Freak in Training Part 4: Visitor from the Dark Side

07[1]

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

Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.
−George Carlin

»Read Part 1: Cracking the User Manual
»Read Part 2: The Big Bang
»Read Part 3: Punch Drunk

PART FOUR

As far as prayer was concerned, I was driven more by zeal than knowledge. The Bible taught me a lot about God and his way of doing things, but when it came to personal adventures in the metazone I was still pretty much a plebe. For one thing, I had just assumed that, in all practicality, God was the only fish in Spirit Lake. I figured a person could swim anywhere without fear of shark attacks.

Eventually I would discover that the Bible included a virtual taxonomy of the creatures who hang out in the heavenly realms. There are the good angels, of course, but they’re not white clones of each other; apparently they come in different flavors. Among them there are messenger angels, warrior angels, musician angels, wrath coordinators, and worship specialists. There also seem to be two higher-level angelic classes: cherubim and seraphim. I have no idea what these mean, but I’m pretty sure cherubim aren’t cute, chubby baby angels packing bows and arrows. Then there are those strange creatures, reported by both the prophet Isaiah and the writer of the Revelation, who have multiple wings and are covered with eyes. Those guys scare the bageezes out of me just thinking about them.

shadow_man_200[1]On the other team are the bad dudes. From what I can pick up from the Bible, they once wore white hats too, but due to an attempted coup, they got their angelic butts kicked straight to hell. Since then they make it their business to mess with the human race and do all that they can to derail the divine agenda for the universe. Jesus evicted them whenever he found them, and his disciples carried on the tradition. As time went on, though, the demonic horde apparently found it more effective to work incognito. These days overt demonic activity is mostly the stuff of movies.

At the time I had only the vaguest notion of all this. My limited mission in the otherworld was to bulldoze the divine security perimeter and snag a big piece of God. Meeting the neighbors, on either side of the tracks, was not on my itinerary. It seems, however, that my oafish cannonball plunge into spiritual waters attracted at least one predator.

It was before work. I was in the basement, kneeling on my pillow with my face to the floor. It was one of the “O God” sessions when my whole being converged in a single, laser-like hunger for the divine glory. nervous-man-1[1]My soul convulsed with longing as I raised my head and lifted my hands. Suddenly, everything went ice-cold. My prayer sputtered to a stop. I opened my eyes and looked about me. Something was definitely weird. It felt like the abrupt drop of temperature that signals an advancing thunderstorm. Shaking it off, I attempted to resume praying, but a feeling of deep dread clamped over me and choked the words in my throat. The air grew thin, the room seemed to dim and, as I panted for breath, a definite, malevolent presence began to coalesce around me. Though I didn’t fully grasp what was going on, two things were clear: this thing was not me and it had intention. Desperately I tried to jumpstart a prayer—any prayer, but it was no use. Whatever this thing was had snuffed the connection. The line was dead—and there was an intruder in the house.

I quickly realized that this encounter was directly related to my prayer activity, but I had no idea how to counter such a threat. The thing had effectively shut me down, either by real offensive power or by sheer intimidation. Spooked and confused, I capitulated and abandoned the field. I was outta there. Score one for the bad guy.

Over time I came to understand that this live-fire exercise was another part of my spiritual training. Theoretical knowledge about the forces of evil in the unseen realms is one thing; experiential knowledge is quite another. It’s not easy to dismiss the demonic as invention or misdiagnosis when you have confronted—or have been confronted by—its unnerving manifestation. As Hamlet admonished, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Amen to that, brother.

I was a bit shell-shocked from my unexpected face-to-face with the enemy. The minor demonic skirmish in the basement had opened my eyes. This born-again thing was no religious game. Whether I liked it or not, I had been tapped for a cosmic war involving armies—with more firepower than I could ever imagine—battling for nothing less than being itself. That’s when it hit me: I hadn’t just been saved; I had been conscripted.

Then I got my orders.

*   *   *

EPILOGUE: Freak Unleashed!

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