We all know this fight isn’t against flesh and blood right? Well, this was my reminder.
As it was, while in Sydney, Australia, five months ago I found an unusually large lump on my thyroid. We had only been back from SE Asia for two weeks. My body was well worn from the travel through the seven countries we visited over that two month period. We hit Thailand in the middle of the trip and by that time we were ready for a little break. It was Christmas and we were hoping to spend some time as a family on the beach in Pattaya, catching up with a few friends, resting and refreshing for the next leg of the journey. However, once we arrived we were smacked with the reality of injustice all around us and immediately felt not only the presence but the rule of the spirit of lust. It was massive! And so, we put aside our own personal desires for rest and entered into all that Abba had for us there, being present and fully engaging. Through conversations and interactions with locals, we were given a picture of the state of affairs, exposing the breath of the beasts influence. I felt compelled to write about it and you can read more about that here…
The enormity of this spirit mixed with the vulnerability of my own past with sexual abuse seemed to trigger anxiety attacks. I’d experience anxiety attacks long ago and knew some technics to deal with them, but these seemed much more severe than previous experiences. We made our way north to be with a community in Pai which offered solace but my heart was weak, I sensed something had been damaged in my inner most being. By Myanmar, my ability to discern and hear from the Lord was cloudy. I felt a spirit of paranoia try to get hold of me but rejected it. Physically I got very sick and was in bed for a few day.
In Singapore, our kinfolk identified a heaviness and laid hands on me to pray for it to be removed. At the time, I believed it was just the weight of seeing so much pain, corruption and injustice. My joy was fading and the prayer encouraged me as my friend Claire reminded me of an initial word that was spoken over our family before we gave everything away and left in the bus five years ago.
"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you, in his love he will no longer rebuke you. But will rejoice over you with singing." Zeph 3:17
I could just barely make out the still small voice of Abba, whispering “I’m hear still.” I continued to declare God’s goodness, faithfulness and grace to any who would listen, proclaiming the wonder of Christ and the freedom He offers us. Then our family spent a few days with some of our mentors in Indonesia, Ron and Janine Parrish. Bali felt dark and the presence of evil almost suffocated me but the Parrish home was like a safe house and as much as I wanted to go to the beach, I didn’t really want to leave the solace of their home. We did visit a few villages and markets and I distinctly remember seeing from afar a woman who had a large goiter. I remember her vividly because my body shivered and shook briefly as if taking on her condition. I remember the compassion I felt for her and was in awe at her ability to still function in a way that seemed normal.
Anyway, by the time we got back to Australia I was a hot mess. Actually I was a cold mess, as it felt like my internal furnace went out and I could never get warm. Then the lump on my neck appeared. A dear friend in Sydney brought me to see her doctor who eyed the lump and declared it a goiter. She suggested I probably needed to follow-up with an ultrasound.
We went to Bendigo for six weeks to work alongside our friends at Cornerstone Community on a house project. I tried to help, cooking most nights but could never seem to find energy for much more. I struggled with any sort of task that involved going into town or being around to many people (which is not like me). I didn’t want to write and sort of went into coma mode. I would lay in bed for days with Netflix, filling my head with romantic fantasy shows. Which then lead to feelings of shame and isolation. I could feel myself starting to break from reality, longing to live in another time or place. There was a part of me that fought back though and I would cry out, I mean cry out for Abba to heal me, to help me. I knew I was loosing my grip and I felt like I was going crazy yet I knew I wasn’t. I shifted my focus and as long as I was engaged in prayer or worship or conversation about Yeshua I felt alive but as soon as I was alone with my thoughts I was paralyzed.
I told a few close friends and family about my symptoms and asked for prayer but was too embarrassed to send out a mass request. My family was in shock. They didn’t understand the waves of trauma that would rise out of me, the uncontrollable tears, so many tears. They prayed and cared for me the best they could but also were still trying to engage and come alongside our hosts. On top of that Graciana was getting ready to leave the nest. I was useless in helping her make her last preparations, as I couldn’t think beyond my own pain. Then I got a call from the US to come home and help care for my mom.
I wasn’t sure I was fit to help, but the call mustered up in me a furry and I was able to step outside of myself and rise above whatever this crap was that was pulling me down to the pit of hell. I went and for six weeks, I cooked and cared for my mom as well as myself. I was barely better than her and the slow pace of the days actually gave me time to breath and focus, pray and worship. As much as it was helpful for my mom, it was even more life-giving to me. Oh to focus on life! Everyday became about finding harmony, peace and solace. Any disturbance to this harmony evoked a lioness in me that would roar at whomever broke the code. Seriously, you can ask my dad. Even so, the house found harmony and as mom began to return, so did I.
I saw a doctor who did a blood test and an ultrasound on my thyroid. I saw a therapist who worked with Bio-energetic resonance and learned about the benefits of acupuncture, Vit C treatments, diet, etc.. According to all of their tests, I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue (near failure), a virus in my endocrine system that some call cancer and found that the lump on my thyroid was from heavy metal toxins. Not so bad right? Ha!
I left the US with knowledge about what was physically wrong with me and began a regiment of supplement and diet changes. I learned about ways to care for my adrenals through reducing stressors, rest and heart coherence. However, something was still off deep down. There was a fracture deep in my psyche and my joy was gone.
