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Sunday, April 07, 2013

The Name Above Every Name

"Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow: of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2: 9-11

Recently, I was in Huntington Beach, California, or "Surf City USA". The Main Street is lined with restaurants and shops that stretch all the way to the ocean and out onto the pier.  On any given sunny day, there are throngs of people moving and milling about in various beach or tourist attire.

It was the last day of my one-month stay in the L.A. area, so I decided to see the beach and smell the salt air one final time. As I rounded a corner in my car, heading for a parking deck, I noticed a woman sitting on a corner bench. She was talking to herself, and making odd movements that seemed to have no reasonable purpose. I had seen this before-every city has it-the mentally unstable person whose mind is wracked with years of deprivation, drug abuse, or demonic infiltration, outcasts of society, not deemed sick enough or rich enough to be hospitalized, yet unable to function in a socially normative way.

After parking, I entered the busy throng by the same corner on which the woman was sitting. Now, my appearance does not always lend itself to obscurity in public. I am accustomed to people looking at me, children pointing-calling me "Santa", quips about my beard,"how long did it take you to grow that", or wondering if I am, indeed, part of ZZ Top. So, when the wild-woman zeroed in on me with outstretch arm, pointing and yelling, I simply walked by and made no eye contact. But, something was different, here. Suddenly, the woman was at my side, shoulders touching-still talking nonsense, walking step-for-step with me. Before I knew it, she had interlaced her arm in mine, as if we were a couple. I then commanded, "No, no. Do not touch. You may walk and talk but, but do not touch". She repeated the sentence back to me, then defiantly yanked on my beard. At this point, I physically removed her arm from mine, repeating my command. In my mind's eye, the action slowed, and I saw it. I had seen this before. So had Christ, so had the Apostles, so have many of the faithful, the righteous, who would walk in the Spirit. Amid the woman's rapid-fire ranting, I leaned over to her ear and said quietly, "In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, be still". Immediately her ranting stopped, and her grip released. She sighed, and said, "Oh". Knowing that, this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting, and that we war not against flesh and blood, I was not deceived into thinking this woman could be instantly delivered in a brief encounter.  Being aware, also, of the propensity of a demoniac to inflict physical harm when rebuffed, I took advantage of that moment of "stillness", and ducked into a restaurant. Again, in my mind's eye, the action slowed. It was surreal. The room I had stepped into, was small, still, and empty-only four tables and a counter-no customers-no employees. In a flash, the woman was at the door. Seemingly, out of nowhere, a large young man appeared from inside, darted past me, and stood off the woman, commanding and driving her back out to the sidewalk. He continued commanding and even pushing as the woman defied him. In the confrontation, the woman's pants slipped down, exposing her nakedness. Then she slipped further down the street. I didn't see the large young man return inside my place of haven, so I went to the doorway and looked curiously outside. He was nowhere to be seen, but the woman had moved down the walk continuing her antics. I made a b-line in the opposite direction.

There is a name above every other name-the name of Jesus-King of Kings, Lord of Lords- the name to which all must bow, now, or in the age to come. All will confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of the Father. This is true even for the other woman, during my California trip, who stuck her finger in my face and said, "You are the devil". But, that's another story for another time.

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