December 12, 2012
I remember when I was a little boy how I walked hand in hand with the saints of old. I was never lonely and never lost. I was never afraid. I had a favorite saint. His name was St. Francis of Assisi. In 1182 this saint descended the staircase of heaven and walked amongst us. For a few brief years he scattered his seeds of love and peace and then returned to his Father’s house above. All over the world are now blooming “The Little Flowers of St. Francis,” delightful and fragrant anecdotes about his pilgrimage on earth. I remember his prayer which goes like this.
Lord, make me an instrument
of Thy peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
I often sat on my Mother’s lap as she read to me her favorite stories from “The Little Flowers of “St. Francis.” I still have the book she treasured so much, written in the old German script. I wonder if I will find someone who will treasure this book and keep it by the side of their bed as I have for so many years?
I remember waking up night after night to the sound of air raid sirens, gas mask ready – just in case! Yet I felt safe and I felt loved. I remember standing on the roof of our apartment house in Bremen, Germany, gazing at a sea of flames that was only extinguished by the dawn of a new day. Yet I felt safe and I was not afraid.
I remember standing in line for many hours for a loaf of bread and sometimes none. I remember how cold my feet got. I remember gleaning the fields for potatoes, for rye, for turnips; but I do not remember ever being hungry. And I always felt loved even though war and famine ravaged our land. My childhood was filled with many good memories. God was in everyone and everywhere. His presence was a natural part of my life. Although I had few companions or playmates, I was never lonely. I delighted in exploring every field, every meadow, every tree, and every brook around me. I did not know there was such a thing as evil even though war was raging all around us. I trusted everyone. I felt safe everywhere my little legs would carry me.
But I remember that all of this changed. And it changed very suddenly! I remember being so convinced that through my example, my joy, my love for God and people, my zest for life, I could change the world around me.
When I turned twenty in 1953, the world around me was Fox Company, 63rd Infantry Regiment, Fort Ord, California, It was one against many and many against one. I was convinced I was a majority because with God all things are possible. And I was convinced that God was with me and that my motives were pure and holy.
Many progress reports, letters and cards to my family, chronicle the battles I fought for emotional, mental and spiritual survival (See “Letters from a Soldier”) . I remember the battles well. They lasted for many months and for a while I thought I might be winning. But suddenly I became aware of the world of evil. It exploded like a bomb both in me and around me. I saw deception, ridicule, betrayal, ruthless passions, vileness, coarseness, selfishness and brutality. Suddenly hell became as real and opposite as my private heaven. My mind and emotions became like a jungle inhabited by many terrorizing and tormenting beasts. The lovely life of a Saint Francis and the hideous thoughts of a Hitler were undulating within my soul and sabotaging my sanity.
I tried to find answers everywhere – from people, from nature, from books, from the Bible, from our chaplain, from my Father. Everyone had a different answer and many had none. I sat in church and cried and cried and did not know why. No one could dry my tears or explain them to me. The pain and torment in my soul became so great, I thought I was going to lose my mind. Heaven and hell were fighting a great battle and it took place inside of me. The God of my childhood was suddenly like a fairy tale god who played hide-and-go-seek within my troubled soul.
I remember the day well when I made that big decision that changed the course of my life. I said to myself, “I cannot endure this torment any longer. I do not want to die. I do not want to lose my mind. I cannot endure any more pain. I cannot wait for the right answer. I am neither willing nor able to suffer any more.” And like a backhoe may inadvertently cut a telephone cable as it digs a trench, I, by a conscious and deliberate act of my will, cut my connections to both heaven and hell.
I cut these connections deliberately by ignoring their suggestions and contradicting their demands. I said to myself, “From this day forward I shall live through the strength of my will, my intellect and my passions. Whatever is legal, I shall consider moral. Pleasure and perfection shall be the building blocks of the world I shall build for myself. I shall do all that I can to avoid pain and suffering.” And from that day forward I began to build my own small world of pleasure and perfection; my own kingdom in which I would be allowed to rule.
