“ Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
A few days after my daughter passed away, I began to see dark shapes flickering in shadows out of the corner of my eye. A few days after that, I began hearing a dark voice in my head, one that I didn’t recognize but which also seemed vaguely familiar. Sweet and sophisticated, rich and deadly. What he said, repeatedly, made my insides ache and my panic rise as a choking vapor to beat my heart like a small bird in my rib cage. What he said, repeatedly, was “there is no heaven, there is no God, she is just gone.”
All my life I have been what I call “soul sensitive.” When I read Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness it felt a little like coming home. I can remember as a little girl feeling like things beyond my comprehension were swirling around me, but that whenever I prayed, I would be calmed. I wrote a story about my engagement to my husband, based on the potter and clay analogy in Isiah in which I talked about the voice of God speaking to me throughout my life. I was lucky enough to have it published in our college’s literary magazine and I had hopes that it would help others to see Christianity in a different light. I had always had a peace of mind because of my faith, that I wished that others could know — that not everything “religious” had to be hypocritical or judgmental, but could truly be interwoven into the very being and fabric of your life.
To have the devil hunting me, for that reason, was a shock and frustration. Since I learned in Sunday school of calling on Jesus’s name to ward off evil, anytime something was giving me the heebie jeebies, even if I was sure it was just my own mind playing tricks on me, saying a quick prayer “in the name of Jesus Christ be gone” always made me feel better.
It wasn’t working this time. I didn’t know if it was my faith struggling or the enemy fighting harder or both.
My husband, who has always believed, but not had a very personal relationship with Jesus, was my soul source of strength. When I told him about my supernatural experiences, he 0h-so-matter-of-factly told me two very important things. He said: “Honey, all I have to do is look at her picture to know that there is a heaven and that she is in it.” Boom. There it is. My daughter’s sweet spirit denies the lies of the enemy. And he is silent. No more voices. No more shades. As if they had never been. Truth will always drive out the lies.
The second thing he told me was his own supernatural story, one he hadn’t shared with me because, like me, he was fearful that his intense grief would make the story seem crazy. He told me that in the hour of her death, he saw his own grandfather. Jack Didier, paragon patriarch of his large family, had passed on a few months before Larissa. Jack’s spirit stood at the head of Larissa’s hospital bed. He said nothing, but implored his grandson, my husband, with beckoning arms. Give her to me. I will keep her safe. And of course, he did. My husband was the only one who saw him, and I can only think that it was because of their strong emotional bonds in his life. What a gift that God and Jack gave to my husband together.
What I experienced in those weeks following my daughter’s death was very real. It was yet another dimension to a very intense time in my life, one that will leave echoes forever after. It brought a part of the universe that had always been on the fringes of my existence into sharp focus. Those lines have now blurred again, and I think that is for my own good. To be sharply aware of the spiritual warfare going on in our world on a daily basis would be difficult to tolerate.
Three months after her death, my sister-in-law, who was also very close with her grandfather, had her own experience to share. Her own daughter, Bella, was four years old at the time and she smiled as she passed Bella’s bedroom and saw her playing with her stuffies, talking and moving them around. A few hours later, her mother remarked to her about how well she was playing by herself. To which Bella replied “oh I wasn’t playing by myself, mama, I was playing with Papa Jack and Larissa with my stuffies.”
Small children see so much more than we ever do. How can I deny the evidence, then, the evidence to the contrary of the untruth spoken by that rich, sophisticated siren voice–evidence given instead in the sweet beguiling voice of a child? God speaks to me frequently, in a number of ways. Sometimes as an angel. Sometimes as a still quiet voice in my mind. How can I deny His voice, woven into my thoughts, with me every step of the way? Through death and grief and rebirth into hope.
And if I am accepting of His voice, I can also accede the existence of that other voice, its power and strength, without feeling like a crazy woman. And I can denounce it as the pure evil that it is, meant to torture and harm my spirit so that I might turn and do its bidding.
We are not alone. Battles beyond our own senses are waged, over and over. Every day. But unlike the human battles here on earth, with some of the same treacherous, horrendous outcomes — I know the outcome of the spiritual battles. Victory is HIS and His alone. Amen.