Deliverance From Chronic Manic Suicidal Depression
Testimony of a Minister, Charles Slagle
Experience Explodes Arguments
After six months of agony, it happened overnight. It happened when my desperately wounded heart finally became convinced God loves me. It happened when I suddenly knew that My heavenly Father truly had created all things for His pleasure -- myself and loved ones and you and your loved ones, and they and their loved ones, and they and their loved ones... I woke up on May 1st of 1996 instantly free from:
- deeply rooted fear of God's hopeless abandonment
- chronic manic suicidal depression
- any desire whatsoever for alcohol, until this very day
- dependence on five prescriptions of anti-depressants and related medications
- tormenting sexual night dreams and obsessions that had recurred off and on since age twelve and had brought great heartache in my marriage
- chronic insomnia
- a love/hate relationship with God and the morbid perfectionism resulting that had nearly ruined my life and marriage
After my attempted suicide in August of 1995 my wife, Paula, was deeply heartbroken. However, she found herself with no choice but to commit me to the care of a Christian psychiatric hospital. I was also under the wonderful care of Helen Crossland, founder of Homes of Hope Ministries, and the godly and refreshing influence of her husband, Don. Bless them, bless them, Lord! Had it not been for their wise counsel (including that of our on-going seasoned inner-healing counselor and spiritual mom, Carolyn Barnett) I probably would be a goner today. I also thank God for the unconditional love, wise counsel, -- deep generosity -- and caring heart of Dr. Wanda Stephens, founder of Living Hope Institute in Little Rock, Arkansas. I also owe much to Dr. David Haas for believing in me when I had lost all ability to believe in myself. The same goes for Dick King who pastors Emmanuel Baptist Church. Also I owe deepest thanks, along with Paula, to the proven friends and partners of our ministry. They continuedto support us financially during the very darkest days of our lives. And thank God, for all who continue to do so. We will need support as the Lord leads and anoints us to impart His healing hope to those who weep under the shadow of darkness. Bless them abundantly, dear Father! And bless all our dear and proven friends who have sacrificed much in order to shower us with love and every kind of assistance possible. (And friends, you KNOW who you are, need I mention?)
Back to my story... I had attempted suicide. What had happened? I had lost all hope. That's what had happened. About a year before I went under, I was given a book that contained selections from George MacDonald's writings. (Anyone remember the Scotsman C.S. Lewis often referred to as his spiritual master/teacher?)
As I read and re-read that book over the next several months, I often blubbered and cried like a baby. Was it possible? Could it be that God could be that good? I began searching the Scriptures. But it was too late. The damage to the memory banks of my brain's neuron cells was too massive. My head could hope, but my heart could not. I had spent too many years trying to find wholeness the wrong way. Too many years trying to meditate on the love of my heavenly Father while also trying desperately to believe with integrity:
God's unfailing love is unconditional -- but -- on the following conditions:
- That you are in the elect (Calvinism) or that God has foreknown that you are one of the few who will repent -- in this lifetime (Arminianism).
- That you hear of Christ in this lifetime.
- That you respond to Him in this lifetime.
- That you trust only in His mercy and His grace -- as well as walk in consistent obedience. For thus you must prove your salvation (Calvinism) or assure your salvation (Arminianism).
- That you don't die in sin.
- That you endure until the end. (Based on a wrong interpretation of Scripture)
- God is committed love/God's love, however, is not committed to many people (Calvinism).
- God loves everyone with total commitment -- but, however, even so ... (Arminianism).
- God has chosen to help some people/God has chosen to abandon most people.
- God saves hopeful failures/God gets rid of hopeless failures.
- Love is kind/Love has spawned billions of people He already knows are doomed for endless fiery disaster.
- God is all powerful and loves you. However, He has ordained that your free will shall be the bottom line factor that determines your eternal destiny. Thus, your identity -- whether a child of God or a child of everlasting evil and darkness -- depends on your willpower.
- God is the Savior of all/He is not the Savior of all.
- You must love the Lord with all your heart, though He is not fullycommitted to you or anyone else, unless people are diligent to trust and obey. In other words, He loves you, but don't count on it.
- God is Everlasting Forgiveness/Eternal Wrath and Vindictiveness
- Our Lord is utterly victorious and will destroy the devil's works. Yet the devil will destroy most of Christ's works (people) forever.
- God is worthy of all power, honor and praise because He has created a few things for His pleasure. However, when I sing that chorus, I must say "all things."
