If this is the first post you’ve read out of this five part series – please do yourself a favor and read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4. All the posts build off each other and reading them out of order would be really confusing. Thanks!
Part 5 – Out of the furnace
So, yeah, that time that I felt Jesus in my room…
Well, as you can imagine, that changed a bunch of things. Obviously, I believed he was real and since I felt he kind of just walked into my room, he also walked himself right into my life as well. Work had really slowed down in September and I had lots of time off to myself, so for a week I just locked myself into my room, read the Bible, and talked to God.
Jesus came to me as a friend first. I felt like I could be completely honest with him and he wouldn’t judge me for it.
Many times, when reading the Bible after that experience I would come across a really hard teaching, like when Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
I remember shaking my head and telling Jesus, “There’s no way I can do that. I’m way too weak.”
I remember feeling him smile. And I remember being a little perplexed at why he would think that was amusing.
At this time, I didn’t go to church. I didn’t trust Christians to be honest. I didn’t even know where to begin to look for a church. And this relationship with Jesus felt so precious to me I didn’t want anything to ruin it – especially Christians! By now, most of my friends had figured out something was really wrong with me.
I told everyone I possibly could about Jesus, about how the Bible is awesome, how everyone should read it, that Jesus is real and that I talk to him, and that they should, too! I was a hot mess. None of my friends knew what to do with me and I even managed to drive my parents crazy. I was lonely and needed to talk about these things with people that understood. I needed to find a church, if only to take some of the heat off my family and friends.
Soon, after much prayer, I finally found a church and got baptized in a YMCA swimming pool. I didn’t even bring a change of clothes! I remember hopping on my motorcycle afterward, still damp and freezing my butt off on the way home.
At this time I was living with a roommate who, like everyone else, was struggling to put up with their friend who suddenly became a religious nut. I was living in a weird paradox in those days. I’d come home from Bible studies and enter a house in full swing party mode, stepping over liquor bottles, ashtrays, and thick weed smoke on the way to my room – or depending on my mood, joining in with them.
There wasn’t much rest at night after the party either. And this is where it gets a little creepy.
Almost every other night during my first year as a new Christian, it felt like someone or something was in the room with me. Often more than one – sometimes up to three or more beings. They felt malevolent and I’ll just leave it at that. When I did manage to fall asleep, I would only wake up with these things trying to choke me and not being able to move to fight them off. Of course, back in the mid 90’s, the internet was still in its infancy and so I didn’t have any resource to know what was going on. Now, I know that this experience is what is called sleep paralysis. (<—Thank you Web-MD! I feel sooooo much better!) Doctors can give these things technical terms all they want, but it doesn’t help at all when you’re in the midst of one of these episodes!
The only thing that seemed to help was calling out to Jesus. Something about the name of Jesus made them go away.
I have a few theories of what they were and why I experienced these night episodes so often in my first year being a Christian. I don’t think it would be much of a stretch to say that if I believe in the resurrection of a first century man who claimed to be God, that I would also believe in demons and angels. The other theory that I have is that I had opened a ‘spiritual’ door when I explored transcendental meditation, calling on spirit guides and toying around with astral projection – which has a long history with the occult.
I understand how strange this all sounds. I guess the only term I can use to describe what I felt was happening to me was that I was literally being haunted by my past.
Eventually, these experiences became much less common – to where I would get once a month to maybe once or twice a year. I even went though a decade without any incidents and it wasn’t until a month ago that I had another one – probably one of the worst I’ve had, to be honest. Actually, it was on the night that my friends suggested I write this testimony. (Haha!)
Or I’m a high functioning fruitcake. To be honest, I would actually prefer this was the case because the alternative is really creepy!
Among the spooky nights there are a ton of things I regret from those early days of my walk with Jesus. I turned a lot of people off to Jesus because of my zeal, immaturity and insensitivity. I failed to give them the grace to discover him in their own time and their own way, the very grace and patience that Jesus had given me. I had, quite simply, become one of ‘those’ Christians I had so desperately avoided when I first believed in Jesus.
If you are reading this, and you were one of those people I drove away from God, I ask your forgiveness.
I am so sorry.
I pray that you give him another chance, and you somehow manage to look past ‘Christianity’, to look past my hypocrisy, the church’s hypocrisy, the politics, the legalism–all the things that get in the way of Jesus–and seek him on your own. I truly believe that if anyone asks Him to reveal himself to them, and if that person truly wants to know the truth, and willing to wait, he will show up. He loves you more than you could ever imagine.
He’s waiting for you – and with joyful anticipation, too.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
Again, to make this a manageable read for a blog post, a lot has been edited out. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments.
Thank you for reading this.
God bless you.