One night, exhausted from a long, hard week of work as an automotive technician managing a repair shop in the Bay Area, I got in the bathtub to relax my tired body while my wife Kathy lay sick in her eighth month of pregnancy on the sofa. An hour or so later, I started to get out of the tub to dry off. But as I stood up, an intense thought hit me: I am going to die!
Like everyone else in the world, bad thoughts were not foreign to me, but this was different. This thought was so strong that it caused panic to rush through my whole being like stampeding cattle! My entire body began to tremble as my heart pounded out of my chest and my pulse raced uncontrollably. All my strength drained from my limbs, and I struggled to get out of the tub. I fell back into the water, shouting desperately for Kathy to help me. Eight months pregnant, she labored to get up off the couch, then she rushed into the bathroom where I lay helpless, scared and white as a ghost. I could barely talk, but I managed to mumble something about having a heart attack. She strained to help me out of the bathtub and onto the couch. Then she ran into the kitchen to call our family doctor, who was a customer of ours at the auto shop. He relayed a few questions to me through Kathy and concluded that I was having a panic attack, not a heart attack. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a three-and-a-half-year journey through hell.
TOURING HELL AND CALLING FOR HEAVEN
That first panic attack initiated a constant state of fear in me. Going to work became really tough. It took all the strength I could muster just to get out of bed each morning. All throughout the day at the shop, high levels of anxiety overwhelmed my soul like waves crashing on the seashore in a violent storm. It was everything I could do just to concentrate on my job. As difficult as the days were, the nights were much worse. The panic attacks continued, turning into endless, tormenting nightmares. Horrible images filled my mind as I imagined terrible things happening to me or envisioned myself doing dreadful acts. Although I knew in my heart that these images and thoughts were illusions, they still felt so real. I often wondered if I were losing my mind. I could not sleep much, and I soaked the sheets with sweat every night.
A year passed without any relief. Finally, Kathy and I decided to quit our jobs and move up into the mountains to find a slower pace of life. We relocated to Lewiston, California, a town of about nine hundred people way up in the Trinity Alps. Living in the wilderness was definitely slower than the traffic-packed city we left behind. But it turned out that this only served to heighten my awareness of the rat race that was going on inside me.
As time passed, the fear intensified, affecting every aspect of our lives. I became claustrophobic to such an extent that I had to drive with the windows down in our car (even in the winter) so I would not panic. Although my personality is naturally outgoing, I became reclusive and never wanted to be around people. When friends came over to visit, I had Kathy get rid of them. I could not be in crowds, which eliminated shopping, restaurants, movies or doing anything in public. Although I continued to attend church, I sat in the back and got up to go outside several times during each service in order to reduce some of my crowd anxiety.
TERRORIST ATTACKS AND A PRISON BREAK
Two more years passed with no relief. Then, just when I thought it could not get any worse, I began to experience demonic visitations. Demons literally would come into our room at night and torment me. Lights went on and off, and pictures spontaneously fell off the wall! The phone rang every few minutes with people saying crazy things on the other end of the line. I am aware that many people do not believe in spirits, demons and angels, so this paragraph may be a little hard to swallow. But if you are reading this book and have had or are having these experiences, I hope you believe in them now.
Then, early one cold winter morning, something startling happened. The four of us were still living in Lewiston, and as usual, I could not sleep. I got up about 3:00 a.m., wrapped a blanket around myself and went into the living room. I turned the stereo on low and lay down next to the speaker so I would not wake my family. We did not get very good radio reception in the mountains, but I thought I would try to find a late-night talk show to help get my mind off my condition.
Finally, I tuned in to some preacher. The static was so bad that I could only make out about every third or fourth word of his message. Yet, in the midst of the noise, I heard him say something that would forever change my life. He quoted Paul’s exhortation to Timothy: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, nkjv). Then he went on to explain, “Fear is a spirit! Some of you are thinking you are going insane, but you are just listening to the spirit of insanity! Not all your thoughts are your own. Evil spirits talk to you by giving you their thoughts.”
I was stunned! I had been taught that Christians could be mentally ill but could not be demonized. What I did not realize until that night was that I had been educated right out of my solution.
I turned off the radio and asked Jesus what I should do. Immediately I heard a Voice inside my spirit say,“You have been listening to the spirit of insanity and the spirit of fear. Tell them to leave you right now!”
Lying on my back on the living room floor, I said in a quiet but confident voice, “You spirit of fear and you spirit of insanity, get off me right now in Jesus’ name!”
I could not see anything, but suddenly I felt something get up off my body. It physically felt like a lead blanket, the kind dentists use during X-rays, and it was being lifted off me. My shaking completely stopped, peace filled my soul and my mind was clear again. Joy overwhelmed my heart, and I laughed out loud for the first time in more than three years. A miracle had happened in my life, and I was eager to tell Kathy and the world about it.
What I experienced that night was not some kind of spiritual hype or psychosomatic occurrence. I was set free! I enjoyed complete freedom for more than a week. After three years of hell, it was amazing to be filled with peace. My joy returned, my appetite came back and all my physical symptoms disappeared. The demonic visitations left, and for the first time in years, I slept through the night.
Almost three decades have passed since that fateful night when I had lain on the floor in our little house way up in the woods and had found freedom. Over these last thirty years, I have helped thousands of people get free, find solace and learn to live in peace.
For more on this subject, check out my book Spirit Wars.
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