- God is Sovereign, so He can commit any atrocity He pleases (Calvinistic agony once again.) Or -God is good, but the whole reason He gave us free wills was so He would eventually have a universe forever divided between "winners" and 'losers." A universe He will weep over for all eternity. In other words, God loves pain!? (Armininian torment again.)
- You can count on God if you are in the "elect." (Calvinism). Or
- You can count on God if He can count on you. (Arminianism).
- You must believe all the Lord says in His Word, but don't take all He says too seriously. On the other hand -- perhaps you had better take Him more seriously. Yes or no? (How could we Armininian Christians talk so much about grace even while we teetered on the brink of a possible Christless infinity!?)
- God, in His holy, sovereign grace, may have chosen you for salvation. How dare that you not rejoice that your friends, neighbors and loved ones may be predestined for eternal torment! Truly spiritual people can delight and hope in the Lord no matter what! Charles, what's wrong with you!? (Torment from my attempt to cling to Calvinism)
- The Lord is gracious, tenderhearted, compassionate and patient. He does not cast off forever because of the multitude of His mercies. Even so, it isn't wise to carry that idea too far. He gets rid of some people That is, He 'loses ability" to ever reach them, etc., etc.... That does sound nicer, doesn't it? (Armininism. again.)
All of these hopeless contradictions were entrenched in my belief system, posing as "truths."
Have a look at these...
- God thinks you are "very special." Don't worry that in His foreknowledge He's written off most everyone else. Just trust...
- Perhaps God wants us to believe all the Bible, but not to think about parts of it too much so we'll have courage to trust in His grace? Also He wants us Christians to preach only the comforting parts of it -- at least most of the time, in order to make Him appear nice? (Calv-Armininian agony working.)
- Maybe God hopes everyone in the world will at least feel loved by Christians before He consigns most everyone to endless torment. In the meanwhile, we Christians should oppose abortion (!) and build hospitals and try to provide every help possible for the world's starving and homeless multitudes ... ? (Believe me, I tried very hard not to think about this horrifying contradiction.)
- All earth's families will be blessed in Christ, Abraham's "Seed." Well, a little bit, for a few years (so I was trained to believe) -- before most of them are sentenced to endless despair. (Powerful promise, huh?)
- God loves you and is committed to you for who you are, not for what you do. Nevertheless, He has already planned in advance to abandon most people because of what they do or don't do.
- God is love/hate (Guess which system!)
- God is good, but ... (Guess which system!)
- You can trust God, though it isn't wise to trust Him too much. You must trust the reliability of your free will. For it is appointed unto man once to die, and after that --no hope.
- And here's the heartbreaker: Jesus loves all the little children of the world -- red and yellow, black and white. Are they precious in His sight? Yes -- they are precious until they reach the age of accountability.
Need I say more? My "God-Picture" was utter chaos! Ironic, isn't it? After all, I had written and published two devotional books, revealing the loving heart of my heavenly Father. What made it worse was, my loving Father actually was revealing His true heart to me. Even in the early eighties (I can see it now!) He was beginning His blessed invasion. In the meantime my spirit knew Him in one way, but my brain perceived Him in another way.
Talk about agony! Problem was, at the time I had no adequate SCRIPTURAL FOUNDATION for the kind of "Father of tender mercies" I was hearing from and conveying in my speaking and writing. So yes, my understanding of the Lord had finally evolved into something beautiful. But was it too beautiful? That's what disturbed me -- it was only the "beautiful" side of God that gave me any hope whatsoever! What I dared not do was to think much about His austere aspects, His judgments -- at least as tradition has taught us to perceive them. For in my framework of understanding there was no hope in God's judgments. Not for despairing people who could not hope or people who are not in the "elect." (Depending on whether my tortured mind was laboring under the despair of Arminianism or Calvinism.)
But in the throes of my own battles against the world, the flesh and the devil, how could I avoid thinking of the Lord's judgments on occasions? Besides, I had felt a growing uneasiness with the way I had always approached the Bible: meditate on the nice parts, "believe" the horrifying parts, but don't believe them too much. I had to find some sort of grace to count on! So my policy had been to stuff "Everlasting Horrors We Must Believe About God" in a "backfile" in my brain, labeled "Required Orthodox Tenets" and then try not to think of them much. I've often wondered if my Calvinistic and Armininian friends do the same thing...
Is that your policy? If you're deeply wounded and scrambling to survive while searching for healing, I do not recommend it. That is exactly what I did for years! I "backfiled" much of my belief system. Believe me, this is a sure recipe for eventual insanity!
