” For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. ” -Ephesians 6:12
I have looked into the eyes of a demon before (I’m not even talking about my ex here). It was probably about eight years ago. I was waiting on a table of four people in a big booth one afternoon, and they were weird with a capital “W”. There were two ladies and two men, and all of them seemed kind of out of it, but when the older black man looked at me, his eyes seemed off. I don’t know really how to explain it, except that I had the distinct impression that there was somebody else in there. Later when I walked back by, they had astrology charts spread out all over the table. I will never forget how creeped out I was by them.
Around the same time period, I had a coworker come to me and tell me that she had been seeing demons in her apartment when she would try to take a nap in the afternoon. She said her boyfriend had first experienced them, and brought them with him to her apartment. At times, they would enter her body and she would feel super strong. I asked if it was a good feeling, and she said “No, it was definitely evil.” I asked if I could pray for her, and she agreed. We went to the bakery closet at work, and I prayed for Jesus to protect her from them. A few days later I asked her how things were going, and she said she could still see them but they couldn’t get in her anymore. Later, she ended up moving away and when she came back to visit I asked her how things were going. She said she had been diagnosed with sleep paralysis, and that since she’d been taking the medication she didn’t see anything anymore. I think that was a little convenient, considering that her boyfriend had seen them also.
I myself have felt a strong demonic presence twice in my life. Once was in a gorgeous hotel on the beach in Hilton Head. It may be the nicest room I have ever slept in. As I was falling asleep, I felt the presence of evil so tangibly strong around me. It was pressing in on each side, and I dared not open my eyes. All I could do was shout (in a hoarse whisper) Jesus’ name over and over until it went away. I sensed that there was some bad stuff going on there, and I learned later that 75% of the hotel staff was Jamaican. Jamaica has a strong culture of voodoo, so my guess was that some of the workers had brought some unseen friends along with them. The same exact thing happened in my bedroom in the Fan a few years later after we had been to the International Thanksgiving dinner at VCU and I had shared the Gospel with a young Muslim man. It feels as though the person that hates you most in the world and would love nothing better than to slit your throat is two inches from your face. It sucks.
When we were in Haiti, where there is also a strong voodoo presence, we walked through the yard of a house where a voodoo ceremony was going on. Apparently they call down demons to possess their bodies, and there is a continuous drumbeat from the possessed. As we prayed, the drums stopped three times, and Pastor Junior, who was raised by a voodoo priest father, told us that our prayers were interrupting the demonic forces. My friend Justin, who was there at the same time, later told us that one of the interpreters showed him a weird phenomena in the sky, which they called the Lugeron: bright red flashes of light going down to the villages. Demonic.
I have had more encounters with unseen forces than I would like, including when I was 11 years old and played the Ouija board by myself. It’s seriously told me a whole story. Seriously. There was no one else in the room with me, and I know that did not make up a story of a man named Aaron who was killed by his brother Gerald for gold coins in 1863.
Ok, don’t get weirded out. The reason I am sharing my experiences is because I want to testify firsthand that there are things on this planet that we cannot see with their eyes. They exist. Just watch the footage of the Virginia Tech killer, or >any episode of Intervention and tell me that you don’t see evidence of demonic forces involved. People with addictions are more susceptible to letting bad stuff in because their mental guards are way down when they are using. The only reason I don’t walk around terrified is because I know that God also exists, and he is stronger than anything else. I have even had dreams about being called on to cast demons out of people, and I have been scared but confident, because God is bigger.
I hardly ever think about these experiences, but I thought about them today, and wanted to get them in print. I don’t think it’s beneficial to dwell on evil, but it is wise to acknowledge that it exists. What we do need to dwell on is the reality of God and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Luke 10:20 tells us not to rejoice that the spirits submit to us, but because our names are written in heaven. The reality of demonic forces just points me more toward the reality of Jesus. He cast demons out during his time on earth, and so did his disciples. They are a reality but they are not a threat to those under the protection of Christ. God tells us 365 times in the Bible to not be afraid. If you belong to Jesus, there is nothing he cannot protect you from. Each of us have a time we are appointed to die, and for those in Christ, death is a beautiful beginning.
What Jesus means is that we are not to fear, because he is with us always.
To my delight, I have also experienced some great things: there was an afternoon at my friend Julie’s when I felt the overwhelming beauty of the Lord surrounding me during prayer so much that I wept with joy, or the time that God spoke out loud to me and told me to move to Richmond. The point is, all you can see ain’t all there is. I think it’s better to figure out what that means for my life than to just pretend that it doesn’t exist.