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My first direct experience with a demon was when I was eight years old. I grew up in a house that many would call haunted. I called it infested. I have yet to encounter the spirit of someone who has died, but I’ve met lots of demons that like to invoke terror. In the house, things would turn off and on by themselves, there were noises with no explanation, and occasionally someone would see a human-like form only for it to disappear. That was normal, but one night when I was eight, I woke up and saw a hooded figure standing beside my bed. It was simply there. It’s features were carved from deeper and lighter shadow (I used the picture above, a tarp, because it is the best way I could find to illustrate that). I kept a Bible by my bed as a sort of talisman against bad dreams back then. I grabbed the Bible and held it to my chest, and the thing melted away into the floor. After that my mom called in a pastor. The pastor talked to my sister and I about not being afraid and rebuking things like that “in Jesus name” to make them go away and then prayed over the house. The moment the front door shut behind the pastor, the radio next to my sister and I turned on at full volume. So we rebuked it ran down the stairs screaming.

We still weren’t a church going family, even after that. I was eleven when I really began to walk with the Lord and thirteen when we moved. During that time, the things in the house took any opportunity to terrorize me, but I was learning, learning that my actions could make them go. If they didn’t go at the name of Jesus, they left when I prayed or worshipped (worship seems pretty intolerable to them). I was still afraid, but I wasn’t helpless. My God was strong to save.

I used to snicker when people would, in prayer, rebuke the demon of alcoholism or drug addiction. Bah, that’s not a demon. That’s a physical addiction. And it is, but many physical things have spiritual counterparts. My scoffing ended as I teen when I went on a state-side mission trip to Florida with Convoy of Hope. The first night in the hotel room, I was having trouble sleeping. At one point, I looked up and saw a demon perched in the air like he was sitting on a chair. His features were shadow dark on dark except for the end of a “cigarette” that glowed cherry while he “smoked” it and looked at us. He left easy enough when I rebuked him, but in the morning I told my youth pastor about it. He got thoughtful and said that they had run out of regular rooms and put us in a smoking room. We were all in the van when he checked in and hadn’t known there were any issues. After that, I was the one praying against demons of addiction.

My God was strong to save.

I have only seen demonic possession once, and I did not even attempt to rebuke the spirit. I ran and got the evangelist (it was at a youth retreat), as I think most people would when someone starts growling during prayer. The hostile feeling emanating off the young man was palpable, but the evangelist came in with absolute confidence in the Lord. He rebuked and commanded, and I watched the man’s face contort into a different mask each time the main demon left and the next stepped up. I’ve never seen a human face take on features like that before or since. The pressure in the room seemed to change when the last one left the man, and he slumped down, looking exhausted. The evangelist stayed and talked with him afterwards. I doubt he was ever the same. I know that I wasn’t.

There are times and places that seem to be more susceptible to demonic activity. Hypnagogia is the transitional stage between wakefulness and sleep, and it seems to be a particularly Open time. If I’m very tired, I tend get hypnagogic phosphenes (the appearance of lines or specs and the like). Those are totally normal to that transitional stage, but only in certain locations have those phosphenes turned into demonic faces. One equally skeptical friend asked if I had negative connotations of the places (like I did of my childhood home), not at all! One of the places was a beautiful house in the middle of the forest, and I was staying there for free! It was idyllic. In that house, I would tell the things to leave, and they would, but more would always come back. One morning after having to clear out the house, I walked out to go to work, only to find that they were all there on the roof, waiting. I asked the Lord about it, and he told me it was because the owner of the property invited them that I could not get them to leave permanently (that doesn’t mean with a seance or Ouija board. Many things can invite demons, often with people unaware). That also helped explain the trouble with my childhood home.

Some seem to drift looking for a “cozy” place to stay.

I don’t know much about the space that demons inhabit, but they seem to like places or people where they have been welcomed/allowed. Some seem to drift looking for a “cozy” place to stay. I am reminded of Jesus’ teaching in Luke 11:24 where an unclean spirit wanders through “dry places” looking for a resting place. Whenever one finds its way into our house (sometimes they come with people, which is different from possession. It’s more like a mobile territory), we cast it out. Then, we ask the Lord to clean and fill our house with his Spirit and peace.

I am not writing about this to draw undue attention to demons or to scare anyone. It is my hope that these stories might encourage you. Be encouraged that you are not alone in your experiences. Yes, demons can be terrifying, but be encouraged because our God will never leave us or forsake us.  Be encouraged because our God is mighty to save, and he is and shall be our Prince of Peace.