I remember throwing myself into every aspect of army life I had so totally despised before. The delicate nature of my child-like soul was soon tarnished by everything the world calls “fun.” It became easier and easier to betray the instructions of my youth. By the time I was discharged from the army I had grown up a lot, but in the wrong direction.
The decision to build my own kingdom of pleasure and perfection carried me along for the next seventeen years. I went to college and earned a degree. I went to work. I married and began to raise a family. I collected degrees, titles and applause. Yes, by the strength of my own will, intellect and resolve I did build my little kingdom. And for a while I was a very happy king with a beautiful, intelligent and loyal queen at my side. And I remember making every effort to keep heaven and hell as far removed from my borders as possible. As the word would say, “I was doing my own thing.” In my own eyes I was a good and moral man and was reasonably successful in my pursuit of happiness. But as time went on,, my self-confidence and health began to erode.
I remember chasing my elusive gods of pleasure and perfection with every ounce of strength that was within me, until one day my account was overdrawn. I was physically, emotionally and mentally bankrupt. The catchall words for such a dilemma is “a nervous breakdown.” Doctors said that I had a psychotic break.
Just a little while before I collapsed I remarked to a friend at work, “I’d rather be known as a fool, than not be known at all.” I certainly was a fool the way I led my life. I was the world’s fool! I believed its promises and swallowed its praise like it was candy. The world said, “Go to school, get a good job, work hard, buy a house, marry a beautiful and intelligent woman, be honest and you will climb the ladder of success. What a lie! What a dead-end road to a happy life. And why? – because it’s all about pleasing and rewarding “self” – that “me” first mentality which tries to do everything right but for the wrong reason.
Today I am a fool for Christ. Only He will and is able to keep His promises. The world will never understand or acknowledge the new Peter; and for me to be understood or affirmed by the world is no longer important. The new Peter no longer admires this world’s empires nor has he a desire to imitate them or fit in. I share these thoughts so that those who belong to God’s family can read these words and will consent to become fools for Christ with me.
I remember the day, the night that God in His mercy stripped the façade from my soul. I remember looking into an abyss of terror and crying out to God “Not my will by thy will be done.” And then I remember how He asked for a volunteer, a man willing to stand in the gap to hold back the powers of evil and imminent judgment. And I remember how heaven held its breath, waiting for my answer.
“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none” (Ezekiel 22:30).
I pledged to be that volunteer, that man. And when I did, it was as if I had touched a thousand volts. A few hours later I awoke in a hospital. I do not remember how I got there.
I remember waking up in an unfamiliar, but seemingly safe setting. I was in a hospital, a mental hospital. I remember feeling very safe. I remember thinking to myself, “I no longer have to wear the veneer of perfection that is so cumbersome and so phony". I remember the great love that welled up in my heart for some of the patients and the great fear of others. I remember being touched with compassion as I saw unexplainable terror, pain and delusion ravage the souls of those around me. And I remember wowing to God and myself to become both the balm of Gilead for them and a crusader for those out of touch with reality. But what is reality and who has the right answers?
I remember how the doctors tried to restore me to the picture of perfection that had symbolized my adult life. But the old Peter was dead and the new, infant Peter was born into an environment totally hostile to a soul committed to serve God and only God. Once again the powers of heaven and hell fought over the right to possess my soul. But this time the battle was different. By a conscious and deliberate act of my will I had pledged my life to God. Now the odds were in my favor because Jesus was not only on my side, but in my heart. I learned that “Greater is He, Jesus, who is within me, than he, Satan, that is in the world” (1 John4:4).
I remember being stripped of every vestige of dignity and respect, of titles, security and family. My uniform with all its campaign ribbons and medals was replaced by a straight jacket called “mental illness” and more specifically “schizophrenia.” Overnight my credit rating plummeted to zero. The chemical cocktails and bullets that were shot into my brain went astray and caused added indescribable pain and terror within my body and soul. I remember refusing to take any further medication. I remember being diagnosed uncooperative, hopeless and phobically centered on Christ. I remember being told that “praying in tongues” was gibberish.
