An Intimate Account of The Odd, Spiritual Journey
That Has Thus Far Been My Life
As I gaze backward in time through the long corridor of my past, sadly I find that the walls of my memory are quite bare, with most of the details and images of my life having long since departed. Rather than appearing like a series of home movies or a colorful photo scrapbook, the collected memories of my past more closely resemble a small booklet of facts containing only a handful of badly smeared, pencil sketches. Try as I might, I can’t seem to access much detail from the long-term memory circuits of my brain.
My heart, on the other hand, seems to have a kind of memory of its own. It replays for me exactly what I was feeling during very specific times in my life, which is why this story is written more as a metaphorical journey-of-the-heart than it is filled with the colorful details of many past moments.
It’s interesting, what the heart chooses to remember…
If I were asked to sum up my life thus far in just one word, I guess that word would have to be “confusing.” It seems that I’ve spent the better part of my life confused about a great many things — including how hard to brush my teeth, the limits of my own abilities, where to seek lasting joy and fulfillment, the true purpose for my life and even the very nature of God, himself.
And finally, from the many awkward, social interactions and frustrated comments which I’ve encountered during my time here on this planet, it has long been obvious to me that who I really am seldom, if ever, matches the assumptions made about me. It’s not as though I try to confuse people. It just happens.
There are, however, two facts about which I have absolutely no confusion. The first is that our Creator knows how to interpret perfectly the unique language of every soul, regardless of any “peculiarities” of our existence; there is no one on this earth who God could ever misunderstand. The other is that God has a very good reason for our every circumstance and an important purpose for every life — even one as strange as mine.
Please don’t misunderstand. It is not out of self-deprecation that I elect to describe my life as “strange,” “odd” or “peculiar,” but rather that these words simply best fit what has been for many years my own perspective. I am after all the soul who has had the unique privilege of living this particular, confusing life.
As you read this intimate and revealing account of my unusual, spiritual journey, let’s just see if you, yourself don’t respond at times with these very same descriptive words. Yet, then again, who knows, there is always a chance that you might actually understand my life better that I do. I would really like that.
All in all, regardless of anyone’s preconceptions about me or their ultimate opinion about this testimony, there is one thing about my words to which I can attest. My story is honest and sincere, and deeply felt.
Like it or not, this is my life…
Table of Contents
- Setting The Stage
- Early Life
- Sudden Trauma
- A Taste of Religion
- Cattle Country
- The Cow Creature Dream
- The Barn Loft Door
- A Sorrowful Song
- Coping Mechanism
- Reflections In a Mirror
- The Youth Group
- The Song of Changes Dream
- Burning The Candle
- Personal Tribulation
- A Season of Many Cats
- It’s Time
- Be Still
- Invisible Hands
- The Old Man Dream
- The Bright Light Dream
- A Time of Testing
- Two More Times Against The Wind
- The Pulling
- A Startling Sensation
- A Shocking Revelation
- Seeing Differently
- Like a Moth to a Flame
At the present time it is still unclear which of my mild autistic tendencies were genetically inherited or the result of a possible slight brain injury sustained from a fall at six weeks of age. Regardless of their origin, It would seem that I have manageable forms of sensory processing disorder and dyslexia. I also appear to have limited fine-motor control, something referred to as the laser focus effect, and a kind of constant, low-grade anxiety which can only be soothed by stimming (repetitive motion, such as from a rocking chair).
Because people “back in the day” didn’t yet know much about the autistic spectrum, for a great many years I was totally unaware that I was different. In the same way that a person born blind has no concept of color, because these difficulties have always been mine, I simply had no concept of life without them. I unconsciously compensated naturally in order to function successfully according to the standards and expectations of my society. Therefore, on the surface I appear to be just like most everyone else, and most everyone else appears to be just like me. As a child, I simply had to work a little bit harder at some things, that’s all.
Always working hard and giving my very best became my life-long modus operandi.
One day, when I was young, I was alone in my room playing on my bed with a white, plastic, hand-held, FM radio. As I turned the dial, I tuned into a station where I heard a man talking about God. This man announced that God wanted my heart. I don’t recall exactly how he put it, but it felt to me like this was very important to God. Deeply moved, I hid under the covers, closed my eyes and through tears of love said “Dear God? You can have my heart — and my liver, and my lungs, and any other parts you need that I don’t know about yet.”
At another time during early childhood, while I was alone, I clearly heard these soft and loving words which were gently spoken without any voice. “Will you always listen with your heart?” Feeling no fear at all, I calmly answered “Yes.”
Although I didn’t understand why I was asked that silent question, I did discover that, through my heart, I could detect “something” on the inside the same way that, through my nose, I could detect aromas on the outside. I quickly learned that these “inside aromas” emanated from other hearts. I accepted this ability as normal, naturally assuming that everyone has it. Perhaps everyone does. Because I had answered yes to that silent question, I resolved to always pay attention to my heart’s sense of “inside smell.”
On one particular day, as I was playing with some toys on the living room carpet, I became aware that my heart was announcing a faint “hot” aroma which was coming from some distance directly behind me. I stood up, turned around, walked over to the window and saw my grandfather’s car idling at the end of our long, gravel lane. My mother then came into the room, joined me at the window and quietly stood there looking out. I turned to her and asked “Mommy? How come Grandpa hates us so much?”
As time progressed I eventually learned that, in addition to announcing the aroma of other hearts, my heart would also diligently announce its own aroma. In fact, I discovered that my heart would even change its aroma in accordance with my imagination.
For example, if I played out a fantasy daydream where I was a mighty, super hero who just defeated a bad guy, my heart would broadcast an aroma of sorrow if I hurt him. I learned that the more realistic and detailed my daydreams became, the more complex and sometimes surprising my hearts response to them would be. Through extremely honest, realistic daydreams I found that I could safely learn from my mistakes without actually hurting anyone. This became a powerful technique that I would frequently use throughout my life.
At some point in later life, I became aware of the spiritual significance of numbers. For instance, I learned that the number seven represented completion, and that the number eight represented new beginnings. I eventually came to see the transition between seven and eight as like a boundary between seasons, and when I look back at the very beginning, I can see that boundary line quite clearly.
After completing the relatively easy first seven years of life, I entered into a new season, a hard one. Within three months of my eighth birthday, my father, who suffered from debilitating depression, took a hunting rife and deliberately shot himself in the head.
Experiencing this traumatic and bloody event caused something in me to break, and I developed a permanent dissociative disorder and severe memory problems.
Mercifully, God did not permit my dad to end his life by his own hand. Instead, he was allowed to live for four more years in a convalescent home and came to know Jesus before he finally died. “Thank you God for saving my daddy.”
At this point the stage was permanently set. I was who I was. Obviously, being so young, I lacked any ability to understand myself or what had happened to me.
Because of my built-in, autistic difficulties, and now this overpowering, dissociative Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, real life often unfolds faster than I can cope. I became very susceptible to sudden confusion and manipulation. I had that deer-in-the-headlights stare, looking upon each oncoming moment with the blank wide-eyes of a chicken or a fish.
Without my heart’s sense of “inside smell” I would be easy prey.
My first taste of organized religion was unsettling and set a precedent for the rest of my life. Through my child-heart, I quickly discovered that certain Christians carry with them a disturbing aroma. I could clearly see the phony masks they wore, and that building called “church” was like a musty playground where they seemed content to pretend. Their practiced religious-habits felt hollow to my heart, like empty cardboard boxes smelling of dirty socks and stinky cheese. And any effort to dress-up those empty boxes in ceremonial mysticism was like spraying a bitter perfume which, for me at least, utterly failed to cover the smell. Of course, not every body there contributed to that insincere smell. But there was more than enough to give me a lasting aversion to organized religion.
Even still, using words like “gospel” makes me very uncomfortable. Perhaps for those who understand their full meaning and significance, certain religious words can actually bring tremendous joy. But for me as a child, being sensitive, and on the outside looking in for the first time, the deliberate overuse of unexplained, foreign-sounding words appeared like a secret-club password or handshake. All my life I have felt a quivering discomfort around any religious words routinely worn by phony Christians like a clubhouse badge. How can frequently spouting trademark religious-words everywhere you go please the Holy Spirit? Would not a truly Spirit-led person know to avoid words routinely usurped by those of insincere faith, especially when in the presence of someone new who might feel alienated?
I also shied away from their book, The Holy Bible, fearing that it too might be saturated with that same disturbing smell. It was loaded with unfamiliar, harsh-sounding words like “thou” and “hath.” Many times it was strongly suggested that I should read the bible religiously, along with the implication that I should feel guilty if I didn’t. The way this was presented felt like a stiff and empty rule; another forced and phony ritual. I didn’t want to be a phony. It smelled very bad to my heart to ever pretend for real. So my desire for the cleanness of sincerity battled against their guilt and for the most part I never forced myself to read the bible.
Yet, I did posses a natural curiosity about God and listened with much interest whenever I heard stories or watched movies about Jesus and other figures from bible times. This curiosity also gave me the courage to peek inside the bible on my own once in a while. But I mostly found it to be very confusing, and some parts were scary, even terrifying. I became more intimidated. This intimidation has followed me down through the years.
Growing up in a Christian home, I did at least acquire a rudimentary understanding of the concept of sin. I’d heard the story about the stone tablets called “The Ten Commandments” which God wanted us to obey. My understanding of them was that I should always do what my parents tell me, never lie, never steal and never cheat — at games or on tests.
But, the greatest lessen I ever learned came gently from my mom, who taught me that love, above all things, was the most important, and that Jesus loved me no matter what.
I spent the first 12 years of life on a ranch in cattle country. I now realize how truly blessed I was. Everything around me smelled good to my heart; the sunshine; the fragrance of alfalfa and sound of pigeon’s wings; the powder-blue sky sprinkled with puffy-white clouds and red-tailed hawks; the gentle breezes that blew through the green leaves and long, dry, summer grass; orange and pink cotton-candy sunsets amid sounds of crickets and cows, and of red-winged blackbirds congregating on the power lines; the love and loyalty of my little brother and our adventuresome dog, and the unconditional love of our mom.
God was very gracious to me. He gave me such a gentle country start. Even though I have a sensitive spirit, and the perpetual dance of life-and-death played on through nature all around me, I felt wrapped in a blanket of peace. I wish I could somehow find that peace again. Since thirteen (the age of accountability) something in me mourns without end.
