I never know when he’ll show up, and he likes it that way. He likes to catch me off guard. He stalks me, I think, watches for any weakness, any pain, any circumstance that might confuse me enough to mistake his darkness for light. And that’s when he barges in, with his cynical smirk and greedy eyes.
He’s a thief, you know, and a trickster. He disguises himself as an angel of light, but wields the power of darkness. Satan, the Bible calls him. The serpent. The enemy. The devil.
On this particular evening, he shows up in the back seat of my car. I’m on my way to church, for crying out loud, but the devil’s a brash one, and he thinks he’s got me this time.
He’s hitchhiking off my fear. I’ve been struggling with my health for weeks, with some yet undiagnosed malady that threatens to close my throat anytime I try to eat something solid. I can’t push anything thicker than soup down to my stomach, and the doctors do not yet know why. The scheduling of tests takes time and the waiting for answers is hard and sometimes it’s the waves of anxiety as much as the problem with my esophagus that threaten to choke me.
I take a sip of water, and the swallowing pulls my attention back to my throat. And my thoughts skitter to all kinds of frightening places.
“God’s not taking very good care of you, is He?” whispers the devil from the back seat.
I have to admit, I’ve thought that myself. I know it’s not true, but truth can be hard to hold to when the panic rises.
The voice from behind me grows louder, more confident. “He’s healed others, but He won’t heal you. You’re not worth His attention.”
It hurts, that idea. Worms its way into the place of my darkest fears and stokes the fire of my insecurities.
My breathing turns quick and shallow. My hands on the steering wheel feel cold and damp. But I recognize the voice now. And though the devil speaks in convincing tones, I know him for a liar. And I know there is Someone else in the car with us, too. Someone stronger than either the devil or myself.
“Jesus.” I speak His name aloud into the air of the car. My voice is strained, my fear strong, but I know who to call. “Jesus,” I say out loud. I ask Him for help, and immediately something inside me shifts. The battle is nowhere near done, but I’ve bought some breathing room.
I wonder if the devil’s the one gasping shallow breaths now. Because sometimes the name of Jesus is all it takes. Sometimes, I call to my God and He fights on my behalf. Pulls His sword and forces Satan out of the car.
Sometimes. But not this time.
This time, Jesus (I cannot see Him, but I swear to you I know His answer) smiles and hands me a sword. “Let’s fight this one together,” He says. My eyes grow wider and my hands grow colder. “I’m right here,” Jesus says.
It’s true, of course. God is near. So near that His very Spirit lives within me. And He who is in me is greater than he (the devil) who is in the world. And sometimes, the answer is not to sit back and wait for rescue, but to step into the fray knowing that I’ve got the weapons I need. Knowing that I’ve been training for this.
So I stop talking to Jesus, and start talking straight to the enemy. Standing up to him there in my car. Because weak as I am, and weaker all the time from lack of food, I’ve got a strength the devil can only dream of.
“Listen to me,” I say. My voice starts small, but it carries the weight of truth, and the power of that truth takes hold. “My God loves me and He is taking care of me every moment. I don’t know where this illness will lead, or if God will rescue me from it. But I know this. He has already proved His love for me on the cross. And nothing—nothing—can separate me from His love. Neither death nor life nor angels nor demons. Neither the present nor the future nor any power. Neither height nor depth nor anything in all creation can snatch me from His hand. I chose His side long ago and I will take my stand here in the truth of who God is and what He has promised. And whether God rescues me or not, He will give me grace and mercy in this time of need.”
“So Satan,” I said. “Get out of my car.”
And he did. Jesus and I continued on to church, but trust me, church had already begun some miles back.
The devil will return, of course. He will scare and tempt and lie. He will try to take me down.
He will try.
But God is near.
God is near.
[For more, read the following: 2 Corinthians 11:14; 1 John 4:4; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:37-38; John 10:28-29; Hebrews 4:16]
Kirsten Wilson teaches at Colorado Christian University. She’s attended Flatirons for six years, and facilitates groups at Shift on Friday nights.