Pressing Onward.

I think George Carlin had a skit where he discussed words and phrases that didn’t make sense… things like “near miss” to describe two objects almost hitting each other, it sounds like they nearly missed – but in my head, they hit. Another phrase that’s been on my heart lately was “meteoric rise.” That phrase has never made sense to me. Meteors don’t rise, they “blaze briefly in the sky and as quickly disappear.”

2019 was a transformational year for me. By the traditional definition – I experienced a “meteoric rise” in my faith. I documented much of my experience here on this blog, so if you’ve been following along you’re aware of how I was saved by Jesus, how my family was restored, how I was baptized and born again, and how I reach out to God in prayer to provide for all my needs. The power of prayer exploded in my life. I turned from sin, abandoning alcohol and pornography. Every night before bed I took 20-30 minutes to pray to God, to make my requests known, to thank Him, and to study His word.

At the tail end of 2019, I was riding high on life, I was riding high in faith. The change was noticed by my peers and my pastor. On December 22nd, he highlighted my transformation, my obedience to the Lord in a sermon where he discussed our responsibility as Christians to share Jesus with others. My main goal of sharing my story, of sharing my experiences with Jesus, is that it might help others. As my pastor stated… I’m one of those folks who never shuts up about Jesus.

I haven’t written of my walk with the Lord since 2019. I may have shared some scripture that spoke to my heart, but overall – I really shared nothing. Truth be told, I’ve been under spiritual assault for months now, and I have been enduring a chain of trials as a result. It feels like after that sermon, the enemy popped up and said “Oh, Sam likes to talk about Jesus? Hold my beer and watch this.”

It started when I stopped praying out loud. Growing up Catholic, I prayed along with the Lord’s prayer, the Apostles Creed, and all the other responses that were required during attendance. I did it with my mouth shut. I prayed in my head. My voice was the first thing I found while being saved, and it was the first thing I lost in this assault.

I spent less time with the Lord each night. I spent less and less time praying. I sped through scripture. My good habits were eroding. I was staying up later. I was sleeping less. Old sin started creeping back into my life. I started to become bitter, angry, depressed, and negative again. My loneliness really started to hit me. I wasn’t angry at God for the trials but I was definitely angry again.

January 26th it hit a peak. The thought of having a drink, the very thing I’d abandoned in July of 2019, the thing that I have not touched in 236 days, the thing I have considered since as my “canary in the coal mine” in my turn from sin… That thought became comforting, instead of terrifying. That comfort, in fact, was terrifying.

I immediately went back to praying out loud, meditating, repenting, and taking time reading scripture. I had let myself be infected by sin, infected by doubt, to be slowly and gradually turned away from my God so subtly I didn’t even notice until the idea of having a drink ceased to bother me. Even as the Lord continued to answer my prayers boldly, I kept slipping.

Thing is, even right now I am fighting to stay on my path. I am fighting to seek God’s face. I am struggling to remain turned from sin. What came so easily and naturally mere months ago, I find myself resisting like cardio after making it a New Years resolution. I fight that resistance daily. I’m still not doing cardio, but I am praying my head off.

Another phrase that never sounded right in my head? Steering into the skid. I’m in my car, I’m losing control, it’s skidding, and you want me to WHAT? My wordly mind says steer against the skid. The reality of physics says steering into the skid will allow me to regain control and keep my cars tires on the road and not wrapped around an immovable object or worse.

That’s what I’m doing right now with my faith. I feel like I’m skidding. I feel like I’m losing control. I pray for my father’s health and recovery from cancer surgery. I thank the Lord for the time I have with him. I pray for my stepdaughter’s continued discovery of Jesus which has spectacularly ruined her atheism. I thank the Lord for putting her where she is so she can grow in faith with the Lord and continue to rise above. Every prayer is me steering into this skid.

I volunteer and serve at my church after months of making excuses. I’m helping people. I’m steering into the skid. I’m regaining control of my faith. I’m diving into scripture. I’m turning from sin and poison. Cigarettes, Porn, Booze. I’m steering into the skid. I thank Jesus for my blessings. For all he has provided me in this life. I am still in a skid, but I am gripping tightly on that wheel of faith, I’m steering into this skid, and I have faith that when this latest assault has ceased, I will still be facing God, averse to the draw of sin, and I will be stronger for it.

I know He is with me. I feel His presence always, through this struggle and whatever comes next. Phillipians 3:13-14 has one of my favorite verses: Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I’m pressing on, each and every day, in faith, love, and hope in Christ. Thank you Jesus.

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