I don’t sleep very well. I never have. For whatever reason I can’t seem to shut off my thoughts. I often have to trick myself to sleep by daydreaming. Then, I usually wake up several times throughout the night, and by morning I’m more tired than when I went to bed. I need about ten hours of sleep each night to function well. Whenever I try to take a short nap, I wake up feeling sick for up to half-an-hour. Sometimes, I experience bouts where over and over, just as I fall asleep, I stop breathing and wake up gasping for breath. For these reasons I don’t look forward to my times of rest.
I also wonder if perhaps I dream more than is typical. Sometimes it even seems as though I dream all night long. Most of my dreams are short snippets that take place in dingy, rundown buildings where I help people I’ve never met solve their problems.
Of course, due to the nature of my memory disorder, most of the details of both my dreams and my daytime memories quickly fade away until only certain bare facts are left scattered throughout my life. Yet, there are a handful of dreams that have somehow stayed with me. These powerfully vivid, color-filled dreams have always felt like they were more than just ordinary dreams. Somehow, they involved my spirit.
One of these special dreams repeated itself two or three times during my childhood. In this dream, I am walking along a country road on a sunny, blue-sky day when I see something come shooting down from the sky and land on top of a very small, grassy-green hill just up the road. As I approach, I see a whitewashed fence surrounding the hill like a tiny corral, and standing on the top of this green hill is a cow creature.
This creature looks just like the black and white cows at home, only, its head is not clearly defined, like it has many eyes and many horns which I just can’t quite clearly see. I walk up to the fence and we have this very peaceful, loving conversation in a way that I somehow can’t understand or remember. During this brief yet wonderful conversation I quickly grow to love this creature very much. Then, the creature tells me that it must go now because the time has come for it to die. I become incredibly sad and say “no! Please don’t go!” Then, the beautiful cow creature is gone, and I wake up in tears.
One day, I think I was about nine years old, I was climbing around the internal structure of a very tall hay barn. Normally when I climb the barn’s skeleton, the high loft door is closed and the whole barn is filled to the rafters with hay bails. But on this particular day, there were no bails, just a bare concrete floor some twenty feet below me, and for some reason I didn’t even notice that the loft door was open.
I don’t know why, but I climbed all the way out onto that open, loft doorway before I came to my senses and realized that I had nothing to hold on to. Suddenly, having the vague sensation that I was falling forward, I instinctively jerked backwards which caused me to lose my balance. As I began to fall backwards, I remember closing my eyes and screaming. Then, I instantly relaxed in total, peaceful acceptance.
The next thing I know, I somehow hit the ground feet first, legs slightly bent at the knees, and to my surprise, my leg muscles were incredibly tense! My whole body totally absorbed the impact like a perfectly positioned spring. I was completely unharmed.
What’s odder still is that I did not hit the ground directly below that barn loft door. Instead, I remember finding myself somehow standing in the very center of the barn.
At the age of twelve, although I was good friends with several of the boys in my class, and God had blessed me with a terrific best friend, I felt the tug of an ever-growing loneliness inside my heart; a deep longing for intimacy slowly rising to the surface. I began wishing that I had someone with whom I could hold hands; a sweet and tender partner who would actually want to spend time with me; a girl best-friend.
Then, I graduated from the sixth grade, and that summer I said goodbye to all my childhood friends as my family moved from the country life to the city life. It was there that I acquired my first taste of the strife-filled hearts of bullies. Soon after, my new step-father joined the Army.
Due to the constant displacement that so often accompanies a military life, along with my disorders, sensitivity, and the pain of always having to say goodbye, I had greater difficulty fitting in and making new friends each time we moved. Very quickly I developed feelings of inadequacy and shyness as my social skills lagged, and my loneliness gradually intensified until it plateaued into full-blown heartache at the age of fourteen.
That ache of intense loneliness, along with that feeling of deep mourning, have since been my heart’s constant companions, perpetually blowing through me like a cold, howling wind. Nothing I’ve ever turned to has had any lasting effect on them — comfort food, movies, TV, masturbatory fantasy, video games, music, novels, hobbies — nothing. No matter how much time I devoted to any of these activities of distraction, all they could ever accomplish for me was to ever-so-briefly drown out that sorrowful song forever playing in my heart.
I eventually grew wise enough to see that no combination of these forms of self-medication would ever work as a permanent solution to that howling wind. Yet, giving them all up can be so very hard when it seems as though they are the only relief there is, albeit temporary.
I suppose there are other forms of self-medication which I could have tried, like tobacco, promiscuity, alcohol or drugs. But thanks to the Saturday morning advertising efforts of many caring people, I could see the demons lying in wait within these poison candies.
As a kid I couldn’t stand the sensation of loose footwear. I always kept my socks pulled way up and my shoelaces extremely tight. I also didn’t care for shirts cluttered with words or images. Yet for some reason, horizontal stripes were okay. As a teen, my bedroom was kept visually sparse, nothing on the walls, and almost nothing on top the desk or dresser. To this day I still avoid cluttered space, and I’ve no idea why.
Whenever I am in the midst of prolonged, intense, physical discomfort, such as from the flue or strep throat, I am tormented by endlessly repeating, exhausting dreams. Once I dreamed that I was split into six different people, and all night long I kept distributing some of my pain to each one in turn, over and over and over and over. Because of these tormenting dreams I dread the night whenever I’m sick or hurting. Thankfully, I’ve never broken any bones or needed painful surgery.
I feel tremendous discomfort from sudden temperature changes, so I’ve never experienced the joy of taking a hot shower or climbing into a hot tub. When my hair grows too long, I don’t like the feel of it touching the back of my neck. I also don’t care for the sensation of jewelry or watches. I dislike handling foods that are greasy, sticky or crumbly. I dread vacuuming because of the sound. I could continue, but this list would be endless.
These are just a few examples of the kind of sensory experiences with which I have difficulty coping, especially any that are chaotic or extreme. My conscious mind can’t seem to shut them off, tone them down or filter them out. Even the normal physical sensations of my body are constantly distracting; always tugging at my sleeve.
Although every day as a part of normal functioning I must force myself to engage in a myriad of unpleasant sensory activities, internally, I’m always bracing; hanging on tightfisted; forever holding my breath; waiting for them to be over. Thankfully, from out of my dissociative disorder evolved a kind of coping mechanism…
My dissociative Post Traumatic Stress Disorder keeps me trapped in a quasi-dissociated state; a kind of protective fantasy bubble where, no matter how hard I try, reality just doesn’t quite seem altogether real. From this quasi state I can easily transition into various trance levels at the drop of a hat. Once my trance switch is flipped, my awareness of my physical environment becomes instantly muted, and all at once the world of my senses ceases to exist.
This trance state is very similar to daydreaming; being lost in thought; the million-mile stare, except that I can remain in this state at some level all day long, even while talking to people — which often creates communication difficulties because, while in this state, I can’t really see, so I can’t read a person’s facial expressions or body language.
I learned early on that this trance ability provided me with a convenient means of escape from all but the most intense sensory difficulties. I simply put my body on autopilot, and then I am free to disappear deep into the peace of my imagination playground; to retreat into the quiet of my mental office-space. It’s truly amazing what complex tasks the subconscious mind can accomplish once it’s been habitually trained. My whole world is organized into routines of consistent, unvarying habits allowing me the maximum amount of time away from my uncomfortable body. I’m only required to be somewhat present in the moment when a conscious decision needs to be made.
If you’ve ever been lost in thought while driving and suddenly realized that you’ve traveled some distance with no memory of it, then you too have experienced your own subconscious autopilot.
There are some drawbacks to living my life in an habitual trance state. For example, although I enjoy many flavors and textures of food, experiencing extreme flavors, temperatures or messiness will automatically cause me to brace. Then, if I don’t keep forcing myself to remain fully present, I will instinctively retreat without realizing it. Next thing I know, my plate is empty and I only vaguely remember tasting the first few bites. I suspect that some people who eat while engrossed in TV may have also experienced this form of subconscious autopilot.
When this happens, not getting to taste my food really doesn’t bother me too much, since my memory disorder will slowly erase the entire sensory experience anyway, so that in about an hour only the bare facts are left behind, and in about a day I will likely struggle to remember what I ate. (I do wish I could somehow remember flavors.)
I’m embarrassed to say, the most creepy problem that my habitual trance tendency creates involves freeway driving and sleepiness. When I’m alone, long-distance, freeway travel can be very tiresome and boring causing me to so easily slip into subconscious autopilot. Then, while my conscious mind is somewhere far away, I relax, and because I’m tired, I fall asleep and start dreaming. All the while, my eyes are open as my subconscious keeps right on driving. I would suppose that this “sleep-driving” is not unlike sleepwalking.
Then, if for any reason my car should start drifting too close to the edge of my lane, my subconscious fires off an adrenaline alarm, shocking me awake so that I can takeover again. Although anyone observing from a nearby vehicle would notice nothing unusual, inside my chest, my heart is pounding like a bongo drum.
I’ve never caused an accident or even had so much as a parking ticket. Yet, no matter how good a driver my subconscious seems to be, I will no longer drive or commute long distances without a travel companion. Because I am tired most all the time, the risk of re-occurrence is far too great. It seems very dangerous and irresponsible, and it is a totally freaky experience.
In my late teens, whenever I tried to shave, a painful rash would develop. Eventually I stopped shaving altogether, and I didn’t discover beard trimmers until my mid twenties. So for several years I looked pretty scruffy and disheveled. I’ve also never had any sense of style or fashion, which I assume only worsened my unkempt appearance.
Though this may have caused people discomfort and may have negatively impacted my few social experiences at the time, my appearance didn’t bother me at all, because I very quickly lose any image or gender awareness once I look away from the mirror. Truth is, I don’t even like looking at myself in a mirror because that man I see in the reflection is always a little bit of a shock. I feel more like a disembodied, neutral spirit wandering the earth than a tall, white male with a beard. In fact, I’ve no inner sense of what being a man should feel like.
At times in my dreams I will come across a mirror and the person I see in the reflection is always someone completely different; someone I don’t recall having ever seen before. Not once have I ever seen my own reflection in a dream.
Through my dissociative disorder I have lived a rather sheltered life inside my mind, making it a significant contributing factor in my lack of social development. And because of my spiritual sensitivity, I have a tremendously hard time forcing myself to maintain eye contact, especially with strangers who might suddenly realize that my heart can sense things about them which they might not want exposed. It would be like getting caught spying on someone in the shower — so I look away. And though I do try to hide that sorrowful song forever playing in my heart, most females subconsciously detect it, especially those who have suffered neglect or abuse. And with the exception of those sensitive female-hearts who’ve suffered, all other women carefully avoid anything more than offers of the most basic friendship.
