“Demon possession is present in Scripture
as a dreadful reality.
The supposition that the demoniacs of the Gospels
were only mentally ill
— Harold Lindsell
Elementary school was a conundrum for Jonathan. Each of his teachers from first through fifth grades admitted to me that his mind was a mystery. His grades were consistently low, but his intelligence quotient was extremely high – so much so that he was placed in the Gifted and Talented Education (G.A.T.E.) program upon entering middle school.
In sixth grade, his English teacher recognized that Jon was an auditory and sensory learner, so she encouraged him to give his book reports orally rather than in writing. With that, Jon demonstrated a talent for acting! And his middle school teachers from that point on made use of that fact to help him experience success whenever possible.
When eighth grade rolled around, the school district imposed a year-round schedule to avoid classroom overcrowding. A majority of the children were able to adapt fairly easily to three months in school, then one month off. But for Jon, it just didn’t make sense. He didn’t get the fact that school wasn’t finished each time vacation came around, and at the end of the fourth quarter, he had failed to keep papers that were necessary for a final passing grade to move on to high school. Fortunately, because I had been vigilant in connecting with his English teacher – and because she had also taught his sister three years earlier – we were able to work out a compromise so that Jon could move on to high school.
During the “off-track” time periods, I signed Jon up for a Parks and Recreation sponsored Drama Camp. The counselors perceived that there was something extra special about this young man. They nurtured his acting ability and encouraged him to try out for the summer youth production, “Hans Christian Anderson,” at the community amphitheater. The next thing Chuck and I knew we were watching our son on a huge public stage, portraying the character Peter. And, just like his sister, he could sing!
Three years before Jon began high school, I began to prepare by volunteering in every way possible, as Lisa worked her way from freshman to sophomore to junior. It was no less than miraculous the number of opportunities that opened up for me to work with counselors and various teachers. So after Jon began high school and was cast in the spring musical his freshman year, I knew what to do when he started complaining about the drama teacher – I prayed that God would open a door for me to walk through.
I quickly made parent/teacher contact and asked, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” She couldn’t think of anything, so I asked if I could write bio’s for each cast member and create bulletin boards to display them. She immediately accepted, and her friction with my son was easily resolved. That provided admission for Mom during rehearsals, and an “in” with Jon’s peers as well.
The play was “The Fantasticks” – about a naïve young man from a small town who longed to explore the seductive unknowns in life. But when the boy was suddenly given the opportunity to step out of his comfort zone, the adventure resulted in catastrophe. Jon was cast in that prophetic role.
Performing arts became Jonathan’s savior through high school. He was awarded lead roles in plays and musicals, and he earned a coveted spot in the Show Choir. He experienced ups and downs, but he had to earn at least a C average to participate in the activities he loved, so that motivated him to try harder – and it allowed me to give him more personal space.
Then, in Jon’s junior year, something happened that Chuck and I did not see coming, and we were totally blind-sided. I found out that Jon and some of his friends had been experimenting with marijuana and “huffing” gas vapors. The next thing I knew, his history teacher called me to complain about a behavioral problem in class. So Jon and I met with her, in her classroom after school.
He and I sat side-by-side, across from the teacher, and she explained that Jon had behaved disrespectfully toward her in class. She wanted an apology. Such rudeness was so uncharacteristic of our son that I was speechless. I gently touched his arm with my hand, and he immediately he drew back, sneering, “Don’t touch me.” Then he got up and bolted out the door.
I offered my apology to the teacher. Then I walked down the hallway to a secluded area, leaned against the building and sobbed. What I had seen in my son’s eyes was pure evil, and I had no idea how to deal with it.
Lisa was attending college in another state. She was the only one I could think of who might remotely believe what had just happened. To my amazement, the college choir that she sang with was scheduled to perform in a nearby city that weekend, so we arranged for her to come home overnight.
That evening, she asked Jon if they could spend some time together, since she hadn’t seen him for a while. I was lying sleepless in bed when I heard Lisa’s knock at the door. She came in and sat next to me. With eyes wide, she calmly said, “I don’t know who that is, but it’s not my brother.”
It would be another three years before we got our Jonathan back.
“Your enemy the devil prowls around
like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, standing firm in the faith …”
(1 Peter 5:8-9, NIV)
A RUST REMOVER …
Many Christians believe that demons cannot dwell within a follower of Jesus. I learned that this is simply not the case. If you suspect that someone you love is behaving under the influence of demonic spirits, I suggest that you consider reading, Larson’s Book of Spiritual Warfare by Bob Larson. And remember to pray, don’t panic!