August 17, 2019
I looked my demon in the eye during the night. Kind of literally.
There may people who read this account and believe that there is a scientific
explanation for it. I will not deny that
there very well could be, and I have no qualms in believing that the mind of
Stephen Selke conjured up the parts that seem supernatural. However, whether it was all in my head or not
should not affect the deeper truth I am trying to convey with this story.
Do you ever experience moments when you are not sure whether you are awake or asleep? Perhaps you “dream” that you are in bed, waking
up. I’ve had moments where my eyes were
kind of open and my mind was awake enough to perceive my surroundings, but not
be able to move because the rest of my body was still under the paralysis that
comes with sleep. Fortunately, that isn’t
a regular occurrence for me. But that
also makes what happened at approximately 1:30 AM this morning even more (dare
I call it) special.
I recall lying in the bed on my stomach (how I like to sleep), having
the words “I surrender all,” a song I like, repeat in my head. I’m not sure if that came before or after the
sensation of feeling a breeze on my face – which is kind of disconcerting as I
listened intently for the sound of a fan or a source of airflow and be able to
tell from the silence coming from the room around me that there was no fan on
me. I always become hyperaware of the
spiritual realm when I feel movement of air in times such as that. Soon I felt something touching me on the sides of my arms and the top back. It was not painful – as my nightmares about demonic
forces can be. It could easily be compared
to the sensation of a person pressing their hands there, not hard, and not like
a caress or like a massage, but gently, perhaps to wake a person up without
startling them, or to let them know that they are present. For those of you who aren't aware - I live completely on my own, and I'm quite unaccustomed to anyone touching me while I sleep.
I don’t know why I turned my head from the left to the right. But when I did, I saw my demon staring back
at me. It was only there for a short
moment, and whether it was because it was so close, or because of the blur of
darkness, or the blur of my own eyes, I didn’t see it with the distinct
clearness as I see the letters on this page as I type. Yet I saw it distinctly enough, a translucent
image staring back at me, behind it was a curled up corner of my blanket and
the orange light of the digital numbers on my bedside clock. In a moment, my blanket and clock was all
that I could see, and yet I could not forget what my demon looked like.
The demon had a singular eye: a glowing robotic blue one. It appeared more like some futuristic robot
or an arcane golem than a creature out of Hell from the comics. Do not worry about the description, how spiritual
beings – or the mind’s construct of them – appear is a topic to itself. Suffice it to say that it represented to me
the face of something evil, even though it appeared very non-threatening.
Non-threatening, so I wasn’t afraid after the image of it faded
away. The reason I wasn’t afraid perhaps
had three aspects to it:
I’m a Christian, and the Holy Spirit in me is far bigger than any army of demons
I didn’t believe it was the kind of demon that
aimed to physically harm, which is connected to the next point…
…the reason I labeled it as “my” demon in this
While I may resent the demon itself, I did not resent the seeing
of it. In fact, it seemed rather fitting
– a just punishment as well as a reminder of certain truths. I recognized what it represented (you may not
see the connection, but there’s this thing about dreams where the dreamer has
an understanding of a thing in it even without sensory cues).
I wish I could say that I read the Bible every night before going to
bed – which is a goal that I have: memorizing verses in order to renew my mind
and draw near to God. Last night,
however, the minutes leading up to my going to bed were filled with me entertaining
and numbing my mind with pointless games and passions. So, when the words, “I surrender all” swam
through my head, it was more of a deep desire than a record of past behaviour. To me, demons can be described as the
personification of lies (not that any of us could describe a being in the spiritual realm with that kind of finality). I welcomed that lie to bed to
me. The lie that said that satisfaction
could come from the superficial, that it was at all okay to turn my back on the
commands that God gave me. It was “my”
demon because I recognized its presence in a sense even as I tapped on my iPad.
I wish I could say that I have since slew that demon for
good. The way to combat lies is with the
truth, and so when I woke myself more fully, I spoke truth from the Bible (thinking
it as the sword of the Spirit), “thy shall have no gods
before God.” I had been putting my own
pleasure above seeking to do the will of God.
By doing so, I was not only focusing on essentially an idol, but I was
robbing myself of the pleasure of taking my rest in God.
Alas, those words that I spoke with my arms swinging down on my
bed were not enough to keep the demon away for long.
Today, I found myself yet again in the grasp of the demon once more. That is why I am not so quick to criticize
others in their failings: I know very
well the stakes and the enemy, and yet I still fail to do something about
it. This time my failure took the form
of playing a game on my computer.
My demon wasn’t about hurting me as much as it was about
protecting its own side from me. It was
about pacifying me so that I wouldn’t pray.
I can’t help but have two illustrations come to mind when I think of this particular demon to. Don’t worry if you don’t get the references – the fact that I am able to allude
to the two pieces of fiction at all is in itself proof that I spent too much
time being pacified by my demon.
On the animated show “RWBY,” there are creatures that could be compared to
demons. They are called “Grimm.” There is a particular kind of Grimm that
seem unique among the Grimm. Its name is “Apathy,” and they lure the people near them to complacency and sleep by
draining their will. Those who fell
asleep would inevitably die, robbed of strength to do anything whatsoever.
In a completely different realm of fiction, in the ninja world of
“Naruto,” there is an ability called “genjutsu.” (I need to put an aside here
and acknowledge how the lore of Naruto is based on a belief system filled with their own kind of dangerous lies). Genjutsu is an
illusionary technique meant to fool the senses of the target. I can’t help but recall how early in the
narrative, most of the spectators in a stadium are put to sleep by a genjutsu,
and only those who are alert or trained stay awake. The truth was the village was under attack,
and only a select group was awake to do anything about it.
It’s so easy to get trapped in the enemy’s own genjutsu on
us. We set our priorities according to what we feel like doing, often influenced by our current purely physical mood and senses. Yet, something more is revealed to us when we
break into reality. We are in a war.
“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 (NIV)
Perhaps what gave me the final bit of
motivation I needed to break free from my game and record this account tonight
was listening to accounts from real historic physical warfare. The storyteller was mentioning how there was
multiple accounts of alcohol being used to disable potential threats.
I think of how we often behave as
Christians. We may not get drunk on
alcohol, but we can be just as disabled by our own poisons.
“Anything that refreshes you
without distracting you from, diminishing or destroying your final goal in life
is a legitimate pleasure.” ~ Ravi Zacharias
whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
~ James 4:17 (ESV)
I prayed for help to fight my demon,
many, many times in the past. I believe
that God let me see an image of it in order to help me more clearly see what I
was up against, and to motivate me to sound the alarm of opposing forces to
anyone who would care to listen.
I just about ended the post there, but I felt the need to say just a bit more. It's dangerous to focus too much on the demonic. Yes, they are a threat, but it's much more helpful to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus. He loves us, and he wants to do great things through us! Let us not think of this war we are in as oppression, but as opportunity! If you call Jesus your God and Saviour, then you are on the winning side!
*Update: please read my follow-up post that I wrote a week later: I Saw the Light