Out Of The Darkness
Into His Light
To explain it to someone who has not experienced it is like describing the color brown to a blind person. Red might be represented with heat, blue with ice, but the color brown? If there is a physical experience that correlates with the color brown I don’t know it.
It begins with an initial punch to the gut, literally driving you to the knees. It is followed by a period of mental haze and confusion. A physical lethargy settles in, making it difficult to complete daily tasks. The mind says, “You need to do the laundry.” The mind also says, “You can’t do the laundry.” Sometimes you manage to do the laundry, most of the time you don’t. The isolation you seek for comfort feeds the growing panic bubbling up inside. All the while your chin is up, your conversation light, and your closest friend barely notices.
Sitting in the corner of the couch, eyes staring blankly at nothing, it begins. Slowly, ever so slowly, the darkness encircles you. It is that “thing” you can’t put your finger on. There is a sinking feeling, coupled with a squeezing, like a lemon, from all sides at once. Your mind is racing with emotion, and you cannot breathe.
Your feet are weighted with concrete. Your arms immobilized by a straitjacket. Your mouth is silenced, gagged. You’ve been thrown overboard at sea. Your lungs heave for air. Your ears ring as you sink into the crushing darkness.
March 7, 2012 is when my slow decent into the darkness began. It is the day I found my son’s body.
My relationship with the Lord has not always been a smooth one. There were times I rebelled. I married and divorced, more than once. I had sexual relationships outside of marriage. I stopped going to church. I stopped communicating with Him. Whenever there was a falling away, it was always me who put the relationship on hold. Yet, whenever I called, He came to me, and He forgave me.
When I found my son’s body the realization of what I saw pummeled me with such force I hit my knees. I began to wail loudly. Tears did not come immediately, but they did come.
I suspect it was like watching a scene from a movie to the neighbors. People were outside the residence crying. The police were investigating. The coroner arrives. There is a pastor talking to people. A sheet draped body is removed on a gurney. What they don’t see is the start of a significant spiritual battle.
As a believer and follower of Christ, I accept there is an unseen spirit world. Believers know that if Christ cast out demons, they must exist. There are several recordings of Jesus casting out, or rebuking demons. Matthew 8:28-34 records the familiar story of Him casting demons out of two men, the demons fleeing to the swine, and the swine running over a cliff and plunging into the sea. Mark 16:9 references Him casting out seven demons from Mary Magdalene.
Bryan was 23 when he died. He was single, no significant other in the picture. This left me with the responsibility for his funeral arrangement and expenses. It also created an excellent opportunity for spiritual oppression. The grief, the exhaustion, the stress all create a distraction, and in that moment, that single blink of an eye, the oppressing spirit sees the opportunity.
It may seem confusing to some that a believer would be successfully targeted by an oppressive spirit. After all, isn’t the believer watched over by the Lord and filled with the Holy Spirit? Shouldn't that keep the bad spirits away?
Since the creation of man, the Lord God has allowed the choice of following or not. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had the choice to eat or not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That choice was not taken away when they were banished from the garden. No part of the triune God will force you to do anything.
That is where the dark spirits come in. They want to pull us away from the Lord and toward Satan. They look for spiritual weakness. I was weak.
It started slowly. I still got up every morning. I fed the dogs and cats, as usual. I worked daily. I even kept going to church on Sundays. However, my mind was becoming more and more distractible. I kept recalling the discovery of my son. I was thinking more of my sadness and speaking with the Lord less.
Soon I started finding reasons not to work. I stayed at home and sat on the couch. My mind would race with reflections of the past months, and years. Feelings of helplessness began to creep and mingle with the feelings of loss, and anger. The oppressive spirit was surrounding me.
I skipped church on Mother’s Day that year. I almost always received flowers as the youngest mother, and I had no interest in being there. I occasionally talked at the Lord. I would ask him to get me through another day. However, I was not listening for His voice in reply. I just tuned out. The oppressive spirit was getting stronger, darker, braver.
Three months after my son’s death, while steadily succumbing to the oppressive spirit’s cloud of depression and darkness, the Holy Spirit caught my attention. That famous still, small voice caught me in a moment of despair, whispering to my spirit, “Come home.” After months of holding my breath, I exhaled.
With all my years of attending services, occasional teaching, and reading of Scripture, I still did not know just how to get home. I flipped through my Bible yet could not come to the right verses. I tried to sing favorite hymns, but the choruses did not soothe me. In frustration, I began channel surfing my television.
Of the religious shows I considered, one was a man who promoted being Christian, but he was wearing a prayer shawl, with a shofar on the table. Then there was a Catholic nun doing question and answer. That was interesting. I watched her show for about a week. Then I found the evangelical.
This preacher was an associate pastor of the church that built the network. He was about my age. He spoke with such conviction I could not turn the channel. He was telling the story of Bartimaeus, the blind man at the gate.
Bartimaeus, the blind man. He could not see the Lord but he knew he was there. “That’s where I am right now,” I thought. “I know the Lord is there. I know He is. He always is. I just can’t see him.” My heart began to race, and my spirit quickened as the words echoed in my mind.
Bartimaeus, the blind man. He called out to the lord,
“Jesus thou son of David, have mercy.”
The disciples told him to be quiet, to leave Jesus alone. “Yes. Yes!” I thought. “The dark spirits keep telling me to leave Jesus alone. That He doesn’t want to hear from me.”
Bartimaeus was persistent. He knew of Jesus’ teachings. He knew of His miracles. He knew, he had faith, that Jesus would heal him if he could just get His attention. So he “cried so much the more.”
And Jesus stood.
With the gentleness of the dawn a glimmer of light touched my spirit. I only needed to get His attention. How would I do that? “Oh. Could it be that simple,” I thought. I knew the answer. I knew it all along. It was simply hidden by the darkness surrounding me.
Man has not invented a device that measures time so precisely, in such a minute degree, as the time it took from my thought to the act of hitting my knees that day in my living room. As I cried out those words, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy” I collapsed in tears, and the darkness left. The mouth set free. The arms unrestrained. The feet weightless.
Just like that.
I recommitted myself to the Lord that very hour. I am not perfect. I have messed up. However, in the 10 years since my son’s suicide I have not wandered far. I have learned to reach out to Him with every problem I face. I have learned to hear the Spirit as it guides me, even if I fail to listen. Without the Lord I believe I would have been swallowed by the darkness, the oppressive spirit, and would not be here today.