I was called to the Emergency Center in the middle of the night. "Can you bring a bible to the patient and, um, talk to her a bit?"
The nurse told me that the patient was "off her meds" and might not make sense. The nurse took extra pains to describe what the patient was like, trying to apologize for the patient's behavior. "I'll be right here," she said,"... really, you only need to stay five minutes."
After introducing myself, the patient exclaimed how glad she was to meet the chaplain. She really needed spiritual food, she said. "And let me tell you how ... can you see that cellophane on the wall? it's freaking me out - and that bar code - you know, that's taking my spirit out of me...Oh I'm so glad to see you, since..." and she proceeded to tell me along this vein how she got to the hospital. Every other sentence, she warned me about the scary bar codes.
"Would you like to pray with me?" Oh yes, and would she. From the opening of my prayer she prayed over my words, with her own. "Yes, Jesus, take this demon from me! In the name of Jesus! In the name of Jesus! Devil be gone!" I prayed and prayed with fervor, allowing her voice and my voice to raise into the room. "All this we pray in the name of Jesus..." AMEN we both shared aloud.
The gigantic tears she shed had made rivers down her face, mixing with her runny nose and pooling on her simple green gown. I reached for a paper towel and paused for her to collect herself. "oh, thank you..." and just when I thought I might have provided some relief, she said, "...if it wasn't for that cellophane and oh look over there at that bar code! It's really freaking me out!..." I wished her peace and handed her the promised bible as I made my exit. I smiled. It ain't about me, here!
Three days and a million other patients later, I was walking down the hallway when this same woman crossed my path. "Hi!" she said. "I am feeling much better now." "Oh! Hi again! I'm glad you are feeling better." "Yes, can you tell me where this department is?" she showed me a piece of paper where she was headed. "Certainly, I can take you there." We proceeded to have a very lucid and chatty time walking to her destination. She really did look a whole lot better! If I hadn't met her in that middle-of-the-night state, I would never have guessed it was the same person!
I don't think it was my prayer that brought this healing and yet I smile at the notion of having the opportunity to exorcise her demon. What's next for the on-call pager, snakes?
And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." Mark 16:17-18 (New International Version)
How is God working out demons for you in this moment?