And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Revelation 12:11)
I have not always been a good Christian. At age seven, I knelt down in my closet and asked Jesus to be my Savior. I believe He placed His Spirit in me. I kept a life of quiet internal prayer, but lived as a poor example of what it is to know Christ. I used to say, “I am the worst example of a Christian around, but I read the Bible and I pray, and it helps.”
I do not believe I started following Christ until I was older; I mean following Him without compromise. I was in Pensacola getting surgery for an injury I sustained in Iraq. My brother Matt and his friend Alex had encountered Jesus in a real way and were alive and on fire. I had encountered Jesus in the war, but was left with questions about the world and where He is in it. Matt recommended the book Release of the Spirit by Watchman Nee. I read it, got on my knees in my hotel room, and cried day after day asking Christ to break my outer man and take control. I did not understand what I was asking for.
Over the next five years, everything fell apart. I found out I had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), and major depressive disorder (MDD). I had a paradoxical reaction to medication, destroyed my house, went to jail, was banned from work, and placed on disability retirement. I had no direction. I went through two marriages, a suicide attempt, and a second suicide attempt in the form of a three-day drug-binge in Toronto before I walked outside of the apartment onto the side-walk and straight into God.
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. (Psalm 139:7-12, ESV).
He said, “I am not finished with you.” I realized I needed to submit in obedience to Jesus and repent. I put my hands in the air, felt the warmth of the sun on my face, and I said, “I give up. I am done. I surrender. Do what you will with me.”
I discovered hope, help and healing in Jesus through several encounters with Him. He also made some promises that I hold on to. On March 9, 2010, I lay crying. The worst feeling in the world is the absence of God. Out of nowhere, my youth pastor that I had not seen or spoken to in 10 years texted me and said, “Chris, I was thinking of you today and sensed the Lord wanting to remind you of His promise to you out of Psalm 27. Own it, God is giving it to you freely as a son. I’d love to get caught up with you sometime. Your brother, Stephen Simpson.” In a moment of despair, Christ reached out to me through an old friend.
The next encounter was on March 25, 2010. I was praying. I raged and argued for emotions. Feeling nothing, I prayed that God would teach me to rest in Him. I looked up at the cross on the wall, and was crushed to the floor by an intense and very heavy presence. It felt as if a warm heavy blanket was wrapped around me while simultaneously flowing through me. I felt intense peace, and perfect freedom. The feeling was indescribable; all anxiety was gone in that moment. Nothing in this world existed but this presence and me. I found myself on the side of a rocky hill. It was violently stormy. I looked at the crest and saw the cross, not as a physical object, but a lighted gateway. There were people beyond, but they were washed in light. “Yes! The cross! I have to enter through the cross!” I thought about how hard it is to do. I have to fight sin and temptation, and struggle. I pictured myself fighting and crawling with my last bit of strength to its foot. Suddenly I was weightless, being held like a small infant. All I could see were the most magnificent eyes. They held deep pools of compassion, and empathy. They relayed peace; transmitted peace into me. Then Jesus said, “That’s not it. Let go. Let me carry you.” Shocked, I began to argue, saying, “You know the things I have done. This cannot be.” He quietly said, “Shh. Shh.” I began praying that whenever I tried to do things myself God would help me remember.
Not long after these experiences I went to South Africa. God began to walk me through an amazing healing process. He taught me His identity as King, as Healer, and as Father. He began to use my broken life for His good and His glory. The peace, joy, security, and fulfillment that He provides cannot be found anywhere in this world, not in any job, in any relationship, or any amount of success. Glory be to God, my God. Jesus is my King and my merciful Savior. He never left me. He began slowly unfolding His purpose for my life as I prayed and asked Him for direction.
Four years later, I was visiting family in the U.S. and also had hernia surgery. I had been on pain medicine for the hernia for several months and was coming off of it. That was a fairly miserable experience. I was up for another sleepless night and was walking outside with my wife Celine. We knelt down and were praying on the sidewalk. I was asking God what, exactly, He wanted me to do, what is my purpose? Luke 10 popped into my head. At the time I was not familiar with Luke 10. It turns out that Luke 10 is the story of Jesus sending out the seventy disciples to all the places that He would eventually go.
A few days later I received a call from my brother Matt. He told me that as he was worshipping God he had heard the Spirit clearer than ever in his entire life. He told me that God had said something that was intended for me, “He [me] is as dead, the vultures are circling and the wolves closing in, but this one [me] I will redeem and I will lift him up and put a sword in his [me] hand. He will be a part of revival.” Not immediately, but eventually I understood this sword to be the Word of God.
On February 27, 2015, I dreamed that Jesus came to me and He said, “I am the Word. The Word became flesh. Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, there is no life in you. To feed on me is to read my Word.”
Since submitting to Christ in obedience and learning to abide in Him, He has been faithful and deepened our relationship.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8).
The biggest change is the peace and stability that He provides regardless of worldly circumstances. As I grow in my relationship with Him, He allows me to love other people. He gives me patience and compassion for them. The Lord calls us, commissions us, and equips us for His purposes. The Lord God, whom breathed the stars out of His mouth, delivered me from the clutches of mental and emotional torment. He strengthens me as I rest in Him. I have a wonderful place to cast my anxieties.
He has “lift[ed] me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord.” (Psalm 27:6).
If you would like to know this peace, then there is only one way and by one name that you can have it. If you will submit your life to Jesus Christ, He will send His Spirit to you, and His Spirit will teach you all truth.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27).
 All passages in this text are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001).
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