Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure. Psalm 24:4 (MSG)
Sitting around the breakfast table, I smiled contentedly. I enjoyed this time of the day, just bantering with my children as we ate breakfast.
Their presence cheered each day. I woke up with an expectancy for more tidbits of joy around the table.
This morning, after Jennie and Nathan left with their dad for school, I was left with Audrey, age three. Quickly, I blow dried my hair before cleaning up the dishes. As usual, Audrey stood watching me carefully. She waited patiently for me to finish so that she could converse with me.
The whine of the dryer came to an end. What a relief. I moved to the living room, so that I could watch Audrey at play. Then, with out missing a beat, my preschooler began to tell me about a visitor in the night that I will never forget.
Audrey and Jennie shared a double bed in the back of our rental house in the middle Raymondville, where we lived about two blocks from the elementary school. Nathan had the bedroom in between their bedroom and ours all off of a long hallway.
It was our custom at bedtime to read the kids a story and pray for them. Since the girls and Nathan always begged me to sit with them until they fell asleep, I compromised, by sitting outside their rooms in the hallway. I left their doors cracked slightly so that a little light shown in.
Some nights I would play music softly on the cassette player and sing along, or other times, I sang from a book of lullabies by Nancy Honeytree without guitar or piano.
Usually, I heard their even breathing before the third or fourth song and stopped.
Audrey told me that last night she woke up in the middle of the night. No one else was awake. All the lights inside the house were off. Only the street lamp along the sidewalk sent a filmy streak of light through a crack between the curtains.
A dark shadow appeared near the doorway of the room. She blinked her eyes and looked again, because she thought that she saw a dark figure moving closer to the side of the room where their bed stood.
Sure enough, as this dark figure moved closer it seemed to be clothed in a long cloak with a hood that hung down and covered most of her face. It stopped, then slowly moved closer. Wanting to scream, but too scared to make a peep, Audrey squeezed her eyes tight to shut out the image and pulled the comforter over her head.
Audrey finished describing this all in great detail. She went on to tell me how frightened she was and that she did not want to go to the bedroom to get her toys. She didn't even want to take a nap in there this afternoon in the daytime. She worried that she would see that lady in black again.
I hugged her close and told her not to worry. I prayed over her and told fear to leave her right then and there. I assured her that she could go and play, because I was going to pray over the room right away.
Before bed, I had a long talk with her. I explained that there were times when my husband and I had sensed a presence in our room. We prayed and God removed it from our midst.
Also, silently, I remembered a time in Japan when as a six month old, Nathan, a very contented baby and a sound sleeper, woke up and doubled up as if his stomach hurt. He screamed for such a long time. We walked him, fed him, burped him, until after an hour he finally quieted down.
I was reminded about some stories we heard Clem's brother, Ben, tell us about what some pastor's were doing when confronted with evil spirits or witches visiting their churches in California. The pastors pled the blood of Jesus and commanded them to be silent or to leave quietly.
I remembered the last night that Nathan screamed in the night.
Right away I commanded, "I plead the blood of Jesus over us right now and demand that any spirits bothering our son, take your hands off of him and leave this place right now. In the name of Jesus, we are saved by the blood of Jesus. You cannot remain here. Be gone!"
Not wanting to alarm my already nervous little girl, I merely told her to call out as loud as she could, "Jesus!" and that when they heard his His name, bad things had to leave her room.
I also encouraged her to call us and that we would come right away if she needed us.
The alarm went off, and I was surprised that no one cried out to interrupt our sleep last night. Curious, I woke up Jennie for school, and then while she was off in the bathroom, I gently shook Audrey to see how her night went.
Groggy and still wanting to stay under the covers she laid there and then suddenly sat up with her eyes wide open and a big grin on her face. I knew that I was in for a full report.
Just as the other night, Audrey awoke and did not want to open her eyes. Finally, she thought she felt something close to her side of the bed, so she peeked. Sure enough, this hunched over woman in the dark cloak stood near her bed and started to raise her arm, beckoning to her to come.
Audrey said she was afraid to talk again, but she wanted to make the shadowy lady leave the room, so she told her, "Jesus, Jesus is here with me and you have to go." Immediately, the woman in black disappeared from the room and my daughter said she didn't feel scared anymore, so she went to sleep.
I admired this little tyke with her faith and courage to stand up and deal with this on her own. Audrey always had an uncanny way of talking and writing letters to God throughout her childhood. She was always very honest and never made up stories, so I know this truly happened to her. Even after this, she never begged me to stay outside her door at night, though I still did. She had gained a certain confidence that night. She felt secure with the Shepherd at her side.