Shotgun vs the Devil Himself

I’m wrestling with a decision about a new job so, last night, as I sometimes do, I asked God to give me a dream concerning the particulars so I might better know His will. He rarely answers this sort of prayer. It’s been many years since I’ve had a dream I believe came as the result of praying. I know many dogmatists are against the idea all together, but it’s something I’ve done with God ever since I was a child, so I asked for a dream. What I got was as unexpected as it was terrifying…

I appeared at my grandparents’ house. It’s always been a stronghold of my faith, a place where everything is right in the world. This time, something was horribly wrong. Within their bedroom, lurking in the dark, was an entire rogues gallery of Hollywood demon-possession victims, crying out and taunting me. I was joined outside the room by a handful of Christian preachers. We entered with condescension. The heroes had arrived to save the helpless from the wiles of the devil.

The bedroom door slammed behind us. We were trapped. In my dream, I knew the possessed as well as the Christian ministers but later, upon waking, I realized they were archetypes, stand ins, or generalized tropes of one sort or another – all but a distant cousin of mine who, I suppose, represented a lay Christian, whom I was helpless to comfort.

We confronted the demons but were easily cast off. We regrouped by the bed and were forced to spend an entire night in this haunted room, all sharing the bed and hoping our toes didn’t dangle off the end. We were harassed and victimized all night. I remember a looming sense of terror more so than any particulars. In the morning, the door opened and the demon possessed had full run of the house. We stumbled out, defeated and scared. My minister friends ran away. I stayed, however. I was as furious as I was dispirited. How dare they?! This was *my* grandparents’ house!

Some of the possessed became my friends. Their affliction wasn’t as bad as the others in the house. The demons came on them in spurts so for much of the time, they were in their right mind and desperate for aid. We sat on the front porch, discussing my plan – because I did have a plan. I had the resolve to go back into the house and confront them all a final time, in a grand battle. I wrote about the coming fight in my journal, spoke of how these demons cared nothing for the name of Christ (“His name is on every street corner and in the mouth of every two-bit huckster, why ought we care more for it from you than from them?!”), wrote that no exorcism ritual affected them and about how we were mocked and all holy things, blasphemed. And yet, I wrote, I am determined to find a way to beat them. I will not stop!

One of the possessed, a woman with red eyes and blood dripping from her nose, stopped by the table where I was writing. She looked down and, thinking she had a chance for sport at my expense, demanded to know what I was writing. I tried to hide it, but she forced it from me. She laughed when she read about my discouragement at their having defeated all our exorcisms. When she got to the part where I expressed my resolve not to quit, however, I saw something change in her eyes. I saw fear.

“You’re afraid, aren’t you?” I asked.

“You *can* be beaten and you know it! You’re afraid I’ll find out how!”

She was staring at me with horror as I was whisked away out of the house and out of the very universe…

I arrived on a college campus in a common room, crowded with drunken, dancing, revelers in hooded, red, robes. This was, I understood, a den of Satan worshipers and I had, inexplicably, been given a place of honor among them. I was escorted by invisible ushers to a back room where there was a large bed and the thumping bass of the music was barely audible. Two young, pretty, girls from the party were brought in. This was a high honor for them and they were (again, without explanation) given me to do with as I pleased. They splayed themselves on the bed and beckoned to me seductively.

I can’t say I wasn’t tempted, what man wouldn’t have been? Something, maybe the sheer grace of God, held me back. Something about their robes. They were explicit Satanists and I was still reeling with fury at the demons in my grandparents’ house. I was mercifully whisked away, once again…

And here, I arrived, in a bright, sunny, non-threatening city park. Thinking back, I suppose it was in the locale of my job-offering. We were standing high on a platform, looking down at the park and surrounding town. There, in the distance, was my (future?) place of business. Behind me, and providing commentary on all that we saw, was Satan himself. Yes, the big L. finally made a personal appearance in one of my dreams. He was dressed in a suit, although relaxed, without a tie, in the sort of metro-hip style popular today. His face was clouded, but he spoke with an even, city accent.

“This isn’t going to work,” he said, gesturing at the place of business in the distance.

I leapt off the platform.

…unfortunately, and as is often the case in dreams, as I leapt, the height became immense and I grabbed a large, metal, I-beam to keep from falling into oblivion. Satan leaned out over the railing, looking down at me.

“Come on, man…what are you doing?!” he reached down, ostensibly to offer me his hand, but I knew he’d grab me if he could. So, with immense terror, I let go and dropped into the blue expanse, with nothing but wispy clouds to slow my fall…

…fortunately, I was able to grab at the I-beam and with a series of grab-drop-grabs, fumbled my way to the ground. Satan was right behind me. He chased me. I was so terrified and Satan was laughing so much at the merriment of it all, I fancied a relationship developing – I fancied that I was allowing this relationship to develop: he, the laughing school marm, and I, the troublesome but lovable kid he was trying to tame. And I was so tired. I thought, “…why not just stop and let him catch me? I’ll fight again another day….”

With the last bit of held-over fury from my earlier experiences, I was able to make one final dodge. One final change-of-angle to evade Satan’s grasping hand, and with that, I was whisked away once more.

This time, I arrived at the actual job-site, with two of the demon-possessed waiting there to meet me. No longer wild and terrifying, they were dressed in business attire, one even holding a clip-board. They were my welcome party and began to explain to me the intricacies of my job. As they spoke, I perceived that what they wanted me to do would be impossible…

“…well, I guess I’ll give it a try anyway.” I told one of them…

…at that point, I woke up.