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Growth in Christ is a journey. So too is knowledge of the devil.

He creeps up on you sometimes, when you’re not looking. One minute you’re fine, and the next, the world takes a swipe at you.

I had thought for a long time about trying out the monthly pub & club outreaches, when we go out as a small Christian group on Friday nights to meet people on the street, but other things had got in the way, and the urge wasn’t yet quite strong enough. Finally, I had decided to go, and had marked it in my diary. All of that week, I felt a fairly high degree of anticipation, and by late Friday afternoon I was reasonably worked up about it, praying for courage and commitment, and not listening to that little voice telling me that I really didn’t need to go.

Walking back to the car in the multi-storey, I noticed some young lads parked by the ramp, messing about with their cars. They’d been racing round the car park earlier, and were a bit mouthy, so, trying to appear cool, calm and collected, I thought I’d best ignore them, and began walking up the ramp just next to them, to the level where my own car was parked.

“H O N K !”

There was a loud blast on a car horn, and I must have jumped out of my skin, for there was a chorus of laughter behind me. Now, it wasn’t that bad, but my nerves were already on edge, and this latest shock made me suddenly feel very vulnerable.

“ No, don’t even think about not going! You’re fine!”, and I gave myself a stern talking to. Back home, I settled into the usual household routine. It was cosy, and it was cold outside. “ NO! Don’t even think about it! If you don’t go, you’ll regret it, and will just have to go through all this again at a later date!”

I realised that the devilish car park incident had undermined my confidence, but God then launched a counter-attack in the guise of my noisy family – blasting away at computer games, heavy rock music, and the TV far too loud.

“Yes, all right, I’m going!! Let me out of here!” By the time I got to church, I was fine. We went out, and spoke to a lot of people, and it was very rewarding, though cold! I was pleased with myself too, because I’d got over that hurdle, won that battle, and knew that I could do it again.

Another week or so passed, and I felt I knew where God was leading me, and had begun too to feel reasonably confident about that direction. Most days I felt pretty sure of His presence and guidance, but there were still times when, for whatever reason, I felt strangely unsure and uncommitted. Sometimes I’d put this down to moods, or tiredness, but couldn’t really get to the bottom of it.

Feelings of disquiet would come sometimes during group prayer. I would be unable to focus, and, listening to others’ competent prayers, would feel at a disadvantage, or left out, like a square peg in a round hole.

One evening, I was driving home from a church group, and felt compelled to pray out these feelings once and for all.

“ What’s going on here, Lord? Why can’t I do this properly? Is it my faith? Do I not really believe – am I just kidding myself? What is it that they’ve got, and I haven’t? Are you listening?…… Are you really there?…………… Is this all just an illusion?…………

“ What am I saying, here? What am I really saying?……..Go on, say it!” I felt myself thinking.

Then the words came - “I want OUT!….. I’ve had enough…….”

Then, silence, as I realised what I’d said, and noticed the huge relief I also felt, in admitting something out loud, which had been on my mind for some time.

“There – I’ve said it. I can be normal again – like everyone else.”

I continued driving, mulling over the consequences of what I’d said.

“ No… I can’t go back to the way it was before - that life without soul, where something was missing but I never quite knew what it was. I can’t forget everything that’s happened, or give up this depth of emotion, and excitement, which continues to call me. Oh Lord! Why am I so confused?”

Then, I felt an overwhelming realisation! Wait a minute! God doesn’t confuse! That’s the devil’s trickery! Oh joy! I’d solved it! Away with the doubts, and away with this confusion! I know where I’m going now, and the call is even stronger than before.

God knows the games the world and the devil play, and He waits, and helps us sort ourselves out, so that we can then move on together to the next stage.

Isn’t He just perfect!


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