“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
I don’t like talking about demons, not because I don’t believe they are there, but because I know that they are. For that reason, I hate acknowledging them in case I somehow affirm or empower any of their wicked deeds. They are scum and they are nothing in comparison to God and the bottom line is, I hate them. But I also find it necessary to address them and put them in their place sometimes.
It has really only been in recent years, however, that I have come to know more and more how real these dark spiritual forces are. Before that, I was mostly unaware.
I remember the years my mother sank deep into a low debilitating depression and I wonder now what part Satan had in it all. Those days were so painfully dark. The mom I once knew to be strong in faith, steady in peace, and full of joy had crumbled into a fearful and lifeless being who could hardly do anything more but to sit in our dark living room by a dusty lamp while casting her still shadow onto the floor. Even now, this picture of my mom is still burned into my mind whenever I think back to those dismal years.
I’ll never forget the night I blew up at her in the parking lot by the lake. I had spent an hour prior to getting there trying to convince her to go for a walk with me. It was something we used to do several times a week, but ever since her depression had hit, she refused to leave the house. Of course, this wasn’t the first time I tried to get her out, but for some reason, this particular night I was especially adamant and would not take no for an answer.
After expending every bit of persuasive energy within me, I somehow managed to get her into the car. Thrilled with the victory, I backed us out of the garage with a big smile across my face and a fresh breath of hope. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the dark clouds to return.
As soon as we pulled into the parking lot by the same familiar lake we always used to walk around, I looked over to see my mother frozen in her seat. I knew this was hard for her, but I refused to give up. Without a word, I got out of the car and walked around to the passenger side and opened her door, pretending not to notice her hesitation. She looked up at me, searching my eyes for mercy to return home, but when I gave no response, she eventually got up.
Relieved, I walked a few steps ahead of her, hoping she would follow closely behind. Yet when I looked over my shoulder, she hadn’t moved an inch. Staring back at her, I looked at who was supposed to be my mother, but in that moment, she looked like a little child, so timid and unsure and with great fear in her eyes. Gently, I asked her a few times to come. Nothing. Then walking slowly back to her, I prompted her a few times more to which she finally opened her dry mouth to faintly ask if we could go home.
That’s when I lost it. Within a matter of seconds, my heart began to race, my head began to spin, and my voice escalated to the point of screaming as tears streamed down my face and I found myself dragging my mother by her hand across the busy parking lot full of strangers. But it was no use. After several moments of intense, disruptive bustling, I finally came to terms with the fact that this walk was not going to happen and let go. Silence once again filled the night air and I returned to our car utterly defeated.
When I think back to that time, I am definitely regretful and sorry about the way I essentially man-handled my own mother who was very sick. In the name of frustration and disappointment, I lost all control. But more than that, I regret that I was unable to discern what was really happening in her life. The very real spiritual oppression, the “powers of this dark world,” “the spiritual forces of evil”–Satan and his demons. I should have dragged them across the parking lot and thrown them back into the pits of hell, but no such thing crossed my mind.
Still, God was faithful and He redeemed that season to be one of greatest trials of her life which ended up saving her marriage, restored her faith, and then launched her into her calling to be a missionary in Africa with my father. As for me, I learned a thing or two since then about spiritual warfare.
Then about a month ago, a girl whom I had briefly met several years ago called me out of the blue. Caught in the grips of one of the darkest times in her life and on the brink of death, she reached out to the only Christian she knew around her and we began to pray together. For the days and weeks that followed, we continued to meet up and talk regularly, and as she divulged more and more of her story, I learned she had been tormented by demons and curses for all of her life. Listening to her talk, it was like hearing the most terrifying horror movie you could think of and I could physically feel the eerie presence of darkness around her.
Naturally, I was disturbed and a bit freaked out and a part of me honestly just wanted to protect myself and my family and show her to the door. But I knew this girl was a victim and the enemy was present.
And then I caught a glimpse of the fear in her eyes. Although different in many ways, it reminded me of the same fear I had seen in my mother’s eyes that day in the parking lot and so many other times after that. It was the same kind of fear that was not of God, but of Satan, but this time I was ready to fight and to go to battle.
So we welcomed this girl into our home and have daily been dismissing and casting out every demon and every spirit of darkness that has oppressed and tried to take a hold of her life. We have cut off agreements with the devil and prayed for freedom and restoration and life. And the result? In just a few short weeks, we have witnessed both the devastating condition that lays waste under the enemy’s bondage as well as the most beautiful and pure transformation, freedom from chains and shackles, and impenetrable peace in Christ that takes place when we in FAITH take hold of the Kingdom of God.
But we cannot stand back and be shy or timid nor waste time struggling with flesh and the things of this world. Instead, being thankful that we are living in the days of Kingdom power and authority that was given to us to use for working out our own faith and for the good of others, we are to forcefully advance the Kingdom of God over the dark forces and we don’t quit and we don’t give up until we receive what is rightfully ours. We take all that was purchased for us on the cross–freedom from evil, darkness, sickness, demons and the like.
Through all of this, in no way do I intend to magnify the darkness lurking around us, but rather, I stand to reflect the great brightness of God. Just as the waters sparkle, radiate, and then reflect the magnificent sun, I desire to reflect the glory of our great God in exceeding measure over every ounce of darkness that dare cast its shadow over us. In a world where sometimes it feels like this darkness is just caving in on all sides, I take heart knowing that the Kingdom of God is here and is victorious over all. And although it has already been won, there is still a battle to be fought, and it all begins on our knees.