It is just before dinner on Tuesday evening [1.11.11] and as a community we rally around one of our own who isn’t feeling well. Collectively, we pray for health, strength and freedom. Some are praying in tongues, some in English, but regardless of the language we are speaking, the hope is that we are all praying in the Spirit. “In the Spirit” is a lifestyle that I am becoming more comfortable with, much like your favorite pair of shoes; when you first purchased them they needed to be broken in, but now you don’t even remember the blisters because they feel natural to walk in. [more about this in a bit…] While lifting up our sister in prayer, I was overwhelmed by a heavy heart, which produced in me the feeling of being agitated and short tempered. My heart knew that something was not ok, but my brain had no idea what the issue was. As my fuse burned, the agitation turned into a desire to protect; one of my family members was not ok, and I wanted to fight for them. This feeling in my heart became so intense that I almost screamed,
“Go to hell, satan; you are not welcome in this house!”
In my mind, an outburst like that would have been slightly out of line and that insecurity, coupled with God’s sovereignty encouraged me to keep my mouth shut and continue to pray for her heart and physical health.
As dinner was being served and enjoyed by the 20+ members of our G42 family, I was the last to get my plate and start eating; I couldn’t quite shake the heavy feeling upon my heart. My eyes were glazed over and my face was expressionless. Two seats to my left was occupied by my friend Michael who looked at me and asked, “Are you ok, man?” “Not really” I replied, and continued by saying, “My heart is super heavy and I am not sure why…” About 30 minutes go by and I begin collecting the plates and stacking them in the kitchen as an attempt to escape and try to figure out why I had this feeling… still nothing. By this time, we have passed an hour and a half from the time where this story began and all eyes and ears are fixed on Andrew Shearman, the founder of G42. Andrew is 66 years old, hair with 2 times more salt than pepper, a voice that has shaken mountains, and some of the most intriguing stories my ears have ever heard. He is mid story, speaking about a spiritual encounter of freedom he had with a 6’7”, Italian man named Franky who was an ex East L.A. gang-member. In a moment of spiritual truth, Franky was freed from 16 years of bondage to his old life-style, and amidst this story, without much place, Andrew says, “Remember, when you are dealing with demons, make sure the person wants to be free or else you will just be wasting your time.” I had heard this information before in a series on Spiritual Warfare by Mark Driscoll, and although the information was familiar, it seemed out of place in the story.
Our laughs turn into one of humanities least favorite things, goodbye’s. Andrew is leaving the next morning for 10 days, and our teacher for the week, Seth Barnes and his wife Karen are also heading back to the States on an early morning flight. Goodbye’s turned into small talk as our guests of honor made their exit. I walked Andrew outside and gave him a big hug; the kind of hug a boy gives his father to simply say, “I love you”. As Andrew and I separated, he took a step back, looked at me and said, “Now, I’m going to need you to step up and be a leader for this community while I’m gone.” “Yes sir, I already have and I will continue” I replied. After expressing our mutual appreciation for one another, I asked him to tell his wife hello for me and I stepped back into the house, shut the door and made my way back into the family room.
My heart is still uneasy at this point and is becoming frustrated at the idea that I may not be able to figure out why it is so heavy.
Another one of our sisters had asked if she could take a few minutes and speak her story to all of us; she wanted to bring her story into the light and believed that our ears would help her do just that. As she tells her story, there is mention of false accusation towards her father in the realm of sexual molestation, attempted suicide, and the face of a demon that she had seen and had some sorts of spiritual encounters with. My heart was anxious and uncomfortable, if hearts are able to sweat, mine was surely sweating those cold, uncomfortable beads of sweat that you get just before a break up. In my back pocket is a mini Moleskine notepad that has been deemed my “Blue’s Clues Notebook”, I use this mini Moleskine to jot down ideas, remember people to pray for, and hold my grocery lists. Within my anxiety, I reached into my back pocket and pulled out this notepad, I also drew my ink filled sword, otherwise known as a pen. Not completely sure what I am going to do with my notepad at that moment, I stay tuned in to the vulnerability and honesty that is being shared in the form of a story. Although I am trying to stay fully focused on each word as it is vocally projected from her mouth, I can’t seem to escape her admission of the demon that has showed up within her mind/heart. The demon had communicated to her at an earlier time that “she [the demon] had been assigned to destroy her”. Now, I am only catching every third word as my heart begins to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and I am becoming overwhelmed with two questions…
- Do you want to be alive, not just living, but fully alive?
- Do you know the name of the demon?
Allow me to share with you my heart in this moment… I have never personally seen anyone deal with demons, and although I had heard stories from very trustworthy mouths, I hadn’t seen it for myself. Just a couple days before this, I was sharing this very frustration with some of the staff and a couple interns with G42 by saying, “I believe that it happens, I just want to see it.” Without missing a beat off of my statement, one of the staff members, Steph says, “Maybe God is just waiting for you to do it…” These words are swirling in my head like water as it funnels into a drain. By this time, the storyteller has finished sharing her heart with her new community, and I am overwhelmed with a heat that floods through my gut as I make the move from indecision to decision.
And before I can pull the words back into my mouth, I ask, “Do you want to be alive, not just living, but fully alive?’ She replied with some form of, “I’m not sure.” and before resolving the first question to a “Yes!” [which did happen] I asked, “Do you know the name of the demon?” She replies, yes… her name is Shelia.
Right then, I knew Steph knew something about my story that I was yet to find out and it was go time! I got up out of my chair and walked over to this sister in the Lord and I sat in a different chair that was conveniently placed right in front of her. Our community rallied around her in prayer and petition as her and I went through a few questions between one another and in a brilliant yell and step towards freedom, Shelia was commanded under the authority of Jesus Christ to go back to hell, where she had come from… After about 2 hours and 4 names, our sister was FREE!!! In a whirlwind of tears, fear, confession, rebuke, laughter, joy and relent, she was able to fully believe that God LOVES her. “God LOVES me…” she confessed repeatedly and the more this truth gripped onto her heart, the more she was able to give her hand to the Father!
Her entire life had been spent in oppression, guilt, shame, doubt and fear, all in hells attempt to keep her from believing that God loves her and created her on purpose, with a purpose. But now she is free, because she knows the power of grace; she has felt, tasted, seen and experienced the relentless love of God.
I only pray you would do the same. We fight so many fights in the name of love, however, in light of God’s love, all of the other matches are as pointless as shadow boxing in a pitch black room. I beg you, right now, to say, “God Loves ME!” Repeat it as many times as you need, until the moment of freedom happens, when your finger slips away from the enemy’s hand of doubt and clings to the Father’s hand of grace.