“O” is for OVERPOWERED by the “Underpowered” (Why I Believe in Spiritual Warfare)

O Recently, I’ve witnessed somebody I love – somebody whose walk with Christ is solid – becoming overpowered by an invisible “underpower.”

If you don’t believe in the negative forces that share this world with us, I understand.

In fact, I wouldn’t blame you for running for the door right now. Nor, would I be surprised if I heard you whispering, “Crazy blog lady,” as you hustled away.

That’s okay.

No hard feelings.

I’ve been in your shoes. I understand what you may be thinking, as you realize what this crazy lady (yours truly) is referring to.

But, I’m willing to live with a few people thinking I’m nuts when I say …

I believe that perfectly intelligent people can be effected by evil forces, invisible to the naked eye.

WHISPERS ON WILLOWBROOK

It was October 2007. We’d lived in our house on Willowbrook Avenue since mid-2000, and had yet to call it “home.”Willowbrook 1

The house was beautiful and, with five bedrooms, it was large enough for our recently blended family of eight.

Almost immediately, a “presence” could be felt within the walls. Of course, we didn’t consider the air of oppressiveness a “presence” at the time, but there was no denying that something was “off”.

“I love this house,” I remember telling Ed, several months after moving in, “but it doesn’t feel like home.”

“We probably just need to give it more time,” he answered, rightfully explaining that we were all still adjusting to our new, much larger family and the many challenges that accompanied blended families (with six young children and two ex-spouses).

Although we were both Christians when we wed, Ed and I had allowed our spiritual walk to dwindle as we focused on our chaotic lives, complete with cheerleading practice, baseball, soccer, gymnastics, color guard, swim team … the list goes on.

I won’t even mention the numerous events, financial burdens, and out-of-town competitions we were juggling, along with our full-time jobs.

We simply didn’t have time for God and the additional activities with which church would surely burden us.

In the hustle, we failed to realize that we were fueling the evil presence which had dwelled in our house before we moved in and, of course, remained there after our arrival.

To describe all of the “otherworldly” tales would require a novel so, for brevity’s sake, I’ll share a few incidences in the form of bullet points.

Here’s a short list, illustrating a handful of events our family experienced during our first seven years on Willowbrook:

  • Two suicide attempts
  • Pets being too spooked to go into certain rooms
  • Voices throughout the house, when nobody else was home
  • Violent pounding on doors

But, even with the creepy things we were experiencing, nothing explained – nor overshadowed – the oppressive feeling that seemed to stifle the joy of every person who dwelled under that roof.

TIRED FROM THE ATTACK

Fast forward to late 2007.

After seven years on Willowbrook, life had nearly broken us all in one way or another. Although a near-tragedy occurred in the house in October of 2001, which prompted us to begin attending church regularly, by 2007, we had again fallen prey to “other priorities.”

But, one horrible night in October, something happened in the house which would change everything for us … forever.

The doors where we often heard the most violent pounding

The doors where we often heard the most violent pounding

To describe the event would take too long and throw us off track, but suffice it to say, we were scared and, as before, we decided to return to the one safe place we were sure of – church.

That week, our home church was conducting a mid-week service specific to some special topic. I don’t remember what the subject-matter was, but I do recall being excited to attend and feeling like it was something that might help us to get back on track, spiritually.

I went with one of my family members, who I’ll call Sam.

Sam and I arrived as the service was starting. It was a packed house, so we ended up sitting at a small table, in the far corner of the sanctuary.

Toward the end, the pastor made a request I’d never heard from him before.

“Everybody, please go stand near somebody,” he said. “Let’s spend some time praying for each other.”

Sam and I looked at each other apprehensively. This was not something we were particularly interested in doing. After all, it was awkward and uncomfortable praying aloud with a bunch of strangers, especially about the very personal issues we were facing.

After some hesitation, we reluctantly walked to where three women stood, about ten feet away from us.

Uneasily, we joined their huddle and each of us took turns giving and receiving prayer. Even though this was my first time praying aloud with people whom I didn’t know, it actually felt good!

When it was Sam’s turn to ask for prayer, Sam mentioned that he/she had been fighting some internal battles and would appreciate prayer for strength.

(Without revealing details, let me assure you that Sam had been behaving in a manner completely out of character and it was hurting Sam, as well as the rest of the family. Sam was obviously dealing with something that none of us could understand, including Sam! It was what provoked the horrible incident that led us back to church.)

After the ladies prayed, we returned to our seats.

As soon as we settled back in, I noticed a pungent odor coming from Sam’s direction. I’ll never be able to adequately describe the scent, as it was nothing I’ve ever smelled. The only word that comes to mind is toxic.

Hoping to mask the foul odor, I slipped a piece of spearmint gum to Sam, who immediately got the hint and began chewing. But, the gum didn’t help at all. In fact, it may have exacerbated matters.

Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer and I asked, “Are you okay? What’s that smell?”

“When did you first notice it?” Sam asked.

“Right after we sat back down,” I whispered.

“Hm,” Sam answered. “That’s weird.”

Sam proceeded to tell me that, as the last lady was praying, a putrid taste filled Sam’s mouth. After the taste appeared, Sam was overcome with a strange sense of … relief.

