I would love to say that the Lord woke me up at 2 a.m. this morning because of the amazing Spirit filled past 24 hours that just took place in my life. God blessed me in so many ways, many that I will quietly treasure or only share with those closest to me. Yet here I am, wide awake. Sitting at my computer with my body processing the remaining adrenaline that remains. My heartbeat, slowing back to its normal rhythm, my breaths relaxing. You would think that I saw a ghost, but it was much worse. I saw a demon. And not just one, in just a few seconds time, I saw lots of them.
As a pastor, the things we go through and the lessons we learn need to be shared as we are just simple people living out our journey just as the rest of us. Therefore, since I am up, I figure I would try and share the raw experience without too much time for reflection in case God wants to use this somehow for good. Here it goes.
My body is in a lot of pain. My shoulder is driving me nuts. And so, like most nights, my wife fell asleep almost right away and I got to sit their thinking about the day and having short conversations with the Lord in prayer. But I am still a man. Sometimes those thoughts gradually take me to places that I know I shouldn’t be. And so tonight I was sitting there twisting and turning as my shoulder and body struggled to find comfort, and my mind started to wander.
We all have things that make us weird. I have never said this before to anyone. But as a pastor, there are times of deep valleys where try as we might, we just can’t feel that God is there, and yet at other times, we find ourselves on spiritual mountain tops and just feel so close to God. For me, whenever I get these mountain top experiences like I just had over the past 24 hours, I double and triple down on screening my thoughts. I guess you could say that I desire that intimacy with Christ so much that when those precious moments take place, I do whatever I can to desperately remain on said mountain top, for I know the valleys will come.
So here I am, tossing and turning yet still having just a great day. And after a while some dorky thoughts try and pop into my head. And I put them down hard. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have that much control over my thoughts all of the time, but it is so hard to do. And as I began to drift in and out of consciousness, my mind weakens and my ability to fight off the temptations in my heart start to give way.
Right as I go to sleep, right on the edge of conciseness, I face a lustful thought. And I let it through. I ponder it for a moment, and just like that, I fall to sleep. Now I am not some super righteous guy who has master over every thought and desire. I am far from that. But here at the end of this beautiful mountaintop experience, in the blur of reality, I let sin win. 99.9 percent of the time, we just call that life. Its normal. But what happened next was not.
In my sleep, the sin remained. I knew it was there. I felt guilt and shame. And I just started to dream. I was in a car. And I was off the side of the road. I wanted to go down the road, so I pulled onto it and started to head wherever my destination was which I have no idea. And right away, my sin, (the very thought that I took into my heart), was on a billboard and it was far off as I was driving towards it. I was actually excited as I had already given into this thought that had now manifested itself and even though this entire experience only lasted for like 20 seconds, I knew that I was eagerly anticipating the billboard getting closer.
And that is when it went very wrong very quickly. Immediately after seeing the billboard, I saw bright clouds on the road in front of me. Greens and yellows and some orange. And immediately I knew what they were. They were all demons. And as I drove forward the clouds were flowing toward the car at great speed and I literally began to drive through this colored fog. And deep down in my soul, I knew that they were demons because I have felt them before. And as each cloud passed, I felt more weight on my body. The warmth of my blood seem to fade for I was being possessed by these demons.
Words on a page will never truly be able to explain the hair-raising torment of interacting with demons. As Christians we do not normally need to fear them, because we know that our God has complete authority over them and as long as we are in good standing with Christ, we share this authority over them. Yet here in my state of weakness, in the vulnerability of my sub conscience. I was targeted.
20 long seconds. I knew what was happening. This no longer was a dream. It was an attack. And so I grabbed the stirring wheel, and I did the only thing I thought I could do. I cried out “Jesus” over and over again. And I didn’t’ call out in a pleasant voice, it was a voice of desperation filled with torment. It was an ugly cry. I was in trouble. I was in need. For 20 seconds, it felt like the Lord was far off and I was alone. For less then half a minute, I was being possessed by evil Spirits in what possibly could have all been a dream.
I would love to say that Jesus came to my rescue and that I got to see him. However, I have never seen Christ in a dream before and that would have been a sight to see. My torment ended as I forced myself to wake up. And as I bounced back into conciseness, my hands had both firmly gripped my pillow. I could feel the hair on my arms were different, almost like static electricity had raised all of them at the same time. And I just took a few moments to put myself into my right mind. Without waking my wife, I laid there very still. I began to pray and I could feel His peace entering my body. And it is funny that even when waking up, it really only took 30 seconds for the peace of the Lord to return.
So there it is; a total of 50 seconds. Was it just a dream? Not for me. I have cast demons out of people’s homes even here in Milaca. They are real, and even though we don’t normally have to worry about being possessed by demons as Christians, every once in a while, it can take place for brief moments in time. How is that you ask? The answer is that our bodies are meant to be filled by the Spirit of God. And when He is not in us because of sin, there is an opportunity for other wandering spirits to fill that void. Most of the time the normal Christian doesn’t need to worry about falling in sin and having demons jump right in there… In my experience, it seems to happen more to those who are serving the Lord. For they are the ones whom Satan is fervently attacking more directly. That reminds me, pray for your pastors. You have no idea the spiritual warfare that takes place in and around them.
One last thing. I knew that is was not the end of the world as these demons tried to take a jab at a servant of God during his most vulnerable point. Yes, they were successful in tormenting me for 20 seconds and yes I was extremely scared. Yet as I sat up on the edge of my bed, a clear and sobering thought was given to me. If 20 seconds without Jesus was so terrifying, how much more so would an eternity be?
I praise God that He loves us so much that He has made a way for us to spend forever in His presence. But narrow is the way, and few will find it. Holiness is not some cool theological word that has no bearing on our lives. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.
Today I see the bride of Christ. But I don’t see a spotless bride dressed in white made ready for the Lord. I see a harlot whose dress was white but now is filthy and stained; a bride with a grimacing face instead of one that is filled with joy anticipating the return of the bridegroom. I see many who claim to be in Christ yet seem to care more for the things of this world. I see the mixture of false world religions making their way into our sanctuaries. There I was mere seconds after going through this ordeal and my mind was solely focused on those I love.
God is moving. The past few decades the church has been in spiritual decline. But God always moves the greatest mountains when his people are rooted in the granite of rebellion towards His face. Will the Lord return soon? Will there just be another wave of revival and renewal? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I don’t want my children, my friends, my neighbors, members from other religions, or even my enemies to experience and have to bear an eternity of torment with no relief or protection from a God who loves us. If 20 seconds was that hard, I can’t imagine what forever would be like. The wrath and punishment of God is real. And sometimes we all need to remember the true weight we bear as branches of grace to those God places in our lives.
I have said too much. I must go to sleep now. May God bless all of you. I love you all very much.