I wanted a mission…and for my sins God gave me one

                            Ain't you???

                            Ain't you???

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)

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” (Jesus, recorded in Matthew 12:43-45)

There is a big elephant in the room. An elephant made of thick but invisible glass.  We bump and hurt ourselves on that elephant and the elephant tramples and destroys at will.  We have been conditioned and groomed to ignore it. It doesn’t fit the Western mindset. The dangerous elephant in the room is demonic possession.

 

                          We don't mind this pretty elephant in the room.

                          We don't mind this pretty elephant in the room.

This is a tough concept to fully accept.  And if you suspect you know a person like that, you will try all other explanations, for years, until finally it’s the only formula left on the blackboard.  It’s painful, difficult and depressing start to finish.  Scary too. I know a person like that. 

There was someone in my life that I desired to have a good relationship with but time and time again, there were fights, conflicts, insults, and often I declared I would never speak to that person again.  The cycle went around and around as the years went by.

When an impure spirit comes out of a person…

Suddenly: A miracle. The beginning of Matthew 12:43 occurred.  Harmony, peace and friendship moved in, stayed and thrived.  For a whole year - a record!  I was happy, thankful, even celebrating.

And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.

But then Matthew 12:45 hit.  One day, this person exploded in a reaction that was incomprehensible, in fact unrecognizable as human. As I listened to the devastating words being hurled at me, I saw our precious relationship crumbling to pieces and irretrievably dissipating like fog, gone like it never existed. This traumatizing experience was a deal breaker and I could not justify having any more trust, hope or interest in this person.  I withdrew – yet a few more mindbogglers made it through my security layers. Even after tragedy struck there was no awakening or softening.  This person would never learn, never change, never quit. The chronic accusations were undermining my value and identity and would ultimately render me useless in my mission and purpose in life.  While one could argue whether my mission consists of being a wife, a medical aid worker, local volunteer, or a combination of the above, I am certain what my mission is NOT:  Being destroyed, tormented and accused by a person who I concluded after many years, has a demon.  My mission is not being one person’s emotional punching bag.  My mission is not being the “Chronically Accused”, which had become my middle name.

Chronically accusing is not God’s business or interest, but it’s Satan’s:

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. (Revelation 12:10)

After my best and my all were still not good enough, I had nothing left to try. Therefore, I got up and walked off the job as Chronically Accused, Scapegoat and Whipping Boy.  So much more time, strength and energy for what really matters.

 

Demon possession – rampant back in the day.  Is it really extinct?

When Jesus walked the earth 2000 years ago, besides healing diseases non-stop, he also drove out demons non-stop.  I had never caught on before how widespread the problem was. Did the demon-possessed voluntarily come to Jesus for help?  Did they more or less agree to be led or semi-dragged to Him by concerned family and friends?  Did Jesus drive out demons against the person’s will? (Asking for a friend.) Even the crazy-violent man living among the tombs who had a Legion of demons, ran to Jesus when he saw him from afar, even while he and the demons were battling for control over him.  Somehow the man recognized and accepted Jesus’ heavenly position and authority.  (So did the demons.  Funny how bullies crumble when confronted.)  Is that the other component – accepting Jesus’ authority??? (Again, asking for a friend.)

When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!”  For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”  Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.”  (Mark 5:2-9)

2000 years later diseases are not extinct.  Why would demons be?  Is demon possession an old-timey Middle Eastern thing that has since died out like a fragile butterfly species? That doesn’t make any sense. 

Motivated by my strange ordeal, I eventually found what is a massive amount of information online and in literature on the subject.  In fact, it’s another ginormous elephant – the kind that must be eaten one bite at a time.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1Peter 5:8)

Over a long period of learning, pondering and observing, I have come to the conclusion that demon possession is what psychology calls “malignant narcissism”. This is not the narcissism that is obsessed with selfie sticks or status symbols, but the kind that steals, kills and destroys.  The vile, parasitic kind that is prowling around for victims.  The kind that decent and kind folk cannot fathom to exist and therefore fall prey to.  These soul vampires are everywhere: in our offices, families, and neighborhoods.  They are excellent imitators of humans, top-tier manipulators, and ice-cold murderers of individuals, relationships, families, marriages, careers, reputations as well as mental, emotional, and physical health.

I have listened to and read accounts and opinions of countless survivors and experts (and those who are both). Some are self-studied on the subject - some have Ph.D.s, some male - some female, some young - some middle-aged and up, people from all corners of the world, with a variety of religious backgrounds and beliefs, or lack thereof.  Interestingly, they use the same handful of terms to describe these people:  Evil. Demonic. Reptilian. Non-human.  Pretty much this:

And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:9)

In all my research, I’m yet to learn that malignant narcissism is curable with modern medicine. In fact, it is often reiterated that it is not, when so many other mental and emotional conditions are at least manageable with medication and therapy.  Malignant narcissism is not manageable. It never quits and always goes too far.  At best, it is barely impressed (more annoyed) with consequences. 

