By Stephen L France
‘NOW FAITH IS THE ASSURANCE OF THINGS HOPED FOR, THE CONVICTION OF THINGS NOT SEEN.’ HEBREWS 11:1 ESV
The 2016 EEC Easter Conference was fantastic.
We’d reviewed Bible scripture in a unique way, that facilitated its practical applications in our lives. On its second day Sat Mar 26, 2016, the conference host asked us to dive into our pasts and excavate impactful moments—both positive and negative—then describe how they’ve worked in our lives.
As I wrote about a situation that occurred when I was 24, I began to feel hollow.
At 24, I saw myself as a good man living by the principle: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…” Matthew 7:12. I wasn’t a Christian, but I fully believed in this doctrine. The scenario that I wrote down, noted a girl I’d met abroad who’d treated me in a way I never thought possible.
A Spiritual Attack
I walked home from the conference, saddened, lonely, and jealous; the concluding conference Family Fun Activity highlighted to me the fact that I didn’t have a family of my own – something I was certain I’d have at 31 years old.
Simultaneously, the event I’d recalled of my 24-year-old self, weighed heavily on my mind.
What I didn’t know was that I’d opened a door to a great fear: When I was 24, I’d concluded that God the Father betrayed me based on the fact that, I’d not experienced a proper, loving relationship. Every single friend and family member I knew had felt love from someone…even the socially inept and physically challenged ones – sorry, but this was how I felt at the time.
I concluded that if no woman could love me—now at 24 years of age—why would God?
I arrived home from the conference, completely unaware that something had stalked me.
Now 3:00am on the subsequent day, I was lying in my bed awake. The flesh was fatigued, but my spirit was under brutal assault, seizing the right words for a protection prayer. The spiritual forces of darkness had followed me home, smashed down my doors, and were having a banquet at my expense.
I wanted nothing more than sleep, but the painful thoughts of a human world that had rejected me so completely, evidenced in the fact that I hadn’t held a relationship at 31 years of age, manifested physically. I endured violent heart palpitations, a stomach spinning at the speed of a tumble dryer, and a loss of appetite.
‘Please Jesus, help me,’ I mumbled. ‘I’m in trouble. I’m in really serious trouble,’ I continued, recognising the symptoms of depression—spiritual attack—but not understanding how this could be happening to me with my knowledge and awareness.
The atmosphere continued to close in like an ancient temple trap in an Indiana Jones film. I messaged all EEC Whatsapp groups that I’m part of, alerting them to the spiritual attack, and the fact that I wouldn’t be attending church in the morning.
Following a great deal of prayer, by Tuesday, the spiritual weight lifted and I was left a gift. God in his omniscience had exposed a deep deception in my heart that needed surgical removal.
The Holy Spirit’s Salvation
On the night of Sunday April 3, 2016, I spent time into the early hours of the morning praying, pacing my room, meditating on God’s word, and shedding a dam’s worth of tears as the Holy Spirit unearthed where this spiritual ‘stronghold’ of lies was first constructed.
God guided me to my 10-year-old self, when my mother had told me she believed I would meet the woman of my dreams at university, who I would marry, and start a life with. I was too young to know it, but I clung to this belief and it became my god.
The HS then brought me to my life at university where I was supposed to meet the woman of my dreams and the devastating fact that it didn’t happen. On the final day of my three-year university course, I locked myself in my bedroom, and cried harder than ever in my life because I hadn’t met that special someone – a dream I’d held for over a decade. It was as if I was mourning the death of someone, but in my ignorance, I didn’t realise I actually was. I was mourning the death of my idol; a strong dream for a loving partner – this had become the god of my life.
The HS proceeded to escort me to that moment at 24 years old, when I met someone while abroad. I knew she wasn’t for me, but decided to go against my judgement for the first time, and do what the secular world advises about dating – ‘try the person on, see how they fit. If it doesn’t work out, there are plenty of fish in the sea.’
The long distance didn’t upset me as I was genuinely grateful that someone could feel something for me. But when she betrayed me within a few months, rejection was etched into my heart.
> There’s no special someone for me. No one loves me. No one can love me. God doesn’t love me. He has betrayed me. He probably doesn’t exist.
I’d made a vow at 15 years old that if I wasn’t happy by 25, I would leave the country and start again. I had prophesised a scene when I would be around a dinner table of my friends in their relationships and I’d be the only single guy. I couldn’t bear the thought, but I felt it was coming.
When I hit 25—that same year the girl broke my heart—I kept the vow and left the country for five years…
The Holy Spirit has been gracious; he has revealed all of this to me and more. My perceptions till this very day are built on the idolatry of a dream that led to the spiritual deception that I cannot be loved.
In resolving this, I’ve had to accept that my mental faculties and physical strength are meaningless. I can do nothing. I’m powerless.
Currently, I’m consulting the greatest physician that ever lived (Mark 2:17), working through this deception. I very much look forward to the aftermath of the Holy Spirit’s operation in this area, as God is greater than any problem we could ever endure and Jesus already overcame.
Written by Stephen France
For more from the author visit his Feeding Faith series.