I have dealt with spiritual warfare for most of my life, I didn’t know that is what it was though until recently. The most recent attack began a little over two years ago, and I had no clue I was under attack, I didn’t recognize the schemes of Satan and his demons. About a year into this attack, which was far worse than any I have ever endured, I began to even question if God was actually there. I wondered why He would allow this to continue happening to me. And at one point my eyes welled up with tears as I began to think maybe I was an atheist even. These are not things I had spoken to anyone about, I was too frightened by the possible reality of it. One day as I was standing outside of work waiting for my husband to pick me up, this girl that I knew as nothing more than an acquaintance walks past me, says have a nice evening, goes about 50 feet, turns around and comes back to me and gives me a hug and tells me that God wanted her to tell me that He loved me. As crazy as that was with her having no idea what I was going through spiritually, I was still skeptical. Wandering in the darkness my Savior was reaching for me. From there I slowly found my way back. I had been looking all over for this cheap ring I have that I bought years ago as a reminder that I am forgiven (it’s a silver band with the engraving “forgiven”). I couldn’t find it. I tore my room apart several times looking for it because I knew exactly where I left it. And today, Madison brings it to me and asks whose it is. I tell her it’s mine and ask where she found it, and she told me on my bedroom floor. I know for an absolute fact it has not been on my floor. I have vacuumed more than dozens and dozens of times. He brought it back for me, of that I am certain. And that comes the day after I started reflecting on my salvation and finally realizing and firmly believing that He saved me, and though I am not perfect and am prone to wander, sometimes even in dark territory, He is always out there, reaching out for His lost sheep. He has placed Proverbs 4:23 on my heart like something serious. And so, I will guard my heart and keep following and trusting Him.
What is a God story? It is the telling of how God is at work in your life. It is how He proves to you that He is really there; then you can share with others for their encouragement. This may get long as I share two God stories.
For the last two years, and that might be a conservative number, I had been growing distant from God. I will spare you all the bloody details, just know that while I was going to church, I wasn’t really there. I wasn’t praying and I wasn’t reading His word. I was dying and I didn’t realize it. Like a sheep, I was wondering, slowly, unaware of what was happening until I found myself in a place I didn’t recognize. In this place I was so distraught about God, I began to even question His existance. In those glimpses I recalled various situations that God had clearly been there with me and yet asked Him to free me from belief. I have shared with you my struggles with not necessarily faith, but religion. I wanted to be freed from the bondage of religion because it brought confusion to me. How do we pray? What bible do we read? How do we worship? Rules. Rules. Rules. Whose rules? God, free me from this. Take away my belief so I won’t have to stress and be confused about religion and how I am to live with you. How did He respond? Get ready to be blown away because this blows me away! As I was waiting for my husband to pick me up from work, He sent a woman to give me a hug and tell me how much God loved me. He told her to do this and she obediently did as He said.
She didn’t know what was going on. She didn’t know what I had been praying. When this happened I didn’t realize this was an answer to prayer. I didn’t realize this was quite literally Him, reaching to me beyond the spiritual…but the physical. It was just a couple weeks ago that I recollected that day and put the pieces together.
Meanwhile He began using me for someone else in a similar manner as the girl who hugged me. Several months ago He laid on my heart a friend of a friend. He burdened me to pray for her. This never happened to me before. There were days I just couldn’t get her off my mind. These prayers were very specific. He burdened me to pray that she would conceive a child. And while I prayed, I had assurance that she would indeed conceive. It was very matter of fact to me. So I prayed, and prayed. A few weeks goes by and she posts something on Facebook about infertility. And I prayed. And some more time passes and she shares that she is going to a fertility center. Oh. My. Jesus! God has been using me to pray for someone! This has never happened to me before.
He used Story #2 to prove to me that He really indeed used that woman in Story #1 to do something for Him to reach me. Kind of makes me wonder who else is out there praying for me…and you…and we don’t even know it. He knows the need and He ensures the need is taken care of.
So to finish up with Story #2…shortly after she shared about going to the fertility center, God refocused my prayers to the health and development of her baby. I so wanted to tell her all of this, but He wouldn’t let me. Then the day came that she received her first treatment and on that day the Lord released me and allowed me to tell her about the prayers I had been told by God to pray. They encouraged her. The best part of this story though…today she found out she is pregnant. Please pray for her, she will have a second blood draw in a couple days to confirm.
God used me. God uses you. God uses us. We obey and He takes care of the rest.
A week ago God brought to mind something He had done for me. I have been thinking about it since and am going to reach out to the woman He used, the woman who obeyed Him, to let her know He had used her. But first I wanted to share a parallel He used today.
