WHEN I FALL, I SHALL ARISE
The reign of terror had begun, and the greatest battle I've ever experienced with my "gut feelings" seemed to suck me into a vortex of evil. Was it just a feeling like eating the cold left-overs of the remembrance of a horror scene in one of my nightmares? Or was my gut feeling that my family was about to be attacked by a vicious predator valid? I had never felt this evil presence so intensely looming over me. Though the lights were on, I felt the darkness hover over me like the shadow of a vulture's wings hovering over a nest of baby rabbits.
No, this ominous feeling of doom was too forceful to be false. I stayed on my knees praying all night long, but the evil presence still loomed over me. Like a vicious wolf, it bore its yellow teeth and paced around me, piercing me with yellow, narrowed eyes. I felt its steamy breath sting my face as it closed in on me, licking hungry jowls. Saliva oozed from behind his yellow teeth as he anticipated the taste of blood- MY blood. I was powerless, hopeless and defenseless. I couldn't explain these feelings. Whenever or wherever it would happen, I didn't know. What I DID KNOW, was that something evil was about to take place in my family, and there was no doubt- it WOULD happen.
I knew we were being stalked from the time my family returned home from a family outing and found "Dirty Snitch" etched in our front door.
"Snitched on who?" was the question. Unless someone was being hurt, we'd always minded our own business. We lived in the country, surrounded by woods, on a hill so steep, I joked it could have withstood Noah's flood! But there it was, big, and bold in the afternoon sun. That was the beginning of a long nightmare.
My husband Jim said I was being paranoid, but from then on, before dark, I religiously went through a ritual of closing all the curtains, turning on all the porch lights, and checking and double-checking the doors to be sure they were locked. The neighbors at the bottom of the hill said our place was lit up like New York City! Maybe so, but if there was some creepy intruder, I wanted to make sure I could see him.
It was 2 a.m. and my son Caleb and I were up playing instruments long after everyone else had gone to bed. I was up because I couldn't sleep, listening for every little noise. He was up probably because he couldn't sleep under spot lights! l preferred to say we were "night owls." Anyhow, the music came to an abrupt halt and we both froze when we heard the footsteps. It sounded like the footsteps of a man's heavy boots walking slowly across the deck toward our front door. I shot a quick look at my son to confirm that my imagination wasn't just working overtime since the ominous door message. The alarmed look on his face assured me that the 2 a.m.
visitor was real.
Then, the unthinkable happened. At 2 a.m., the doorknob turned! We bolted toward the back room for safety, but I caught a glance of a tall shadow of a man wearing what looked like a field jacket and combat boots. By the time we got something for protection, he was gone. He didn't knock; he just turned the doorknob. Weird. But that was just the start of a long series of "weirds."
Someone sliced the ceiling in our van and ripped out the radio only to leave it at the bottom of the driveway. Multiple times we came home at night to find the door standing wide open, but nothing stolen. Someone kicked open the basement door and graffitied in crayon on the basement wall. Every time we came home at night, we heard footsteps crackling in the leaves, and snapping twigs up in the woods above us. It was as if they were walking from the car to the door with us. I shuddered at the thought of their eyes following us, watching our every move. Think that's scary? It got worse.
I have asthma and I'm especially sensitive to cigarette smoke. Every time I've even walked near the haze of people smoking, I've had an asthma attack.
The first few times it happened, I just blew it off as random asthma attacks. After a week of having asthma attacks in the middle of the night, I began to suspect something was wrong. I'd sit up gagging, wheezing and coughing, grabbing for my inhaler. It was one of the few times my husband was alarmed enough to wake up. He'd heard me gasping for air and woke up long enough to hand me my inhaler.
"I smell cigarette smoke," I said sheepishly, knowing it sounded ridiculous, since no one in our household smoked. This went on night after miserable night. Each time my husband reminded me it couldn't be cigarette smoke because, as he emphasized,
"No one in our house smokes."
Finally, in exasperation, on the second week of attacks, Jim got up and went through the house from room to room to prove to me, there was "NO CIGARETTE SMOKE."
As if the smell of cigarette smoke at 2 a.m. in a smoke-free home weren't enough to creep anyone out, the scent began to come with sound effects-banging from under the floor, strange sounds under our bedroom window, and knocks on our bedroom door outside from the deck. I don't really know what I expected him to do, but I woke my husband at every sound. His response frustrated me.
He rolled over and mumbled,
"As long as they stay outside, I don't care what they do."
How could I convince him that there was truly someone slinking around OUTSIDE our house at night? Worse yet, what would we do if there was someome UNDER the house?
I thought until my brain ached either from fretting or lack of sleep. Finally, it occurred to me that there is a crawl space under Jim and my bedroom, accessible from a small outside door to allow us to get to the water pipes, in case they froze up, as they often did. Directly under our bed, the crawlspace enlarged to almost standing height. If there was really some wicked person sitting under our bedroom, then a motion detector would make a sound, alerting us to movement under there.