 

What a waste of time!

A bigger waste of time than majoring in 19th Century French Poetry!

A bigger waste of time than majoring in 19th Century French Poetry!

The above personal story is not my only encounter of this sort.  When I was much younger, I maneuvered myself into a miry pit of misery.  It took me 5 frustrating years to declare total bankruptcy on my life.  I had maxed out my potential, nothing else was coming.  The rest of my life would be spent enduring a low-quality relationship and treating my remaining 50 or so years as a life sentence in a jail of disappointment and pointlessness.

 

Choose this day which Gate of Hell to Crash

After those 5 “lost” years, I had a moment of clarity. I made a New Life contract with myself, which required an exit plan from my Old Life contract.  I was wasting my years, health and life with the sole purpose of enabling a rotten, selfish human being to have the best of all worlds, have his cake and eat it too, doing as he pleased 24/7.  Not a good return on my investment.  I decided that if I had to waste my years, health and life, it would be for a better cause - like curing diseases or helping the poor.  Yeah, I would not mind laying down my life – if it made the world a better place! But I would choose myself which Gate of Hell to enter.

                “I don’t wanna win.  I just want to make the world a better place.” (Hit-Girl)

                “I don’t wanna win.  I just want to make the world a better place.” (Hit-Girl)

It is that statement in my New Life contract that landed my resume on God’s desk.  Technically, I was utterly unqualified to work in God’s vineyard (to borrow from one of Jesus’ parables).  I was a hostile atheist, the kind that spewed the echo chamber clichés a la “Religion is the opium of the masses” and “Religion is a crutch for the weak” or the intellectually deep “Christians are brainwashed idiots”.   Pretty funny coming from the one whose life was a trash heap by age 25. 

"The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” (Jesus, recorded in Matthew 9:37)

Maybe God had a sense of humor, maybe there weren’t many resumes on His desk that week, but He went for it. Within one year, I liberated myself from this terrible person, met my future husband, David, who invited me to church a first time (“no, thank you”), then a second time (“OK, I’ll be polite, go once and get it over with”), and unexpectedly became a believer within the first 5 minutes of the church service, during the opening remarks of one pastor Chuck Cooper.

Since I did not know my Pokemon from my Philemon (which I pronounced File-ee-mon), David got me a bible which I started devouring, making up for lost time. 

Book of Philemon - better with a kitten in it.  

Book of Philemon - better with a kitten in it.

 

My resume may have started to look a bit more respectable but it didn’t matter. The snowball was already rolling, getting bigger and faster. David and I got into local missions of all sorts and volunteered for many different roles at our church in the course of our 20 years there.  Somewhere in there, we moved to Honduras as full-time medical missionaries.  What we thought would be our life destination ended up being hardcore prep time for the next stage:  Creating our own medical & dental NGO and traveling around the world with dozens of medical, dental and other teams and hundreds of volunteers.  Our gigs have taken us to islands, jungles, deserts, gang-run neighborhoods, slums, orphanages, refugee camps and to conflict and war zones.

Wait. Wasn’t that in my New Life contract? “I decided that if I had to waste my years, health and life, it would be for a better cause - like curing diseases or helping the poor.  Yeah, I would not mind laying down my life – if it made the world a better place! But I would choose myself which Gate of Hell to enter.”

David and I are well aware that despite using common sense and every safety rule we have ever learned from our friends in the security business, our mission lifestyle may cost us health, limb or life sooner or later.  We live in a small, unfinished rental fixer-upper in the hinterlands of Kentucky, with mostly hand-me-down furniture. Yet we are among the richest 1% when it comes to life purpose and the accompanying bona fide adventures and authentic exotic experiences.  We also feel as the “richest 1%” in satisfaction and lack of regret (and not everything has gone textbook). Our cup is filled to overflowing because we have stuffed more than a life’s worth into the last 20 years. We have already won.

The Enemy, the Ancient Dragon, the Serpent, the Devil, Satan will fight you, distract you, tangle you up, try to possess you, trap you, trip you, make soul contracts, anything and everything to keep you from living life to the fullest, from a life with purpose, legacy and satisfaction.  You don’t have to have a stellar resume to change the world, heal the sick, help the poor, fight the cause of oppressed and bind up the brokenhearted.  Neither do you have to search far and wide for them. 

Be aware at all times that you’re at war with powerful, invisible, evil forces.

Put on the armor of God.  What’s that?                                                                                                        Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-17)

Stop wasting time (on the wrong hell).

Pick your hell - or in the words of Mother Theresa: "Find your own Calcutta."

Find your tribe. 

Submit your resume to God.  It may be the only one He gets that week.                                                  The fields are ripe but the workers are few and God always needs workers for His vineyards, even late in the day.  You show up, you’re hired.  Pay is still good even then.                                         The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard                                                                                                       “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.                       About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’  So they went.             He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing.                      About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’                                                                                   When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’                  But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’      “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Jesus in Matthew 20:1-16)

 Go. Do. (David Sperow)

-- Marty