“You’re gonna feel like you got shot out of a cannon into the fourth dimension.” – J. Smith
So much of life after baptism has felt akin to traveling in a foreign country (actually, the better descriptive here would be uncharted dimension) where one must acknowledge different rules, possibilities and ways of being. There is a ‘black and white/good and evil’ tension that becomes impossible to avoid any longer once one enters the Christian paradigm. The devil is a part of this package and, apparently, we are at war.
There is a manifest quality to the unseen within this arena. The stadium is located in that spot on the map that makes you seem like you’re crazy to people who haven’t found it yet…the same spot that’s inescapable once you’ve stepped in, no matter how much you might want to turn and run away.
I came to Christ and suddenly God’s voice is in my heart. Confirmations come from the bible. People are placed in my life and people are removed. Quiet incessant whisperings prompt me to say and pursue things I never would until, finally, I say, ‘OK! If this is what you want me to do then give me a sign!”. Sign after sign after sign shows up until it is no longer deniable and ‘coincidence’ becomes impossibility. Or it doesn’t.
The first time I put down my skepticism and opted instead for obedience, the result was a friend of mine being baptized. I felt so vulnerable and stupid opening my mouth and saying to my friend, “God has been asking me to give you a message.” I felt embarrassed. I feared being perceived as an egomaniac or mildly schizophrenic.
Still, I said the words. I remember feeling my cheeks burn and my heart beat fast while I was speaking. I couldn’t look at my friend, staring at the ground instead. I felt more uncomfortable than I have in a long time, but the conviction to be obedient outweighed. I chose to follow the prompting rather than remain within the confines of the cynic.
After the baptism of my friend was complete, I felt as if that special dove had landed on MY shoulder. My body felt lighter, as if the molecules had been rearranged just a bit. I walked alone, in prayer, praising and thanking and feeling the wonderment that is God.
Shortly after, on the drive home, intense feelings of shame and doubt and recrimination began. By the time the half hour drive was over I was wishing I could crawl out of my skin. I felt sick about what I’d done and said. I called a mentor, an older and seasoned Christian, for help. “Oh honey.”, she said. “You’re under attack.”
‘Under attack’ is when ‘the enemy’ messes with your mind to try and keep you away from, or get you to stop being, a soldier for God. Sure, my soul is ‘saved’ and so the devil won’t get this soul. That doesn’t mean he isn’t going to try and stop me from being a source of God’s love for others.
I hadn’t as of yet even delved into whether I believed the devil is real. Jesus was a bit of a stretch for me. Now, the devil?! Still, I must admit the explanation of being ‘under attack’ made sense if I stepped out of the worldly template for a minute. The ‘attack’ did come on the heels of a decision which lead to less of me and more of God.
The term most often used to describe what goes on in this arena is ‘spiritual warfare’. Try as I might, I cannot seem to shirk having to address the concept. If I don’t pay attention, if I skip one day of prayer, if I forget to put on the full armor of God each day, my mind and my life feel repercussions. This is a new thing since baptism.
I think I thought of baptism more like a ‘handshake’ with Jesus or ‘pledge’ to do better. I wish someone would have warned me that when I stepped out of the baptismal waters I was stepping into the supernatural arena and going to war. I really had no idea.
I’m in this battle now, though, and I wouldn’t change it for the world because it means I get to personally interact with God. The thought of not knowing God in this way is, by far, a scarier thought than anything ‘the enemy’ might try and pull. The days I feel the most uncomfortable now are the days when I can’t hear God’s voice.
This battle is literal and metaphorical and I am getting to know God in both ways. I want more and more of Him. He is awesome in the truest sense of the word. In an unexpected turn, I have become a spiritual warrior in God’s army.
This is the most amazing adventure of my life.
Eph 6:10-17 (NIV) …Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.