to quoting Scripture. However, when I looked at this person who was at the moment no longer a person, Scripture just came out. Even now I couldn’t even quote you the books or chapters much less the actual verse, but I remember the message I was trying so desperately to convey. And by the grace of God, I “won”.
When I say I won, I don’t mean that I won the argument. I did, but it was more like… I won this person’s soul back momentarily. The person claimed that I wasn’t right because I was “man” and they had prayed to God for two hours, specifically two hours mind you: God never convinced them otherwise (note, this is also conditioning God). But here’s the thing about Scripture. Scripture is Scripture. So unless that person was willing to totally deny God and Christ, I was willing to bank on that this person would not be able to deny the Bible. It felt like the biggest gamble I had made. I don’t even know if this is an appropriate description, but it is the best way that I can describe the feeling at that moment.
For the rest of the day, I felt unsure. Did I really just see what I just saw? Did those words come out of my mouth? Of the 40 days and nights, of the 7 years in the desert, of the countless years in Egypt, where did that come from? (I’m actually going to have to re-look up these parables and scripture verses to add them later in this post because I’m that bad at Scripture). But right when my mind was about to explode with confusion and the overwhelming feeling of having way too many unexplainable phenomenons, I met a friend who convicted me again that pursuing Spiritual Discipline was crucial to not just this situation, but the rest of my life.
When people say “in God’s time”, they really mean in His time. For so many years, He has always been faithful to show me in one way or another what it is I need to do, but it is only until late that I have started to learn or more appropriately, be receptive, to the greater purpose that I am meant to serve. While I am continually convinced that life only gets harder, the journey ever more painful, it is becoming easier. Maybe it is masochism at its very best, but as a scientifically-based person, there are some things that are unexplainable. There are occurrences that if you calculated the odds, you would have better “luck” getting hit by lightning multiple times and winning the lottery at least once a year than for the outcome that occurred to occur.
As I end this post, I also ended the day with prayer. I did what may be the second or third intercessional prayer in my entire life. It wasn’t your daily “please-take-care-of-the-people-i-love-thanks-praise-to-You” prayer, I literally put it all on the line, with Scripture (okay minus the chapter and verses but the words were 99% correct), so much so that my chest felt so heavy, heavy to the point where I couldn’t breathe. For a split second I actually thought, “This is it, I am next, the devil hasn’t left and now he’s literally trying to choke the life out of me, and I’m going to die in my bathtub.” But in three seconds, and it was literally about three seconds, it disappeared. All of it. I don’t think that my brain suddenly told my body to stop producing epinephrine. I don’t think the neurons decided to stop firing on its own.
My Discipline group have decided to read the book of Galatians. I just read the first section in chapter one and it says:
Galatians 1:6 (No Other Gospel)
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Unexplainable. Conviction. Thrice proven.
I started this post with difficulty, the difficulty of never truly writing about religion or faith. I wrote this in irony, the irony of being fearful of retaliation as a person who deals poorly with confrontation and yet being in a country whose first amendment fully claims freedom of religion and to worship He who has done so much and continues to do so. But I write this with conviction, and that despite the fear, there is a continual tug in my chest to post this possible nonsensical entry, unedited, intelligible, and hopefully above all believable.
The (spiritual) battle is real! But not everyone will acknowledge it, believe it, or choose to see it.
This was a completely new experience for me. “Real and yet surreal at the same time” would probably be the best way of describing the whole event!