He was back.
In the darkness, I heard his breathing: raspy, grating, demanding.
He hovered over me, outlined against the window, his bulk blocking the light. In his shadow, the room was so much darker. Everything was darker.
My heart sank. No...oh, no. Why? Why was he back? I'd thought...
Of all the monsters that lurked in my past, he was the worst. The others had been vanquished with time, education, understanding. But this one...
All it took was a suggestion and he came out of hiding, ready to inflict pain. Ready to demonstrate to me his power, his superiority, his persistence. Ready to prove once more that I was helpless in his grip and would always be so.
"No. Leave me alone. I will not listen." My voice was barely above a whisper--hardly the voice of a conqueror. I pulled the pillow over my face and hoped I would suffocate.
"Yes you will listen. You always do. You should, because I'm right. I can defeat you anytime I choose. You have nothing with which to fight me off."
Behind the blackness of my closed lids I tried to remember why he was wrong. He was wrong, wasn't he? Had I learned anything at all or was he right? Would he always win?
"I...no...you will not win. Not this time." Had my lips uttered those words or was it wishful thinking? My heart pounded against my ribcage, threatening to desert me, too.
I lifted the pillow and cleared my throat. "You will not win because greater is he that is in me than...than you."
I licked dry lips and this time my voice echoed in the dark room. "It is written, The Lord has not given me the spirit of fear." I swallowed and chanced a peek from beneath lowered lids. He was still there.
"If God is for me, who can be against me? Huh? The Lord is my light and salvation. Whom shall I fear?" My heart thudded in my ears, but my voice gained strength. "Jesus said not to worry. My Father knows my needs and He will provide."
The bulk moved and a thin trail of light trickled through the window over his shoulder. "So you say. But what about...what if..."
"No. I will not listen. I stand on the Word of God and if my Father says not to fear, then I will not fear. So beat it."
The black shape seemed to shrink, but the voice was still clear. "Don't you need to plan ahead? You're only being smart to think ahead. What about tomorrow and the day after that and the day after--"
"No. Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow. Your name is Fear and I resist you. I will continue to resist you until you leave. You will not win this time. You've stolen too much of me in the past. You will not have any more of me. I agree with Job when he said, 'Though he slay me, still will I trust him.' So you see? There's nothing you can do to scare me anymore. I want only God's will for my life and you have no power over that."
The shape withered, like a slug under an avalanche of salt. Moonlight filled the room.
My breathing returned to normal and I stared up at the shadows on the ceiling. Had I won this time? What made the difference?
I thought of the thousands of times he had assaulted me and won, striking blow after vicious blow until I was defeated. Useless. I had tried to fight back before, hadn't I? What was different this time?
My words echoed inside my head. "I only want God's will...God's will... You have no power over that."
The other times he had defeated me because he threatened My will. He had all the power over that and he knew it. I had fought with him out of desperation to stay in control of my life, protect my plans, my territory, my goals. I was terrified he would rip them from my hands.
But now they were no longer in my hands. I was not responsible for the outcome of my life as long as I stayed surrendered to Christ. With my will engulfed in God's, there was nothing to lose. Nothing could touch me that did not come straight from my loving Father's hand--for my good.
I closed my eyes and the darkness was no longer the enemy. Fear was gone for now, but he would try again. And again. His tactics never changed, but mine had. I would never again allow him to grow big enough to block all light from my room.
Maybe he had learned something tonight. Maybe I had too.