The staircase, where many people claimed to feel weighted down

The staircase, where many people claimed to feel “weighted down”

MAYBE THERE’S SOMETHING TO THIS

As we got ready for bed that night, Ed and I talked about what had taken place at the church.

“I think what happened tonight is bigger than we realize,” Ed said.

I agreed with him.

The next day at work, Ed confided the experience to a friend, who happened to be a dedicated Christian.

“That’s what occurs when an evil entity is released,” Ed’s friend explained.

Ed and I never believed in that stuff. It was crazy talk!

But, after everything that had happened in our house, we were beginning to think it was crazier not to believe!

By now, the strange experiences had become an uncomfortable reality and we were all dealing with it, even our five year-old son.

“Maybe we should pray over the house,” Ed finally suggested, realizing that this was not in the scope of normal operations for us, “and we need to start with the attic.”

Every member of the family, as well as occasional guests, had described an eerie feeling when they walked into the garage, where the attic hatch was located.

Our pets avoided going out there and when we made them, they would often freeze in place, looking up at the attic’s entrance and refusing to move.

HISTORY IN THE ATTIC

A couple of months after we bought the house, the man we purchased it from was all over the news.

He was a public bus driver in a busy metropolitan area a couple of hours away. He’d been caught on tape, molesting a young boy in the back of the bus. The child, who was visiting from a foreign country and touring the area with his video camera, was the last passenger on the bus that day and had stealthily switched the camera on, as the assault was taking place.

As the story evolved, additional tales of abuse and wickedness were revealed. We learned that some horrible things had taken place in our house before we moved in and realized why the man had refused to let us see the attic during our initial home tours.

Evidence later showed that the previous owner had used the attic as a dark room, developing photographs of his victims and hanging them on clothes wires, strung throughout an entire corner of the loft.

We couldn’t have known that evil had been invited in before we took ownership of the house, nor could we have realized that a malicious spirit had already taken possession of the Willowbrook property prior to our arrival … and was intent on sinking its claws into our family.

Strangely, the clothes lines, along with dozens of clothes pens, remained in the attic for years after we bought the house. For some reason, we never removed them. Thinking on it now, I can’t explain why. That’s something we would normally have done immediately … clean out the remnants of the former owners, clear away unnecessary clutter, and make the space ours.

FIGHTING A FREIGHT TRAIN

Ed and I sat crossed-legged in the dark attic. Our only form of light was a dim lantern which hung from a rafter.

“So … I guess we just pray,” Ed said.

We held hands and bowed our heads, as I began.

“ … In the name of Jesus. Amen.”

Then, it was Ed’s turn.

He declared that the Willowbrook dwelling, and all who were within it, were protected by the blood of Jesus Christ. He affirmed that evil had no control over us and he commanded whatever was not of God to leave.

At that, a scream, which I can only compare to a deafening freight train, rattled the dark room. Ed and I looked up from our prayer, wide-eyed, then immediately bowed our heads and returned to prayer, as the shriek seemed to encircle us.

Then.

Suddenly.

It was silent.

We removed the clothes lines and pens, and crawled down from the attic, feeling spiritually and even physically … lighter.

HOME SWEET HOME

Ed and I didn’t tell our kids about what happened in the attic until many years later. Even so, they immediately knew that something had changed.

The day after the “freight train” departed, two of the kids came home from school and said, “The house feels different.”

They were right.

If it were possible, the house actually looked brighter inside.

Instantly, the oppression had lifted. Laughter and joy became a regular part of our family. Fortunately, those positive memories are what our children hold onto from those years.

At last, we were a happy family and our individual spirits were finally free to live as God had intended.

We never again heard the violent banging on doors or strange voices. No more shadows floated around in the dark. And our pets were happy!

A NEVER-ENDING BATTLE

Thankfully, our family has not faced warfare on that level since the night in the attic, yet we are continually reminded that satan is persistent.

1 Peter 5:8 (NIV) 

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

In fact, I’ve seen the signs of his prowling this week. That’s what prompted me to write about this for my “O” post.

Satan is trying to penetrate the spirits of those I deeply love. I’ve learned to recognize when the evil one is beginning to infiltrate our Christ-promised peace and I don’t take it (or him) lightly.

Of course, it’s an individual choice whether or not to believe the “stories”. Ed and I turned away from the “silliness” for years. Our family, our marriage, and our well-being suffered for it.

These days, I encourage everybody to keep their eyes out for the signs.

You don’t have to hear doors rattling in the night. In fact, evil’s presence is rarely that obvious.

When somebody you love is behaving in a manner that’s extremely out of character, when events, circumstances, and words seem to be piling up against you, when you’re feeling an overbearing weight on your spirit that you can’t seem to lift, that’s when I say, be alert.

Every bad thing we experience is not the work of satan (don’t give him that much credit.) But, when you know there’s more to it … when the normal frustrations of the world are unusually grueling, use your God-given power to repel the influences (attacks) of evil on your life and the lives of your loved ones.

I’m so thankful that we experienced those years of turmoil, when wickedness penetrated our family.

Had we not been overpowered by this underpower, we never would have realized our ultimate power!

Evil 1God has given all who love Him the authority to overpower satan. We may be mere mortals, but our souls have supernatural spiritual strength!

I encourage you to crush evil under your feet through faith in Christ, sincere prayer, and diligence!

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