Therefore, the discomfort which I can sense that my presence eventually produces in others, especially women, inclines me to shy away from the awkwardness of unfamiliar society. Social embarrassment, mine or anyone’s, is my Achilles heel.
When I was nineteen, my brother, along with several of his high school friends, belonged to a Baptist youth group. Over time I kept hearing about all their fun activities, and the few who I had met were very warm and kind to me despite my unkempt appearance. I felt drawn to them. So I braved both my childhood fear of organized religion, and my discomfort with social embarrassment, and I joined that youth group. In true Christian fashion, they accepted me — just as I was.
To this day, I don’t believe they truly understand how special they are to me. I think about them all so often. It doesn’t matter that it’s been nearly forty years, and I can no longer remember much about my time with them. My heart will always remember them. They were my first experience with real Christian fellowship. It was one of the best times of my life.
While I was in junior college, I had a dream about a coastline. But where the sandy beach should have been, instead there were various levels of stacked, broken, concrete slabs filled with a vast number of interconnecting tunnels and chambers. There were millions of rats busily scurrying about, some chasing each other, some bickering and biting each other, with garbage and filth everywhere. It was an endless rat city stretching from horizon to horizon along the coast.
And bordering that rat city, where the grassy dunes should have been, instead there was one long, gently sloping hillside covered with short, green grass like you would see at a golf course. The grass was immaculate as far as the eye could see, free of rats, garbage or anything else, except for a single tree.
This tree was gigantic. Its roots were vast and deep. Its dark-brown trunk was massive. Its branches were thick and strong. Every leaf was healthy and bright green. It seemed completely indestructible.
In this dream I was a tiny, brightly colored bird sitting in the branches of that gigantic tree. The air was so fresh and sweet. I felt such peace and was so happy to be there, and so I sang a happy song.
After a while, one of the rats came out of the city and walked up to that tree. She asked me “what is that song?” I told her it was called the Song of Changes, and that, if she sang it, she too would change into a bird and could fly up to live in this tree. I started to sing again, and as that rat sang with me, she began to change. Then suddenly, she stopped singing and said “This is too hard.” And she walked back into the rat city.
Thanks to my dissociative trance ability, in combination with my autistic “narrow laser focus” and rapidly cycling thought process, I learned how to hyper concentrate. This aided me significantly in my scholastic and technical pursuits. With it I was able to successfully battle my dyslexia and memory disorder daily. However, by constantly wielding this high-power tool of mental warfare just to keep pace with the world’s one-size-fits-all standard for success, apparently I too quickly burned my candle at both ends…
In the latter half of junior high and throughout high school I worked incredibly hard to achieve high marks in every subject, for society preached that this was the path of an obedient son; a good son. I found it a hard path, devoid of joy, but once on it I could not allow myself to stray even a little. I simply could not bear to be seen as a disappointment, or being poor, I could not risk losing what I saw as my only ticket to a promising future.
The constant, weary struggle of forcibly climbing my way up the ladder of academic achievement, combined with that perpetual ache of loneliness and poor quality sleep, kept me a prisoner, chained to an ever-growing tiredness. For so long it seemed as though graduation would never come, and when it finally did, it was really more of a pardon or parole than something to celebrate.
Because of my sincere efforts and intense devotion to my studies, my teachers had marked me as their pet; the faithful student; the golden child. They advised me on my courses and even applied for scholarships and awards on my behalf. They told me I would do well in life and leave my mark upon the world. Yet when I gazed into my future, I saw only an unsettling emptiness. As I watched society busily toiling away, nothing about their work called out to my heart. I didn’t have their hunger for the endless pursuit of worldly prizes. I began experiencing the first traces of a sour feeling in my stomach.
After high school, not knowing what else to do, I followed that same obedient path into the prison of junior college. Again I liberally applied my still-youthful strength to the hard work of excellent grades. But when it came time to decide on a major, I became stuck. While other students, my brother included, seemed to know their course, following their dream with passion and purpose, I had no idea what would truly make me happy. All I could see was that same unsettling emptiness staring back at me. I wondered if perhaps I might find contentment repairing broken electronics. When my counselor insisted that I should become an electrical engineer instead, I obediently followed his advice.
As my college years slowly progressed, and I fought on for those high grades with all my might, that youthful energy I’d always counted on began to wane and the machinery of my mind began to slow under the increasing weight of mental fatigue. By the end, I was totally exhausted. My last semester was excruciating. But I did persevere and finally crawled across the finish line, receiving my four-year degree at the age of twenty-six. I felt completely wiped out. I recall wishing I could retire right then. For decades now, I’ve had many depressing nightmares where I’m still a prisoner in college, still burned out, and desperately struggling to graduate. The thought of ever going back to school makes me shudder.
After college, I had no idea where to begin looking for employment. Nothing about the corporate way-of-life has ever smelled good to me. Facing decades of nine-to-five suit-and-ties, cubicles and commutes felt like a kind of marching death to this country boy’s heart. As I stared once again into that now familiar emptiness, the sourness in my stomach grew stronger. I also wondered if I even possessed the social skills to make it past the interview process and compete in the white-collar world.
Then, out of the blue, through a kind, college professor, I was offered an electrical engineering position at Boeing. So naturally I took it. But at that time there wasn’t much engineering work to keep me busy. So, I studied my work environment and ended up finding software-solutions to their internal problems. For six-and-a-half years I worked very hard at being a team player; filling needs and helping to lift my fellow engineers. I gained a reputation as a problem solver; an empowerment specialist; the ever supportive and helpful “go-to” guy. I gave to them my very best, and I even garnered a little joy from helping my colleagues succeed. But my mental weariness continued to grow, and toward the end I struggled to remain in the fast lane.
Feeling burned out yet again, I left Boeing to become an independent software contractor, serving clients through a college friend’s Internet-based company. This was another miraculous, out-of-the-blue offer. It seemed clear that God was helping me yet again. Now I could set my own hours and work from home, hopefully at a more restful pace. I was grateful. Despite my worsening fatigue, I put forth my absolute best for all my clients, considering each one’s needs with great care and even providing training free of charge.
Of course, by this time I knew something was seriously wrong with me. No matter how much determination I gathered into my ever willing heart, I could barely summon enough strength to continue satisfying the rapidly evolving demands of my chosen industry. Yet because I carried the title of “independent software contractor,” I at least still felt respectable to the eyes of the world.
At some point, back when I was at Boeing, I became aware that my heart was so full of the constant noise of stress, sorrow and weariness that I could hardly hear its voice. I also realized that I would go months without even thinking about God. But it has since become clear that God has never stopped thinking about me…
When the “dot com bubble” burst, my friend closed down his Internet company, leaving me without a supply of new clients (strike one). Realizing I lacked the necessary social skills to compete for new clients, I decided to return to Boeing under contract. I was literally one or two days away from signing when the 9/11 attacks occurred and all Boeing contracts were canceled (strike two). My old company within Boeing asked me to ride it out, promising me my contract in a year or two. But the Boeing corporation, still trying to recover from 9/11, sold off that particular company, and all my friends were scattered to the wind (strike three).
And by this time, thanks to my memory disorder, I had lost nearly all of my college memories and as-yet-unused engineering knowledge. I never really worked as an engineer. This left me with a nagging feeling of inadequacy, as if the degree I’d worked so hard for was phony, and I was a complete fraud; a hack.
The horrors of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 had a debilitating effect on me. I was glued to the TV for two weeks straight, desperate for any hope. I felt so deeply hurt that I cried on and off every day for six weeks. The violence of 9/11 permanently added to the depth of mourning in my heart. Afterward, it was such a struggle just to get back into “life as usual.” My feet had turned to lead.
Since 9/11 my career has been essentially dead. As unemployment spiked, the technical job market became hyper competitive, especially in my area, and my embarrassing, sleep-driving problem forever limits my commute options. It was a struggle to hide my heavy heart. And because of my lack of social skills, I felt that, without an edge, I couldn’t compete with the many younger, hungrier men now desperately trolling for work.
So I focused on my natural gifts, and I asked God several times to please give me favor with nearby employers so that I could be respectable once again in the eyes of men. God knows that I would have given them my very best. Yet with every closed door, it seemed that God was consistently telling me “No.” Prior to this point in my life, I had always received His help without ever having to ask.
Although I know it is futile to “struggle against God’s divine wind,” at the persistent urging of all the worldly voices in my life, including feeling the emasculation of joblessness, I halfheartedly continued to apply, now and then, for available high-tech jobs. But I could feel that, without God’s continued, supernatural support, I hadn’t the strength or heart to keep on fighting against the ever-growing hardness of the demanding, high-tech marketplace. Even with the assistance of two employment specialists, I’ve still not been invited to a single interview.
As of this writing, my fatigue persists, and I don’t know what to do about it. Nothing seems to make a difference. Often, in my dreams I wander around looking for a place to sleep. (I’m longing for sleep in my sleep. How odd is that?) So if we light our mental candle at both ends and completely burn it up, are we not ever given another one?
Interestingly, around the same time that my career came to a halt, the first stray cat came into my life…
Click the links below if you are curious to read the unusual story of how, through seemingly supernatural circumstances, I ended up living with over half-a-hundred indoor cats.
For so many of us, that dangling carrot known as the American dream is our own unique concept of the perfect, happy life. Every day millions of us struggle like crazy to achieve it, as if this struggle was the sole purpose of life itself. We stand approved, provided we have a plan and keep on climbing. We are admired should we arrive, and debt is the tempting shortcut most of us take. But if for some reason we should fall, we are relegated to the fringe; to the bottom of the social-heap with our tail between our legs.
Under the constant pressure to successfully finance our own happiness, many of us succumb to temptation and willfully harm our own kind for our own gain. We become those bickering, biting denizens of that endless rat city — committing cumulative, sinful sacrifices on the altar of the god of money.
Although I am not driven by the desire for worldly treasures, I didn’t have a dad in my life, and so I sought the approval of well-meaning, though worldly, men; teachers, professors, managers; my mentors. It was to them, myself and God that I wanted to prove my worth; to prove that I was a good person; a productive member of my society. And I allowed that society to shape my concept of success. I put my whole heart into it; like “The Little Engine That Could,” I gave it my all. Yet, as my mental strength; my only marketable commodity, slowly ebbed, and the world became harder, that sinking feeling that I was letting everyone down loomed like a monster of shame. The tremendous weight of my emasculating failures forced my head down and my tail between my legs and nearly paralyzed me.
