“Mommy, I don’t like those loud voices.”
I turned to my daughter, sitting in her car-seat behind me.
“What loud voices?”
“Those loud voices.”
She was pointing behind her, toward the rear windshield. There were no loud voices. I had the radio on quietly, but there is no rear speaker.
“It’s okay honey, we’re almost home,” I told her, and distracted her by talking about something outside of the car, and tree in bloom or a colorful house, I forget what exactly.
But as we finished our drive I was thinking about what I would have thought of this incident had it occurred five or ten years earlier. Small children, I was taught growing up, were often able to see and hear things that we couldn’t. Small children could sense demons, could know when angels were present, and could hear either speaking. If a small child was acting oddly, his or her behavior might be attributed to something he or she could see but we could not.
There were stories, stories of martyrs and the persecution of Christians, when small children saved the day because they could sense something, see something, hear something. And that kind of thing was not to be ignored.
And it wasn’t just small children. I was also taught that animals can see and hear demons or angels when people cannot. This idea may stem from the story of Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22:
Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials. But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road.
Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again.
Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”
Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”
The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
“No,” he said.
Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.
The angel of the LORD asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.”
Growing up, if one of our dogs was acting strangely, it always made me very nervous. What could that dog see, I would wonder, that I could not? Was the dog picking up on spiritual cues, hearing the warnings of an angel or the threats of a demon? Even to this day if an animal acts strangely I get an adrenaline rush for this reason.
If the incident I described at the beginning of this post had occurred five or ten years ago, I would have attributed it to spiritual forces – I would have concluded that my daughter heard the voices of angels or demons.
I would have prayed over her, prayed over our car (casting out demons in Jesus’ name just to be safe), and prayed over our house. I would have talked to her about how important it is to love Jesus and to do what is right. I would have talked to her of sin and redemption, in hopes of bringing her to say the sinner’s prayer that would result in her being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. I would have worried that until she accepted Jesus as her savior she might be for some reason especially susceptible to demonic influence. To counteract this, I would have taken the amount of time I spent reading her Bible stories and praying over her up a notch. I might have asked my pastor or my Bible study group to pray over her as well. And I would have carefully watched everything she said or did for any signs of trouble.
Or maybe, if I’d concluded it was angels she was hearing, I would have hoped I had a spiritual prodigy on my hands, a future child preacher or a prophetess, a child who was especially in tune with the divine. I would have encouraged her to tell me what the voices said, and to tell me if she heard voices again. I would encourage her to tell me if she could see things other people couldn’t, and would have been especially attentive to any spiritual qualities of what she might say or do.
But now is not then, so I’m not worried. Today, I believe that things like this have physical causes, and that there is a logical explanation somewhere. Perhaps, I thought, my daughter was just imagining the voices. Or Perhaps I missed something and there were construction workers yelling outside of the car. Or perhaps she has a psychological issue I should take her in and have her checked for. Actually hearing voices in your head might be a sign of schizophrenia, for instance.
When I got home and repeated the story to my husband, he informed me that there IS a rear radio speaker, and that it’s located behind our daughter’s car-seat. I had had no idea. So there you go, there’s your natural explanation – the radio might not have sounded that loud to me, but to her, coming from right behind her seat, it was “loud voices!”