I started walking in the valley of the shadow of death at a very young age. In first grade, I became aware of something: What you see is not all there is.
The spiritual world was real to me, even as a child, because of my engagement with the occult. What started out as intrigue and entertainment quickly led to a lifestyle of encounter with the stuff of Hollywood lore. I remember watching a chair slide across the floor and a candle floating off the coffee table. I saw things no one should see.
You can’t immerse yourself in the occult for long without going on a journey you cannot reverse on your own. I had night terrors so bad, so horrific, I was tormented for years. In junior high, the anxiety produced ulcers. Specialists couldn’t confirm what was wrong. I felt trapped, breathless, and alone.
My experiences with the supernatural led me on a quest for answers. In many ways, I was a typical boy, the kind who enjoyed basketball, skateboarding, and GI Joe cartoons. But I also studied religion and philosophy. I was gripped by an all-consuming desire to find a language or a belief system to describe my regular interactions with the unseen world.
‘Pray for That Young Man’
Eighth grade was a pivotal year. On the outside, I looked like a quintessential American teenager. Taking a break from the occult, I enjoyed school, engaged in athletics, and certainly didn’t look like someone immersed in darkness.
One day, as I was standing at my school locker, a female classmate sensed in her heart that God was whispering my name. (I wouldn’t learn this, of course, until later.) The whisper said something to the effect of, “Pray for that young man. You are going to marry him one day.” Some of life’s most significant moments come disguised with the ordinary. She dared to slow down long enough to listen to the whisper and believe.
We struck up a relationship befitting middle-schoolers. I remember going to her home and eating her mom’s macaroni and cheese. She came and watched me play basketball. She was just perfect in every way. We even told people we were going to get married one day.
But when the school year ended, we went our separate ways and formed our own friend groups. She was a cheerleader and attended church. I, on the other hand, delved further into the darkness than ever before. I had regular encounters with the demonic realm, became addicted to numerous drugs, looked like a human skeleton, and lived life in quiet desperation.
In my junior year of high school, after getting high during lunch break, I went to physics class. We dropped balls down ramps and calculated velocity. One day, while I was tripping on LSD, my physics partner noticed my odd behavior. He wasn’t the sort to spend time with others who hallucinated and, frankly, I didn’t talk to people who hadn’t. As was my custom, within a few minutes, I began asking him about religion. I was curious to know whether he believed in God, what proof he could cite for his beliefs, and whether he knew the supernatural realm like I did. He didn’t say much, but he did invite me to church. I actually went.
People were singing, lifting their hands, clapping, and listening to the pastor read from the Bible. I left thinking they were a bit strange and remained uninterested. But I had no idea what was about to happen, for another invitation was coming.
On a Sunday night, after the effects of crystal meth wore off, I said goodbye to my friends and went home. I lay in my bedroom, alone, unable to sleep, once again sitting in quiet desperation. My mind raced, thinking about who God was and what the truth could be. I remember the warm tears falling down my face. Crying wasn’t something I did. It was almost as if the sky opened up and, for the first time in my life, I sensed real and pure love.
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Source: Christianity Today