By Carlos Whittaker
When I was 21, I was in one of the darkest seasons of my life. I was in my fifth year at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, and I was a mess. I was a lost soul looking for any sort of validation. But I wasn’t necessarily looking to fix myself. I had a job. I hadn’t been expelled (yet). I had a condo. I had a girlfriend. People from afar still saw me as having it together. But, man, was I not together—drinking heavily whenever I could, sleeping till noon, and missing work all the time. I didn’t have a name for it, although now I can look back and see that I was suffering from heavy depression and anxiety. I was 2,500 miles away from my parents. I felt so alone. I had slowly but surely pushed away all my friends.
It was a pretty scary and sad time. Sad is the easy word to define here. But I was also scared, and that word is a little harder to nail down. What did I have to be scared of? Nobody was after me. I had parents who loved me. But I felt this fear. I didn’t know why. It just lingered.
“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” (Ephesians 6:12).
Man, I wish I had known more about this struggle back then. I didn’t. But I was about to be right in the middle of it. It was a Wednesday night in the middle of summer. Somehow I had figured out a way to extend going to a four-year liberal arts school into almost six years. My girlfriend had broken up with me the day before. Looking back, I don’t blame her. I was a hot mess. The week before, I had been fired from my job at Buffalo’s. I had stopped showing up. And on this particular Wednesday, I just sat in my condo and cried. How had my life ended up so sad, and why did I have this feeling of fear? I wasn’t telling anyone about my struggle. I was determined to figure it out on my own.
That night, after spending the entire day inside my duplex, I remember feeling even more fear. It was kinda spooking me a bit. I checked all the closets to make sure nobody was in them. (Don’t fool yourself; you’ve done this before.) I remember even praying a shotgun prayer before I fell asleep. It was a heart cry loaded with, Dear Lord, help me not feel this way when I wake up.
I woke up around 3:00 am. The feeling that came over me can only be described as dark. I had never felt so scared in my life. I pulled the covers over my head and started praying.
Dear God, I pray that you make this stop. I’m so sorry. I promise I’ll behave, God. Please. Whatever is in here, make it leave!
I knew nothing was in my room, but I knew something was in my room. The darkness was darker than just the lights being off and the sun yet to rise. Something was up. And that something was dark. My window was open, and the curtains were flapping a bit more than normal. I was freaking out. After about two minutes of nonstop prayer, I knew I needed to be rescued from whatever was happening in my duplex that night. I needed my dad, so I jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen to call him.
Yes, I had to get out of bed to call him. The phone was 15 feet away. This was before cell phones.
Why would I call my dad? Because although I didn’t know much about this whole dark, evil, and spiritual warfare stuff, I was most certain that I was in it right then. And I was sure that my dad would know how to help me out of it.
It was midnight in Fresno, California, where he lived. Would he even hear the phone ring when I called? I hoped so. I flipped the light switch on, and as I reached for the phone to dial his number, it rang. Read that again: Right as I was reaching for the telephone, it rang. And it rang. And it rang.
I had never, nor have I since, felt as scared as I was in that moment.
What was going on? Was I going to pick up the phone and hear the voice of Skeletor on the other end?
Everything froze. I slowly reached for the phone, picked it up, and put it to my ear.
“Carlos, it’s dad. It’s okay. I love you. I was woken up to pray for you, and I want you to know it’s okay. It’s time to come home, son. It’s time to come home.”
I grew up in a Southern Baptist home where we sang hymns and nobody lifted their hands in worship. I didn’t grow up in a house where we talked about this spiritual warfare stuff. I didn’t grow up in a church where people fought against demons and things that go bump in the night.
But you know what I did grow up in? I grew up in a home where I would seldom go a day without seeing my father on his knees with the Father. My dad was a giant. And apparently he had direct access to the Holy Spirit ’cause things just got crazy.
You see, that is the sort of moment that you can’t ignore. You can’t forget.
Guess what I did.
I didn’t say a thing. I just cried. My dad prayed for me and then hung up. Then I started packing. I packed up everything I could fit into my Honda Accord. I mean everything. And the next morning when my Vietnamese neighbors I shared a wall with woke up, I let them know they could have everything I’d left in my duplex. “What happened? Where are you going?” they asked me.
“I’m going to be with my dad because whatever he has, I want it. I want all of it.” And I drove west from Rome, Georgia, heading toward Fresno, California. I had no idea at the time that I would not return to Georgia. But I did know that I needed to sit under my father’s roof again. I needed to pay attention to whatever I had been ignoring for so long. I believed it now. Yeah, it took a crazy moment like that for me to believe. And even still, to this day, sometimes I think things like, It was a coincidence. Every once in a while, the stars align. What are the chances? And, every time, the response I get back from God is, “Yeah, Carlos, what are the chances?”
The battle is real, my friends. The sooner we accept that, the sooner our spider killing can begin. And the sooner the spider dies.
You may have heard the saying, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was to make you think he doesn’t exist.” When we sit in denial of the reality of spiritual warfare, we are denying the enemy exists and that he is trying to distract us from the work God wants us to do to clean out the cobwebs and get rid of our spiders. So much of the struggle we face comes from the enemy feeding us lies and us buying into them. The sooner you stop allowing him to have control, the sooner you can get on to living without cobwebs in your life.
Taken from Kill the Spider: Getting Rid of What’s Really Holding You Back by Carlos Whittaker. Click here to learn more about this title.
Are you tired of trying to live for Christ—only to fail time and time again with the same old behaviors? Do you pray for guidance, ask for deliverance, and vow to do better, yet fail to progress?
As an author, speaker, pastor, and blogger at Ragamuffin Soul, Carlos has lived much of his spiritual life in the spotlight. But, like any Christian, his faith story has its ups and downs. He spent decades trying to figure out how to be a “better person.” Time and time again, he strived for holiness only to get caught in the web of destructive habits, behaviors, and thought patterns.
But, the buck stops here. Or, rather, the spider is killed here.
In Kill the Spider, Carlos shares personal material ranging from hilarious, self-deprecating stories to passion-filled wisdom—to show others it’s not enough to try and “stop sinning.” He teaches that knocking out deep-rooted habits and issues comes by treating the issue, not just the symptoms.
With transparency, humor, and vulnerable stories, Carlos offers a breath of fresh air to any believer looking to finally step into the freedom in Christ. So, sit down. Open the book. And grab a shoe. We’re going on a spider hunt.
Carlos Whittaker is an author, blogger, speaker and worship leader. He has been on the leadership team for Catalyst as well as leading worship at many of their events. He regularly speaks at the largest churches all over the country. He and his wife Heather and their children live in Nashville, TN. Learn more about Carlos at CarlosWhittaker.com.