Spiritual warfare is real and I think it’s time I talk about it. I’ve always known this but I think I only wanted to believe it happened in places like Haiti, where I went on mission trips and saw witch doctors. I’ve been afraid of the spiritual realm ever since my church scared the daylights out of me by letting a visiting preacher play a tape of demons. After that I decided the only way I would be able to sleep with the lights off would be if I just ignored their existence.
But lately I haven’t been able to ignore the spiritual warfare at work around me. Occasionally throughout my life I’ve had episodes of sleep paralysis. I only remember it happening a handful of times but when it happens, I know I’m awake and where I am and I’m trying desperately to open my eyes or speak to pull myself out of the nightmare, but I can’t do it for an agonizing minute. It’s amazing how terrifying one minute can be.
And while I don’t remember the circumstances surrounding the other couple of times it happened to me, it’s happened multiple times over the past couple weeks. I have realized that I am no longer able to ignore the pure evil I feel when it happens. I’m not saying all episodes of sleep paralysis are visits from evil spirits. There’s no way I can possibly know that. But I do believe that mine have been the result of evil oppressing me. I’ll tell you why.
When it happened last Sunday, I was sleeping on my stomach (I know it’s bad for your back but that’s always been the only way I can get comfortable). I woke during a nightmare. I knew I was awake and I knew where I was and that Jason was sleeping right beside me. I knew all of this but I was still unable to move or speak and felt as if something was holding me down into the bed. I tried over and over to say something along the lines of, “Leave me in the name of Jesus.” Somehow I knew that the name of Jesus would free me, but nothing would come out for a short but terrifying period of time until I finally woke up gasping “in the name of Jesus”. The second time it happened several days later was even more terrifying. That time I actually saw a dark shadow holding me down into the bed. I kept trying to scream the name “Jesus” so much so that my throat felt a little raw and I finally woke up yelling it, scaring Jason awake.
Since this happened, Jason and I have been much more diligent about taking up a warfare posture of prayer. We are fighting for my sleep and the peace in our home. We pray for protection before we go to sleep. We pray that the Holy Spirit fills every corner of our home so that nothing else can reside here. We pray that in the name of Jesus any evil that is here will leave and never come back. One of our ministers came over and prayed for us and our house.
I’m not going to say I’ve slept like a baby ever since. Far from it. Even though I know I have the strength of Jesus to run the evil away, it’s hard not to be afraid of something so dark. Just this morning I was on the verge of another episode when I woke up in a panic. But here’s what happened a couple nights ago. I had a nightmare but nothing was on top of me this time. Instead in my dream, our window was open a crack and when I lifted up the blinds to close it, the dark figure hurled itself up against the window as if it wanted to come in but couldn’t. I believe God is protecting us and I pray that one day the window will be completely closed, sealed, and locked.
You may think I’m crazy but I’m actually grateful that such scary things have happened to me. I’m grateful because it has confirmed to me that I really do know Whose I am. When I’m this depressed, it’s common for me to wonder if I am truly a child of God. I have been so encouraged that even in a dreamlike state, “Jesus” is the name I want so desperately to call out. I know I belong to Jesus and He can save me from this terrible evil. My heart overflows with gratitude for this, which I’m sure makes the enemy madder than a hornet. My heart just bursts to have confirmation that it belongs to Jesus and nothing can take it away. This has only spurred me on to fight harder and cling to my Savior with every bit of strength He gives me. I speak and sing His name over and over throughout my days, and even my nights when I wake afraid.
I woke up sad this morning for no apparent reason. And then fear was added when Jason got dizzy and fell getting out of the shower. He did not seriously hurt himself but I feel like over the past few months even up to a year, as he’s had sickness after sickness, I have been slowly watching my worst fear realized. I wonder if I am watching Jason become just as sick as I am. And I’m tempted to say that if it does happen the way I fear, we won’t survive it. It’s not possible. But I know that is a lie from the evil one. We will be ok because we belong to Jesus. I say this still gripped with fear, but I know it to be true and will repeat it until peace is mine. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. There’s just something about that name. We walk through the darkest valley, but our Savior’s rod and staff are with us (Psalm 23).
There is no ignoring evil. We have to fight. I absolutely feel that I am walking through the valley of the shadow… but am overwhelmed with gratitude that the shadow can never have me. Thank You, Jesus, for making me Yours.
Song I’m feeling: The Shadow Can’t Have Me, by Arthur Alligood
“I walk through the valley of the shadow
I walk through the valley of the shadow
I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
But the shadow can’t have me.”