The Fear that Stalks at Midnight

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Someone had posted this quote on Facebook just the other day

Last night I slept like a baby: up every two hours.  At one point, I woke up with a powerful feeling of fear.  The pounding of my heart woke me and all sorts of worries about the future suddenly rushed at me there in the dark.  Sweat broke out so badly that my hair, pajamas, sheets, and pillowcase were suddenly soaked.

Immediately I recognized that this fear and worry was not coming from my own mind.  I have had experience with troubling thoughts that were not mine.  And this morning as I turned on my computer, I realized that this kind of demonic attack is probably not unusual for God’s people.  But perhaps not all recognize that these emotions had not been born in their own hearts.  So here is a teaching moment.

I remember the day when I realized that I didn’t have to react in anger whenever someone said (or screamed) angry words to me.  Their angry words continued to stir up angry feelings in me, but it was freeing to know that I didn’t have to give in to the emotion—and cause myself more trouble.  Instead, I could walk away and calmly assess what would be a better response—and there was always a better response.

I didn’t know it then, but now I realize: in those times when an angry word would set me off into a tirade, what was really going on was that a demon was behind the scenes pushing my buttons and pulling my strings like an invisible puppet master, laughing at the chaos that I was making of my life, and hoping to ultimately destroy me.

I used to struggle a lot with depression.  Once I suffered almost a year in such a deep depression that I began to have suicidal hallucinations.  These were not fantasies, but genuine hallucinations.  The two suicides I hallucinated both involved the big kitchen knife.  In one slit my throat from ear to ear.  In the other I plunged the knife into my heart.  I would be performing the most mundane household mom tasks (putting sheets in the dryer, getting the mail, or bathing the baby) and suddenly I had the knife in my hand.  I could feel the cold, sharp edge of the blade, but no pain.  Then the warm, velvety gush of blood and the copper-salty smell of it.  When the hallucinations were happening, I didn’t know that they weren’t really happening.

And when I snapped out of it again to find my baby splashing happily in the bathtub, it really frightened me.  I would ask my husband or older son to watch the baby, and I would go hide in the closet.  Something about being in the closet felt safe.  It was dark, all the sounds of the house were muffled and distant, and I could calm myself as I breathed there among the clothing that smelled like us.

This was during the years that I was so disappointed with God that I considered myself an atheist.  I didn’t believe in God, so by default I didn’t believe in the devil, either.  But one afternoon there in the closet, I suddenly realized that these hallucinations were not coming from my mind.  That meant that they had to be coming from outside of me.  I knew it because I knew that as bad as things were, I didn’t want to kill myself.  I would never leave my sons that kind of legacy no matter how bad things got.  But if I ever did want to kill myself, it would never, ever involve a knife and blood.

Understanding that this was coming from outside of me scared me even more.  But it also helped in a crazy way because I knew that I was still ultimately in control of my actions.  Since I didn’t want to kill myself, I wouldn’t kill myself.  If this entity wanted to kill me, it would just do it, right?  If it could kill me without my cooperation, it would have already done so, right?  So I began to understand that maybe I could fight this thing.

I went to a counselor (not a psychiatrist because I didn’t want to be medicated) and I talked things out.  I had the idea that if talking about the pain would make it go away, then that is what I would talk about.  So I went in week after week, skipping the small talk and going straight to the heart of the pain.  It was hard!  It was like emotionally disemboweling myself week after week.  And it go so that I couldn’t function for two days leading up to my appointment, so I asked for two appointments a week.  And I stuck with my plan of talking the pain out.

After two unbelievably difficult months, the depression suddenly lifted and I quit going to counseling.  Several months later, Jesus reclaimed me.  Yes, He left the 99 to come looking for this little lost sheep.  And of course, when I journaled all of this later, I realized the source of those suicidal hallucinations—and of my destructive angry responses.

We need to understand that we live in a battlefield, and there are invisible fiery darts whizzing past our heads all the time.  The defeated enemy is defeated, but he doesn’t appear to know it.  He and his minions whisper discouragement and negativity into our ears all the time.  God is also speaking to us all the time: words of encouragement and strength and love.

When we have a thought, it can only have one of three possible sources: God, the defeated enemy, or our own mind.  We need to learn to listen better to God’s voice.  God will speak to you, often in a particular way that you know your own mind doesn’t work.  For example, I am a word person.  I do not think in pictures at all.  So when I get a picture thought, it’s almost always from God.

Another way that I know a God thought from my own is this: if it’s a great idea (one that benefits His Kingdom) that I am resisting, that’s from God.  I never resist my own great ideas (and often they turn out not to be so great after all).  And if God gives you a great idea, overcome your resistance and do it.  You’ll find that obedience really is better than sacrifice—in so many ways.

So what is God telling you today?  Do it!  What are you waiting for?  God is good!

P.S. You might be wondering what I did last night, trembling and drenched in sweat.  I rebuked the spirit of fear.  Then I got up, praising God, and went to the bathroom to wash my face in cold water.  Then I sat in my prayer chair and softly sang: Look what the Lord has done! to myself.  Then I went back to bed (all fear and worry completely gone) and slept very deeply until seven—for me this is like sleeping until noon.

One thought on “The Fear that Stalks at Midnight

  1. Pingback: Moving into The Secret Place | Walking By Faith in Europe

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