I couldn’t tell you when my imagination became so vivid. One day, I was given the opportunity to write, and a door wider than I could’ve fathomed opened to universes that I would craft with my mind. It wasn’t simply the imitation of art shown to me in the form of humanoid turtles, or teenage rangers with powered suits. No. Something in me was unlocked when I was asked to fill a blank page with words. Without me even realizing it, it was the beginnings of a saying that I have: A mind is terrible thing to waste, but it is also a terrible thing to use.
My mind was a playground, and I learned early that this playground could be invaded. It started with horror films and shows. A simple Ghostbusters cartoon had me lying awake in the middle of the night after a loud crash of thunder shook the house. My smarts told me the snapping sounds against the window were rain, but a fear-filled, half-sleep imagination told me thousands of crabs filled my bedroom floor and were just waiting for me to fall out of bed to pinch me into nonexistence. Meanwhile, a ghost named Grundel hid in the shadows of tree limbs eagerly waiting to snatch me up from my nightmare and drag me into darkness. It was the first time my imagination crafted something against me, nearly paralyzing me with fear. As a result, I have stayed away from such shows ever since. Little did I know, even movie trailers would be risky business for me.
I dreamt I was home with all my brothers again. It had been so long since my older brother lived with us that I was forgetting what it felt like to be a trio. Seeing us all in the same house, in our game room upstairs, felt right. We couldn’t wait to return to playing together. In a circle, we devised our plans to rough each other up like we used to. I awoke briefly, but only enough to find the cool side of the pillow and return to sleep. I wanted to play with my brothers again.
When I returned, it seemed like only a moment had passed, but what I saw was an entirely different atmosphere. I found myself in the midst of wailing downstairs behind our purple couch. My knees were broken and my legs ripped to the point of blood seeping from my thighs. I had bled so much, there was a circle of red around me, some of it pouring beneath the couch. I was helpless.
I looked up. I saw this Caucasian child, with a bowl cut and a dark gray overcoat covering the rest of him. He stared down at me from atop the couch. Though I screamed in agony, he was unmoved by my suffering. He couldn’t have been more than ten. Yet, his eyes were devoid of emotion as he looked down at a teenager broken, weeping, and bleeding. He merely observed behind his dead, brown eyes. Somehow, the character from the movie trailer for The Omen, had entered into my dreams. Mind you, I had only seen the movie trailer once. Yet, here was the child actor, playing his role a little too well.
My older brother lay at his feet, dead. He, too, bled immensely from what could only be assumed as stabs in the back. His blood soaked the purple polyester fabric. He had been dead for a while. I could not call to him, for I was too occupied being psychologically dismantled by the image I was witnessing, unable to stop the tears and screams. My older brother was dead, a character from a movie trailer seemed like a real demon. The only person missing was my little brother.
The kid’s eye lifted upstairs to the opening above where the game room was. He pointed. I followed his pointing finger to see my younger brother. He had forsaken all hope and jumped just as my eyes caught a glimpse of him. He spread his arms wide and fell to his suicidal death just a few feet away from me. Somehow, I felt the *thump* as his body plopped against the ground, dead. My frazzled mind broke. I could not be left alone with this demon. I wanted out! I had to get out! “Jesus Jesus Jesus!” I thought!
My eyes thrusted open to reality. Yet, the nightmare wasn’t finished. Though I returned to my bedroom in the middle of the night, I was not alone. I felt what I could only describe as the spirit of a threatening wolf scowling at my face. I could hear nothing; I could move nothing. I could only feel this presence glaring at me menacingly.
I was desperate. Something followed me from my dream and I could not move to fight it. I was terrified. I felt its hind feet at my knees, its front feet at my shoulders, and I could feel its snout near my ear. It was not physically present but I still felt its presence. It must’ve been a demon!
Instantly, I tried to call on the name of Jesus, but my mouth would not move. I could not even hum His name. Was this sleep paralysis? I had no time to think. I began to say the name of Jesus Christ in my thoughts. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” I kept thinking.
As my thoughts broke through the fear, I began to hum the mighty name. “Hm-hm, hm-hm, hm-hm.” The pressure from the demon seemed to increase. It was not going to give in! Still, I fought, saying, “Hm-hm, hm-hms, Jesus!”
The demon rose from my face, leaving me just enough room to lift the comforter over my face. On the brink of adulthood, I cowered like a little child facing the boogieman beneath the bed. When it refused to leave, I reached carefully from underneath my blanket and called my mother. To my surprise, and relief, she answered. My voice trembling, I whispered, “Mom, can you come upstairs?” That was all I could get out, and that’s all she needed.
I retreated beneath my covers and waited. I heard the stairway lights flicker on, and subtle steps climbing the stairs. I felt the presence of the demon retreat to the doorway. It kept its eyes on me, but it knew its time was over. The closer my mother came to the door, the lighter my heart felt. By the time she entered my room, the demon was gone. I felt nothing near my knees, my shoulders, nor anything near my face or in my room. I was free.
