My wife and daughter were mid-conversation with me while at the dinner table, but I was only half listening. The upper part of my legs started to feel numb. I was feeling dizzy. Were the walls closing in on me? No, but I did feel trapped… anxious and trapped. I felt trapped in my own body. Where could I go to get free from my body? Was I feeling all of this because of some dizziness? Vertigo had been ruled out. Was I losing my mind?
Just a few weeks prior to this (and just a few weeks after having to leave my job), I had clearly received a confirmed calling from the Lord to move into full time ministry coaching… helping pastors get unstuck with-in their ministries. And in an odd fashion for me, the Lord didn’t directly speak that calling to me. He spoke it through 3 different people, who have never met each other, over a course of 7 or so days. (You can read more about that calling and how I original said no to it, here: https://www.gratsllc.com/post/waiting-for-the-lord-a-story-of-encouragement-which-includes-some-of-the-grats-genesis-story.)
And since that day of saying yes to the Lord, so much crazy had taken place in our lives in just the few short weeks following. From the family getting Covid, to my all-night visit to the ER (which included a cardioversion), which lead to a month of blood thinners, which appeared to be a cause of the dizziness, which now seemed to be a major catalyst of the above experiences – experiences that were almost debilitating. I felt like I was quickly hitting a breaking point (and not in a good way).
“Why would you be surprised by this?”, remarked my friend Junior. “I mean, you basically went down to the gates of Hell, knocked on the door, and told the Devil that you are coming for all of the pastor’s that he has been oppressing.”
“NO, I DID NOT!” That was my firm and guttural response. That is simply not who I am.
So, when my wife, overhearing this discussion with Junior, gently said, “Yeah… yeah we kind of did” – well, I was floored. I wasn’t looking for this, and frankly, at first, I was not super thrilled with this. I certainly hadn’t marched to anyone’s gates and informed them of anything, let alone the gates of Hell. That is just not my style… it isn’t who I am.
It took me almost a full week to really begin to come to grips with the idea that quietly saying "yes" to Jesus is equal to loudly and boldly declaring war on the Devil and his entire kingdom.
And then I had a picture pop into my head while on a prayer walk. I was on a beach with a rifle, advancing against a powerful army that was securely entrenched on the cliffs above (think D-day and the beaches of Normandy). However, I had no advance air raids or bombers. In fact, other than my wife and kiddo, who had rifles pointing the other direction (as a rear guard), I was alone on this beach... well, other than that well-armed, formidable army that I was advancing against. In that moment, I think that I audibly said, “This is a bad idea”. And it was… it was an awful idea. The Lord made it clear to me that I needed other people fighting with me. We needed a prayer team! (This revelation prompted this article: https://www.gratsllc.com/post/stop-fighting-alone.) I cannot tell you how much calm came into our lives and home, once the 10th person signed on to be a part of our prayer team… agreeing to pray for us and our ministry at least once a day, every day for at least 1 year. And as the prayer team continued to grow, so did our ministry.
But the verge of craziness that I started this post with, that was not going away. The dizziness had gotten better as a whole once I was able to go off of the blood thinners, but the rest still plagued me. Nothing like this had ever happened to me. So, I reached out to my friend Dave, who has had a lot of experience in deliverance ministry. Did I need deliverance? What I needed was to be free from this, whatever “this” was… and if deliverance was the mechanism to freedom, then so be it.
Dave and I met via web-conference, and he began walking me through a prayerful, deliverance process. Each step was a dead end… that is until he came to that part where he began to address evil forces assigned to me. Assigned to me? What? That is a thing? At that moment, the presence of God filled the room and tears began streaming down my face. I knew in my soul the Lord had just uncovered truth… that evil forces assigned to me was the thing! I was shocked and surprised. I was crying. I was feeling truth permeate my soul. Realizing that hell had assigned emissaries to attack, harm, and destroy little old me was disconcerting. And I am sure for some of you reading this, this testimonial is a very disconcerting. I get how you are feeling.
After what was a relatively short amount of time of Dave praying for me and leading me through a prayer of deliverance, I was free. I knew it in my soul. Whatever had been assigned to me had been defeated in its assignment. It was over. And indeed, it was over. I didn’t experience that experience again. This enemy army had attacked with a fierce show a force, but the Lord delivered me.
Fast forward seven months… the Lord had taken me on a journey of healing. I was coaching and was being coached and counselled. The ministry had taken off by human standards at that point. Coaching was busy. Pastors were being changed, helped, challenged, encouraged… and we have testimony after testimony to prove it. We had seen the hand of the Lord move mightily again and again… including confirmed prophetic words and repeated financial provisions along the way (more on that financial testimonial here: https://www.gratsllc.com/post/living-by-faith). I had received a message from Danielle, a coach/counselor of mine. Her message said, “Continue to stand, to not be shaken, and to not be moved.” It struck me deeply. Even now as I read it… I am struck by it. And some things had in fact started to shake me. That shaking was about to intensify.
A few weeks after receiving that message, we had taken a much needed 5 days off. But the time off had been decently unrestful. As a family we had been repeatedly bickering and arguing with each other – which isn’t our normal. We weren’t sleeping very well as a whole. The weather wasn’t helping either. Some bad weather had slowed our staycation plans down way too much. And then one afternoon I started to feel the numbness in my upper legs again. I started feeling dizzy again. I started to feel trapped in my own body again. I hadn’t felt that all in months. But this time, we knew what it was. We needed to pray. My wife, who has become quite a skilled (and a VERY bold) prayer warrior, began standing on scripture and praying that scripture over me, and us. What happened next though, was still astonishing.
I have never heard the audible voice of God, but I have clearly heard Him speak to me and through me. In fact, I have confirmed testimony after confirmed testimony of Him speaking to and through me. Tooting my own horn? NOT – AT – ALL! I say this to say that I am coming to know how He speaks and that is important to this story. His voice often sounds like a MUCH STRONGER version of my own voice inside my head. At times, it sounds just like my own voice, but somehow in Him, I know it is different. Like someone else speaking my own voice back to me, but using their words.
However, as my wife was praying for me and us, I wasn’t hearing His voice. I could here the “voice” of the enemy and his forces, in a similar manner to how I have heard the Lord openly speaking to me. The enemy was openly speaking to me, openly speaking to my deep fears, openly speaking against the things of the Lord, and openly speaking completely against what my wife was praying and the scriptures that she was proclaiming. This had never happened to me before. I have been in the room a couple of times when a demon(s) were cast out of a person, but they never left that person and openly came at me. I have battled discouragement and disillusionment, same as anyone else. I have battled troubles and trials that I have been told are not common to others. But that was all different than this. This was open conflict pointed directly and overtly at me. And the feeling of feeling trapped in my own body was trying to increase. My hope felt gone.
Ok, at this point, I realize that I am basically speaking to you about voices in my head. That statement gives me a strong temptation to erase all of this and move on. But I know that I am not the only pastor (or Christian) who has walked through these things. His deliverance is His Glory, and His Glory deserves to be testified to. And let’s face it… if you made it past the first paragraph or two, you are already tracking with the realness of the spiritual world’s activity into our physical world.
So, in that moment of open turmoil and attack, as my wife was praying and I was in the tattered state that I was in, I began myself standing on scripture. God had not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.
Slowly, but surely, these evil things started to subside. I was not feeling trapped in my own body anymore. I was not reeling in fear anymore. We finished praying and got up from where we were, and a few moments later, hope was downloaded back into me. I don’t know how else to say it… it literally felt like a download of hope.
“Continue to stand, to not be shaken, and to not be moved.” Will you join me in this?