During this odd, nine-year season of many cats and few piecework jobs, looking for a way to rise up like a phoenix from the ashes, I continually scanned the horizon for any appealing idea for a bright new career; something truly fulfilling this time and hopefully mentally sustainable; something which could finally dispel that unsettling emptiness, and deliver to me a sense of lifelong purpose and joy, which others had claimed to achieve, but which had thus far eluded me.
Yet, for every job I “tried on” in my imagination, that familiar empty ache would suddenly reappear, causing that sour pit in my stomach to intensify. It’s as if I was being shown that jobs at companies where profit was their driving force were sorely lacking the heart of God, and that something within my own heart would cry out with that endless, empty ache if I ever again sold out to such a place.
The more I pondered various jobs and career choices, the more of that deep empty ache I felt about reentering the mainstream-struggle for the sake of financial security alone. And the more soured I became toward the world’s many empty avenues of heartless toil. Most of the profitable industries of mankind began to feel spiritually worthless and foolish, some even downright disgusting. Imagining working for such companies seemed more and more like self-imposed prostitution or slavery. That sour pit in my stomach turned into nausea.
But according to Genesis 3:19 God meant for me to toil in order to eat. There had to be some kind of work upon which my heart would agree. It was then that I began to seek out my purpose in the non-profit arena. And who knows, if I’d had no cats, I might have joined the Peace Corps rather than worked to create a non-profit, prototype, passive-solar, off-grid, zero-energy, cat sanctuary.
During this very uncomfortable, nine-year season I became acutely aware of how corporations were also very slowly sucking the God-given goodness and value out of nearly every product on earth, all in the worldly acceptable name of profit. Now it seems as though almost everything comes from faraway places like China, and is a pseudo-product like veneer-covered particleboard or breakable plastic. Rather than becoming cherished, family heirlooms, most manufactured goods these days quickly end up in landfills.
In addition, nearly every service offered to mankind is practically drowning in fine print; entangled in ever-growing heaps of bureaucratic and corporate red tape. Long gone are the days of faith and trust in the company-customer relationship. Nearly abandoned are the Christian values in the workplaces of the profit-seekers.
The more my eyes were opened, the more my heart felt crushed, and the more I developed a very frustrated, negative attitude toward those who love money more than their neighbors. For many years I was totally unaware of how these dark-dwelling thoughts were changing my words and tone, and causing discomfort to those I love.
As the hardness of the world increased, so did my inner strife, and coincidentally so did the number of cats in my life. It felt as if I was being slowly squeezed in a vice. My heart became so overcrowded as the frustration, emptiness, sourness, emasculation and shame joined the stress, weariness, loneliness and mourning that, through the cacophony, I could not hear my own inner voice any longer. I felt so bad inside all the time that I could hardly make myself sit through a movie that I had already seen. And every stressful movie scene would cause me to want to seek comfort food. It became a constant daily struggle just to get up each morning, maintain my patience, discipline my tone and keep myself from gaining weight.
It was about halfway through this nine-year season of many cats and growing personal tribulation that I began having supernatural experiences which led me to grow spiritually…
One morning in 2005, as I was laying awake in bed, I heard these two silently spoken words. “It’s time…” “What?” I became startled. “It’s Time? Time for what?” I felt worry wash over me. I immediately replied “Okay God, but I’m afraid. Please don’t ask me to do anything embarrassing.”
Those two haunting words kept God very much on my mind. At that time I wondered, with some concern, what it was that He was planning. Whatever it was, I did feel that it was important for me to try my best to be open to it, no matter how strange or “embarrassing” it might be.
It occurred to me that maybe God was wanting me to move past my childhood intimidation and force myself to read the bible. So I did. Most of the Old Testament caused me to feel sick in my heart and I cried through many parts of it. I skipped any long list of names. I skipped over Psalms too because I thought it was just a collection of unimportant poems and songs. I also skipped all the letters that Paul wrote to various early Christian groups. Other than that, I read everything else. The style of speech presented in the bible often confuses me, and of course, my memory disorder causes me to eventually drop nearly every detail. But at the time, I gathered from it what I could.
With God now constantly on my mind, I felt a longing to know Him better; to truly understand His character; to sample His flavor so to speak. I remember asking Him why it was that, for long periods of time, I kept forgetting that He even existed.
As my desire for understanding grew, I began to ask God many questions. During this period ideas for simple, spiritual stories came to me. With a childlike faith, I grew to understand that I could freely pray about past moments, because God can hear and answer prayers even across time. He can do anything!
At some point, four spiritual concepts came together for me. (1) Ask and you will receive. (2) Why would a father give his son a stone when he asks for bread? (3) All good things come from God. (4) God’s timing is perfect. These four concepts became: “If you ask God sincerely from your heart for what is truly good according to Him, you WILL receive it in His perfect timing.” As time progressed, here are just some of the “loaves of bread” I had the courage to ask God for:
- To please be my personal teacher and counselor
- To please show me more of what He is really like
- To please help me to grow a deep love for Him
- To please teach me how to love Him with all my mind, heart, soul and strength
- To please teach me what being humble means
- To please teach me how to walk the narrow and difficult path to heaven
- To please teach me exactly what it means to be in the world but not of the world
- To please help me to grow a strong and solid faith
- To please guide me to become a child in whom He can delight
- To please give me a fulfilling purpose
One repeated request I had about my life was that God would permit me to “save the best for last.” You see, no matter what I’m involved in, I always desire to get the hardest parts over with first so that I can relax and freely enjoy the fun parts more. It may seem silly, but I desired the same thing for my life.
Although I often quickly forget the many things for which I ask, I know that God remembers them all…
Later that same year, I was up very late one night writing an email. As I saw the time approaching 4:00 AM I thought “I really need to get to bed.” But, before I finished up for the night, I began to grow cold, especially my nose, hands and feet. I also had a slight disturbed feeling in my heart, but I just dismissed it all, crediting it to the lateness of the hour. I figured “I’ll warm up under the covers.” I crawled into bed and laid there for what seemed like a very long time. Yet, instead of warming up, I grew colder. I became more disturbed. “What is happening to me?” It made no sense to me at all. “There’s no way this could be hypothermia.” I began to wonder if maybe I was dying, and I grew frightened.
Just then, I felt something peaceful pull away from all around me. I instinctively reached out and said “no!” because I didn’t want it to leave me. I instantly realized that, whatever this was, it had been there all my life.
Into the vacuum that was left behind, I could feel something lightly warm flow in like hateful water. I somehow understood that this warm water was everywhere. The entire earth was saturated with it. It only felt lightly warm to me because the source of that hateful heat was very far away. There was no sound, yet through the warmth I could somehow hear that hateful source howling with an incredible determination beyond description, simultaneously broadcasting a multitude of hateful messages from somewhere deep within the earth. A chilling thought occurred to me. “I’m listening to devil radio.”
Feeling very cold and afraid, I woke up my wife and told her something was happening to me. She gave me a pill to help me sleep and held me until I grew warm again. I felt very grateful to have her there.
The very next day, I was sitting in the hot car waiting for my wife who was running a quick errand. Right there, in the heat of an Arizona afternoon, I grew cold and disturbed again. I couldn’t believe it. As my wife got back into the car, and we drove down the freeway, I thought “Why is this happening again? What is wrong with me? Am I becoming possessed?” I was scared. I asked God to please help me; to please show me what to do.
Just then, a white, box truck merged onto the freeway directly in front of us. On the back door of that truck in big, black letters were written the words “Be still and know that I am God.”
Tears of gratitude came to my eyes and I instantly felt relieved.
Early one evening in 2006, I was riding in the front passenger seat of a compact car when the driver spilled a drink. I reached into the glove compartment and started handing napkins to the driver when I felt a sudden bump. I immediately looked up and saw that we were now driving on the sidewalk heading straight for a tree. All at once I knew that there was not enough time for me to turn my eyes toward the steering wheel, visually lock on to it, guide my hand to it, grab it and jerk it to one side. All I could do was watch as the event unfolded right before my eyes.
During this rapid event I realized that, although there was not enough time to even think, my soul somehow had plenty of time, as if everything was simultaneously occurring in slow motion.
Just before the tree impacted the front, passenger side (my side) of the car, I distinctly felt a pair of invisible hands firmly grab the sides of my ribs. After impact, though the driver slumped to one side, unconscious, I was unharmed.
In this dream I found myself getting into a mini van with several well-dressed, middle-aged businessmen. We were apparently carpooling to work. I sat down next to a frail old man in humble clothes who was holding a pot in his lap. After a while, he turned to me, handed me the pot and with a smile of gratitude said “Here. My wife and I made this just for you.” I didn’t really know this man, but apparently I had recently done something to help him. Not yet knowing what was in the pot, and feeling a little awkward about receiving such attention, I uttered a feeble “thanks.”
When I looked inside the pot, I saw that it was full of homemade soup. As I wondered about this unexpected and humble gift, I could suddenly see clearly this old man and his wife happily working in their kitchen together. The entire time they were feeling such deep gratitude and love for me, and while deliberately ignoring the aches and pains of their advanced years, these most gentle people spent hours of their labor carefully, lovingly preparing this special soup as their way of honoring me for whatever it was that I had done for them.
Deeply touched, I turned to the frail old man and, as the tears began to well up, out of me poured the most tender, heart-felt “thank you.”
Instantly, this frail old man was not so old and frail anymore. He was young and strong, and had a commanding presence. And from a rich and powerful voice he said “That’s what I’m looking for!”
In this dream I was standing near a long stretch of empty, desert highway in the dead of night. On one side of the highway was a freshly graveled embankment above which hung a full moon and a field of stars in a cloudless sky. One of these stars was very tiny; a hardly noticeable pinhole, positioned right next to the moon.
Protruding out of the graveled embankment was a rather large, corrugated-steel, drainage culvert which had become partially blocked with gravel during the recent landscaping and needed to be dug out. This particular task had been assigned to a female coworker who was my partner. And she apparently had been asked some time ago to please complete this task before tomorrow morning.
There she stood by the edge of the highway in the pale moonlight with two shovels and a pained expression. It was obvious to me that, for whatever reason, she had waited until the last minute and, now being out of time, she felt overwhelmed by the enormity of this burdensome task. It was clear that she couldn’t bear to face it alone, but she also couldn’t bear to fail her assignment.
