This is John, the resident guard mule at the farm where we board our horses, Gretchen & Scooby. Isn’t he gorgeous? His coat glistens; he lives at rapt attention; and he owns the space he occupies. He also detests being handled. John came to the farm that way. The owner tried simply sitting in the field with him, working to gain his trust. Eventually he allowed her to approach him without running away. He would let her get close enough that he could spin and wallop her with that strong hind-end. She tried getting a rope on him to have a vet check him…for which John dragged her through the field and woods. Bruised and sore, she resigned herself to letting John live in the fields free from human interaction. His beauty can only be admired at a distance because he is possessed by whatever his life once included.
I call him Demon John because he reminds me of the many people held captive by the evil one-those who resist all touches of love. This week when we arrived to work our horses, we found Demon John had taken up residence in their field. Observing his techniques and body language revealed clear parallels to the work of the enemy in lives all around me. I thought perhaps you would enjoy a glimpse of a principle Elaine Davis (Unbridled Faith) refers to as:
“If you read it in the Word and see it in the herd, you’ll believe it!”
The first thing we notice was how John had separated our usually inseparable horses. He proceeded to show us how he controlled their movements. Gretchen was assigned the far corner of the field; Scooby had been placed in a wooded area near the barn. John stood at attention between the two. He fixed his eyes on us as if to communicate, “This is my domain.”
Division is a tool of the enemy because unity is a passion of the Father. Christ’s prayer in John 17 for his disciples (those of that time and those of us today!) was a plea for unity. The enemy loves to step in-between us and our closest allies. He controls our attention and prevents pro-active connections by forcing us to continually re-act to him. In a masterful switch, we begin to believe the isolation is the fault of the other person. We become blind to the work of the enemy. The isolation deepens without intervention…without Jesus.
For our horses, we were the intervention that changed their reality. As Riesa approached Scooby, John stepped in to place himself between them. Scooby is never difficult to catch, but John moved him out into the field. John kept himself on Scooby’s ‘dominant’ side…a few steps ahead but able to dive in and bite as needed. He also moved him in a direction he really wanted to go–toward Gretchen. The body language of Scooby shows him looking back to Riesa–and even listening to her call as John moves him away from her. But John has convinced him he is more powerful and able to hurt him; Scooby has acquiesced to John as his leader.
The enemy uses a similar tactic on people. He sees the Father approaching, calling to his precious creation. The devil steps in to our dominant side–our strengths and our lusts–and bullies us away from the One who calls. Like Scooby, we step toward what we want relying on our strengths (ie hard work, knowledge, skill). We move away from the voice that calls us to relationship and connection. We never even notice we fare ollowing one who cares nothing for us and will never give us what we long for.As John drove Scooby toward Gretchen, his attention was divided. Gretchen, seeing an opportunity to be free of his domination moved toward me. The bond Scooby has with Riesa was able to slip into the crack created by John’s loss of focus. Riesa haltered her boy and kept John at bay while I haltered Gretchen. Then began a fascinating glimpse of John’s impact on Scooby’s attitude and connection ability!
As children of God, we must maximize our connections with others. There are opportunities where those we love are able to hear our call. We must passionately pursue those in our lives with Gospel of Peace. It must be what we are always prepared to do! When the opportunity arises, we must be ready to connect and move our loved ones away from the pull of the enemy.
In our pasture, John’s presence remained and his impact seeped into the ‘working time’ we planned with our horses. John maintained a close proximity to Scooby, and his behavior showed it. His normally happy personality was irritable–he crow-hopped and resisted Riesa’s leadership. Having lost his position in the herd, it seemed he was intent on establishing himself with Riesa. Working with him, Riesa decided to help him drive Demon John out of the work area. Watching him rise to the task and return with prancing joy at his victory will make your heart smile!
Consider where you have seen this with people. Unhappiness comes out in resistance to the ones we are closest too. There are negative, unhealthy consequences to moving away from relationships. Those who have lost control in one area often strive to take control in another. Someones it is done in a positive way (eg a determination to exercise); other times it is a clearly destructive effort of control (eg bulimia).–always it falls short of the wholeness God desires. God’s desire is that we partner with Him to chase our enemy and march together in victory!
Scooby and Gretchen had a sit-com ending to their story. It was resolved in a morning. Life doesn’t have sit-com situations very often. Life is messy and the after-effects of ‘demon johns’ needs commitment and love to resolve. We need fellow believers to come along-side us and help us fight for the kingdom of God to reign in our lives.
If you would like to dig more deeply into the Word revealed in the herd, check out: