In April 2015, I had a mountaintop experience with God. I had peace I hadn't felt it years. I spent the next two months riding high on the power, glory, love, and holiness of God.
Anytime someone has a mountaintop experience with God, they must go back down to the valley. Moses had to leave Mt. Sinai and go back down to the valley. Peter, James, and John, had to leave the mountain of Transfiguration and go with Jesus down to the valley because it was on the way to the cross. John Bunyan in his novel, Pilgrim's Progress, called this the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The hero of the novel, Christian, starts having blasphemous thoughts that turn out do not originate with him
I started working a call center after being unemployed for two and a half years. It was not a great job, but I was looking forward to working full time and earning a weekly paycheck. A few days after I started working again, I took my girlfriend, Mary, up on the Blue Ridge Parkway where we had spent some time the first weekend we were together. I had bought a ring. I was so nervous that I couldn’t even ask her to marry me. I pulled out the ring and before I could say a word, she said, “Yes!” I cannot explain the timing of what happened next.
Sometimes, I think I was so used to failure and defeat that I was unable to accept anything good in my life. I started having uncontrollable blasphemous thoughts. They would plague me on the way to and from work. Then they began to interfere with the rest of my daily routine. I had to push myself really hard to make it through two days of work. At one point, I couldn’t even concentrate in the shower because I was exposed to a barrage of blasphemous thoughts.
The third day, however, was more than I could bare. I couldn’t concentrate on anything but the blasphemous thoughts. I was in the middle of training when I asked my supervisor if I could call Mary. He agreed. She called around to various mental health clinics and found one that agreed to see me that day. She picked me up about ten minutes later. We went to a private place on my family’s property and I just broke down. I cried for about 15 minutes straight while Mary tried to reassure me that I wasn’t going to hell. We then left for the clinic. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, made worse by two years of refusing treatment, along with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD. OCD consists of two parts, the obsession, and the compulsion used to “correct the obsession”.2 My compulsion was to softly speak the opposite of these thoughts and to constantly pray, begging God not to hold me accountable for any of these thoughts.
For example, if I had a thought that Jesus was not God, I would whisper, “Jesus is God, the Son of God, and God’s own Spirit was and is upon him.” Sometimes the thoughts would manifest as auditory hallucinations (voices). After a few weeks of this, I thought I was going crazy. Sleep brought no relief as the thoughts would intensify any time I tried to rest or relax.
Mary heard of a ministry about 70 miles away that was led by those with prophetic gifts. Because I have had panic attacks while driving since I was 19, Mary drove me to the ministry. One of the leaders said I was under attack because God would eventually let me share my story to people from all over the world. Another leader said God was throwing me into the deep end and teaching me about the ability to discern different types of spirits. They also reassured me of my salvation. However, one of the main struggles about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is that the sufferer constantly seeks reassurance that everything is going to be okay. I went to that ministry several times over the next two months. I also went to one of their branches that was closer to where I lived.
One day, I just had to get away from the house. I went to my fortress of solitude on some property owned by my family that was a few minutes from our house. It was out in the middle of a hay field that had been recently cut. The sunset was absolutely beautiful. I looked up at heaven and said, "I don't know what else to do, but I love you and these thoughts are either from demons or from a misfire in my brain." Then I held my arms out and said, "I can't pray right now, so this is a hug." Two years later, I was at a church in Mobile, Alabama. The worship leader came up to me and asked if it was okay if he hugged me. I said, "yes". He hugged me and said, "God told me to tell you that it was from him."
However, life continued to be hard for me. It wasn't I had been in the wilderness without a job or hope for 5 and half years that things started getting better. I became a father and got a good job, Two months later, I got an even better job. I started preaching and eventually became a member of a church for the first time in several years.
I got a tattoo Friday. The compass is a star compass to remind me of the greatness of God, inspired by a Louie Giglio video about stars that I saw while on the mountaintop. The coordinates are the hospital where my son was born because he has been the greatest blessing God has ever given me.. "Soli Deo Gloria" means "Glory to God alone. This is my way of saying God brought me through the valley of the wilderness and led me to the Promised Land.