At first I felt some frustration over her predicament, knowing that one of those shovels was intended for me. Still, she was my partner. Regardless of how she got herself between this “rock and a hard place,” I resolved to lend her my strength to help “dig her out.” I had faith that with me beside her, we could get this job done in good time. I approached her and was about to offer my services and give her encouraging words of assurance to boot. But since she began to speak first, I listened intently, politely waiting my turn.
However, rather than simply humbling herself and asking me to help, instead she spoke at great length listing various reasons why she was unable to start until now, why it absolutely had to get done tonight, why she couldn’t be expected to do it alone and why there was no one else available to help her except me.
Yet, with every reason she gave, I could clearly see where she deliberately stretched or bent the truth or inserted little, white lies or totally false facts in order to completely justify her current circumstances or play on my sympathies. With each false reason she gave, she would look for my acceptance and approval. But I just could not give it. In defense of God, who is Truth, I felt obliged to non-judgmentally ask highly focused questions designed to uncover her obvious deceptions. This in turn led to more deceptions from her which led to more exposing questions from me, and so on, and so on, in what felt like an endless, downward spiral.
With each new deceit my heart sank further down. I finally became so frustrated and hurt that I shouted at her to “STOP…” Then, in desperation, I reached deep inside myself, and from a place of long-held disappointment and gentle love, these pleading words came pouring out of my heart. “Why must you keep trying to manipulate me? Why can’t you just trust me to love you, willingly admit your mistakes and humbly ask for my help? You know that I will give you the very best that I have to give.”
Immediately after these words flowed out of my heart, that tiny star next to the moon began to grow gradually larger and brighter, and larger and brighter until it completely out-shined the moon and was about to turn night into something brighter than day! Suddenly my heart leapt with an intense excitement I have never known, as if something incredibly wonderful was about to happen; something so much bigger than this dream — like someone was coming!
But then, because this experience was so intense, I began to feel a little afraid. Instantly, the light reversed itself and gently faded back into a tiny dot next to the moon. I felt a mournful regret, and I woke up in deep sadness wishing that I hadn’t been afraid.
Since that morning when God said “it’s time” my life became lightly peppered with what I call “mini-miracles;” near-instant answers to so many of my requests. Some of them I even wrote about in my cat story. One afternoon I felt the desire to know God even more intimately and so — I simply asked that of Him. Just moments later someone handed me a book which spoke directly to my heart and brought me to tears. Gradually God grew in me a love for Him which often causes me to tear up when I pray or when I think about Him and Jesus, and Their tireless love and devotion to each of us. We are Their beloved family.
At times it seemed that God was slowly speeding up my spiritual education, putting desires for spiritually good things in my heart, leading me to ask for them, then answering in His perfect way. Even though I was, and still am, ignorant about a great many spiritual things, and at the time I was not quite awake to all the sin that was entangling my life, God was specifically training me to keep on doing what I believe is right for His sake no matter how hard it gets, to never give up, to be patient and long suffering and to trust Him with all my heart. I had no idea that God was preparing me for the toughest trial of my life…
In early October 2010, as I was getting ready to launch my cat sanctuary project on Facebook, believing that I had at long last found my purpose and the answer to all our cat and financial problems, I felt the desire to pray this nonrestrictive prayer. “Father? Please prepare us for the good season soon to come.” It was only three days after that prayer when my wife very suddenly and unexpectedly left me…
In an instant, my heart shattered as my whole world came crashing down. All at once I had lost my wife and my dreams for our future, and very soon would lose nearly all my cats and my home. It felt to my heart like everyone I loved had suddenly died in a fire! I wept and wept and did not sleep for days on end. I could not think. I could not eat. My mouth went dry, and all food lost its flavor. The center of my chest burned so bad that it literally felt like my sternum had ignited into hot, orange coals. I lost between forty and fifty pounds. Yet through it all I could somehow feel Jesus gently holding my hand.
This devastatingly painful event plunged me into the worst nightmare experience of my life. In my seriously weakened state, evil forces, having free access to my mind, began their relentless attacks. I experienced constant pressure toward thoughts of fear and strife during the day and horrifying dream fragments at night. Each time I fell asleep, a few seconds later a demonic dream would explode in my face, shocking me awake. It was like being punched repeatedly. I felt shaky and sick to my stomach. I lost even more sleep.
These demonic dream experiences were similar to this 49 second, Magibon-spoof video that I found on YouTube.
Then, mysteriously my wife showed up to quickly drop off a book which she herself had never read. It was a book by Joyce Meyer called “Battlefield of the Mind Devotional.” Through this book, God provided me with just what I needed, just when I needed it. Each day I found that the very thought-attacks I endured would closely match one or more chapters I read that night. It was like God was deliberately limiting the devil just enough to force him to unwittingly follow the book. Thanks to God speaking to me through that book, I began faithfully working to block God’s enemy from my mind. I had to stay on my toes. I was very tired, slow and sloppy at first, but eventually I got the hang of it, and I became a little stronger and quicker. That horrible dream-punching eventually stopped, and I was finally able to get some sleep.
But the devil is unrelenting. He forever prowls around testing defenses; probing for weakness. We must always guard our thoughts, being very careful on what we allow our minds to dwell. This was an important lesson for me.
God says that His enemy comes only to steal and kill and destroy. (John 10:10) Wouldn’t it be helpful to know all the various ways that the devil accomplishes this so that we might learn to recognize it when it’s happening to us?
This was by far the most painful and exhausting experience I’d ever been through. But at the same time it was the most intimate and powerful experience I’d ever had with God.
Even during times when I willfully gave in to immature thoughts of self-pity and petty manipulation, Jesus would not let go of my hand! Regardless if it took all day, I could feel Him standing immovable, like an anchor until finally I relented, turned completely around and, with tears of gratitude, thanked Him for His gentle, dad-like determination, amazing patience and unfailing love. Deep down, something in me wanted Him to stand His ground.
In order to move beyond this chapter of my life, there was a heavy mountain of work that needed to be completed. Homes and shelters needed to be found for the cats. The majority of our possessions needed to be organized and sold off, and the house needed to be restored for the landlord. But my mind was so dazed and cloudy that I could not even think. For a long time all I could do was read more Christian self-help books. Hearing God’s voice in them gave me peace.
Then, to my great relief, I discovered a wonderful secret. I learned that God actually wanted me to depend on Him completely. All I had to do was willingly take a single step as a demonstration of my faith in Him. So when the time came, I took that awkward, shaky step. Suddenly, it was as if the floodgates of heaven opened, and God took over, orchestrating everything from that point on. That’s when things really started to move…
Each morning I woke up feeling weak, confused and overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to do or where to start. I would then turn to God and spend tearful time thanking Him for helping me and for being who He is; for His generous nature, His boundless love and His mighty hand. Then, somehow events would take place in rapid succession which propelled me forward until evening. I was kept very busy but was never given more than I could handle. Then, people, even complete strangers, started showing me kindness and generosity and began helping me. Some unexpectedly gave me money.
This amazing process continued at the same pace until the very last day of my lease, and somehow everything worked out perfectly.
As I was going through this painful time, I had another unusual dream. Unlike my other dreams however, this one was a little disturbing. Still, it was a very powerful dream. I wrote it down along with my thoughts shortly after I had it. Click the link below if you would like to read what I wrote.
Back during the middle of my nine-year season of many cats, I took a Workforce Connections class. Our instructor, wanting to prepare us for the hard reality of the high-tech market, informed us that a recent student with similar qualifications to my own had, in one monumental effort, applied for nearly 500 high-tech jobs but did not receive a single interview. That really took the wind out of my sails. Yet still, I had faith that with God behind me, anything was possible. So every once in a long while, despite that empty ache, I applied here or there, testing the water to see if the divine wind had shifted in my favor.
Then, after my wife had left me, but before God had stepped in and took over, it looked as though there were no shelters willing to take our cats, and we would be forced to put them to sleep. Desperate to save them, I tried one more time and applied for a job that I’d recently heard about. I poured all I had into an amazing cover letter, but to no avail. I even bought a lottery ticket. I was desperate.
But then God stepped in and quickly saved all our cats, brought people to buy all our possessions, and sent people to help me completely restore the house, and I went to live with my mom and grandmother.
Six months later, my heart still hurting to the point of tears every day, I began sensing that old familiar shame and emasculation again about not having a job. Though I still felt tired and weak, I was preparing to move out to my brother’s place and apply for work at a nearby engineering firm when my mom suddenly broke her ankle in such a way that it has caused her to become disabled, requiring me to remain in service to my family. My family said that they don’t know what they would have done if I hadn’t been living with them, and that they thank God for my help every day.
“Okay, Okay, I get it. I relent.” Despite all the worldly voices, I finally resolved to cast off the shame and emasculation of joblessness, and the humiliation I felt about living with my mom and grandmother. I was through struggling against the divine wind. I decided instead to just be a humble servant to my family and give myself more time to recover.
Whatever God’s reason is for holding me in my current circumstances, I know that it is out of a deep love for me. I trust Him more than ever. I know that He is in charge of all things, and that knowledge brings me comfort.
Six months later, one year since I said goodbye to my old life, my heart was still broken and badly hurting, but something inside me was beginning to change. I recognized that through my current circumstances God had provided me with a place of peace and stability away from the influences of the world, where my burdens are light and all my basic needs are met.
When I arrived here a year ago I was so thin and worn that my grandmother cried when she saw me. All I did at first was escape the constant pain by watching movies with my family, lots and lots of movies, hundreds of them. I even asked God if I could. But after a time that old familiar, empty ache and sour stomach returned and I became more and more uncomfortable with the content of what I was watching.
As I grew more sensitive, watching movies began to feel as bad as taking a job just for money. In fact, every kind of distraction began to feel completely empty and worthless; a waste of precious time. That long-time, empty ache grew and grew, and finally blossomed into a deep hunger for all things spiritually significant; a longing for the permanent peace and joy of heaven.
I began to feel a steady pulling in my spirit. Without knowing why, I developed a growing sensitivity to those things in my life that didn’t quite smell clean to my heart, and I began systematically removing them. That’s right! I listened to my heart and began blindly removing them. It became crystal clear that nothing of this world holds any real value. Wealth, power, social significance, personal possessions, all worldly goods and distractions, all toil that is not in service to others; anything that was devoid of God felt empty, worthless and foolish to my heart.