My mother came in and comforted me. She prayed over me for minutes, reassured me of God’s protection in my life, and spoke affirmations of peace going forward. I had to listen to gospel music in order to get back to sleep. Thankfully, I had no dreams, or at least memorable dreams, for the remainder of my night.
I learned that day that even the slightest movie trailer could send me into a nightmare. I hadn’t watched that trailer in months, yet the demonic implications of that character infiltrated my dreams and turned a good dream into a disturbing nightmare. I learned I had to be very conscious of what I consumed visually. My imagination could be used against me. Not only that, it invited something altogether terrifying into my room, where I lay. “The mind is a terrible thing to waste, but it can also be a terrible thing to use.” It’s not just a quote about sin, but a quote about consumption.
Still, God showed up. For a moment, I was too afraid to even move. I felt the presence of something surreal and only the name of God gave me enough room to call for help. Not only did simply saying His name replace paralyzing fear with action, but it also made a demon retreat. His name could be used as a shield. I knew this to be true. Life gave me the chance to prove it to myself years later when I was living on my own.
In this latter dream, my friends and I gathered together for an indoor basketball game. I did not know everyone on the court, but there were enough of us to fill in a little more than one team. It was a dream as any other dream involving sports. It made me relive the times that I could be with a group of guys and play ball constantly. I could relive the years when we had time and no collegiate homework or girlfriends to worry about.
As we neared the end of the game, I hit the game-winning layup. My teammates hurried to me with cheers and we all jumped together for a moment. There was nothing out of the ordinary, and my guard was down. Then, one of my teammates pulled me to the ground. Suddenly, our celebration turned into a dog pile. It seemed like everyone was quickly jumping on top of me, even those who weren’t on my team.
The more bodies that piled on me, the more my living body felt pressured. It was as if my knees and shoulders were being trapped. I knew I had to escape the nightmare before it began. I was slowly suffocating myself because of the dog pile in my dream. Before they crushed me, I forced myself to wake up. As my eyes opened, my fears became a reality. The demon had returned.
As I lay there, unable to move, stuck in the same situation I had been in years before, a boldness rose in me. I had been walking with God for much longer, and my confidence in Him was much stronger than it was as a teenager. I wasn’t afraid of the demon showing up; I was offended. Who was this demon to think it could return to haunt me a second time? Did it not know that I still served the same God who removed it before? I started to say the mighty name of Jesus in my head once again.
“Jesus,” I thought.
That was the only effort I needed before I regained my voice. I didn’t even have to hum. Realizing my improved confidence, the demon hurried from me to the doorway.
“Jesus!” I said as I rose from my bed. I hurried to the doorway. I shouted, angrily, “Get out of my house in the name of Jesus!”
I pursued the demon until I felt its spirit leave my apartment. I turned on all the lights and began to pray over my mind, my body, and my apartment. Part of me was scared to wake my neighbors, but the bolder part of me said they’ll just have to get over it. For all I knew, they were the reason the demon thought it was okay to bother me. These spirits needed to hear me declare the spirit of God’s presence in my house.
I audibly prayed for all demons to leave my house and the complex. I prayed all guardian angels cover every corner where the walls met. I envisioned a platoon of angels kicking out every demon and standing guard everywhere my eyes looked. I prayed God stand in the midst of my home going forward. Then, I prayed for a peaceful rest through the rest of the night. I received just that.
I did not need prayers from my mom, gospel music, or light from a bulb. All I needed was an absurdly bold faith, and I returned to restful sleep. It was strange how much audacious faith I had acquired, but it showed just how much I had grown in Christ. A spirit, which used to make me cover my head beneath the blankets and call my mom, I now started chasing out of my own house alone. I was thankful for the confidence I had been given by that first interaction.
The name of God, Jesus, became powerful for me. It gave me a voice when I was unable to speak, it gave me boldness in the midst of fear, and it fought all enemies which stood before me, not only in the natural but in the supernatural and dream. No menacing stare could stop the call of His name. No frightening scene could withhold His power. No dogpile could keep me weighed down. At the mention of His name, every layer of existence stood at attention. The most beautiful thing about it was that I could call on Him anytime.
If I couldn’t speak His name, I could hum it. If I couldn’t hum it, I could think it. The name in each stage carried power. That power was gifted to me without me even knowing about it. All I had were Gospel songs and Bible scriptures. They all said call on Him, but none of them could convince me that a name carried so much force. I had to see that on my own, and I was glad I did. I had found another place where God was. He was in His name.
He is in King of kings, Lord of lords, God of gods, and Alpha and Omega. He is in Jesus Christ, Yahweh, Messiah, and Immanuel. He is in Yeshua, Jehovah, mighty tower, Prince of Peace, and Creator. He is in Elohim, Adonai, Abba Father, and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is in the Most-High God, The Bread of Life, the Vine, the Corner Stone, and the Good Shepherd. He is not in every name given to Him. He is not associated with false gods and false god concepts. He has already told us His many names and He inhabits them all. That is what I learned those two nights. I can always find God in His name.