(Originally written 2012)
Recently I was walking from our house to the grocery store. To do that, I have to cross a bridge over the Hudson River. I had been to the post office and library and was thinking how nice it was to be able to walk to everything, because it gave me some serious prayer time. I had been praising God because earlier in the day a friend had called and asked for prayer, and just before my walk had told me that God had met her in that. It had also been a great week of fund raising, and on top of it all, we heard from a friend that they wanted to give us their van. In other words, it was a time of great thanksgiving and praise in my talking with God. I was not depressed or coming to him and pouring my frustrations and anger out (as I have done many times!) This was simply a time of joy with my Father. Then, as I was crossing the bridge, it was as if I physically bumped into a wall. I almost “bounced back” and in that moment – what was probably just a second or two, but felt like a long time – I heard very clearly voice tell me to kill myself. I actually looked over the side of the bridge.
I was stunned. In the same amount of time that it came to me, it left. There was no fear, no wall anymore. The voice was gone. Yet I was changed completely in that moment.
I have seen and participated in spiritual warfare in many different areas of life. I have heard demons before; seen miraculous healing in people when illnesses were rebuked; I have even seen them in front of me. Yet this incident took me completely off guard. I have never felt it in such an intense way so suddenly. I usually have some sort of warning when it is me personally.
A few years ago our then 7 year old son dealt with these same things – even having voices telling him to kill himself by jumping off the bridge. He suffered from these voices and this torment for several months before finally opening up to Shawn and learning who he was in Jesus. We had been worried about him, but even though we were helping people to learn to walk in freedom themselves, it hadn’t occurred to us that Andrew could be dealing with the same things. When he finally shared with Shawn about an imaginary friend swearing at him and telling him to kill himself, his behavior and lack of emotions made sense. Teaching him to rebuke these things in the name of Jesus Christ, because he believes that Jesus is his savior was a powerful, emotional time for us as his parents.
And here I was, hearing almost the same thing. It broke my heart to think that my son had been tormented by this for so long before experiencing freedom. And it made me realize that all the “senseless acts” that we see in this world are really not senseless at all in the minds of people doing them. If they are being told and learning to believe something, it will eventually play out in their lives.
Hear me, friends – I am not saying that everything evil in this world is attributed to demons. There is the fact that we live in a broken world. There is sin, darkness, brokeness, and the flesh that we fight each day. Though the events that happened in the last few days are obvious examples of evil in this world, I am not going to get into an argument of gun control, mental illness treatment, spiritual warfare, and the moral state of this world. (I believe there is some part of all of that – and more. It is not a simple matter) But I have to ask from my experience on the bridge, if I didn’t have the Holy Spirit living in me; if Andrew hadn’t had parents praying with and for him, and people teaching him about who he is in Christ- if these things hadn’t been factors in my life up to that point (or in Andrew’s life) what would have stopped me from jumping? The urge was so strong momentarily, if I did not have that hope that only those in Jesus have – then what? What would have stopped Andrew from killing himself – or being one of those horrific stories that we were reading about this weekend?
My heart aches for this world. I have been crying all weekend as I think about those families and the children that were victims of such cruelty. I think about some of the stories of the kids that my friends doing ministry in downtown Troy interact with and the heaviness is so thick that it seems hopeless. My thoughts go to stories of people all over the world – friends, family, people I don’t know. Refugees, people killed by their own government, unwanted babies, orphanages filled with unloved children, hospitals brimming with sickness and death, hatred, violence, and greed. And I repeat the words that I have seen on Facebook so often this week and been singing in my head. “And in despair I bowed my head. ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said. For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth good will to men,”
But that’s not the end of the story. My story isn’t over, and didn’t end that day in death. Andrew’s story continues, and I watch him grow and shine and love Jesus and really understand freedom and how to be a warrior. That song doesn’t end with that verse. The next verse says, “Then rang the bells more loud and deep, ‘God is not dead nor does He sleep. The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, of peace on earth goodwill to men.'” I don’t understand the failings, the sorrow, and the death of this world. But I do know that this story isn’t over. And I am thankful for that – and for all the lessons that he teaches me in those unexpected moments.