Now. I want to ask a respectful, yet honest question of my readers. Especially Christian pastors and counselors: how can we help thinking people get healed of deep inner traumas while encouraging them to "believe" -- and yet -- not be too concerned about all that is written in the holy Word of our Lord? Unless we can behold our loving Lord in all of His terrible (awesome!) beauty, how can our hearts ever be fashioned into His holy likeness? Is the secret of deepest healing of the heart found in playing "believe, but don't think about" mind games with the Bible? Is that how the Lord (secretly) expects we should deal with His Word?
That, I regret to report, was my way of ministry for many years. For I knew no other way to convey God's heart as my spirit knew Him to be. But praise the Lord! Those days are over. However, perhaps, as a leader or counselor, you have been "stuck" in the same way I was. You know that healing can only come when people know they are valued and loved unconditionally. But your paradigm or concept of the gospel has forced you (unconsciously, as was true in my own case) to "downplay" certain parts of Scripture to help people entrapped in paranoia. I'm praying the Lord will use this book to help free you to minister what your heart already knows.
Identity! Identity is what spawns behavior. Identity is what determines desires, emotions, perceptions and feelings. I am convinced that any interpretation of Scripture that undermines a solid sense of identity, HAS to be wrong. For IDENTITY is what Christ came to give us! He is the Light that shines on every infant that enters, kicking and squalling, into this pain-wracked world.
Calvinism undermines identity. It tells us we have purpose (a good purpose) and value -- if -- we can be CERTAIN our conversion experience and all subsequent "confirmations" we receive of it aren't spurious. Furthermore, it transmits to us a bone-chilling picture of God: God is Holy Love/Holy Love is everlastingly wrathful, unforgiving, arbitrary and biased. Calvinism is embarrassing to its adherents. It forces them (the grace-oriented ones) to present the gospel sounding much like they believe in Christ's total triumph. Afterwards, however, Calvinist leaders are forced to train their new converts to become either arrogant religionists who feel superior to the "non-elect" or despairing manic depressives.
Arminianism (and its half-brother, Calv-Arminianism) undermines identity. I am not criticizing people who embrace any of these systems. Many Christians are like I was for years -- what other choice do we have? I understand that. However, now that you have read these pages, you are seeing that there is abundance of Scripture for more hope, aren't you? My earnest prayer is that you will prayerfully study the Scriptures.
Arminianism. leaves the identity issue open to question. It transmits this picture of God: God is Holy Love/Holy Love is noncommitted or weak. For if our frail sin-impaired wills ultimately determine if we are God's children or children of eternal damnation -- who we ARE -- then deepest healing will elude us in this life. How can we trust a "God" who tells us we had better trust in ourselves? We will not have time to be healed. We will be too busy trying to make right choices! How do I know this? I've been there! And again, Arminian Christians will find themselves singing and preaching (as much as possible) as if they believed in Christ's Total Victory. (Except the "legalistic" ones who take their theology seriously.) However, their new converts will be trained: "Bottomline, it's up to you." And the result? The same result as Calvinism: some people becoming self-righteous religionists (as long as their youth and vitality hold out) and others becoming suicidal manic depressives. And of course, there will be a good number of people in all the above systems who will manage to maintain a semblance of balance and cope pretty well. That is, until they experience enough agony of self-doubt to desire answers to hard questions.
What is the cure for all of this? Just to do what 20th century grace-oriented evangelical churches have always been doing? Keep sweeping the hard Bible bits under the carpet? Even while we publicly talk in terms of 'Identity" and "unconditional love" and "resting in God's grace?" To the agony of our thoughtful listeners who are struggling? Is this the answer?
No! Enough is enough. The lie of conditional love must die or we cannot live. We can exist and cope -we can even appear to live -- but that lie must bite the dust so we can live. It's time that we Bible-believing Christians stop fearing being ostracized or unkindly labeled. It's time that, for the sake of our children, we understand and proclaim Christ as the thoroughly GOOD NEWS He is. Our children cannot live with true righteousness or hope unless they know Whose -- and who -- they ARE.
I'm a new man because I now can delight in all I know about my heavenly Father. I no longer "backfile" His judgments, I rejoice in them! I can hope in his judgments and even sing of His judgments --even His age-abiding judgments. I now know that My Heavenly Father is committed. Not just 'loving," but committed. What a difference that meditating on His utter goodness has made in my life! Ask Paula! My wife will tell you -- even my friends who have yet to see the fullness of God's love as we've seen it will. tell you. I'm a changed Charles. I know who I am. I love being a husband and a grandpa more than ever these days and so enjoy being alive. YES! And my identity is not "minister" (though I love the ministry!)
