A couple of years ago, I opened my front door to a knock. A man stood on my porch selling something. I can't remember what. Magazine subscriptions maybe?
I listened for a moment and started to reply. But before I could do so, he smiled in a very peculiar way. My whole body went flush and my heart started racing. I was suddenly scared to death. I cannot explain it, but I knew in that moment that he would hurt me. I almost screamed "No!," slammed the door in his face, locked it and ran from room to room in my house making sure each door and window was secure. After, I watched out of my blinds to make sure he was on his way. He stood there for a few minutes on my porch...just still, just standing. Then he left. I did not see him go to any other doors to try and sell whatever he was claiming to sell. I was terrified for an hour after.
Since that day, I have felt a little foolish at the reaction I had. Clearly, I had no evidence that he was harmful. But still and all, I truly felt I had looked in the face of evil.
Last year, when Oprah was in her final season, they were doing a "best of" compilation. I've never been much of a talk show watcher - even Oprah - but I was on the treadmill, so I thought I'd tune in. One of the shows they were reviewing featured a police officer talking to women about safety. As the expert was going through his checklist of tips, he mentioned that women don't usually want to turn away from helping someone because they have been conditioned to give assistance and be polite. They feel that saying no or walking away is rude, so they stay even when they have an instinct that they are in danger. Predators know and exploit this.
He then went on to mention the "natural" signals your body will give if there is imminent danger:
Feeling flush all over
That "fight or flight" instinct we hear about so often.
He said that 9 times out of 10, these physical signals of danger were accurate. Oprah then had women tell their stories:
Of either escaping from an attempted abduction
Having survived one
Having run before they really got into trouble.
I knew as I continued watching the program that the physical manifestations of my fear that day years ago were valid. That I had reacted correctly. That I had been given those signs for a reason. Apparently, according to the letters that streamed into the studios in the wake of that episode, the information given saved countless lives of women who had watched and taken heed of the advice.
It's true that our human bodies are miracles from God.
I'm convinced that He thought of our safety as He instilled in us these protective measures.
But as I was thinking about the forces of evil the other day -
yes, these are sometimes the things I reflect upon in the quiet of my shower - creepy, I know -
I began thinking of the word "evil" and where I most often utter it...
The Lord's Prayer.
All of these many years, I have prayed the final words of
the Lord's Prayer as a sinner:
"Forgive us our trespasses
(or 'debts' or 'sins', depending on your religion)
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil."
My personal interpretation has always been
"deliver me from walking into the pathway of evil and sinning more."
Which I do think holds some weight.
But the more I chewed on this, the more it came to me that I think I have been asking to be delivered of the evil that could befall me...
Evil in my path...
Hurting my body...
My very soul.
And what, then, if in this very common but big, bold, soulful prayer,
all this time I have been asking for help in those moments
when evil is at my door, smiling and waiting to take me down?
If I have been asking for intervention from harm?
What has God done for me then?
He's sent the Holy Spirit to give me clarity...
To make my heart race...
To flood me with the decision to turn away...
To slam the door in the face of the evil one.
Most days I like to think about all of the good He does in my life...
the way He blesses me...
the way He loves and communicates with me...
the way that it's warm and fuzzy and cushy and sweet.
But today I thank Him for His protection against all evil in my life.
I thank Him for shielding me from the injury that could have happened multiple times in my life of bad choices.
I thank Him for giving me the strength to
Both into His light and away from the darkness.