I’ve been reading a book lately, entitled: Invisible War. by Chip Ingram.
It’s essentially a breakdown of the Armor of God as it’s listed in Ephesians 6. What he’s done is break down and apply the Armor, not in deeper, more complex metaphors or exercises (I mean, seriously, we don’t need more flannel-graph pictures of a cartoon dude who is literally wearing armor), but in a simple, understandable way. Along the way, he also points out more, through his story (and others’) about the attacks, schemes, and methods that the enemy has used to attack the Church since Eden.
So, here’s a testimony of one of those attacks…
While a few people might remember, from my old blog (which no longer exists) back in January of this year, it seemed like I caved in spiritually. While I didn’t tell many people, I had this agonizing fear that I really wasn’t saved. Weird, right? A guy who’s spent the last 3.5 years studying the Bible, being in ministry, going on mission trips, serving in leadership, and suddenly he’s afraid it’s all been a sham?
First off, I know that that’s happened before. And that’s what brought a sense of reality to my fear: Some men have diligently served “the church” who really were never a part of The Church. The Body of Jesus Christ, which is being built into a spiritual house among the Saints, who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and have been raised to new life with Jesus Christ. (Just a quick shout out, I got a bit giddy at typing that out. It brings excitement to know that Christ bought me with His life, because He loved me. I’m glad the doubt has been beaten back so much!)
Well to save time, here’s what happened. I was driving back to campus to begin my last semester. I had an impactful experience at the Passion Conference, and was pumped to be a part of what God was going to do on campus. In the car, I listened to a sermon, where a couple stories were shared about deacons. Deacons, who had served the local church, sacrificed for her, spent their lives building her up… and came to find out that they had never known the Spirit. That the Spirit had never come to reside within them, and that they were unsaved(!). At that moment, my brain crashed. I went wide-eyed. My thought was, “If they could serve like that for so long, how in the world can *I* have confidence? There’s no way!… Do I have a portion in heaven? Is the Spirit really in me!?”
I panicked. I was a mess when I arrived on campus. For anyone who noticed that last semester, I fell off the face of the school map. I hardly went to the cafeteria, because I was afraid to talk to anyone about my fears. The few I did talk to did their honest best, and I was not nearly as thankful as I should have been for their love, concern and encouragement. The semester continued to go down hill, with distractions, laziness, sin, and depression. My grades started to fall. Despair crept into my thoughts, and my hopes for seminary felt like a horribly bad joke. I continued to serve with a smile, and do my best to cover the damage. I felt like I couldn’t serve, like I shouldn’t minister, that I had failed as a senior, and ultimately, I DID fail. Well, almost. I got a “D” in greek instead of the “C” I needed in order to graduate. So, last minute, through the abounding grace and loving compassion of my professors, they put together a special “Liberal Arts Degree” for me, and I graduated with emphases in Bible, Christian Ministry, and Theatre. Seriously, that happened 3 weeks before I walked across the stage. I am forever in the debt of Hannibal LaGrange University’s Bible professors.
But, back to the point. The enemy had lied to my heart. He took the opportunity to drive a HUGE wedge of doubt, distrust and fear into my heart, which was honestly, irrational. I got a few really close friends worried and hurt over my sudden doubting. While the community sought to love me in ways they knew how, I ran from much of the community I needed. It took months to finally regain some solid footing, and for that distrust to be resolved and healed… But man! You never know how badly you needed the armor of God until you can look back at a time in your life where you were being pushed about by every fear and doubt, like waves on the sea.
Just fyi, I am back on solid footing in my faith. There is no doubt of the Spirit’s work/presence/intentions/grace in my life. The battle is more real than it ever has been, however, because the Spirit has given me eyes to see the enemy more clearly, and the truth more accurately. There are lies still being confronted, and I am much more immature than I want to admit (and, honestly, more so than I will probably sound in my writing… just, take my word for it. I’m immature). I feel more broken NOW than I have in a very. Long. Time. And it’s all for the glory of God, to build me into His workmanship, and for Him to minister to His Church.
Here is my encouragement to you…
The Whole Armor of God
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.