Paula and I so yearn that others experience the wholeness God has brought into our hearts and our home. It's been prophesied by individuals -- worldwide -- who knew nothing about us, that a dream in our hearts will happen. What is that dream?
For many years, Paula and I have envisioned teaming up with other ministries the Lord will join to us to bring healing to broken hearts. Especially for hearts that have endured harsh spiritual abuse. And all based on: "God loves you, but you must..." Don't misunderstand. I'm not saying I have no appreciation for the fact that the Lord wants us to learn to make good choices. Nor am I saying the Lord does not want each of us to feel uniquely special to Him And by no means am I saying we shouldn't encourage people in a wholesome fear of the Lord. Anyone who has lived for a few decades knows our Lord's judgments are real. Actions produce consequences! However, fear of rejection is the most common culprit that catapults people into destructive behavior.
We cannot have it both ways. We cannot teach unconditional love -- and at the same time -- tell shattered people that God's unfailing love is (somehow?) conditional. Whether it be conditioned on their "special election" or conditioned on their performance! Such non-sense is not the gospel. It's heartbreaking despair. Have you ever wondered why some Christians become atheists? Or commit suicide? Having read these pages you can see why, but those are the kind of people our hearts yearn after. We know the Lord's heart yearns after them even more. Are you drowning in the quagmire of spiritual despair? Take heart, my friend! Salvation is not a gamble, it is a Gift -- it's not of works, but of Christ -so no one can boast! Very soon the time is coming when the body of Christ will believe what it has sung about and proclaimed. The Lord is up to something -- magnificent!
Oops! I got up on my soapbox again, didn't I? Back to the vision... Paula and I yearn to be part of a team that listens to the Holy Spirit, and in His wisdom and power liberates spiritually and emotionally abused hearts so they will hope again. We envision a "Restoration Ranch." It will be out in the country (somewhere!) next to a large lake. (For years, perfect strangers have described this vision to us prophetically -- in detail! -having no natural knowledge of what the Lord had put in our hearts.) We envision serious chemical, sexual and emotional addictions being healed. Marriages healed! Christian leaders restored and made whole.
We also envision a "school of the Holy Spirit" on the same grounds. It will be "hands on, learn as you listen to God" training for Christians who yearn to learn to hear the Holy Spirit for the healing of wounded hearts. We KNOW this vision will happen. Interestingly enough, the Lord has now "maneuvered" us to live in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area where He long ago told us He would establish it! Awesome, huh? So very interesting things have been stirring -- Praise the Lord!
Salvation by faith in Christ alone, the holiness of God, the miraculous ministry of the Holy Spirit -- all of those wonderful realities have been "coming back" to the body of Christ over the last five hundred years.
What's next? Every fiber of my being sings that the Lord is about to reveal His true heart and plan for His creation to many, many people worldwide. It won't be long before the FULL "faith once delivered to the saints" will return to us all, accompanied by unprecedented signs and wonders. Hide and watch! And when God's firstborn family members know their identity -- watch out, world! Christ's healing light will shine on you.
The following is taken from Charles Slagle's devotional "From The Father's Heart"
REMEMBER Isa. 52:14; John 3:16
I AM just, pure and holy. My love is limitless and seeks not its own. When those dark thoughts cloud your mind, causing you to question My love, I ask that you do one thing: remember the cross.
See it now. See the One crucified, See the humiliation, the horror of Innocence disrobed, mutilated and bleeding. Pain racks His every atom. Each gasp of air is agony untold. His every nerve is a conduit of fire.
Can you hear Him cry? No one else can either, but I can. I hear it forever - how could I forget it? It's almost the sound of a boy - a stifled, intermittent cry it is...
No, child, don't turn away. Not yet, please. Do you see the thorns piercing His brow? The disfigurement of His face? The spikes splitting His hands and His feet? The jeering crowds at the foot of His cross? They didn't kill him. They would have if they could have -but they could not. He gave His life. He shielded His enemies who were worthy of death by dying Himself in their stead. He suffered murder to save His murderers. He suffered shame to save His mockers. And He would do it again. Again and again. And so would I. Is this not the destiny of Perfect Love in a fallen world?
This is the way love is, and this is the way I AM. Never forget it.