(our youth group at a winter camp in 1994)
Part 3 of 7 in an ongoing series to attempt to answer the question, from my own experience and witness, “What does the Kingdom of God look like (in real life)?.”
The first time I, that I am aware of, encountered supernatural power was near the end of my middle school years. One night I had a bunch of my good guy friends, that were also part of our church’s youth group, sleepover my house. It was a good time full of jokes, farts, and late night confessions of secret crushes. The next morning we all slowly woke up, except for one of my friends. We thought it would be funny to pull a prank on him to wake him up by throwing him into our bathroom tub and blasting him with a shower-head of water.
He didn’t wake up.
Our laughter soon turned to concern. He was breathing and he showed no signs of sickness. We tried to open his eyes, but his pupils would pull away from view. Then this strange low growling and groaning started from this friend of ours. Our concern turned to fear. Soon we started yelling at him, slapping him in the face, and threatening for him to wake up and that it wasn’t funny, whatever joke he was trying to pull on us. Our friend started pushing us off of him. Now our friend was not a big guy by any means, but we couldn’t restrain him. Even my older brother got involved, and he was a big guy. My brother sat right on top of my friends chest demanding that he wake up. My friend, even with his hands restrained by us the best we could, was starting to buck my brother off his chest. And the strange mutterings continued from our friends mouth.
Chaos was upon us.
We were desperate and in way over our heads dealing with something none of us could explain but were sure was something ominous. One of us called our youth pastor to come to my house in this time. Our youth pastor arrived and with a couple words of rebuke to whatever was messing with our friend, the darkness was gone and our friend woke up.
There was no joking or “A-Ha! I got you!” statements afterward. Only the feeling that some kind of madness had passed, beyond our understanding. Our youth pastor spoke to us about spiritual warfare in the Kingdom of God and how to deal with it. Soon after our youth pastor started a bible study with us, and you better believe the word of God came alive to us like never before.
Fast forward about 20 years later. God was calling me to transition out of youth ministry into becoming an associate pastor of adults at our local community church. Right around that time it was Thanksgiving season, two days before Thanksgiving to be exact. I was with two of our church elders, Gus and his wife Isabel, finishing preparing some thanksgiving meals we were going to give away to folks in need in our community. Gus was also there to prepare for the sermon he was going to give the coming Sunday. As we were finishing up, Gus was complaining about a sudden cloudiness in his head and a weird sickness. He felt he needed to lay down. I asked him a little more about how he was feeling, learning by this time that God is the source of supernatural power even to physically heal. Gus shared that this fog in his head was preventing him from preparing his sermon and that he had experienced this strange feeling before when he was around demonic elements on his mission trips abroad.
Sensing spiritual attack, I called over Isabel to pray with me for Gus. I prayed to God first for this sick feeling to be gone and to rebuke anything that was trying to mess with Gus. Then Isabel prayed for Gus. We checked in with Gus.
The sick feeling was gone.
Gus shared with me that when I rebuked it in my prayer he felt something pulling his head and then when Isabel prayed he felt it break off fully. We gave thanks to God for the miracle we had just witnessed. Gus was then able to prepare his sermon.
This last story is significant because Gus experienced healing from a physical ailment as well as deliverance from spiritual oppression. God has power over ALL. It reminds me that the physical and the spiritual are not completely separate. We do not fight a battle against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces at play in our midst (Ephesians 6:10-12).
God’s Kingdom is not merely about talk but it come comes with power (Mark 9:1, 1 Corinthians 4:20).
If we are people of the Kingdom of God, under submission to the King, we have authority over ALL darkness (Luke 9:1-2, Luke 10:19-20) because our King, Jesus, has authority and power over ALL things (Matthew 28:18).
Let us walk in His power, not ours, as we step forward today. That makes ALL the difference.