Let me tell you a story! This tale is perfectly true but the details that might identify individuals and places have been changed to safeguard the people concerned.
Lisa appeared to many people as being rather a hard woman. She was down to earth in her relationships and understanding of Life’s Rich Pattern. She was a Union Official and would brook no nonsense from Man or Beast. She had three children the youngest of which was only three. She experienced a bitter separation from her husband and moved with her children to a council house in an East Anglian city. Shortly after moving in, difficulties of a supernatural nature began.
Her children began to play upstairs, particularly the youngest, for hours at a time and talk of an unseen playmate. The youngest started having nightmares and Lisa herself began to experience dreams concerning a ‘Rita’ who was looking for her ‘Joey’ or ‘Joseph’. Lisa put this down simply to the trauma of the split and moving to a new locality. As the children had no friends then they had to spend more time in their own company and even invented new ones. Her youngest had never slept in his own room and as she was getting over her own trauma so it was to be expected that there would be such problems. She moved her youngest into the master bedroom with herself and things settled down again.
The next development was that Lisa felt she could not leave the house for any length of time. She was so nervous she had to ‘go sick’ and her anxiety increased when the children were out at play or at school. Things began to go missing and turn up again at odd places and times.
This was explained as her recent trauma working itself out and centring upon her need to feel safe with her children at home. The fact that things seemed to go missing could well simply be due to her momentary lapse of memory or current state of mind and in time all would return to normal. It did not. Things gradually got worse.
Matters came to a head when Lisa’s sister, Margaret, was visiting and whilst in the master bedroom the youngest child asked, “Aunty Margaret, who is that lady sitting next to you on the bed?”
The family persuaded Lisa to have a word with the local Vicar!………………………………….
Read the relevant chapter in the book to find out what happened next! But consider also a section from the chapter ‘New Testament appraisal’:-
………………………….. One model that describes something of the subsequent relationship of Christ to his followers is the model of the vine. Christ is the vine and his followers are the branches. So unless the branch is joined to the vine, then the life or the spirit of the vine is not able to flow into the branch. Not only can the branch not bear the fruit of the vine but also it withers, so it clearly cannot manage to grow in its own strength. The followers of Christ must in some way be regarded as being joined to Christ so that the power and life of Christ may be part of their experience. Lose this intimate relationship and the power of Christ is also lost.
Consider the strange case of the seven sons of Sceva (Acts: 19 v 11 ff).
Perhaps due somewhat to the current expectations of the time of the people at Ephesus after miraculous healings at the hands of Paul, the seven sons of Sceva used the formula of exorcism, “I abdure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches”. They unfortunately were not at all prepared for the dramatic and violent reply given with the words, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?” It could have been that the religious/medical expectations were not ingrained deeply enough in the two years of Paul’s time in the city to achieve a general result but considering the words of that reply it would surely make more sense to accept the biblical approach, if the record can be trusted. Even though it reads like propaganda material the sons of Sceva attempted the exorcism in their own strength not knowing personally something of the power of Christ, the stronger man. They lacked the charisma of Paul and the authority of Christ, and suffered the indignity of being set upon by the possessed man.