But I also remember the turning point, that special day more than 40 years ago that the powers of hell and insanity were overpowered by the powers of heaven. I remember that special thought being birthed into my soul. I remember thinking to myself, “This terror, this fear, this confusion, this anger and violence that is unleashed upon and within my soul like a hurricane cannot be from God.“ And I determined to fight with every ounce of strength and courage that was within me. But how do we fight hell?
I knew only one prayer, to speak the name of JESUS. I remembered a co-worker telling me that the name of Jesus was more powerful than any enemy or a thousand atomic bombs. And I believed him. As soon as a hurricane would appear on the horizon of my mind, I put on my swimming trunks, jumped into our backyard pool and swam and swam and swam and spoke the name of JESUS with every breath. Finally, totally exhausted, I climbed out of the pool. The enemy was dispersed. I was as calm as a cucumber. The hurricane never ravaged my soul. I remember fighting a thousand battles in this and similar ways. Instead of medication, I had been shown that JESUS and the power that is in his name is better, is best!
I remember how horrified I was when I saw the darkness in my own soul. It was like a den of thieves and a pit filled with anger, fear, violence and lust. Over and over and over I had to call upon the name of Jesus to purge me and help me take dominion over my unbridled passions. And He always came and was my strength when I cried out to Him with all my heart.
I remember how I battled anger. For a long time I did not realize that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual powers of darkness. It is written “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12). I did not attack anyone physically, but in my mind and with my thoughts I did. I not only attacked and accused individuals, but also groups of people, organizations and even churches. Oh, how I thank Jesus for the restraining power of the Word and the Holy Spirit. In the eleventh hour, at the last possible moment, the restraining power of these words came to my rescue, “Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it. Don’t take the law into your own hands” (Romans 12:19).
I remember how very lonely and betrayed I felt. The very sanctity of my soul was violated. Even my Church did not provide a place of safety for this tender shoot of new life that was struggling to come forth. My Church was divided about The gift of tongues. It and the doctors who treated me agreed that speaking in tongues is “gibberish” and out of date. I never went back to that church or any other church that discredit the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It took me a long time to say and mean it, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing or saying.”
I felt so violated, so betrayed. I was wounded but not destroyed. I buried myself even deeper in the Word of God. Instead of receiving comfort from my Church or its people, I learned through this that only Jesus is worthy of my complete trust. I took everyone off their pedestal – doctors, preachers, parents, teachers, churches, universities, political parties, industrial empires, countries, religions, etc. and etc. Only Jesus remained on the pedestal and the Holy Word of God.
I remember how very weak and very gullible the new Peter was at first. Whatever someone told me, whether teacher or preacher, doctor or friend, I believe it. My unhealthy emotions and confused mind had a field-day with a conglomerate of many different doctrines. For a while I allowed my heart, my emotions to guide and rule me. I had put my mind on the back burner – not a smart thing to do! In fact, there came that day I smashed a statue by Rodin called “The Thinker”. I was unable to sift truth from error. But then one night, a visitation from on high touched my soul. When I awoke I believed. I believed in the Holy Trinity and I knew the Bible was true. I began to devour the Bible in unreasonable proportions according to my doctor. Slowly, very slowly my fractured personality began to heal. My mind and emotions began to heal. My mind once more became a legitimate part of my personality; however, it was my heart that led the way.
I remember the powerful aversion that I experienced towards the drugs intended to bridle my racing thoughts and unruly emotions. I did not understand this aversion until much later. It was God’s way of protecting and training me. Medication does have a legitimate place in the arsenal of weapons intended to help the mentally ill, but they are not a cure-all. Every person responds differently to medication – some not at all, some in a positive and some in a detrimental way. The side-effects can be so severe and so subtle that the overall benefits must be carefully and continuously evaluated. Such forms of treatment as lobotomy are now considered archaic, even outlawed. There are other forms of therapy that should make us question the sanity of doctors, judges, lawyers and pill pushers.
Whether or not the use of drugs to treat mental illness will eventually be placed on the back burner, only time will tell. What disturbs me is that so very many doctors do not offer Jesus and the love of God as the ultimate healer. Some even discredit the value of the Bible. Had I been treated extensively with medication, it is likely that the need to fight for my sanity would have been extinguished. The need to seek God for legitimate answers, for direction, for purpose, might have been sugar-coated by a false sense of security and well-being. I have met many mental patients who are at a perpetual slumber party. Taking pills can become as automatic as breathing. Honest and hard-working taxpayers carry the brunt of every mental patient who is misdiagnosed, mistreated and cradled by the improper use of medication.
