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)
Contented, I listened to the bantering of my young children while I prepared then cleaned up from breakfast.
This morning, after Jennie and Nathan left with their dad for school, I was left with my youngest daughter, age three. Audrey stood watching me as I blow dried my hair. She waited patiently for me to finish. When the whine of the dryer came to an end she followed me around as I made the beds. Without missing a beat, my preschooler told me about her experience with a visitor in the night that I will never forget.
Audrey and Jennie shared a double bed in the back of our rental house. Nathan had the bedroom in between their room and ours, down a long hallway.
It was our custom at bedtime to read to the kids and pray for them. The girls and Nathan always begged me to sit with them until they fell asleep, so I compromised. Each night after prayers, I sat outside their rooms in the hallway. Their doors stayed cracked open slightly so that a little light would shine in.
Some nights I played soft music on the cassette player and sing along, or other times, I sang from a book of lullabies by Nancy Honeytree, without guitar or piano to accompany me.
Usually, I heard their even breathing before the third or fourth song and I could tip toe away.
Audrey excitedly told me that during the night she woke up. No one else was awake. All the lights inside the house were off. Only the street lamp along the sidewalk outside sent a filmy streak of light through a crack between the curtains.
A dark shadow appeared to be standing in the doorway of the room. She blinked her eyes and looked again, because she thought that she saw a this dark figure moving closer to her bed.
Sure enough, as this dark figure moved closer, it appeared to be clothed in a long cloak with a hood that covered most of her face. She stopped, then slowly moved closer.
Audrey wanted to scream, but she was too scared to make a peep. Instead, Audrey squeezed her eyes tight to shut out the image and pulled the comforter over her head.
After describing all of this all in great detail. She went on to tell me that she didn't want to go back into to the bedroom alone to get her dolls. Later, she asked to take a nap on the couch, instead of sleeping in her bed. I could see that she was still scared and so I hugged her close.
I prayed over her and commanded fear to leave her right then and there. I assured her that she could go back into the room whenever she wanted, but she stayed beside me the rest of the day.
At bedtime, I had a long talk with her again. I explained that there were times when my husband and I had sensed a different presence in our room. We prayed and every time, God removed it.
Also, I silently remembered a time in Japan when Nathan, our very sound sleeping baby, woke up, doubling up from pain. He screamed for about 45 minutes. We walked him, fed him, and burped him, but he was not himself at all.
I remembered a story we heard Clem's brother, tell us about witches visiting some churches in California. When there were disruptions, the pastors pled the blood of Jesus. They commanded spirits to be silent and to leave quietly.
Again Nathan woke up and screamed in the night. This time I commanded, "I plead the blood of Jesus over us and demand any evil spirits to take their hands off of our baby and to leave all of us alone. In the name of Jesus, leave and never come back."
Not wanting to alarm my already nervous little one, I softly encouraged her to call out as loud as she could, "Jesus!" and that when any bad spirit heard her say his name, they would have to leave her room. I also encouraged her to call us and that we would come right away.
At six the next morning after the alarm went off, I laid there a minute and was surprised that our night went uninterrupted.
Curious, I woke up Jennie for school, and then while she was off in the bathroom, I gently shook Audrey awake to hear if she had slept well.
At first still groggy, she wanted to stay under the covers, then suddenly she bolted up with her eyes wide open and a big grin on her face. I couldn't wait for a full report.
Just as the other night, Audrey awoke and did not want to open her eyes. Finally when she felt something close to her side of the bed, she peeked. This same hunched over woman cloaked in black stood near her bed, then lifting her arm, she beckoned for her to come out of her bed and follow her.
Audrey admitted that she was afraid to talk again, but in order to make the shadowy lady leave the room she stated, "Jesus is here with me and you have to go."
Immediately, the woman in black disappeared from sight. My daughter said she didn't feel scared anymore, so she went back to sleep.
Wow! I admired this little tyke. She displayed faith and courage to deal with this on her own.
From that day on, Audrey always had an uncanny way of talking about God and writing him letters throughout her childhood.
Since she was very honest and never made up stories, I know this is the way it happened to her. She never begged me to stay outside her door at night, but I continued my routine.
She gained a special confidence that night. She felt secure with the Shepherd at her side.