Posts Tagged ‘spiritual warfare’

In a field of vibrant wildflowers, I was a dandelion. By 10 it was obvious that my Cuban nose and pre-Julia Roberts red hair was leading me to a comfy seat on the bench of life. In a Christian school, the “in” crowd was still pretty much the same as it was in any school—and is now—the ones who can actually make contact with the kickball, the ones who chat with the teacher during study time, the ones who had obedient hair.

I was plagued with allergies and an average academic brain. My hair brought untold torture—it was curly AND red. When I finally learned how to restrain most of it, my brother called me a rabbi.

My personality matched. I had been having adventures with demons in my bedroom since a young age. Most of all, I just did not have the skills that could catapult me into any type of relationship with a boy or an adult. I was years behind the others, and I hung out with two other girls that shared the same social seat. If John Mayer had been around back then, we might have realized that we were “bigger than our bodies “gave us “credit for.” We hadn’t reached our peak.

My powerlessness is what probably attracted me to the Pentecostal church after college. Baptists are focused on salvation and knowing the words of the Bible by heart. Pentecostals were into what was going on in the spiritual universe.

By the time I did my first mission trip to the Caribbean Islands, the fiction book This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti had taken the Christian world by monsoon. It was a story of a town struggling with sinful people. It showed what happened on earth (what we see) as well as what happens in the “spiritual realm” where demons and angels battle it out with shiny swords for the souls of the people on earth—reminiscent of the religion that preceded Christianity where Zeus and Poseidon fight for mortals.

Having already “seen” these demons, I was very taken with learning how I could get rid of them.

Once you catch on to the demon vs. angles philosophy, so much can be done. I heard stories of demons residing in antique furniture, where people in my church had to get rid of it. A girl violently allergic to strawberries bought some and put them on her kitchen floor and stomped on them claiming the victory of God’s power over the allergy demon. I had a favorite bracelet from Hawaii that a woman said might hold Hawaiian god power. It was a sad day when I cut it off.

Although there is constant talk of the violence in the Islamic scriptures, the Bible is filled with motifs of war, and the need for Christians to gird themselves and prepare for battle. Amazon shows 220 titles with “Spiritual Warfare” in them. For a wimp like me, it is easy to see the attraction to this power that could be mine.

Now everybody and everything contained the power of demons and angles—and they were all after me. I had never been so popular! The power that came with this knowledge was heady.

The verse in Matthew that says “Stand Thee behind me Satan” sunk into my vocabulary. Jesus’ disciple Peter, after Jesus foretold his death, said, “No, that can never happen to you!” Then Jesus replied with the Stand Behind Me command.

If you are churched, you know what power this command has. Just go to a potluck and have a friend come up with chocolate cake and ask if you want any. A sarcastically delivered Stand Behind Me gets all laughing.

But in the day to day struggles of things, it can be a powerful tool for a girl who was always powerless. When thoughts of despair came, I could say those words aloud (only God knows what is in your mind; you have to speak aloud for Satan to hear). When things went wrong with money or friends or parents, I could pray those words aloud, harder and harder to cause the angles to have more power over those demons that were fighting in the realm above me.

In Matthew, Peter (who used to be named Simon) had just declared that he gets it—Jesus is God. Jesus was pleased with this and told Peter that he is blessed. Whatever he binds on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever he looses on earth will be loosed in heaven. Not to mention that Jesus proclaims his CHURCH will be built on Peter.

Then Jesus tells them of his foretold death. When Peter, who must be pretty thrilled over the complements, new name and power Jesus just bestowed on him says—Noooooooo! Jesus snaps right back “Stand Behind Me, Satan.”

Did Peter momentarily become Satan? Or was Satan talking through Peter? If so, what kind of power does that mean Jesus has if 3 verses ago he said that Peter was blessed and the foundation of his church??

I understand the way my Christian friends see me now. I am the one Jesus was talking to. I do “not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” I’ve joined the side of Satan in their eyes.

The battle scenes of demons and angles that I could see in my mind are gone. Although it was a long, fear-filled, worrisome road–it was, as if,  I turned the channel. Poof. Gone. And with changing channels (or cable providers et al) I have blossomed into a career person, mother and wife with goals and (hopefully) a kind heart.

That is why I am rereading all the things that made so much sense to me when I was younger. I want to read it without the visions of supernatural beings fighting for my soul. I want to read it without fear that God knows my thoughts and Satan is ready to lunge at me.

I want to look at it anew from a confident place where my nightmares are gone, my insecurities have vanished, I look less like a Hassidic Priest…and have no more allergies and see what it can offer me.