“Uuummm, so exactly how long have you been sick?” the wide eyed, shocked looking MRI technician asked as she looked at the completed pictures.
When I asked her what she had seen on the scan of my abdomen, she fumbled around for words and quickly assured me the doctor would be getting back with me asap.
Well, THAT wasn’t a very comforting answer!
After months of pain, a swelling abdomen and no answers, the scan confirmed it was a football sized cyst growing on the outside of my liver and it needed to be surgically removed. I wasn’t shocked at the news, just ready to be done with it and trusted my doctor to do what was necessary to get rid of it. Jesus was in control anyway!
The plan was a laparoscopic extraction of the cyst which meant three poke holes and inflation of the abdomen by pumping in carbon dioxide.
I’m very thankful to report it was just a cyst and nothing dangerous. Thank you, Lord!
Had I known, however, there would be residual effects of the carbon dioxide absorbing into my system, I could have prepared better. The dissipation of the CO2 included a mental and physical battle that I didn’t know I had to wage.
Pain like I had never experienced came in waves. The muscles in my abdomen would seize and hold for anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. They were like contractions at the height of childbirth that didn’t wane. During these episodes, the ability to speak was thwarted as I focused solely on what I mentally and physically had to do to get through these moments. I could feel them coming on and each time I prayed to the Lord for relief yet found myself thinking “What I wouldn’t give to have this pain go away. Oh, what I wouldn’t do to just be done with this pain.”
Those few, seemingly innocent, mindless words ended up ushering in an encounter like none I had ever experienced.
After two extra days in the hospital because of these episodes, the doctors finally felt confident the worst was over and I was able to go home. I was just thankful these pain bombs were over! Once we got to the house, Banks helped me upstairs, got me properly situated in a comfortable rocking chair near a bright window and then left to make a cup of hot tea. I was looking forward to the warm, sweet liquid that would soothe my spirit after the events of the last few days.
Not five minutes after he went downstairs, I felt another wave coming on and this one was coming faster than all those before. It had been about 12 hours since the last one and I was convinced they were over.
I was wrong. It hit quickly and hard.
As I struggled to get my body into a familiar position to fight the pain, out of the corner of my eye I saw movement. It was near the window, about 5 feet away. The same window that, a split second ago, was streaming in the bright sunshine. Now the window was dulled, and the room was veiled in a gray, murky tone, like the room had gone from a color photograph to grayscale. As my head turned to fully look at the source of the movement, I felt my eyes get big and my heart start pounding. A black misty blob of what looked like churning sooty air hovered about two feet off the floor and was about three feet wide and the same deep. It just hovered there, churning, and rolling in place.
The instant my brain acknowledged what I was seeing, I felt a presence at my back and all my senses immediately went on alert. From behind, just inches from my ear I heard a calm but ominous voice say, “I can make all of your pain go away if you will bow down and worship me.”
My reactions seemed to happen both instantaneously and simultaneously. As instinct was telling me to scream, my physically paralyzed vocal chords wouldn’t cooperate but at the exact same time I felt the Holy Spirit telling my brain what to think. The thoughts processed very vividly into loud, punctuated and articulate words spoken within my mind. “I AM A BAPTIZED CHILD OF THE RISEN KING!! I DO NOT BELONG TO YOU!!” And then I began to sing every praise song I could think of all at once!
As if someone had taken a sharp object to a bubble floating through the air, the black blob “popped” and dissipated like a mist; the brightness of the outside sunshine instantly returned and the room returned to full color.
Everything went quiet and nothing moved for what seemed like ages. Stunned, I slowly realized the physical pain was gone so I un-contorted my body and sat back against the soft back of the rocking chair and tried to wrap my mind around what had just happened. Did I just encounter a physical manifestation of the devil?!
Conventional wisdom said what I had just heard and seen did not exist.
Except… it did.
What does one do with that?!
My first reaction after I sat there a moment was a bit antithetical, I suppose but I was overwhelmingly astonished that the devil would so boldly make a run at me like that knowing I was a Jesus follower. Did he not know that I would reject him?! Did he not know that everything in my being was opposed to what he was doing in the earth?
I don’t remember how long I tried to figure out the answers to those questions but when the Holy Spirit explained it, I knew it was on me.
I had given him an invitation to try. My plea of “What I wouldn’t give to have this pain go away,” indicated I was willing to explore all options.
My idle, wishful words had been heard by an enemy eager to pounce on any opportunity I had given him to present his case.
Did this mean that my words, however benign I meant them, produced a reaction in the unseen world? That there truly is a battle waging in the heavenlies for the direction of my actions?
Are there really words of fear and desperation that bring negative outcomes? Or the opposite – words of hope that bring life?
After I thought about it, yes! The answer is yes! The devil is always attempting to get us to give in to the doubt, despair and anxiety that produces destruction. It’s the reason he exists!
But God is good! He gives us ways to fight the devil. The Lord was showing me something and I didn’t even realize it.
In this encounter with darkness, the Holy Spirit revealed – gave me a blueprint if you will – how to overcome the darkness in the face of difficulties with the words I use: 1. State who I am “I am a baptized child of the Risen King” and 2. Let the devil know what he can NOT do – he can not mess with me because “I do not belong to you”.
How about that! Words that bring life smack dab in the middle of despair – “I am His, therefore the enemy can’t!”
So, Proverbs 18:21 is literally true: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it, will eat its fruit.”
When I prayed to the Lord for relief of the waves of pain, what I now know I should have done was begin to thank Him for what He was doing to answer my prayer. Thank Him for placing in front of me the doctors, nurses and pharmacists He created to be healers. Ask Him to show me what to do to navigate these times while He was preparing to get rid of the pain and thank Him for how my faith would be stronger because of this situation.
The devil immediately left when I told him who I was and what he could not do. The Light will ALWAYS dispel the darkness!
So, now I have 100%, first- hand confidence in this scripture as well: James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
And I will end here – Matthew 4:8-11
8Again, the devil took him (Jesus) to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, 9“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”
11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
“Away from me Satan”, indeed!