This one haunted me all through my childhood, terrifying me to the point at times that I often could not sleep at night for fear of having it happen to me. While belief in ghosts was thought to be hooey by my family for religious reasons, demons seemed very real based on the accounts of Jesus' encounters with them in the Gospels. Sermons on demons were a regular part of my childhood.
The lady who gave this account was our pastor. She was almost like a mother to my parents and of course a grandmother figure to my brothers and me ... a sweet, dear soul of unquestionable honesty and integrity. In all of her ministry and personal life (she died in the early nineties), there was never a hint of scandal or impropriety about her.
As she told this story, she was awakened late one night by the feeling of there being someone in bed with her. This was an impossibility as she was not married and lived alone, her children being grown and out on their own.
Opening her eyes, she saw the face of a demon staring at her from the pillow beside her. She often tried to describe the way it looked, but could never do any better than saying it was hideously ugly. She described the feeling she had as being "frozen with fear," unable to move in order to get out of the bed. Then the Bible verse "resist the devil and he will flee from you" came to her mind. She began repeating the words "in the name of Jesus I rebuke you" over and over in her mind, as she could not even move her mouth to speak.
As she did this the demon rolled over and out of her bed, hitting the floor with a loud thud. By this time she was finally able to move. She rolled over to the edge of the bed just in time to see the demon roll under the bed. Climbing out, she knelt down and looked under the bed. Nothing.
I realize I don't do her story justice. You just would have had to hear her tell about it in person. And if you had been steeped in the reality of demons, such as I was, this would be a hair-raising thing to ponder. As a child I could never go to sleep in a completely darkened room because of tales like these. I always had to have a nightlight.
Grown now, I tend to think our pastor had a vivid and terrible nightmare. I well recognize the sleep paralysis from my own nightmares. In a million years I could not imagine this lady making up a tale such as this out of whole cloth. But I have also learned about the Incubus, and believe that fits this case almost perfectly.
Havelock Ellis well observed: "Dreams are real while they last -- can we say more of life?"
My purpose in collecting and sharing these stories is not to ridicule the people who tell them. I'm not trying to make fun of those who believe in an unseen world, even if at times I think humor is appropriate. In my view, and I will probably elaborate on this later, events such as these have psychological - and of course natural, rational - explanations that can be literally overflowing with meaning.