““How can I know this? ” Zechariah asked the angel. “For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.” The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. Now listen! You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.””
Luke 1:18-20 HCSB
We are heading into the Christmas season so therefore, Scriptures will reflect this. Above is a portion of the scripture we listened to and studied this morning. It brought me back to God’s answer to my prayer, and this woman.
Here is my story… I hadn’t been going to church, haven’t been reading my bible, or spending any time in prayer for some time. I did feel guilty about it. Something was holding me back from returning. Pride? Shame? Fear? I had started talking to God and I was as real as I could be in these moments. I asked God why faith can’t come easy to me. Why can’t I at least be certain I am on the road He wants me on. I even asked Him to help me be sure of Him otherwise let me be atheist or agnostic, that way I wouldn’t have to deal with anymore periods of confusion.
Whenever I spend periods away, I always come back through the Catholic Church. I am beginning to see that it is a familiar place. It is a doorway I go through, I make a call, rest a little, until I am ready to proceed on in my journey back to Him.
Think of it like this. You have been lost and away from home for many years, estranged. You aren’t sure how to just go back home to your parents house (will they welcome you?). So you go to your Aunts or some other relative, wait a minute (build up the courage), then go back to your parents to find them overjoyed that you returned. They don’t care what you did, they only care that you are home.
This is how it works for me. So as I said, I had been talking with God, confused, angry, despaired, wanting this cycle that repeats every so often to be over, once and for all. So in that desperate frame of mind, I was asking God to either give me some certainty, or allow me to not believe at all.
I am not sure how much time transpired from that prayer to His answer. I had been standing outside waiting for my husband to pick me up from work. A woman I know of walks out, I told her to have a nice evening, like I do to others who walk past. I knew of her but didn’t know her if you know what I mean. She walks past me about 50 feet then turns around and comes back to me. She hugs me and tells me that God loves me. I am not a big hugger so this was weird for me. All I could think about after this was how weird it was and how creeped out I was. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that God was answering my prayer from many months before.
Today I drew the parralel from the story of Zechariah not believing the angel and having to live for the next nine months without being able to speak. Sure, I was able to speak. Confusion on the other hand, had that for a bit.
I am thankful for His love!
Hey there! So. I have come full circle. I can only credit this to God. I don’t know why this happens to me, other than I have a stronghold and the devil exploits a moment of weakness and boom, I’m derailed for 18 months. Here is the long story as I know it today, as the Lord has brought things to my memory. Side note – I have found when going through periods of confusion, when wandering lost, and trying to find my way back to the Lord, nothing is clearer than hindsight.
This is going to be a long story. I hope you are comfortable and I hope to keep you engaged. It is my supreme hope that this touches someone and points them to Jesus.
Father God, please let me be your instrument while I share our story of how you have found me and followed me closely all the years of my life. Please Father open the hearts and minds of whoever is reading this and touch them. Maybe they can relate Lord, fill them with your assurance that they can be freed from the bondage of confusion. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
I am going to go through the early years to about 5 years ago pretty fast, as it isn’t all clear to me until closer to the present day what has been happening.
About 19 years ago I was a carefree 19 year old, newly married, just getting back to my faith. The only faith I ever had was Catholic. I was taught things growing up that would instill a certain level of fear in me, and this fear would keep me Catholic. Example – the Catholic Church is the one true church and everyone who isn’t Catholic is lost. You couldn’t go to heaven unless you were catholic. As a child my mom would be guarded about who I could be friends with (no holy rollers aka bible believing Christians). At that stage in my life a very important person to me asked why I prayed to Mary. I gave her the usual answer “we just ask her to pray for us, she is closer to Jesus” yada yada yada. She told me I could just pray to Jesus myself. She didn’t know it, but this exchange was the first to a lifelong process that would lead me to saving faith in Him.
I had gone to church with her a handful of times, each time amazed at how people seemed to be happy to be there and seemed to really love the Lord. Now, please don’t mistake me. I know some Catholics love the Lord. It is just different to see people fall to their knees with tears streaming down their faces as they worship Him, oblivious to their surroundings. [it was in this period I prayed confessing my faith and repenting to be saved]
I had heard Scripture my whole life but it was at this point I heard it preached with passion and purpose. It was the first time the words of Scripture inspired me. Monotone isn’t inspirational, and that is what I was used to. I was liking it, but I didn’t want to turn my back on Jesus and leave the one true church. So I headed back to what I knew, the Catholic Church.
This cycle would repeat for many many years. Whenever I begin to fall away from Church, and wander, I seem to come back through the Catholic Church.
