A true story by J.C. Ellis (Rated PG)
My heart was hell, a deepening abyss. My soul, wrapped in chains, unable to find peace. I staggered along with fellow students on the way to morning chapel. This stroll was familiar as it was required of us each weekday morning. It was a bright sunny day in Southern California and my whole being throbbed with woe.
NO! It can’t be true! It can’t be true! I am saved! It’s all about Jesus! It’s all about Jesus!
I fought against the intrusive thoughts that plagued me as I walked, oblivious to my surroundings. It was a brilliant day. Grass shone with viridity on the campus and the flowers thrived in colour.
You are damned. Hell awaits you. Demons shall possess you. You are marked for darkness.
NO NO NO NO NO NO! It’s all about Jesus! I am His!
I continued along the sidewalk which led to the building where the chapel services were held. All around, students were making their way there. Some were in groups, chatting as they walked. Some were alone and others rode on bicycles. The large two story building came into view with tennis courts slightly behind and to the left. I had often thought them odd.
Give in. It is hopeless for you. You are already condemned. Enjoy the pleasures of the flesh.
I WILL NOT! No! No, no, NO! Lord forgive me!
Because of my deeply distressed appearance I received curious and concerned looks from a few around me but none dared try to help.
You are alone in all this. Forsaken. You know you want to succumb to our pleasures. There’s a world of fleshly delights awaiting you.
It’s all about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus……
I would have sobbed and howled if I could but I was frantically trying to escape; trying to flee the clutches of the devil. I felt as though I was looking at a massive precipice or rather dangling from the edge of one.
Can I continue like this? Will I survive? Will I lose myself entirely? Am I going to live as an anti-Christ? Help me, Jesus! Help me!
You will give in. Isn’t peace for a little while better than no peace at all? I can provide you with peace and pleasure.
It’s all about Jesus. I am saved…….I continued my mantra.
Suddenly I found myself practically alone in the parking lot with a woman who was clearly deeply concerned.
“Are you alright?” she asked.
I recognized her as the Bible College’s Dean of Women.
“I…..I am………no….I’m not.” My voice was heavily filled with a mix of negative emotions. Dread, anxiety, pain….all in intensity.
The dean looked extremely worried. Her eyes appeared to me, as did the eyes of many around, to possess a light that I lacked. An inner illumination of peace and joy. Whenever I gazed into a mirror, the seeming hollowness of my own eyes drove me mad.
“Please continue with me; the service may do you some good.”
“……okay,” I responded.
We proceeded to the building. Just outside, some students lingered in conversation with others. In the lobby there were washrooms at both ends and a table set up by each entrance to the nave. Students were expected to sign in for morning chapel.
I followed the dean into the back of the nave. The service started with a hymn. I could not stay still but paced to and fro. The nave was gigantic. The room was originally intended as a basketball court. There were only a few pews against the back of the room. The congregation almost entirely sat in chairs.
“Are you unable to stay still for worship?” she asked.
“……I….fear…I may have lost my salvation…..and I can’t sleep!” I sounded full of anxiety.
Again she gave me a concerned look and went to speak with a man in his thirties—the Dean of Men. He was a charismatic and strong looking man. I admired him for his piety and knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. After a few minutes of talking he came over.
“Ellis, I think it best that you go home for a while. I am going to contact your family so that they can come and get you.”
“If…you…..think….it is for the best….” I trailed off.
“I do,” the man said with authority. He told me to return to my dorm and left quickly.
I left the building and began to run, focusing on my destination. I ran with all there was within me. I ran from the devil. The campus was mostly devoid of people since nearly all its residents were at morning chapel. I passed beautiful blue and white buildings, some of which had a look akin to old plantations. I went through glorious greens, fabulous flowers and towering palms. Near the end I raced by rocky hot springs and a pond to one of the men’s dormitories. Up the stairs, I sprinted to the door of my dorm and struggled to get my keys out. I wasted no time unlocking the door and getting inside. It was composed of three rooms: a bathroom and two bedrooms filled with bunk beds. The air was filled with a slight musk. I walked towards my bunk that was by the glass sliding door that led to a little balcony which held a calming picturesque view of the pond. None of the beauty of the campus, however, had any calming effect on me.