By the time I made it back to Australia, I was so happy to see my family but the dark shadow was even worse than when I left. My sorrow was intense and the suffering almost unbearable. I kept praying for clarity to understand where it was coming from. Was it some unspoken sin? Was it some deeper area that the Holy Spirit wanted to heal from? Was it my pride? I knew I struggled with spirits of condemnation and shame, I wrestled with them at different times in life, but this was different. It felt like I was chasing a fox. I would glimpse its shadows but then it would be gone. I cried out, “What are you trying to teach me Lord Jesus?”
Then we made our way north, our short-term plan was; a season of rest somewhere warm (seeing as my internal furnace was broken). Then a hint of a dream to build out a bus and prepare for what Abba has next for us. However, the dreaming was stifled by my cloud of internal discord. Despite my efforts to care for my body physically, I continued to manifest new physical problems and the emotional breakdowns began to dominate any moments that my mind weren’t completely focused on Christ.
Then, on a Tuesday morning, I heard a voice that said, “just kill yourself.” I immediately rejected the thought understanding that it was not my own but felt crippled by the blow. That day, we did a few workshops at a school on history and creativity and by the grace of God, I made it through. Then that evening we arrived in Glenrowan. I stumbled into the Duursma home, grateful to be in a safe place. I took a few deep breaths and found my footing enough to share my struggle with my friend Diane. She stated that is was OK for us not to lead their house church that night and just rest, but I assured her that I needed to stay focused on speaking the truth of Yeshua’s love. We worshiped with all of our hearts, shared in community and covenant, taught on the Sons of Thunder and God’s transformational love in their lives.
Then after the service there was an intense time of prayer. Many words were spoken over us but the one that stuck out was a picture of a dark murky lake and a pier that went out into the middle. I was walking to the end of the pier and asked by Abba to step off. I was hesitant but took a step off into what seemed like the abyss. However each time I stepped out a step would appear. And so it was that each time I stepped further into the darkness, God made another step and held my footing. That’s exactly how life seemed to be rolling. Another picture of a freshly pressed key was given. Then Psalm 91 was read over me.
After the service a woman named Michelle came up to me. She said, “I don’t really know you but I feel compelled to pray for you tonight when I go home and when I pray, I mean I really pray. So, tell me everything you need prayer for.” I was shocked but grateful. I told her briefly about my physical aliments but that the thing that really had me bound up with some sort of shift in my inner most being. I couldn’t put my finger on it and it was terrorizing me. She listened and then left. The night continued on with beautiful fellowship and finally our heads hit the pillow. I still couldn’t get warm and my sleep was unsteady but I was filled with a small measure of joy and hope.
In the morning Michelle called and said she had a word for me and let us know she was coming by. She arrived with her notebook and bible and got straight to it. She said that when she saw us five months ago there was such a light and joy beaming from me but this time I looked like the life was zapped out of me and that is why she felt compelled to pray. She said when she had come up to me the night before to ask if she could pray for me that she laid her hand on me and that when she touched me she nearly had to run out of the room because the pain she felt on me was more than she could bear. I began to well up with tears. She said that she went home and spent all night interceding on my behalf and this is what The Lord God Almighty showed her. He gave her I John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Then He showed her a great sadness upon me, a deep sorrow, a terribly dark shadow, harrowing pain and anguish, endless sorrow, weeping and gnashing of teeth. I started to weep as that’s exactly how I’d been feeling.
She said God showed her a moment in my near past of an interaction that took place in Thailand between myself and a Thai man. She said he was very unsuspecting, super smiley, friendly and even hospitable. She asked if anyone came to mind? A few interactions came to mind but no one specific. She said this man was a shaman and during our exchange he secretly touched my inner most being with the spirit of death and hades! As soon as she said it, I knew it to be so! That was the voice… “You should just kill yourself.” Then the cold, always feeling cold, and all of the health problems that just popped up suddenly, and then the damage I felt internally but not understanding what could have caused it!! She continued on that throughout the night on multiple occasions she would hear God say, “I see you Jana.” She let me know this wasn’t something I did to myself or deserved and that God was my strong tower, that I would be released from the grips of this spirit and my body would be healed. She asked God for more details on the “how” but he didn’t give her much, just that using the word “stop” whenever I felt the attacked kept coming to mind. She encouraged me to continue to use my voice to declare my inheritance as a daughter of the King of kings. She then said to all of us with great enthusiasm, “start dreaming again and dream big, because when this lifts and your strength is returned that God has much work for you to do!”
Abba is good and faithful and although I’m a little pissed off about the whole thing even happening in the first place, I’m relieved to know that it was nothing more than a lame attempt by the enemy to shake my faith. The little cockroach of a spirit has fled but the residue of damage needs to be dealt with so until I hear more from Abba about my health, I will continue to utilized all of the knowledge and resources that I’ve been given.
I’ve also begun to declare blessing over that shaman. He has no idea what love and grace is coming for him!
And so, here I am in a season of healing, rebuilding and renewal.
I ask that if you are the interceding type that you would direct your prayers towards Psalm 91 for me. Heck, I’ll be praying it for you too!
Here read it for yourself. Read it out loud. Savor it, allow the words to wash over you and offer comfort. Allow the words to build you up and give you strength. And may these words become a reality in our time of need.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare, and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at mid-day. A thousand may fall at your side, then thousand at your right hand but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will life you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because He loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
"You have as little to fear from an undeserved curse as from the dart of a wren or the swoop of a swallow....Or a cackle of cockatoos" ~Mama J quoting Proverbs