Whistling, the crystal wine glass tumbled through the air. Crashing against the fireplace, shards of glass rocketed in every direction, unexpectedly slicing the hurler’s cheek. Immediately, he jolted into the bathroom.
“You’ve done it to me again!” he blistered, blooding trickling over his fingers.
In the mirror, his image seemed marred. Deep black eyes glared piercingly back at him. A contorted face reflected, menacingly. Tears welled up, but they were icy flames darting back at him.
His chest ached deeply. An invisible force had a vise-grip on his head. Mentally, he raged against a God who’d betrayed him, repeatedly. Now, with the shocking death of his brother and his estranged wife’s recent indiscretion, he couldn’t maintain the facade of Christian faith. God had abandoned him and worse still, seemed content with it.
Wiping his bloody hands, he walked from the bathroom. An electric company disconnection notice rested on the floor. Knife-like stabs of hopelessness shot down his spine. Darkness clouded his mind.
The phone rang. The answering machine picked it up: “Mr. Bentley, this is regarding your delinquent…” The stern female voice was abruptly cut off as the phone cord was ripped from the wall.
Anger, self-pity and hopelessness erupted at once.
“I hate life…Your ways…myself…How could You…?” Hesitating, “You don’t listen anyway,” he complained bitterly.
Ambling into the kitchen, he retrieved another wine glass. Draining his third goblet, the Merlot’s taste was deep and strong.
“Dad always said I wouldn’t amount to nothing,” he spoke bitterly. “Well, here’s to you, Sam Bentley, too bad you’re not here to see your failure kid.”
“God,” he shouted, “You haven’t been there for me, don’t answer my prayers, and remove everything I care about. Forgiveness, Ha! You’re still punishing me twenty years later!”
On the couch, his mind spiraled into darkness. He pictured his hunting rifle locked up in the safe.
“Just end it,” he thought. The only thing that checked him on suicide was the fear of what he’d face afterwards. The thought terrified him, but he could feel himself inching towards it.
“Boy, you ever talk back to me again and I’ll beat you worse, you little nothin!” He’d envisioned a fist crushing his cheekbone. He shook the image of his drunken father from his mind.
Instantly, he was at the bedside of his twin sister; her body riddled with cancer. Holding a ventilator tube, he remembered her advanced directive: “No life saving measures.” It killed him to acquiesce to it. Tears rushed him again.
Momentarily, he thought, “tonight, it ends.” The thought had such clarity that it startled him into lucidity. Pondering the words, he noticed they didn’t carry the weight of his normal self-talk.
A sense of sorrow overcame him. Hands over his face, teardrops dropped onto his teenage son’s bible. It was opened to Deuteronomy Eight.
He read verse two. “The Lord your God has led you…in the wilderness in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart…”
The words sank into him. Suddenly, revelation enveloped him. He was acutely aware of a negative presence overpowering his mind. It had personality…and it wasn’t his.
“I’m so critical of God,” he realized.
Shortly, pellets of rage rained into his mind. Clearly, he recognized that this presence had used his father’s hatred and then tormented him for years.
Hopelessness then sliced deeply into his mind. Self-destruction followed. Rubbing his temples, he saw scribbled in the margin of the bible, “… Jesus gave them power to cast out unclean spirits…” Matt10:1
It’d been years, but he knew what he had to do. His supposed emotional problems, he realized, were oppressive forces of darkness. There was no one around to pray, so he’d have to do it himself and hope God would do the rest.
“In the name of Jesus, spirit of unbelief, leave now,” he commanded, albeit tentatively.
Instantly, power coursed through him. The overbearing foe was driven into darkness. Gaining strength, he came against the spirit of rage. Same result. Hopelessness and suicide received a similar fate.
At once, an enormous weight lifted. Dread and the evil slave masters were gone. No need for self- talk, anymore.
He was free! A new king had arrived, giving him the keys to His kingdom. Hope returned with a deep sense of God’s love. Again, tears flowed.
“…He fed you in the wilderness….to humble you and test you, and in the END… to do you good.” Deut 8:16
Somewhere, in another realm, praise shook the heavens.
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