I am not alone in the way I am appraising the treatment of mental patients. A young woman who was a guest in our home wrote us this letter,
Dear Peter & Rebekah,
I believe we must remain skeptical of any approach to healing that is too quick and easy, any approach that does not require much effort or input on the part of the patient or doctor. The suffix: PHD, MD, THD or MA at the end of a name cannot guarantee positive results. Malpractice suits and insurance would not be necessary if the healing professions could guarantee their results. We must be willing to humbly admit that we are all “practicing” medicine, practicing healing.
In the process of fighting and searching for sanity, I have become a fighter and crusader for my brothers and sisters who are similarly afflicted. May this pen slice through the tangled web of a thousand conflicting approaches and set the captives free. May the psychiatric, pharmaceutical and religious empires tumble and Jesus be offered as the Healer above every other healer. He is the only true light at the end of the dark tunnel of mental illness. As long as the love of God, the power of God and the Word of God are not acknowledged as our ultimate healer and weapon of warfare by our healing professionals, the mentally ill have little chance of being permanently healed. Jesus must become our only model of wholeness. The word “normal” must be redefined in psychiatric textbooks. Jesus must be our role model. Jesus is not only God, but He was a very brave man. I do not know of anyone else who allowed himself to be nailed to that cruel cross for us. Thank you, Jesus.
I remember the day a friend from far away walked into our house. He ignored all formality and common courtesies. “Do you have a Bible, Peter?” he asked. I handed him one and without introduction or explanation he opened The Book and read the fourth chapter of the Book of Daniel. He read the entire chapter while standing by our fireplace. His name was General Jerry Curry. He was the Commanding General at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado at the time.
Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream about a Tree
1 King Nebuchadnezzar sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you!
2 “I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me. 3 How great are his signs, how powerful his wonders! His kingdom will last forever, his rule through all generations.
4 “I, Nebuchadnezzar, was living in my palace in comfort and prosperity.5 But one night I had a dream that frightened me; I saw visions that terrified me as I lay in my bed. 6 So I issued an order calling in all the wise men of Babylon, so they could tell me what my dream meant. 7 When all the magicians, enchanters, astrologers, and fortune-tellers came in, I told them the dream, but they could not tell me what it meant. 8 At last Daniel came in before me, and I told him the dream. (He was named Belteshazzar after my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)
9 “I said to him, ‘Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery is too great for you to solve. Now tell me what my dream means.
10 “‘While I was lying in my bed, this is what I dreamed. I saw a large tree in the middle of the earth. 11 The tree grew very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see. 12 It had fresh green leaves, and it was loaded with fruit for all to eat. Wild animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches. All the world was fed from this tree. 13 “‘Then as I lay there dreaming, I saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven.
14 The messenger shouted, Cut down the tree and lop off its branches! Shake off its leaves and scatter its fruit! Chase the wild animals from its shade and the birds from its branches.
15 But leave the stump and the roots in the ground, bound with a band of iron and bronze and surrounded by tender grass. Now let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the wild animals among the plants of the field.
16 For seven periods of time, let him have the mind of a wild animal instead of the mind of a human.
17 For this has been decreed by the messengers; it is commanded by the holy ones,
so that everyone may know that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world.
He gives them to anyone he chooses—even to the lowliest of people.”
18 “‘Belteshazzar, that was the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now tell me what it means, for none of the wise men of my kingdom can do so. But you can tell me because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.’
Daniel Explains the Dream
19 “Upon hearing this, Daniel (also known as Belteshazzar) was overcome for a time, frightened by the meaning of the dream. Then the king said to him, ‘Belteshazzar, don’t be alarmed by the dream and what it means.’
