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Devil in the Detail

October 28, 2009

spooky[1]

It was a horrible day yesterday. I can’t attribute it to anything specific, other than waking up with a feeling that this wasn’t my usual resilient and optimistic self. Sure, there were also a couple of troublesome meetings at work, but I typically navigate my way through those types of things without letting it bog me down.  On a better day, I would shrug it off, take whatever lessons to be learned from it, and get on with my business. But yesterday I was a little off.  The negative energy hung over my head like a dark, oppressive cloud.  I didn’t think I was doing a very good job. At anything.

Some people would like to blame the Devil when they have a bad day, when their spirits are sinking, when things don’t work out as they would like. But I am a little hesitant. Mostly because – well, I must confess that I have much more faith in Jesus than in Satan. In fact, lately I’ve barely paid any attention at all to Satan and his demonic forces. They don’t really have much of a priority in my life, since I am trying to focus all my conscious spiritual thoughts on the Good Guy. Why would I want to spend any mental energy on Satan? 

In the routines of my personal day-to-day life, filled with work and home and teenager daughters and a wife and church, Satan does not seem to have much direct interaction with us.  We are minding our own business. And when the usual disappointments or discouragements or illnesses or emotional meltdowns occur, I’m not thinking of Satan. I’m thinking that we’re dealing with the normal conditions of family or work life. Which, of course, are far from perfect. We struggle with all sorts of challenges. They come and go like the changing face of the moon. Ups and downs. Peace and tension. Good times and bad times. Isn’t this the essence of life? Why give Satan credit for every little detail that goes wrong? 

Then last night, while I was sleeping, I had the most terrifying dream. It scared me enough to second-guess my cavalier dismissal of the evil forces.  In this dream, I was being terribly harassed and taunted by these horrifying demonic beings. They were threatening my very soul, and it seemed so…real. Scientists don’t quite have a good explanation for dreams, other than neurons randomly firing in our brains. But somehow these electrical impulses tapped into my deepest fears and emotions in such a way that the experience was incredibly magnified into a most personal horrifying demonic encounter, far beyond anything I’ve seen in a horror movie.

In this dream, I am paralyzed as these evil demonic forces slip into my room and surround me. They are pure evil, and they begin to taunt and threaten me. The problem is that I can’t move or speak, and I am desperate to escape. All I can think of is that if I just Call On The Name Of The Lord then I will be Saved. Just call out the name of Jesus!

JESUS!

For a while the demons continue to have their way with me and I’m absolutely petrified, still unable to move or speak as they move in closer and closer for the kill. I’m trying like heck to mobilize my body and voice so that I can just call out the name of Jesus. Just when it seems like they are going to do me in, I somehow garner the strength and stretch out my hand. I point at them with a fierce resolve, and shout out “I CALL ON THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST!”

Like a magic incantation, the demons then shrink away, shriveling up and covering their ears as they howl in pain. Finally, I am free! Thank you Lord Jesus!

In the process of liberating myself from the oppression of the demonic forces, I have also woken up myself, and my wife, who is wondering why I was shouting/mumbling some nonsense while flinging my arm up to the ceiling. What she heard was more like “ihhh clllllllll jhiiizzzssss” without quite the same heroic drama that accompanied my rapidly firing brain neurons.  But I woke up scared and vulnerable and absolutely grateful to Jesus for saving me in my imaginary warfare adventure.

Did it mean anything? I don’t know. I was exhausted and emotionally spent from those difficult meetings earlier in the day, so it’s only natural that my subconscious just gets it all out in a big cathartic production while I’m sleeping.

But I quietly wondered – was that real? Are there really demons battling for my soul? Are the anxieties and emotional struggles I experience connected in some way to this spiritual invisible world of demons, out doing Satan’s bidding, trying to take me down, to make me a loser and a failure, not to mention take my very soul?

I’m not sure. All I know is that calling on the name of Jesus saved me then, and it somehow saves me every time I am struggling. It saves my family when we are going through difficult experiences, and it saves me at work when I feel that I am in over my head. Whether Satan has anything to do with me or not, I will always take comfort in the power of calling on the name of Jesus. Jesus gets the benefit of the doubt, and that alone is a victory for Jesus and big defeat for the Evil One.

Image used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user piccadillywilson

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 28, 2009 5:50 pm

    Whether it was real or not, it sure does sound like you dealt with the situation the right way with the right Name.

    Jesus: There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

  2. October 28, 2009 9:19 pm

    It is the Name above all names. thought-provoking post, Brad. And a good one.

  3. October 29, 2009 12:01 pm

    yes..

    benefit of the doubt

    i like that

  4. October 29, 2009 3:04 pm

    Bradley,

    Excellent post today. Please visit my blog and access the post from August 5th (The Vividness and Uncanny Reality of Dreams: Are You There Sigmund?”

    When we use words like ‘terror’, ‘horror’, ‘immobility’, ‘escape’, we are also talking about vastly powerful human emotions that have the ability to sway our thoughts and actions in one direction or the other. Our perceptions of the world and people within it can quickly change and become distorted when our emotions may not be settled or shifting erraticly and unexpectedly.

  5. October 30, 2009 1:52 pm

    The demonic exists. While I don’t dwell long upon it, I’m also careful to maintain my armor:
    Truth Truth is first and holds all else together. No deception is harmless, because it gives the enemy an opening.
    Righteousness How does any feeling, thought, word or action best honor God?
    Preparation with the Gospel The Word is a sure Rock on which to stand. Train well with it in advance.
    Faith Trust in the goodness and power of God’s purposes for every situation, lest negative perceptions take hold.
    Salvation Submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ is a covering of authority and protection.
    Sword of God’s Word If well trained in the Word, employ it both proactively and reactively.
    Watchful in Prayer Maintain close communication with the Captain of our souls.

    Is there power in the name of Jesus? Remember David’s words when he faced Goliath (1 Samuel 17:45):
    Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

  6. November 2, 2009 12:59 pm

    Bradley,

    Excellent post. Like you, I go through my days without giving much thought to Satan. When things go wrong in my life my first reaction is to just shrug it off.

    I wonder if this is wise though? 1 Peter 5:8 warns us to:

    “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

    The Bible is quite clear that demonic forces are constantly fighting against us. If we are not feeling this conflict, perhaps we are in more peril than we know? Why would the enemy not be spending much (or any) time on us?

    It is certainly unwise to blame everything on Satan or his demonic forces. He is not omnipotent or omniscient so in the end all we have to blame is ourselves. He is a great marketer, but it is up to us if we the sale gets made or not.

    I like how you say your focus is on Jesus and not Satan. It’s similar to the way new treasury agents are trained to spot counterfeit bills. They study the real thing so much that the counterfeits become obvious. If we keep focusing on the real thing, Jesus Christ, then Satan’s sad marketing attempts will be obvious.

    Brad

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