Early November 1986, I was driving in the town where I had been pastoring for three years.
Over thirty years later, I don’t remember where I was going, but I remember the moment during that drive that sent my life in a downward spiral for the next two years.
There was nothing in particular on my mind causing me to be worried or concerned, but as I drove down the road that afternoon, a strange and unsettling thought darted into my mind. It seemed like it came out of nowhere. My mind was not wandering. I was not daydreaming. Yet suddenly and without warning, a vicious and hideous thought pierced my mind like a sharp dagger: You must be demon possessed!
I still remember the sting of the accusation that accompanied the thought.
Immediately, I thought to myself, That is the craziest thing I have ever heard. I shook my head, chuckled, and kept driving down the road.
A couple of days later, that same thought invaded again: You must be demon possessed. Again, that horrible rogue thought stung me like a wasp or spider. This time, it lingered in my mind longer than just a moment. In fact, I found myself answering the thought, “I am not demon possessed! Christians are not demon possessed! I am a pastor! This is crazy!” Within a few moments, I became distracted again, and my thoughts drifted to another subject.
Lustful thoughts invaded my mind as well and were followed by thoughts of persecution and condemnation: See there, you are demon possessed or you wouldn’t think those ugly things. Christians don’t think things like that. Pastors especially don’t think things like that. You’re no good. God cannot possibly love you.
Little by little, the tormenting thoughts became more consuming. Instead of an occasional stinging thought out of nowhere, the harassing thoughts started filling my mind at random times during the day and grew with intensity.