I began feeling a strong desire to obey God and to please Him, and I found that desire surprisingly pleasant. I discovered a peaceful anticipation about it. I also felt an intense desire to draw in close to God. That same loneliness and need for tender intimacy, which had risen to a conscious level in me by the time I was twelve years old, has since grown to desperate proportions.
I would rather not exist at all than continue forever to be so alone. I know of no one alive who wants to know me as intimately as I want to know them. But I have now learned that my Creator wants this kind of intimacy with me. I know that all of heaven will be this way. I will at-long-last be trusted and no longer misunderstood or manipulated. I will finally get to be best of friends with absolutely everyone. And I will no longer be a filthy, sinful creature doomed to this painful separation.
Longing for the reassurance of being continually guided by Him, I began talking to God more and more, inviting Him to freely utilize my imagination. When I pray, it is from within my trance state, which is pretty much my normal state these days. Throughout the day I make frequent use of my subconscious autopilot as I perform my habits of daily living. During these times, I might choose to pray or to contemplate or to daydream. Usually I will transition rapidly between all three without even fully realizing it, like a kind of non-stop praying with video clips thrown in.
Lately, when I come to God, I am often conceptually kneeling before Him, while Jesus stands to my left with His hand on my shoulder. Or sometimes He stands transparent between me and His Father, facing God. The Holy Spirit hovers somewhere around my right side and helps to stir my feelings. Sometimes my feelings are tender, sometimes they are gut-wrenchingly intense. I don’t care for praying when there are no feelings behind my words. It seems passionless; empty; cerebral.
Although I have a reverential fear and respect for God’s mighty power, I know that His great love for me is forever unchanging, and with God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit there helping me; teaching me; guiding me; wanting their child to succeed, I feel accepted and supported. I talk to God throughout the day, and tears often come when I pray. For this reason I like to wear sunglasses when I go for walks in public — just in case.
As I spent more and more of my free time with God, I began boldly asking for “good things” which I’d never thought to ask before. Whenever I picked up on something which I felt in my heart was a good thing, I began asking for it again and again, patiently expecting to receive it, because I believe with all my heart that God wants to give us every good thing. As our Father, He longs to work with us very closely, and I am sincerely hungry for every good thing He has for me. So, the more I pray and trust, the more I’m shown deeper things for which to pray.
At this point, it felt like Jesus is causing my transformation to proceed very rapidly. But why? I can’t see where I’m headed. I feel blind and ignorant, as though I’m being led without being allowed to fully realize it. I am unaware of any still, small voice. There is no prevailing feeling which I can firmly grasp.
Later, when I would notice some change in me and openly wonder about it, Jesus would quickly bring to mind that I had prayed for that. “Oh yeah, that’s right; I did pray for that.” And I would smile or laugh or cry, sometimes all three, and then thank God for His loving dedication and desire to transform me. That’s when the tears really come. I love my heavenly Family.
(In Mark 14:36, Galatians 4:6 and Romans 8:15 the name “Abba” is used for “God.” Today we might use the word “Papa.” These are tender, intimate names for the Creator who created tenderness and intimacy.)
Sometimes, very quickly after a prayer is answered, Jesus will lead me to a verse which shows me that what I had prayed for is in fact something about which He wanted me to ask for help. But sometimes the tone of an Old Testament verse is like a hard, angry warning from God causing me to feel disturbed again. Then, Jesus gently reminds me that I was already led to come to Him in love, sincerity and humility, and that it is already being taken care of. That harsh tone was not meant for me. This makes me appreciate the tender sensitivity of our God — first bringing me gently toward something before exposing me to the hard words of the past.
As this chapter of my life rapidly progresses, the “flavor” of my prayers keeps on changing as I do. Here is a snapshot of a recent prayer that I wrote down. I’m a very slow writer, so it’s not word-for-word exact…
NOTE: For me, talking to God is very personal. I open up and freely expose everything to Him. So by sharing any prayer, I can’t help but feel naked. Yet, as an act of faith I will share it anyway, because I believe that God wants me to, so that He may use it for His purposes, whatever those may be. I trust Him.
“Jesus, thank You for the tremendous help You keep giving me. Everything seems to be happening so fast right at the moment, but I actually like it — all this personal attention. I don’t want it to stop. It gives me hope. I know I get confused and disturbed and afraid sometimes, but I’m trying hard. I would be lost without You leading me by the hand, like You are, through this pitch-black valley toward the narrow gate. Thank You for helping me work out my salvation every day like this. I love knowing that You are remaking me, that You are working on me even in my sleep. My dreams have been strange lately, as though there are angels acting in them. I feel different lately too. I feel lighter.
Please make me holy. I want to be holy like You. I’m tired of sin. Make me spotless so that I won’t be denied You. It would hurt me so much if I could never see Your face or lay my head upon Your chest the way John did. Please stay close to me. It comforts me to hold Your hand. It helps me to feel connected to You; to stay focused on You.
I’m sorry that I’m poor; that I know so little of Your word. I’m embarrased. I have only a small lamp to guide my feet. But we are working on that, aren’t we? I’m so thankful that You want me to succeed; that You want to help me. I want to do well with whatever You give me. Please guide me to all the knowledge that I need.
Please show me any other sins that are still entangling me so that I can cast off every last one. Please show me every unclean habit or thing that is still clinging to my life. I want so badly to be rid of them all. Please let Your Holy Spirit keep guarding me with alarms so that I may react quickly whenever Your enemies try to put unloving, unclean thoughts or flashes of images into my mind. They are relentless. But Your Holy Spirit is tireless and guards me perfectly. Show me any remaining unclean possessions of mine. I want to honor my Father by throwing them out. I want to show Him that I love Him.
Please keep pushing me forward. I don’t want to slip back — not ever. I want to become a totally loyal, trustworthy, faithful son to my Father and servant to You. I have soberly counted the cost just like You asked me to, and I see that there is truly no cost too great — none. I want to do whatever it takes. I care for nothing this world has to offer. I see that it is all worthless. Why wasn’t I allowed to see this sooner? Was I unwilling? Please, let it be Your will that I couldn’t see. Help me with my shame. I’m trying hard not to hate myself.
Thank You for loving us all so deeply and for going all the way for us. I know it was hard. I know that You suffered terribly. You are so incredibly humble and obedient. That is beautiful to me. It makes me cry. I want to go all the way for You, too — although I’m still very afraid of intense physical pain. Please teach me to be a mature son and servant who will always do right. I will wait patiently for Your help, because I know that Your timing is always perfect. But, don’t take very long, okay? I am so glad that I can solidly depend on You. I am so relieved. I am very tired. Why do I so often feel like crying?
Thank You, Father, for Your Son. Without Him, I would have no hope at all. How did I even end up here so far away from You? Please let it be because of a good reason, not a bad one. I feel so ashamed of all the many sins I’ve committed over and over in the past, and am still committing in my ignorance. Jesus, please wash away my sins again so that I can be spotless. I need this several times a day. I hate sinning. I hate the stink of it. I want to conquer it. I want to stay pure. I am determined to keep trying. But I need Your help. I feel so weak and powerless without You. Please help me more — lots more.
Thank You Father for always loving me and for wanting me; for making me for Yourself. I want to be a joy to You. I long to someday see You smile and hear You say that You are pleased with me. Please guide my every step and guard my path home. I want so badly to come home. Please adopt me. I’m begging. I ask in Jesus’ name.
I love You both, and You too, Holy Spirit. You are my tireless, faithful Friend, even when I was hurting You. Thank You for patiently sticking with me all my life. You’re so quiet. I didn’t even know You were there.”
For me, this most recent part of my life; this latest chapter of my odd, spiritual journey has been both miraculous and unsettling. Because of my memory trouble, the details of both God’s word and nearly all my rapidly answered prayers are very quickly lost. I know that my heart is changing, that Jesus has begun a work in me, and that He always finishes what He starts (Philippians 1:6). But it seems that I am blind. Perhaps Jesus is keeping me humble — something for which I often pray.
I feel like a tiny flea on a measuring stick. I can’t tell if I’m nearer the top or the bottom. Just when I wonder if I’ve climbed a long way, I’m shown that I am truly low, and there is so much more to go. God is holy, holy, holy (Revelation 4:8), and I’ve learned that His measuring stick is very, very, very long. God’s ways are so much greater than I ever realized. And I am far more sinful than I ever knew. We all are.
Jesus is asking that I should let go of all my preconceived notions about Him, God, Satan, myself and life on earth, and to trust Him to teach me and guide me safely in total darkness. Is this what blind faith feels like? It sure isn’t comfortable, at least not for this tiny flea, not yet anyway.
But total trust in Jesus is vital, otherwise when Satan attacks with a whisper, and my fear begins to rise, I automatically “put on the brakes.” I then can feel Jesus back off, patiently waiting for me to overcome, for He is gentle and will never insist on His own way (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). We, ourselves must always choose it.
I’m thankful that, over the course of decades, God has developed in me both a desire to never give up or entirely lose hope, and a firm desire to willingly see each and every truth, especially those hard-to-look-at, ugly truths about myself. I think Jesus is making use of both these desires right now so that I will progress more rapidly.
Here is a prayer I just remembered: I recently prayed about my past, asking that God would have been working with me all along, preparing me somehow without my knowing, because I couldn’t bear the thought of having wasted all those year, and of being so far behind now. I asked for this because I know that God can do anything. He could easily have guided every step of my life in answer to a prayer I had yet to pray.
And now that I think back, I do recall sometimes wondering why it was that I had, over the years, gradually grown such a stick-to-it determination for the sake of love, and such a deep desire to always live in the light of truth, no matter what. “Yea! Thank You, Father, for working on me all along! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! With You on our side, anything is possible! You give me such a hope! Show me more, please.”
So many revelations like this one have been occurring lately, demonstrating how God is answering my many sincere prayers every day. Our Father loves a sincere and willing heart.
All these recent experiences clearly demonstrate how Jesus isn’t just our personal Savior, He’s very much our constant Teacher and our loyal Friend. He’s just like a live-in, personal trainer and a protective dad. I love it that He works with me. I love having His attention. He has it to give to everyone.
Jesus brought me to the point where I am completely letting go; I am surrendering. I finally trust Him all the way now. (At least I think it’s all the way.) Like an infant being held by its parent, I am allowing Jesus to do whatever He wants with me; my heart, my soul, my mind, my body, my curiosity and imagination, my mornings, afternoons and evenings, my meager possessions and my truly humble service. Although I am a weary, wobbly, blind servant, everything I have and everything I am is His now. There is nothing in this world that I desire. I’ve made my choice. I am now finally fully committed.