“Belteshazzar replied, ‘I wish the events foreshadowed in this dream would happen to your enemies, my lord, and not to you! 20 The tree you saw was growing very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see. 21 It had fresh green leaves and was loaded with fruit for all to eat. Wild animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches. 22 That tree, Your Majesty, is you. For you have grown strong and great; your greatness reaches up to heaven, and your rule to the ends of the earth.
23 “‘Then you saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, “Cut down the tree and destroy it. But leave the stump and the roots in the ground, bound with a band of iron and bronze and surrounded by tender grass. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven. Let him live with the animals of the field for seven periods of time.”
24 “‘This is what the dream means, Your Majesty, and what the Most High has declared will happen to my lord the king. 25 You will be driven from human society, and you will live in the fields with the wild animals. You will eat grass like a cow, and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses. 26 But the stump and roots of the tree were left in the ground. This means that you will receive your kingdom back again when you have learned that heaven rules.
27 “‘King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.’
The Dream’s Fulfillment
28 “But all these things did happen to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later he was taking a walk on the flat roof of the royal palace in Babylon. 30 As he looked out across the city, he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.’
31 “While these words were still in his mouth, a voice called down from heaven, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. 32 You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.’
33 “That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws.
Nebuchadnezzar Praises God
34 “After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever. His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal. 35 All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him.
He does as he pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop him or say to him, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?’
36 “When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored as head of my kingdom, with even greater honor than before. 37 “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.”
As our friend read these words to all in the room, every word pierced my heart. I suddenly knew that these words were also written and intended for me. I had the heart of another high-minded Nebuchadnezzar. I saw myself climbing the ladder of “success.” I remembered the giddy highs of applause. I saw how I had spurned and ignored my Maker. And I saw how I fell from one moment to the next to a place of despair, subject to the mercy of some, the disdain and ridicule of others.
It is the mercy and grace of God that raised me up from a pit of confusion, fear and lostness. Yes, I did lose my mind; but Jesus replaced it with his mind. The apostle Paul writes, “Let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”(Philippians 2:5). As I sit here and remember and write I am overwhelmed with gratitude. How very ill I was; but I could not see it! How very lost I was; but I could not see it! How very dead I was, but I could not see it.
Many people prayed for me when I lived in the jungle of terror and confusion; but only the prayers of those who loved me unconditionally were welcome and healing. Some who prayed for me had no gentleness, “Conform to my definition of sanity if you want to get well. Pray and fast like I do. Go to my church!” they volunteered. Some prayers set me free while others placed me into a straight jacket. There are no formulas or easy prescriptions for healing a disturbed mind. Love, unconditional love is the only medicine with no negative side-effects. I have been the blessed recipient of much unconditional love – very much!
When I finally emerged out of my jungle of unfruitful thoughts and unbridled passions, I brought these words with me that may help someone else.
place your chains, your addictions at the feet of Jesus is the very best Christmas present you could give to Him, to yourself and those who love you.
Some of the chains that held me captive were visible, but most of them were invisible, at least to me. I remember how enslaved I was to cigarettes. The world and my peers saw my habit as fashionable while I was destroying the very tabernacle God had created for my soul. Jesus sent an angel in the disguise of a garbage collector to break my chains. We got to talking about the unclean and unhealthy habit of smoking. When he told me that he quit many years ago, I was challenged. I said to myself, “If this man can quit, so can I.” And I did! And from that day forward I began to rule over my addiction in a way that was pleasing to God. My dirty habit no longer ruled me. That was more than forty years ago.
Where and when do we begin to take dominion over the lust of our flesh? May the Lord send an angel to help you with your first step, however tiny it might be. Your decision to
But it is the invisible chains that are the hardest break. Since they are invisible to us, but not necessarily to others, we make no effort to be free of these chains. For many years I walked around with a God-complex. For many years I pulled on a rope that I saw in my vision. I tried to save the two people who were hanging onto the rope. Only after I was totally exhausted and had to let go, did I see the deception. Peter cannot save or qualify anyone for a place in heaven. Jesus and only Jesus is the door to heaven. How very silly and grandiose for me to offer anyone a gardening job in heaven because they had a “green thumb” and loved plants. See Chapter 2 in the book “To Hell and Back.” God-complexes and delusions of grandeur are quite common occurrences for those living in the twilight zone of mental illness. For this reason I feel prompted to remember and explain my own delusions. Maybe my distorted thought process can become as a mirror for someone else.
