“Where shall I go from your spirit? or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall your hand lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10).
Among my earliest memories are my parents taking me to Sunday school and church. As a consequence, I heard the gospel at an early age and intellectually believed it but did not spiritually embrace it. When I was twelve years old, I went forward at the urging of my Sunday school teacher. I was aware of my sinfulness before the Lord and knew that I needed a savior, but I wasn’t ready to call Him “Lord.”
That took nine more years, and it seemed that wherever I went during that time, the Lord placed reminder after reminder in my path. I kept running into Christians. During my sophomore year of college, I became friends with a Christian classmate. One day in the library, I was reading a particularly funny (at the time) essay on how ludicrous the idea of Creation was. I was laughing, and my friend asked what was so funny. “Listen to this,” I said, and begin to read a particularly “hilarious” section. When there was no laughter, I looked up and saw a sad look on his face. “Ed,” he said, “I’m not a scientist, but I know enough to realize that the account in Genesis is far simpler and far more believable than evolution.” Although this reply probably wouldn’t rate very high in the eyes of the world, it was like a knife in my heart. Much as the Lord used one stone from a shepherd boy’s sling to kill a giant, so the Lord used my friend’s simple words to slay my giant of intellectualism.
Still, I ran from the Lord for nearly two more years. Wherever I went, however, the Lord had a witness there for me. I was at a drinking party one evening, nursing a beer along. My father was one of the most successful anti-drinking proponents I’ve ever met. I didn’t particularly care for the flavor of beer, but drinking was what you were supposed to do at a drinking party, so I usually sipped one beer for the entire evening (except for what I could secretly contribute to a nearby houseplant).
This evening, I was sitting across the room from a more dedicated drinker. He must have been watching me, for at one point he blurted out, “You really don’t belong here do you?” He was right.
Eventually, I developed a relationship with an individual who was involved with the occult. One day I found a “baggie” with a burned substance inside. “What’s this?” I asked, little prepared for the answer. “It’s a spell,” they answered. And more disturbing things began to happen.
It was during this time that I made the acquaintance of Jim Miller, who was hired for the summer at a plant where I was working. We were teamed together to operate a machine that sliced fir boards into slats, which would eventually become kite sticks.
During the time that I was working with Jim, he often witnessed to our fellow workers. He didn’t often confront me, but I happened to be present at most of the conversations he had with others and heard the entire exchange. One evening, another worker came up to me and waved a gospel tract under my nose. “Beware,” he warned, “your co- worker is handing these things out.” I took it from him, read through it quickly, and then handed it back. “But this is true,” I said. He shook his head at me and went off to do his work.
At the end of August, Jim quit and went back to his position at Central Oregon Christian School. For myself, the “disturbing” things I had mentioned began to increase. One evening, things all came to a head. This individual with whom I had a relationship manifested another personality and began telling me all the things that they had been doing. It was the most disturbing and fearful time I have ever experienced. I became aware of my helplessness and my inability to change circumstances.
When I went to work that night, my mind was so wrapped up in my problems that I walked right past several coworkers who greeted me and later asked why I had ignored them. I sat in the rear of the break room, thinking, “What shall I do…what can I do?”
The start of our shift was marked by a bell ringing. I didn’t hear it that night. When I finally looked at the clock, it was five minutes past time to start work. I walked into the supervisor’s office and said, “I can’t go to work tonight. I need to talk to a pastor, a priest, or maybe a psychiatrist. The most horrible thing has happened.” Without batting an eye, the supervisor told me, “Go talk to Jim Miller.” I had ridden my bicycle to work, so he even drove me to Jim’s house. I worked a graveyard shift and it was now past midnight. I knocked on Jim’s door, and he got up and let me in. I poured out my story and asked him, “Do you think this person is possessed?” “I don’t know” he said. “But I do know that you can’t do anything to help. What you can do is surrender your life to the Lord Jesus Christ… or you can go back home.” I thought about how this choice would drive away most of my friends. Then I thought about my present state and said, “I’m not going back.” I knelt down, repented, confessed my sin before the Lord and received Him as my Lord and Savior. As I began praying, His peace swept over me and the fear was gone.
Since then, the Lord has led me. I haven’t always followed his directives at the moment of instruction, but I have learned that it is better to obey. I have learned that there is no place where I can go to flee from His presence. That is no longer a challenge – it is a blessed assurance.