It was late one warm, summer night in mid July, 2012, when I reached this point of total trust. I was laying in bed, struggling as I often do to fall asleep, when a kind of intense, startling sensation suddenly came over me. It felt sort of like a combination of adrenaline shock and cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). Only, there wasn’t that usual flushed feeling I get from being startled. And it wasn’t exactly my heart that was fluttering. I’m no stranger to heart flutter, and this had a different rhythm which seemed to extend well beyond my heart.
I’d never experienced a freaky sensation quite like that before. And even though I also had the feeling that Jesus was very near, because I didn’t understand what was happening; because I felt I’d no control, I grew concerned. Immediately, Satan stepped up with weapons of doubt and fear. He whispered to me thoughts like “What if it isn’t Jesus? What if it’s Satan trying to do something to you? What if He’s trying to take your life!” or “What Jesus is doing to you is about to become a whole lot more intense and scary! Look out!”
Satan doesn’t just simply whisper thoughts. He has a way of applying a kind of strong pressure at just the right moment, attempting to push us over the edge; to push us to act on those thoughts; to push us to commit. It is to that sudden feeling of extreme intensity that we often give-in when we’re in the midst of anger, fear or lust. It is what later makes us say “I don’t know what came over me.” This feeling of intense pushing is one of those “inside smells” with which I have become very familiar.
I quickly recognized the enemy’s negative thoughts and rejected them, just like God had taught me. And I really did try to remain calm. But I became very disturbed by that awful feeling of intense pressure; I felt targeted, and I instinctively put on the brakes. Then, it’s as though I could actually feel Jesus move gently away — but not very far. “Did I really just feel that?” I asked Him for His help. But He gave me none. He just waited patiently.
I could sense that it was up to me. I was being asked to make a choice. I guess the time had finally come to take my next baby-step of faith. Would I let go and trust Jesus all the way? Or, would I give in to Satan’s pressure and, out of fear, insist on my own control?
Then, things got even more freaky and surreal, as a highly rare, very active, dry, lightning storm began in view of my window. The clouds looked ominous with an eerie, midnight glow. There were many bright bolts running across the dome of the sky and striking the ground and radio towers, and the thunder was close and crackly, sometimes rattling the windows. It was as though angels and demons had started warring in the sky above me. Like I really needed that added dramatic effect just then.
Okay, so it was up to me. I wanted to trust. I wanted to surrender. I did very much want to go all the way. But how was I to shake that awful, disturbing feeling that was pressing in so strong, making me afraid? What sword of God’s word was I to wield to fight this battle between fear and trust?
It turns out that the answer to all life’s scary situations has all along been “hidden in plain sight.” It is revealed to us by understanding the true character of God, which is prominently displayed and mentioned throughout the bible. You see, faith in God is actually faith in His “ALL” mightiness; in His infinite presence, infinite power, infinite truth, perfect holiness, and in His overwhelming love for each of us.
Think about it. When your life depends on a surgeon, where do you put your trust, in the person or in that person’s abilities? “Yea, that’s right. I’ll die without this extremely complicated and delicate surgery. And, yes, my surgeon is a brand new intern with shaky hands who graduated at the bottom of his class. But I guess I picked him because he’s a fun guy?” I mean, who does that?
I may not have understood the origin or purpose of that sensation or that storm. But it really didn’t matter. It was into the hands of an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-loving, all-powerful, Holy God that I would be totally surrendering my life, not to the unseen originator of that disturbing sensation, even if they were one and the same. God knows the exact instant when any child totally surrenders to Him. He never leaves us, and so He is always right there without fail. Absolutely everything is already in His infallible hands. I am already firmly in His hands. My Father has me.
Letting go and surrendering, especially in the face of fear, is like falling backwards off a cliff into total darkness. It’s creepy scary. Will you be impaled on razor spikes? Or are invisible hands really there to catch you?
But faith tells you that you need no one to catch you, because you are already being held by Love’s invisible hands. When you let go in faith, you will not fall at all — not even a little. You are already there, fully supported and loved. You always have been. It never was the scary leap that it seems, even when that leap is death, itself. That is merely Satan’s pushy lie. This is why we should never rely on our own easily influenced, childlike understanding, but instead rely entirely on God’s every word to us.
Even though I’d no clue what was happening, or what the future had in store, I knew that I was being gently held by an all-mighty hand that would never drop me, and by loving eyes that would never leave me. I belonged to Someone who loved me — who really loved me, beyond my ability to ever understand. We are so very precious to Him.
So, in faith, I released that white-knuckled grip which is always so desperate to maintain control; to prevent any further suffering from pain or terror. I just let go, like I did when I was nine years old, falling from that barn loft doorway. Only this time it wasn’t quite so quick and easy. I had butterflies in my stomach. But I did it anyway. With a deep sigh, I relaxed in total surrender, knowing that Jesus would take care of me, even if I was about to die.
Even though we may tremble in fear or struggle with doubt, God honors every step we take for His sake. Each shaky step is counted as an act of faith.
You see, without faith we can not please God (Hebrews 11:6), and without action, faith is worthless (James 2:20). So humbly pray for faith, determination and courage. Then will yourself to stand up, and walk where Jesus leads. Please don’t allow fear to hold you back.
That intense adrenaline-flutter continued inside my chest as the angels and demons battled on outside my window. And in the midst of it all, I at last felt peace and drifted off to sleep. Several times that night I woke up to that startling sensation. But I simply made the choice to keep on trusting, and I felt wonderfully warm and drifted off again.
It’s still unknown to me, the purpose of that physical experience. I can’t perceive that anything about me has changed. Perhaps it was nothing more than an exercise in trust. After all, there’s nothing God can’t do. So if He was simply fixing a broken heart or something, He could’ve easily prevented me from feeling a thing.
I think that for me, grasping the reality of heaven is more difficult than it is for most. Because of my dissociative disorder, even this real life that I am living now doesn’t quite seem real to me. I have to stare at something long and hard, and touch it, just to make it more real. Yet, I know that I will one day see and touch Jesus in person, that I will actually be standing on the very grounds of heaven and that every color will be indescribably richer and brighter, including some I’ve never known; that the whole experience will be incredibly intense. And, of course, being who I am right now, the very thought of that intensity — disturbs me.
Thanks to my autism I will always be easily disturbed by certain types of both emotional and sensory intensity. More than just this once, Satan has tried to exploit that fact to his advantage, and throw me off balance. This is why I refer to myself as being wobbly. First I’m peaceful, then seemingly the slightest thing can disturb me. Quickly I struggle to regain my inner peace, only to become disturbed again. Back and forth, and back and forth, I wobble.
Because of this fact-of-my-existence, Jesus is always very gentle and loving, and careful with me. In the same way that He sometimes leads me to take steps before showing me in the bible God’s desire for those steps, He has also led me to this point of total trust and commitment before revealing to me something entirely unexpected — and, of course, disturbing…
After I had completely placed myself in Jesus’ hands, I began to feel a new “pulling” in my spirit. During this time I was repeatedly reminded of a story I’d seen on TV about a man named Ian McCormick who’d had a near-death experience after being stung by a box jellyfish. Something about his testimony rang true to my heart. The way he describes his experience fits with what God has taught me about Himself.
God is very deliberate in everything He does. If He brings someone to Him and then sends them back to share their story, it’s because He has something He wants us to know. Longing for an even more intimate view of God and heaven, I felt led to search for others who’d interacted with God through an afterlife or near-death experience.
In my quest I came across a woman named Retah McPherson who’s whole family had been involved in a tragic car accident. Despite her use of various religious-sounding words and phrases which triggered my childhood discomfort at times, her testimony also rang true. Reading her books did give me a more intimate view, not just of God, but of His Holy Spirit.
In her online testimony, Retah mentions a book titled “Heaven is so Real” written by a woman named Choo Thomas. I’d never heard of this book before and so knew nothing about it. Yet, the instant Retah mentioned it, something on the inside told me to buy that book. Then, once I had it in my possession, strangely, I couldn’t even look at it for three whole weeks. So, I read two of Retah’s books instead. Perhaps it was God’s plan to use Retah’s books to somehow prepare me for this one. I love being guided by Him.
As it turns out, Choo Thomas wrote this book for Jesus because He asked her to. In His book Jesus, Himself reveals to us more details about what heaven is like. He informs us that His wedding banquet is ready, and He asks His people to prepare quickly for His return. After His book was completed, Jesus would not allow it to be published until 2003.
Then, at the beginning of 2010, through Choo’s website, Jesus informs us that the pre-tribulation period had begun in late 2009, and that He would have returned then but has chosen to delay ever-so-briefly because so many of His people are still not ready.
Jesus says that not enough of His people are listening to Him. They are not paying close attention to the signs. They are not noticing all those who are prophesying. They are still asleep, living unclean, sin-filled lives. They need to wake up to the truth about themselves. They are in no way pure. They are not ready. He is coming for a pure bride, for those bridesmaids who have enough oil for their lamps (Matthew 25:1-13). (See Retah’s online testimony to find out about this “oil.”) Those who are His must become fully dedicated. They must cast off every sin. They need to pray in earnest to be washed clean of sin daily. They need to stand apart from the world, remain watchful and persevere. His people are not ready. It is very foolish and dangerous to delay any longer. Get ready now.
Jesus’ book “Heaven is so Real” is not for everyone. In fact, Jesus told Choo Thomas that luke-warm Christians will hate His book. Yet, if you should feel led to read it, please ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart to what is written on those pages.
If you read the book, please remember that God has advised us not to rely on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), and that He chooses the seemingly foolish things of the world to shame the worldly-wise (1 Corinthians 1:27). God keeps His every word! Be careful not to think yourself wise in your estimation of things seemingly foolish, but rather ask God’s guidance in your judgment of this book. Look closely at the nature of the many fruits it has produced.
Keep in mind that Satan does not want chosen Christians to read or believe what is written in this book and will do everything he can to interfere. Please realize that you may already belong to the world if your very first urge is to scoff at the idea of this book.
Also, whether you read the book or not, please read Choo’s “Urgent Message” blog page below, especially the entries dated “February 1, 2009,” “February 17, 2009,” “September 28th, 2009” and “May 1, 2011.”