My dear Rebekah, my handmaiden for nearly forty years, helped to unshackle me in other areas of delusion. I had brought into our marriage a painting of St. George on a white stallion. St. George was poised to kill Satan, pictured as the dragon. When I told Rebekah that I saw myself as another St. George, she said, “Peter, you are not St. George. Jesus is St. George, you are the horse". Those words made a lot of sense and removed more of my chains, my God-complex. But after a number of years, I fell into another and quite similar trap.
written in today’s vernacular, the witch’s house would have credit cards instead of ginger bread cookies as shingles! Everyone, not only the mentally ill, must be taught to be on guard. Satan has rightfully earned the title of The Great Deceiver. He is good at deceiving us. He has had millions of years of experience.
A picture in our bedroom showed a Bangladesh farmer watering individual plants. The water was being poured out of a clay pot by a farmer. I loved that picture and closely identified with the farmer. I saw the tender plants as struggling souls requiring my individual and constant care. One day I expressed my thoughts to Rebekah. In a very kind way she reminded me that Jesus was the farmer, the water represented the Holy Spirit and that I was the clay pot. These and many other revelations came over a period of many years. I had to be reminded again and again that I was still being stalked by delusions of grandeur.
The mentally ill person lives in a confusing world of dreams, visions, voices and symbols. These can easily be misinterpreted because the ill person and not Jesus is the center of their universe.
Deception is woven into every facet of the world we live in. If the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel would be
I remember the story of Gabriel so well. I would like to build a small memorial to his name. Gabriel was my pet canary, an American Singer. His beautiful songs filled our house from morning till night. Gabriel gave his life to set me free from an accusing spirit, a spirit that waylays many of us. Here is what happened.
Rebekah was alone at home. I had gone to visit a friend. It was about that time for Gabriel’s cage to be cleaned and Rebekah proceeded with that chore while I was away. Step one of this procedure was to put Bessie Sue, Rebekah’s venerable old cat outside. Step two was to open the cage and allow Gabriel to fly around the house. While the cleaning of the birdcage was in process, visitors came by who wanted to see the progress that had been made on The Upper Room.
While Rebekah was escorting the visitors through The Upper Room, I came home with my friend. We strolled through the house. My friend observed that Bessie Sue was eager to come into the house and opened the sliding glass door to let her in. Then we both looked for Rebekah and found her.
Suddenly, like lightening, the picture of the open cage and the cat in the house struck me. I rushed downstairs; but it was too late. Gabriel lay limp and lifeless on the carpet.
At that moment many emotions swept through me, but predominantly a spirit of anger. I wanted, I needed, I must find someone to blame, to accuse. That had been my pattern when anything went wrong. But at that moment I realized how sick, how senseless, how destructive this pattern in my nature really was. I wanted to be
||free of it once and for all. I cried out to God to liberate me from this stronghold, this devil who is the accuser of
the brethren (Revelation 12:10). I asked everyone in the house to pray with me and for me. I asked them to listen to my confession and commitment to close the door to the accuser of the brethren, the devil, forever.
I wrestled for several more years with this giant in my life. One morning I woke up after a profound dream and knew that the victory was mine. Thank you Gabriel! May you be an honored guest in heaven and be able to sing your favorite songs forever.
The accuser of the brethren still tries to waylay me but now I spot him more quickly. For example, the other day I mailed a package to Gatesville, Texas. After two weeks the package was returned as undeliverable. I had put post office box 142 on the package instead of 214. At first I accused the post office. It did not take long for me to see my error and repent. I had to eat some more humble pie, my least favorite kind.
Now that I have apprehended this victory over the accusing spirit in my life, God can use me to assist others in their battles. Some of our guests have tried our patients and unwittingly taught us many valuable lessons. A few guests have triggered a great deal of anger in me. Maybe you would like to meet Steven? Just click on his name. I have posted two articles about this most destructive emotion called anger on our web site. Maybe you would like to get better acquainted with the subject and what you can do? Here are the titles for the epistles: About Anger & Much More and Anger - Caution.
