That Moment When You Realize You’re Unprepared

Over the years, I’ve found that most people’s beliefs about the paranormal are governed by three basic factors: religious bias, cultural context and personal experience. The same was true for me. Because of my upbringing and my experiences in Bible College, my views on the paranormal were casebook perfect, based on the teaching and training I received. It was simple, when people died, they went to heaven or hell, and anything “supernatural” was either a work of God and His angels or of Satan and his demons. The funny thing, though, about having such a myopic point of view is that there will ALWAYS be something that doesn’t fit into your belief system. Often, that “belief-changing” experience will open your eyes to the possibility that you’re missing a MUCH bigger picture. It’s how you respond to that revelation that determines whether or not you’re prepared for what’s next. And that’s when life can get really interesting!

I would love to say that attending Bible College was the smartest decision I ever made and that the lessons I learned there prepared me for all life had to throw at me. But nothing could be further from the truth. It became evident toward the end of my first semester that I had made a mistake. I had trouble finding work and without a steady income, a number of consequences came into play. My car was repossessed and my credit cards were frozen. What little money I had came from family and friends and it was barely enough to support my “nutritious” diet of ramen noodles, frozen pizzas and French fries. Eventually I found a job working at a local pizza joint, but its part-time wage still wasn’t enough to cover my bills, let alone my tuition for the next semester. I’ll never forget the phone call to Mom telling her I had made a mistake and needed to come home.

Confirmation that leaving Bible College was the right decision came quickly. I was able to get my old job back with a raise and new responsibility. My boss generously helped me get a car and even provided a room in his home for me until I was able to get my own apartment again. Within a short period of time, it was as if I had never left for Bible College. Life was returning to normal. But even in that space of “normal,” I couldn’t escape the drive and desire to teach.

My circle of friends included a lot of guys and girls around my age who had a desire to learn more about God, so beginning a bible study was an easy decision. It became an outlet for me to do something with the teaching I had received in college. Even though I had only attended Rhema for one semester, I learned a lot and enjoyed sharing it weekly through the study. We met at the apartment of one of the girls in the group and, with how well everything was going, I felt like a Bible rock star who was prepared for anything. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

A few weeks after beginning the Bible study, I was getting ready to leave and was talking with the girl who hosted the study. Deborah had a lot of questions about what I had been teaching that night (the topic was the different names of God, if I remember correctly). Her questions turned into an all-night discussion where we both shared many of our life experiences. That night also began a budding relationship that would eventually lead to marriage. It would also introduce me to some of the most intense, bizarre experiences with the paranormal I have ever had, and it didn’t take long for those experiences to go from zero to insane!

One of the stories Deborah shared with me during that all-night discussion was that she kept feeling like she was being watched. She felt a presence in her apartment and it was getting stronger. As time went on, she also began catching glimpses of a tall, skinny dark figure wearing a hat. We were dating by then and I spent most of my evenings at her apartment. I, too, had sensed that something odd was going on there, but never “saw” anything unusual. Confident that I could get rid of whatever “spirit dude” was hanging around, I told Deborah that, if she liked, I would be happy to pray over the apartment. Anxious to see an end to the strange occurrences, she said yes and we set a time to do so. When the chosen night arrived to show “tall, dark and scary” the door, I was ready, Bible in-hand.

Deborah felt the presence the strongest in her bedroom, so that’s where we began. She was setting on the bed and I was walking around the room reading Bible verses I had found related to spirits. My confidence began to erode, however, when I suddenly felt as if something had walked into the room. I looked over at Deborah and she said, “He’s here!” I asked her if she knew exactly where the entity was, but I already knew the answer because its presence was so strong. It was moving toward Deborah. Everything began to unravel quickly when the bed depressed next to her as if something had just sat down. At this point, I was practically yelling the verses in the direction of this uninvited guest and nothing was changing. As a matter of fact, my reaction was making matters worse. The spirit began choking Deborah and I didn’t know what to do. All my training, everything I believed had not prepared me for what was happening. This “thing” was supposed to leave when I prayed and read those Bible verses and it wasn’t. Nothing I did made an impact on the situation and now, the woman I cared for was being choked by something I couldn’t see.

All of a sudden, a seemingly random thought came to me…STOP reading the Bible verses! And, once again, the moment I “shut up,” something happened. The choking stopped and everything returned to normal within moments. Apart from being shaken and having actual red marks on her neck, Deborah was okay. I was shaken to my core. What had just happened? Did I provoke this thing somehow? What the hell was it? I had few answers other than the fact that I was in WAY over my head. I’d like to say that this was the only time this spirit manifested, but it continued to make its presence known as if IT was the one in charge. And for the next six months, Deborah and I got a crash course on dealing with paranormal activity courtesy what we later realized was a familiar spirit. What we didn’t realize, though, was that was just the beginning of the craziness and was certainly not the most intense experience we would encounter…not by a long shot!