Things that go bump in the night

After returning home from an out of town annual reunion with a longtime friend, I hear from my husband and son that there was a ghost in the house while I was away. Apparently, there were a few curious occurrences in our son’s bedroom one night: his nightlight decided to go out, followed by two wall hangings that decided it was time to leave their year-plus placement to their new destination, the floor. These surprises didn’t fare well for my son, whose imagination led him to tears of fear, or for my husband, as nurturing childhood tears or fears aren’t considered a strength of his. In fact, it was my husband who decided to tease our son by telling him there’s a ghost in his bedroom. Not the best method, in my not so humble opinion, for encouraging and calming a child to settle in for some blissful slumber.

Naturally, after hearing all of the spooky details, the question was asked: “Mom, are there really ghosts?” Never a parent to feed false information, even though the truth can be scary, I had to answer honestly. Although the label “ghosts” may be misleading, there’re certainly evil spirits among us. To acknowledge that truth, even only in writing, is creepy and I don’t tend to fixate on the presence of evil spirits for long because the reality of the unseen world around us would be too much to bear. Keeping my own hesitations to discuss evil spirits to a minimum, I definitely purposed a brief discussion on their existence between myself and my son. Yes, there are evil spirits around us just as there are angels, I shared, using the Bible as proof of both.

As a preteen, I remember engaging in the mysterious and risky realm of attempting to engage these evil presences by utilizing a Ouija board during sleepovers with girlfriends. Once we all realized that the movement of the looking glass contraption was, in fact, not secretly pushed by us “players,” we were spooked enough to trash the board for good. Back then, seeking out the spirit world was intriguing and thrilling. As an adult, neither of those words apply. Biblically speaking, to do so is clearly forbidden and, for good reason, strictly off limits for believers (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Isaiah 8:19-20; Leviticus 19:31 & 20:6). Although to purposely search out the unseen spirits, referred to as unclean and/or evil, is spoken against in the Word of God, to be willfully ignorant of their existence is also a dire mistake.

Scripture tells us candidly that unclean spirits are amongst us, doing Satan’s dirty deeds by enticing us towards him, rather than towards God. Many methods are undertaken to draw our attention away from Him alone; in our ardently blind culture, unaware of schemes employed by himself and his minions, we have difficulty recognizing when Satan is at work around us. Ultimately though, we must acknowledge that even these evil spirits are limited by God’s hands, only able and allowed to torment us as far as He deems it to be. We can read in 1 Samuel 16:14 that “The Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.” This doesn’t sit well with our impressions of God, but it is what the Bible teaches us in that all and everything it is God who ordains each detail, down to even the seemingly superfluous falling of pictures from the walls and bulbs extinguishing their light.

So how are we, those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, to react to either blatant or subtle prompts by the spirits that may be given permission to taunt us? In regards to the unclean spirits, call on God; in regards to the angels, keep your call on God. When John had heard and seen all the visions that he recorded in Revelation, he fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to him (Revelation 22:8); “But he said to me, ‘Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!'”(22:9). There it is…worship God. Let us not worship the spirits, whether good or evil, but only be aware of their influence. Let us keep our hearts, minds, and mouths filled with the things of God so when we are confronted by unholy exterior influences, we are prepared for any battle because of His armor (Ephesians 6:10-18).

How would I have directed my son that eery night to attempt to soothe his nerves? As I have untold times in the past: open your Bible and start reading. This isn’t a method I suggest to scare away the evil spirits, or with hopes that God will make the sky stop falling; it is solely to direct us back to Him, where our focus ought to be and, when it is, the all and everything that goes on around and in us suddenly falls into its proper place. I wasn’t here that night though, to conduct and control as I always try so stupidly to do in our home. So when I open my own Bible, I am reminded that God had the whole episode orchestrated for His purposes. I’m sure we’ve got “ghosts” in our home, but the fear of the Holy Ghost remains the aim.

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