I Remember Michael
(not his real name)
It happened here but it could have happened almost anywhere. We invited a young man to stay with us who was looking for direction for his life. It was to be a temporary visit; but before very long we learned to love and appreciate our houseguest and invited him to stay as long as he wished to remain – in retrospect, not a good idea. We were able to go traveling and leave our affairs under his care. He was responsible in every way and above all, our visitor loved God.
As weeks grew into months something that was well concealed within our friend began to surface – ANGER. The anger was not directed at his host and hostess. But we also knew that anger can be unpredictable and destructive and that we could easily become its target. We began to tiptoe around our friend, who was more like a son by now. We became reluctant to ask him to do the smallest chore around the house. At the same time, he was less able to sense our needs and became more and more preoccupied with his own needs. He washed his little red truck every day. He was nursing his anger like a spoiled pet or brat. It grew into gigantic and totally unreasonable proportions. The atmosphere in our house became unbearable and oppressive. And then I caught the sickness and began to remember how he had offended me and began to lash out against him in my spirit.
Our friend knew that he could not continue carrying his heavy burden of anger forever. He knew that sooner or later he would explode in a terribly destructive way and did. He sought help. He went to many counselors, Bible studies and prayer sessions, but without obtaining answers or relief. One night the battle became so fierce that I was unable to sleep. The anger filled our house like a foreboding dark cloud. In my distress, I got dressed about 1:30 a.m. and stepped into the night. I knew that if I did not deal with this problem privately and in prayer, my tongue could easily lash out destructively at the young man. That night I wrestled with a great giant as I walked the streets and cried out to God. I walked and prayed until all the strength, all the viciousness and confusion was drained out of my spirit. Finally, at 6:00 a.m., I went home and to bed. I slept for only a few hours, and when I woke up, I knew what to do.
I called the young man into the bedroom and asked him to sit on the bed. And here are the words I spoke to him, “We love you. We care what happens to you. You are like a son to us. You are very special. We have watched you wrestle with anger for several months now and each day your anger has become more intense and dangerous. You have gone to many people for help. You have prayed. You have cried out to be set free. Nothing has happened. If you really desire to be free you can be, even in the next ten seconds. To be angry or not to be angry is a decision. You must decide and only you can make that choice. It is no different than the choice a smoker must make who wants to be free from nicotine. We smoke because we choose to smoke; and we are angry because we choose to be angry and not forgive. Forgiving is a choice. Holding on to anger is a choice no different than smoking. Some time back we decided that no one would be permitted to smoke in our house. We placed a ‘Thank you for not smoking,’ sign on the wall. From this day forth I, as the head of this house, have decided that neither you nor anyone else will be allowed to pollute our home with smoking or destructive and explosive anger. If you choose to continue to nurse your anger, you are no longer welcome in our house. You must leave.”
But I also proceeded to explain the validity and purpose of righteous anger and how Jesus used it to cleanse the temple and cast out evil spirits. RIGHTIOUS ANGER IS NEVER DIRECTED TOWARD PEOPLE, ONLY AT THE EVIL FORCES MOTIVATING THEM!!! The surgeon attacks the cancer when he operates and not the person. Anger can be a valid emotion and is a necessary part of our personality to fight principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians6:12).
The young man arose from the bed and left the room. Few words had been spoken on his part. He pondered those things I said to him. A few hours later we sensed that the heavy black cloud had been lifted from our home. We looked into his face and saw that the battle was over and had been won. He had chosen well!
Fear and anger have been two Goliath’s in my life. I remember these tormenting spirits well and have talked about them in other writings. Jesus has helped me to gain a measure of dominion over these cruel and opportunistic demons. This particular battle was triggered by a notice from the bank that a check had bounced and that our account would be charged fifteen dollars. The notice came on a Saturday. The bank would not reopen until the following Tuesday. The tormenting spirits had two full days to ruin a perfectly good weekend.
