The Randy Effect 2 (The Rest of the Story)

(The following story is a "what if" scenario used to illustrate the reality of spiritual warfare in the midst of good circumstances in our lives.  It is in no way a sequel or add-on to The Chaser.)
Things were going well for Randy Baker when he graduated from college.  He found a great job that paid him much more than most new college graduates.  The job had great benefits and provided a solid opportunity to eventually promote and make a very healthy salary.  In addition to the career success Randy found straight out of college, he also had found the girl of his dreams, Anna.

Anna was beautiful, smart, funny, and creative.  She had an amazing singing voice, and dreamed of working as a professional musician in the Nashville-scene.  This worked out perfectly for Randy, who  bought a starter home after college near Nashville.  He proposed to Anna, and she said, "yes".  The two would get married, and live near Nashville.  Anna would pursue her dreams as a singer, and Randy would bring home the bacon in a job that he enjoyed.

Randy grew up in a Christian home.  His dad was an Army Chaplain, so spiritual conversations and a mindset of ministry was instilled into Randy at an early age.  Randy came to know Jesus as His Lord and Savior at the age of 8.  He never wavered far from his faith.  It was always something he took very seriously.  As a teenager, Randy began reading his bible on a daily basis and spent time in prayer with God.  He was involved in his church, and mostly hung out with other Christian friends.  During his whole life, Randy had never faced any dire circumstances or big tragedies in his life.  He was blessed.  

Randy's best friend, Julius Talbot, was a great accountability partner.  The two were like iron sharpening iron, and often kept each other in check.  Randy was aware of spiritual warfare and got to see it close up when Julius went through a dark time in his life.  Randy watched as Julius spiraled into the darkness after losing his youth pastor to a sudden death and losing his film school roommate to suicide.  Not only that, Julius spent so much energy trying to help out a college football player named Dexter McKay, who was battling his own demons and even threatened to take his own life as well.  All this piled on Julius, who had also repressed a past tragedy in his own life.  

It made sense to Randy to see Julius get knocked down with all the darkness that overwhelmed him.  The spiritual warfare was too much for Julius to handle on his own.  The enemy waited for an opportunity to pounce, and when the time was right, he pounced on Julius.  Randy was thankful to be a help to his friend during this difficult time, but ultimately, Randy understood that Julius was able to overcome that particular period of darkness in his life through the power of the Holy Spirit in his life.  God was able to fight the battles that Julius was unable to fight.

As mostly a spectator, Randy watched, prayed, and thanked God that he didn't have to face similar demons in his own life.  At the same time Julius was falling apart, Randy's life was trending up.  However, Randy knew that it was only a matter of time before tragedy crept its way into his life.  He was aware that life is not free from dark moments.  The only problem with Randy's thinking was that he took for granted how powerful the enemy was, even in times of prosperity.  He failed to respect that spiritual warfare was raging in his life, even as things were working out for him.  Eventually, Randy would find himself in a dark place as well, but not due to a bunch of tragedy.  It happened as the enemy chipped away at his faith, while Randy basked in his accomplishments, relationships, and material things.

First of all, because of the success he found, Randy began to think that he had everything in his life handled on his own.  Thus, he started to leave God out of the fine details.  Often, in times of need, it is easy to recognize the need one has for God.  However, Randy didn't feel like he was in a time of need.  Things were going great, according to worldly standards.  He didn't do it intentionally, but slowly, Randy began to factor God out of the equation.  His busy lifestyle led him to pray less and read less scripture.  He stopped having his consistent time with God each day. 

With Julius being away at film school, Randy talked less and less to his long-time accountability partner.  He didn't have the same level of accountability that once kept him solid in his faith.  Because he was often tired on the weekends, it got easier as the weeks passed by to sleep-in and not go to church. 

Randy grew arrogant, thinking his success was all about his skill and ability, rather than what God gave him.  It became all about Randy, not all about God.  Randy turned very selfish.  In the midst of seemingly good things happening in his life, the enemy was fighting in the shadows to convince Randy that he didn't need much God-presence in his life.  He still believed in God.  He still claimed to be a strong Christian.  However, it was low on his priority list.  He was making decisions for himself, not considering God's counsel or wisdom.

Secondly, the enemy began to entice Randy with money.  Randy started making a lot of money, and as he watched how his co-workers and peers handled their finances, he got caught up in enjoying the same spoils.  He started using his money selfishly.  Materialism caught his eye much more than the things of God.  He got caught up in the competitive race of success and riches.  He forgot a truth he once knew. "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1 Timothy 6:10.  Randy became the very thing Paul warned about in 1 Timothy.

Anna stayed busy with her music.  Randy stayed busy with his work.  When the two got married, they did it the right way.  They did pre-marital counseling, committed to growing closer to the Lord as a couple, and desired to honor God with their relationship.  However, when their individuals worlds began to pull them away from each other, the former commitments became less important.

Having less time with Anna, Randy was tempted to cultivate relationships with other females.  He especially grew close to one of his co-workers.  After all, Randy and his co-worker spent more time together.  They laughed more together, and they started to understand each other more.  Just a brief stint into Randy's marriage, he was already having thoughts about being with another woman.

His close relationship with his co-worker led to an emotional affair.  He began to exchange long texts with her, and talk about his desire to be with her.  This led to fights with Anna.  He no longer had patience for the former girl of his dreams.  When his co-worker eventually distanced herself from Randy, he began to feel lonely and even depressed.  He had lost his emotional connection to his wife, and it began to wear on him.

Over time, Randy grew depressed, unfulfilled, and lonely.  He had no close friends, and his marriage was empty.  All of the things he bought for himself couldn't bring him joy.  He tried to seek it in other things like sports and even substances.  However, those things could only provide a temporary solution to a much bigger problem.  The enemy was having a field day with Randy.  It was like pulling the carpet out from underneath him.  He was walking along strong, and got sideswiped.  That's what spiritual warfare can do when things are going great.  One day, the future is bright and sunny, but the next day, it's dark and stormy. 

Randy also began to doubt himself.  His self-esteem plummeted.  He looked for things to fill the void.  Pornography became an easy crutch.  He knew he needed more of God back in his life, but he didn't know how to go back.  Besides, some of his family recognized his fall and told him to get right with God again.  In his pride, Randy wanted to prove his family wrong.  He was so stubborn that he wanted to pull through things on his own--Randy's way.  His spiritual life deteriorated to the point he asked Anna for a divorce and began to have thoughts of suicide.

For those that like a happy ending, remember this is just a "what if" scenario.  I'm not saying this is what happens to Randy after the events of The Chaser.  The point I'm hoping to show you is that spiritual warfare is rampant in the bad times and the good times.  Don't ever assume you're immune to spiritual attack. 

Consider the famous words on spiritual warfare from Ephesians chapter 6, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people."

We are all prone to get blasted in the spiritual battle being waged over our hearts and souls.  This is why we must always be vigilant.  True joy doesn't come from our circumstances.  True joy comes from the salvation God offers through Christ Jesus. 

Be on guard.  Let God fight your battles.  And be a chaser that reminds others to do the same.

Grab your copy of THE CHASER here!