But no one volunteered to go place it down there. Can you blame us for not wanting to crawl under there? Nevertheless, we opened up the crawl space door and put it just inside, in an inconspicuous place, so it wouldn't be detected.
Somewhere between 1 and 2 a.m., the alarm sounded. There was movement down there, and our persecutor was back.
This time, my husband became a believer in the strange and erie presence that had terrorized me for so long.
We began to hear and feel banging on the floor beneath us. It sounded almost as if this ominous person was trying to make a hole under our bedroom floor to get inside. And it continued all night for days. I was terrified of night time coming, knowing this sadistic presence that lurked around, would be back.
This was no coincidence. This was a definite attack. Whoever was stalking us was not after money, electronics, or anything of value we had. Obviously, they'd been in our home many times before. Had we been there while he slunk into a closet somewhere a single breath of distance from one of my children? Was this revenge for whatever someone thought we "snitched" on them for?
But THIS TIME, with them banging on our floor, my husband sprang into action. He sat up all night with the shotgun, guarding his family. He wanted to investigate during the day under the crawl space, but his ankle had just had surgery for the third time and he was still wearing a surgical boot. We called the police, hoping they would help. They came, but they WOULD NOT crawl under that mysterious space.
Thank God, my eldest son Brandon said he'd go under. He came armed with only a flashlight. I was terrified for him as he had the courage to do what no one else had the guts to do. When he crawled out, he had a very disturbed look on his face. I cringed, waiting for the bad news.
"It looks like a guy has been living under there. There's an army blanket, a few pieces of clothing, socks that look like he's been using for toilet paper, and ....."
He hesitated, shooting a quick glance in my direction....
"......cigarettes and empty cigarette cartons-Marlboros."
My skin crawled. My heart thumped so hard I could swear I heard the pounding from the outside.
I sat up all night contemplating what to do. The police wouldn't help, and my husband couldn't go down there. I felt the familiar pang of fear shoot like lightning through my body. My gut feeling had been right. But, what good was a warning if there was no end to the reign of terror?
I made a decision then. I would no longer allow our family to be stalked like prey. I may fall, but I would eventually rise. I wasn't going to stay down. The next morning, my sons and I grabbed a handful of screws and screwed the crawl space door shut. Unless he had an electric screwdriver, and then he would be detected by the sound, he wasn't going to be going back in our crawlspace.
Dusk was falling quickly. From outside the crawl space, I looked down over the hill. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement. I bumped my son with my elbow and nodded my head toward the direction I saw movement. I think we both held our breath. We both watched a tall figure of a man, wearing a field jacket and combat boots, lumbering up the road with a pack on his shoulders. He was turned around backwards looking at us as he walked. He was a scraggly-looking, man-obviously homeless. I almost felt bad for leaving his army blanket in there.
He never came back. But while he remained, stalking us, he was a tool in Satan's hands. He used him to evoke terror and wreak havoc in my family's lives. My children, much younger then, had begun sleeping with ball bats for protection.
As I look back at it now, the whole drama seems so similar to the experience Jim and I had began experiencing during his illness. Satan had been stalking us. For months, Jim and I had begun riding an emotional roller coaster. He got infection in his ankle after 3 surgeries. It turned into sepsis and finally infection in his bone, which led to a near death experience. He'd been on life support for weeks. His finger had to be amputated and the doctors thought he would lose his arm.
For a short time, medical staff was able to begin to turn the oxygen down, because he was breathing more easily on his own. His infection levels were still decreasing, and his hand was looking better.
Then, like the doorknob turned in the middle of the night, a phone call turned our lives into a living nightmare. I'd receive a call telling me he was distressing greatly in his breathing and the oxygen had to be increased to the maximum amount again. The condition of his hand was looking worse. It was fevered and swollen. By morning, his infection levels had drastically increased.
This was no coincidence. It was a definite attack of evil. I sensed an evil presence looming over me. It paced up and down beside me. Like the pounding on the floor beneath me, it was as if I heard the beating of the drums preparing for the battle cry. In my mind I heard the crackling of the leaves, and the breaking of the twigs as they surrounded me.
I felt the laugh of Satan ringing in my ears as he taunted me.
My enemy had gained permission from the Captain. But he holds no power over me beyond the Captain's orders. This trial has passed across the Captain's desk and He has placed His stamp of approval on it. Satan rejoices at the opportunity to destroy me. Because I am an heir, he hates and persecutes me. He bangs the floor, turns the doorknobs, and terrorizes me.
In Micah 7 the Chaldeans and Edomites were rejoicing at the destruction of Jerusalem. He rejoices when he is ALLOWED to do us harm. I say "ALLOWED" because Satan can do nothing to God's people without God's stamp of approval. By the power of God, I will grow; I will persevere.
8 Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.
When I fall, I shall arise!!