• Adrian Dannhauser

When the demons come out

A clergy colleague once told me, "The demons come out before Christmas and Easter.” His point was that spiritual darkness in the world increases as we approach these divinely charged holy days. More people than usual behave badly. Others feel out of sorts, or even tormented. And then things settle back down -- the light dispels the darkness in celebration of Jesus Christ. I've heard similar claims from priest friends who felt a dark and antagonizing spirit in the days leading up to their ordination. Some nuns and monks feel the same thing before taking their vows. When God is about to do something truly powerful in our lives, we may experience a spiritual force of opposition. Think of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Academy Awards. According to Denzel Washington, the Devil was behind that, coming after Smith right before he won an Oscar. I don't have an Oscar in my future, but I did experience what felt like evil leading up to the recent publication of my book. There was the internal crap -- anxiety, sleeplessness, a voice telling me I'm a total imposter. Then there were the externals, including threatening behavior from two men while I was offering blessings. The first man was dirty and disheveled and not all there. He might have been battling mental illness or substance abuse because he was almost completely incoherent. But I could tell he was angry, and the one thing that came through loud and clear was his desire to have sex with me. I remained calm and kept telling him I was married until he stormed off. It was scary, and I felt the lasting sting of verbal sexual assault. The next week a man with a creepy smile and wild look in his eye got my attention while I was talking to someone who had stopped for prayer. When I glanced over at him, he clasped his hand around his throat to convey the image of choking me. I wasn't scared this time, but I did feel violated and vulnerable. I had to resist the impulse to pack it up and go inside. Who knows if Satan was involved in either of these instances, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was. I just know that I will not be deterred from continuing this ministry. If anything, I feel more emboldened (especially now that I have a staff member providing security while I'm out there). Have you ever felt a sense of struggle when you were on the cusp of something great? Regardless of what you believe about Satan or spiritual evil, we can all experience pushback, or something trying to derail us, at times -- whether it’s a person, a series of mishaps, or even our own thoughts. Heck, Mercury in retrograde might throw you for a loop. Just remember that it's nothing to fear. It might even be a sign that you're on the right track. As my mother likes to say, "The closer you get to God, the louder the Devil comes a-knockin'." No matter what tries to shake us, the hand of God still holds us fast. And nothing is stronger than God’s grip. "The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; it is he who shall keep you safe." (Psalm 121:7)



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