O Lord help me! It’s all about Jesus! It’s all about Jesus….
I paced around the room and decided to grab my Bible. I attempted to read some of the Psalms or another book therein but all the words were like daggers. Every word seemed to glow like burning iron in a forge. Every word seemed to condemn.
What am I to do! I cannot go on like this! Is it hopeless?! Should I go out and seek what worldly pleasures I can find before I perish forever? Help me Jesus! Help me!
You are damned. You shall never find peace now. Leave these futile efforts and enjoy yourself.
NO! No, please! Oh God help me! I fell to my knees and started banging my fists against the floor. Jesus! Jesus! I started speaking aloud, “Oh, Lord save me! I can’t live like this!” My chest burned with emptiness; a bottomless void. I felt as though the earth would crack open and swallow me up into the fires of hell.
Hours passed in this fashion. Some of my dormmates returned and attempted to console me but nothing availed. So they suffered with me and prayed.
“Ellis, your grandparents are here.” one of my dormmates told me.
They helped with getting some of my belongings together. My Southern grandmother came up to the dorm, filled with concern.
“Ellis, hhwhat is wrong!?”
“I think…I’ve lost my salvation. I don’t know. Oh God!” Terror was on every word.
“He hasn’t slept in days,” one of my dormmates told her with worry.
She finished gathering my belongings and my dormmates helped to load it into my grandparents’ car. My grandfather was waiting behind the wheel. The dormmates prayed with me and offered a sad farewell. I sat next to my grandfather, with my grandmother in the back seat. My grandparents encouraged me to try to lie back and sleep but I could not. We drove out of the Bible College and got onto a freeway.
You are mine and I shall have you!
No! No no no! I can’t be demon possessed! I can’t be demon possessed!
Darkness seemed to loom around trying to grip me.
It’s all about Jesus! It’s all about Jesus! It’s all about Jesus!…
I began to thrash about. I could not remain still. I believed the moment I stopped moving I would be possessed.
“C’mon Ellis, settle down.” My grandfather said with both worry and love.
“I can’t! I am going to be demon possessed!” I yelled.
My grandparents began to quickly discuss which hospital to take me to. My body was covered in sweat. I looked filled with complete dread; the terror a man has when facing his doom. I continued to thrash and began to beat my legs and the car door. It seemed to take an eternity but finally we reached a hospital. I was so filled with terror I could hardly walk. They helped me into the hospital.
The waiting room had numerous people. I was hardly aware of them. I no longer had the strength to stand and rocked back and forth in a chair. My grandparents went to tell a nurse what was wrong with their grandson. Eventually I was called and my grandfather got me a wheelchair and wheeled me to a more secluded area for a nurse to question me and to get my weight. They then brought me to a room with a bed and helped me into it. I began thrashing and hitting the wall next to the bed. My mother showed up and sat in front of my bed. She was a pretty woman in her forties with blonde hair and blue eyes.
“Ellis, you need to calm down or they will strap you down.”
“Mum, I can’t! I’m going to be possessed! I can’t!” I continued to hit the wall.
It seemed to me that the end really was nigh. That all hope was gone. That soon I would be possessed and surely damned forever.
NO! I won’t be possessed! I can’t be! No! DEAR GOD NO! NO! It’s all ABOUT JESUS! IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS! IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS….
Suddenly my grandfather appeared in the doorway and looked straight into my eyes. Those eyes seemed to pierce into me with a knowing light.
“Ellis, do you trust me?” he asked.
Those words broke everything down. I understood those words to be referring to something more.
Lord, I don’t understand why I’m going through this but I’ll trust you.
Hope was no longer absent but became a reality. I knew—I knew that despite how I felt, despite everything, somehow my Saviour Jesus Christ would not fail me. I spent a couple of terrible days at the hospital but I now had hope that somehow Christ would get me through my suffering and that kept me going. I went home with my grandparents and after a few weeks of feeling condemned and forsaken I eventually recovered and had peace. I learned that no matter how I may feel, my Saviour is always with me and completely empathizes with me, having suffered much more for me on the cross to make propitiation for all our sins. I have continued to struggle with my mental health over the years but it has never been quite the same as then. I have learnt to trust God; that He allows this suffering for my own good, that I may draw nearer to Him and learn to depend upon him more and more.