I checked my account balance and could not find an error. I called the person who had received the bounced check from me and apologized for any inconvenience, assuring him that I would cover the check. I also determined that I was not going to ruin anyone else’s weekend and did not tell my wife about the problem. Every time fear and anger attempted to ruin my peace during the next two days, I asked Jesus to help me deal with these tormenting spirits. All went quite well until Tuesday when the mailman brought another notice of a bounced check. The cup of my indignation was full. I called the bank. The bank had goofed and I had another victory. I had not dumped an unpleasant situation on my wife. Text books will never record this victory; but I think it’s worth shouting from the house tops. I got an “A” on my heavenly report card.
I remember the many years that I struggled with poor sleep. Sleeping pills were never an option for me. There was many a day that every day was an effort after a sleepless night. Some nights I could go to sleep quickly; but during the middle of the night I would wake up – my thoughts racing, my emotions in turmoil.
I made the decision to aggressively search for answers to my poor sleeping pattern. I assumed the posture of a detective, looking for a thief. I was determined to examine every possible clue. There were many nights I awoke with a jolt. Those were the nights I knew what to do and did it. I immediately got dressed and headed for a nearby meadow with the posture of a prayer warrior. I battled principalities and powers of wickedness for often up to two hours and at times until dawn. Praying in tongues was my most effective weapon of warfare. Finally I was reminded of the Scripture, “The Battle is the Lord’s”(2nd Chronicles 20:15). After speaking those words out loud, I had the victory. This Scripture assured me of victory every time. I am still wondering why I did not hurl these words at the enemy the moment I stepped into the meadow? When I asked Jesus why he allowed me to be jerked out of a deep sleep, he replied, “Peter, I needed you that night as my prayer warrior.”
I also learned that there were sleepless nights that I inflicted upon myself because of stupid and unhealthy habit patterns. Here is what I learned that helped me sleep better.
1. Disconnect the phone or put the ringer on the “off” position at night.
2. Don’t drink beverages or eat deserts at night that buzz up your nervous system.
3. No late meals except for a light snack.
4. No stimulating games, music or television (e.g. no news) at night.
5. No stimulating work after supper except for doing the dishes.
6. No company or subjects at night that hyper you up.
7. Don’t wait till the last minute to do important stuff – don’t procrastinate!
8. Get out of debt.
9. Turn out the lights before midnight or sooner.
I continue to be on guard. New thieves often come in new and clever disguises. Anything that robs us of our sleep should be viewed as a potential thief. My prescription is mine, tailor-made for my needs. It may change or be amended from time to time. My handmaiden Rebekah reads me to sleep every night. We carefully choose the subjects. She has a very soothing voice. It takes about five minutes for me to fall asleep.
Every fiery trial has produced a STONE OF REMEMBRANCE, beginning with the first night in the mental hospital over forty years ago. Every fiery trial and every sleepless night is a miracle in disguise. Leaving a legacy of victory for others is my high calling. For this reason I have collected these stones and built an altar of remembrance.
I believe there is no event in my past, present or future, regardless of how painful, that does not contain a precious STONE OF REMEMBRANCE. I hope these words will encourage every person who visits these pages. Equipped with this knowledge, I no longer need to erase the past or dread the future. With Jesus at my side, I now have the courage and confidence to face my past deeds and misdeeds and address the future with confidence. The “ghosts” in my past have lost their power over me. They can no longer torment, accuse or confuse me. I am forgiven. I am healed. I have a new mind, the mind of Christ. I am ready to go to war and ready to be used by Jesus as his PA – Physician’s Assistant. I invite you to march with me. I invite you to march with Jesus, my Commander-in-Chief.
I am here to pass this same confidence and courage on to every person who reads these words. Our past can be and is to be a storehouse of precious jewels that every person must discover for himself. Our past and our future must not terrorize or torment us. It is to challenge us. With Jesus in and all around us, we’ve got it made! We have the victory first in our heart and then in our hand. Alleluia!
And here is one of those precious jewels I gleaned from my past: “Any sinner can get married; but it takes a saint to stay married.”
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February 16, 2014
An Unusual Addendum
Peter & Rebekah Laue
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
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All writings by Peter, the Lord's Scribe and Storyteller and all paintings by Rebekah, the Lord's artist are copyright free.