Note – when I refer to falling away from the Church, I am equally referring to God. It’s his house. 🙂
Five years ago I my beloved aunt fell ill. I don’t remember what my faith life was at that time. But my aunt was a devout catholic and we didn’t live close so as a way to honor her, I went to Mass. That started me on a two year journey getting caught up on sacraments, being involved, getting my kids caught up. Everything was perfect as a catholic, I was so certain, no doubts at all. Me and my girls were in the choir. We were getting ready for the May crowning of Mary and I was going to let my daughters crown her. I stood in the back of the church while that took place and nausea washed over me. I was physically trembling. I never went back. I was sickened by what I allowed my precious innocent daughters to do.
At this point I found my current church. Every Sunday I went, it was as if the pastors message was written directly for me. Every. Single. Time. Messages that would convict me and cause growth. I found my new church home. All was going great and then our pastor left. It was a rocky period for my church but I weathered through. I had never gone through something like this with a church before. The two years after my pastor left we had stand in preachers. This is where I started to wander, slowly. The messages were no longer convicting. I can’t blame this on my church though. It is my fault I didn’t work harder at studying the scriptures and prayer and being responsible for my own faith.
Eighteen months ago, I found my way out. My son was just born, I would give up my nursery duties and stay home with my newborn. I had been dying for months, but here I could get out without telling anyone what I was going through.
My time away from church was pretty uneventful. God was always on my mind though. I had come to a point where I was calling out to God asking if He was really there listening to me. I was tired of this cycle of confusion. I want to be all in or not. I was ready to give up totally and be atheist or agnostic.
It was at this time that the Lord wowed me. I was leaving work for the day and an acquaintance was leaving. She walked past me, then came back and hugged me and told me that God loved me. She felt she needed to do that. Being honest, I was weirded about by this. But it was shortly after that I started attending Mass again. I don’t know, maybe because of the familiarity with the Catholic Church, this is the avenue God uses to pull me back to Him. In the past week though He has knocked my socks off with messages, passages of Scripture (the same ones) showing up in multiple places.
My baptist church family welcomed me home on Sunday and it’s like I never left. I am just so thankful for His constant care and the reality that he seeks me out while I am wondering lonely in the woods.
I’m sorry to have dragged you through this the past several months…well…no I’m not. Our relationships with the Lord can be many things and this is mine. It’s messy, but I’m His and I’m a work in progress.
I spent a great deal of yesterday listening to sermons from my [baptist] church. I heard some really powerful messages, one series in particular was called “come home” and was about those who [like me…and you at one point or another I’m sure] have fallen away, or been lead astray, or kind of just wandered. And then we get in a rut where we are reluctant to go back because of fears and guilt. Bottom line, it spoke to me.
It got me doing some soul searching as I started to ask myself some questions such as…
Where have I grown the most in my faith in Jesus?
Why or how did I end up wandering each time I faltered?
How do I come back or what brings me back?
I am not really ready to get into the gritty details of these questions in particular just yet. I really just want to air my frustration. Can I vent…ramble…will you listen?
Why does the Catholic Church not feed me? I pray for faith in the Real Presence and He gives it to me more now than ever, in a real tangible way. I am overcome with joy at the Blessed Sacrament that my eyes well up with tears that I can celebrate it. [I am hoping to not offend but trying to be real here.] What I am saying though is, beyond the Blessed Sacrament, it’s empty to me [well, today it is…knowing myself I can very well wake up tomorrow refreshed and renewed and sure of where He has me]. I had someone tell me that I shouldn’t need anything more than the Blessed Sacrament, and while I can totally see their point of view as it is Jesus, I also can’t because it’s not like Jesus in the Eucharist is available all day everyday.
Catholicism is very private and personal while other faiths, like baptists, are very corporate and faith is shared, life in the faith is celebrated together. Maybe that is the point of this struggle that I am having. I am sure they are out there somewhere but I have never experienced Catholics living catholicly together.
Light bulb moment. I know someone is going to tell me Jesus is available to me, all day everyday everywhere, I just have to talk to Him. I’ve done that, plenty of times and end up in the same uncertain place.
I don’t know, everything seems so complicated.
I went on to listen to a couple of the “sola” sermons and was really interested in listening to the sola scriptura sermon. I was disappointed, and am thinking about emailing the pastor on it. The gist of the sermon was about how scripture is Gods word and can be trusted, it’s all true, the stories are all true. This didn’t answer the question of authority though. I totally believe the Bible is Gods word, no doubts about that. But the question is, how did Christianity spread before the written word was available to everyone…over hundreds of years? What was the authority before the ink met the paper?