A LIFE IN TURMOIL
I desperately needed this last promise because my depression was deepening and, to make matters worse, I was elected chairman of the board of deacons in my church. At my place of employment, personnel continued to be laid off on a sporadic basis and my emotional instability did little to commend me for continued employment. If I were laid off in this condition, what could I possibly do? The Vietnam War was getting increased publicity and I could foresee my son (then 13) going off to be killed or maimed. During that summer I was sharing and praying with a friend whose daughter had attempted suicide, and I'm sure my mental and emotional state was little better than hers at the time. Yet I was hoping against hope that somehow things would improve. Instead, the tension became so great in my body that I began to have pain in the back of my head. I endured it as I had so much other psychosomatic pain until I was forced to see my physician. I told him it was either a physical or spiritual problem; he ruled out the physical, leaving me with a spiritual problem of gigantic proportions. I had sought every place I knew for help and found none so I got my prescription for anti-anxiety/depression pills and joined an elite crowd of copout artists who exist on tranquilizers. I took the first bottle and found that the pain was kept under control. Occasionally, I would forget to take a pill to work for my noontime dose and would be unable to turn my head by the end of the day. Being no better, I proceeded to refill the prescription. I thought it was ridiculous for a Christian to live on pills, but there was no other recourse known to me.
I had asked God to search my heart for any hidden sin or unyielded area of my life, all to no avail. About this time a friend loaned me a copy of Alan Redpath's book, Victorious Christian Living. It was similar in message to Watchman Nee's The Normal Christian Life, which my dear friend, Dr. Raymond Buker, had supplied me two or three years earlier. I had read Nee's book several times without the conscious thought that such a life could be a reality for me. However, I'm certain the Holy Spirit used it more in my life than I had realized. As I read Victorious Christian Living daily for a while, I was getting closer to October 25, 1965 when God was to reveal a Scripture to me which I had memorized some years earlier … Galatians 2:20:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
October 25, 1965 dawned pretty much the same as any other day; things were no blacker than usual! I got up and forced myself to a job that had not been fulfilling in fourteen years and there was little likelihood that this day would be anything but more of the same. There was one redeeming aspect – I had a supervisor, Bill Dowe (now owner of Heritage House Publications) and many other wonderful people as associates and friends in my work. I had great supervisors during my nearly nineteen-year stay at Martin-Marietta Corporation and was never treated unfairly in all my time at the company. Without those challenging personal relationships the work itself could never have provided sufficient stimulation to have kept me going.
As the day wore on I found that I was not only depressed but the anxiety which had been channeled into physical manifestations was now surfacing. I felt as though I was shaking all over and that I would certainly lose my mind before the day had ended. But, dutifully, I put in the entire eight hours, and the next major effort was to drive the car home. I didn't see how I could possibly do it, but I finally made it with the firm hope that I could get to bed as quickly as possible. I had some bad news in store for me; it was PTA meeting night and there was no way I could get out of going and sitting through a miniature of my son's seventh grade classes! Somehow I struggled through it and made it back home without blowing my mind. I knew I was in no condition to go to bed so I waited until my wife and children were in bed and then read something in the Word and continued reading where I had left off the night before in Redpath's book. I don't know how long I read; but, eventually, I came across Galatians 2:20:
I am crucified with Christ; [literally: have been] nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I no live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
As I read this verse the reality of it was driven home by the Holy Spirit and I fell to my knees in the presence of God. In fact, it was so real that I even opened my eyes to see if He were visible. It was as though I was filled with the Spirit from head to foot; I literally tingled as the thrill of deliverance for which I had waited in unbelief was finally realized.
As I reveled in the joy of being freed from depression, anxiety, despair, loneliness, insecurity, feelings of inferiority, and any other thing contrary to the peace that passes all understanding, my hand suddenly went to the back of my head. There was no pain! It was well past midnight when the thrill subsided sufficiently to go to bed. Then, about 5 a.m., I awakened my wife to share with her what God had done, and we wept tears of joy together. It was destined to be three to five years later before she was to be able fully to appreciate the significance of my release from the self-life with all its shackles.