Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

We wrestle not against flesh and blood

My father was usually a kind and considerate man, very much in earnest about Christian life.   However, he had an explosive temper, and each time he blew up it took several days for the rage to die down.  While the rage was burning inside him, every time he came into the house he would tell my mother and me about everything we had ever done that he did not like.  He was never physically abusive, but I learned to tread softly and speak little during these times.

The worst incident occurred one Sunday in 1959.  We had attended the little Anglican church in town and were returning home.  I was driving, my father was beside me and my mother on the other side.  I have no idea of what the cause was, but my father took umbrage at something I had done or said and flew into a rage.  He grabbed the steering wheel, turned it and suddenly we were driving along the ditch.  Thankfully the ditch was gently sloped with a wide, flat bottom.  I wrestled back control of the steering wheel and brought the pickup back onto the highway and drove the rest of the way home.

When we got into the house, my father grabbed a piece of wood from the bin by the wood stove and began yelling and threatening me.  I was 17 and my father was 67.  The thought came to me that I was just as big as my father, just as strong as he was, and could yell as loud as he could.  I picked up another piece of wood and bellowed back at him.  He backed down, put the piece of wood back and I put mine back.

After I married and started a family, I found that I had a temper just as fiery as my father’s.  My anger didn’t last as long as my father’s, I always felt bad about it and as time went on I apologized each time after I had blown up.  I prayed often for victory over this and it seemed that there was some improvement.  Nevertheless, from time to time my wife and daughter still suffered from explosions of my temper.

After many years of seeing the harm that my temper was doing and trying to repent of it, the Spirit showed me what was wrong.  My father’s anger was an evil spirit that would come upon him from time to time.  Other people rarely saw this side of him, but sometimes he trembled all over, struggling to contain his anger when someone expressed ideas and opinions with which he strongly disagreed.

The Spirit showed me that when I stood up to my father and yelled back at him, I had opened myself to that same spirit and it had attached itself to me from that time on.  I had justified my actions for years, feeling that I needed to do what I did.  Looking back now, I believe it would have been better to leave the house and go for a long walk.  That would have given my father time to cool down.  The issue, whatever it was, would never have been resolved, just forgotten.  There was no way to appease my father’s anger; eventually he would cool down and forget what he had been angry about.

That was the same kind of anger that had often exploded in me.  It was never because of something major that had gone wrong, it was always little things that triggered an irrational response that I seemed unable to prevent or conquer.

It became clear to me that this was an evil spirit and that it would attack me from time to time because I allowed it to, having once thought that it was a protection.  I prayed the Lord for deliverance and I was set free.  That does not mean that I have never felt irritated or impatient since then, though I feel that even those feelings have less influence on me as time goes on.  However, the overpowering anger that was so hurtful to others, especially those whom I love the most, is gone.

 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).

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