Jesus also told Choo that in 2010 He tested many Christians for the rapture. Some who were tested quickly overcame their tests, but those who were weak turned back to their old, sinful ways. “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14) He also said that many marriages would be broken up during the pre-rapture period.
I can now see how in 2009, when Jesus would have returned, I was not living a pure and holy life. In fact, I’m still not exactly certain what it means to be holy. But I did undergo a growing personal tribulation for nine years, my marriage did break up after I had prayed to be prepared for the good season soon to come, and I did endure a horribly painful time of testing in 2010. And for some reason Jesus did rapidly lead me to the point of total surrender and trust, and now to this surprising end-time revelation. It feels like He is personally offering me a last-minute invitation and, dare I hope, a proposal.
If Jesus hadn’t delayed, I would have been left behind. I am ashamed that I have only recently awoke. But even if I am the very last one to be called, I hope He will count me worthy and take me with Him as part of His bride. I hope that there will be enough oil in my lamp. “Please God, don’t leave me behind!”
I now realize that I am truly blessed to be living sheltered in this place of peace under God’s protective wing. I am now very glad that I don’t work in the world of men and can devote much of my time to preparing. I’m also grateful to have a family that is supportive during this time of transformation. God has again provided me with just what I need, just when I need it. He wants me to succeed, and He knows that I don’t want to let Him down.
Over the years I gradually awoke to the disturbing realization that, for every perspective that is widespread among the nations of the earth, there is an opposite perspective which is, in fact, the truth. For example, if what is popular at the box office is the archetype of the “proud and mighty hero,” then it is actually the opposite; the “meek and humble man” which should be what we value. I now can see how we are constantly being misled, manipulated and encouraged by unseen spirits of rebellion. If something is popular in this world — watch out!
I stand dumbfounded as even the very spoken language of men is turning upside down in homage to the present ruler of this age. As I watch words like “crazy,” “insane,” “wicked,” “sick” and “nasty” slowly and quietly replace words like “fun,” “creative,” “exciting,” “awesome” and “excellent,” I see the defiant proof that we are being carefully groomed for strife. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil…” (Isaiah 5:20)
A great portion of the earth is now a machine-driven, high-tech world where shameless men of business; those merchant lovers-of-money, have gradually become empowered to dangle before us all the flavorful fruits of sin, including the promise of instant gratification. And we willingly buy into it. From on-demand movies to Internet porn, we wallow in the uncleanness of it all. For some of us, it is because our unGodly souls love the pleasures and lawlessness of this world, and we’ve freely given ourselves over to its power. But for many of us, Christians included, perhaps it’s because our weary hearts are hurting as we are held captive in a world of ever-growing stress, fear and loneliness, and in our weakness we desperately seek comfort and relief through whatever form it is offered — God forgive us all for not coming to Him instead.
I didn’t realize that I was deeply hurting God every time I unknowingly sided with His enemy by engaging in unclean, worldly distractions or the behaviors of strife. I didn’t know that I was slowly opening a door to the devil with my negative thoughts, allowing him to defile me; poison my thinking and mark me as his. I had been asleep. Once this fact had fully set in, I went through a period of intense, sorrowful regret, filled with bitter tears of disappointment over the blind way in which I had been living my life for so long. I am very disappointed in myself and deeply sorry for not keeping God first for nearly forty years. My own ignorance was almost my undoing.
But once that season of regret had eased, my determination rose up. At that moment, I made a committed choice and took up my place at the foot of God, my Father. It is there in His shadow that I shall make my stand against my Father’s enemy and all his defiling ways — many about which I still need to learn.
I am resolved. I am determined to go all the way. I shall pay close attention to the Holy Spirit within me, which faithfully alerts me when Satan’s agents attempt to whisper corrupting thoughts. I will try my best to always discipline my body, my eyes and my mind. I will honor my Father by avoiding wallowing in any unclean distraction; any DVDs, TV, Internet, video games, books or magazines that portray any sin as tolerable, acceptable or fun — which just happens to be most of them. I can feel how these weaken our defenses; make us grow comfortable; put us to sleep. I will stand apart and stay alert. I desperately desire not to lose the crown which God has promised to those who’s love remains true to Him. With God’s help I will persevere.
In Matthew 26:34-35, even after Jesus told Peter, “this very night…you will disown me three times,” Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” Yet, out of fear, Peter did in fact disown Jesus three times. I am not making the same kind of bold “family forever!” or “brothers in arms!” statement that Peter made. I know that I can not stand on my own strength. No, what I’m saying here is more like that Christian, football movie “Remember the Giants.” I’m saying that I am committed to leaving everything I’ve got out on that field and letting God take care of the rest. He is my Guardian; the true Author of my destiny.
“…some haven’t soiled their garments with the world’s filth; they shall walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who conquers will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never erase his name from the book of life, but will announce before my Father and his angels that he is mine.” (Revelation 3:4-5)
All my life the worldly voices have said “We are only human. We are all unworthy sinners. We will always sin.” But I’ve never been able to get comfortable with that thinking and relax there, satisfied, like others are. In John 8:11 Jesus told a woman accused of adultery to “Go and sin no more.” Why would He say that if it isn’t possible?
I have come to believe that “to conquer; to overcome; to be victorious” means to keep trying with Jesus’ constant help and eventually succeed at living “in the world” without sinning; without succumbing to the corrupting ways “of the world.” Similarly, I now believe that “to persevere” means not just to remain long-suffering and never cease doing good, but also to stay set apart; to stay vigilant; to not grow complacent, be seduced, fall back to sleep and wallow again in any sin.
So now, whenever I recognize anything in my life that carries even the slightest scent of the enemy, even the tiniest, immature, impatient, unloving, ungenerous, self-serving thought, word or action, I work hard to get rid of it to honor and defend God, and to keep myself clean. I also work hard to stay alert so that I will not grow complacent in what I take in through my eyes and ears. I must also keep clear of anyone who’s influence tempts me to sin — even a friend or family member — anyone.
Though I didn’t play them often, one distraction I removed from my life was video games. Why? Because, Jesus says not to resist an evil man. (Matthew 5:39) But instead, we are to love our enemies. (Matthew 5:44) For blessed are the peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9) I now can see how even the most seemingly innocuous video games for young children are centered around resistive struggles, which are the training wheels of strife. Our children should be forever challenged to learn and grow in love and faith, not challenged to fight those whom they judge for themselves to be “the bad guys.” They will just end up tricked one day into fighting each other for real. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but…against the spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12).
Just as he does with every other form of entertainment, Satan now controls the majority of the video game industry. He is using it to raise up a new generation of prideful hero-soldiers of strife, and strife is the destroyer of patience and peace. “Do not rely on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) God does not want us to fight anyone of our own accord. Our job is to learn to love, trust and depend on God completely, to pay attention when He speaks and to obey His every instruction. After all, hidden inside every one of our enemies is a precious child of God, and one day, maybe even a potential new best friend. We are all in this together. We should always be for each other, not against each other.
For this same reason I now avoid watching movies or TV. Not only do they boldly offer up as morally acceptable and tolerable nearly every kind of corruption, but so many of them also broadcast the same misguided “fight the evildoer” message as do most hero-based video games. I believe that we should willingly sacrifice for God by throwing out anything that submerges our lives in strife, temptation or corruption. And that we should honor and defend God by refusing to wallow any longer in the enemy’s exciting filth, otherwise we’ll continue growing accustomed and desensitized.
“And when that time comes…he who is filthy will continue being polluted.” (Revelation 21:11) “Blessed are those who are washing their robes [clean of the world’s filth], that they may have the right to the tree of life and to enter through the gates into the holy city.” (Revelation 21:14)
Six months ago I was able to watch most movies with no problem at all. But now, I actually feel sick to my stomach if I watch one filled with sinful content. It’s like being coated with a sticky slime or clinging oder that takes a long time to dissipate. Those who consistently submerge themselves in forms of corrupting entertainment will not understand what I’m saying. To them these movies and games will seem like no big deal. I know because I was just like them only six months ago; I could not see the forest through the trees.
In light of the fact that Jesus is coming right away, dedicating ourselves to throwing out every unclean thing, including policing our own thoughts and imagination, is vitally important, now more than ever. I believe that the time to fully demonstrate our faith and love and to stand up for our God — is right now, everyday!
“He who overcomes will inherit all these blessings, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the corrupt, the sexually immoral…and all liars–their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” (Revelation 21:7-8)
Jesus does not want this to be anyone’s fate. He loves us all so deeply that the thought of losing anyone tears His heart in two. We can’t afford to “sit on the fence” a moment longer. It’s time to fully commit. It’s time to beg for His help.
It seems that the primary purpose of this life has always been for us to fully taste the truth of our Creator and His rebellious enemy; to gain sufficient knowledge of the good and the evil; of the beautiful ways of our heavenly Family and the corrupting ways of the world, and to find out to which flame we as moths are drawn. If we are drawn to the “passions and desires” of this world, let us realize it. Let us wake up now, beg for help and turn away. But, if we find ourselves still ignorant and undecided, then let us pray to learn quickly and get busy. “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24) Strange sounding verses like this once seemed like meaningless, religious phrases. But now I can see that this does, in fact, describe the commitment I must continue to make every single day.
One of the often unrecognized “passions and desires of our sinful nature” is to relieve our frustration by letting go of our patience and harming others with ugly words or a loud, unloving tone. Venting in this way might feel good and even seem justified at the time, but it is a form of strife; a destroyer of peace, love and the trust of others, especially family. We are meant to be patient, long suffering and to always defend each other, never to attack — even if it feels good to let loose and yell — this we must sacrifice; cut out; crucify.
For me, God has been a loving, supportive wind at my back, guiding me to earnestly follow the passionate flame that is His Son; my dearly devoted Friend and Teacher; my Lord and King; the priceless Jewel of the kingdom of heaven.
This life is nothing; it is a shadow; it is smoke. Satan wants me to think that this is all there is; that this is it, but I have tasted life and it is bitter and empty; it’s all a lie. The real truth is a gentle Man with a warm smile extending His arm saying “Take my hand. Trust in my love. Let me help you, and I will show you where you really come from; your true kingdom, and I will take you home with me.”
Jesus is inviting all those who belong to Him to escape the great tribulation which is about to begin. Find out as much as you can right now about every kind of sin and unclean thing. Remove it completely from your life. Keep trusting Jesus with all your heart. He wants so very badly to teach you, raise you up and bring you safely home for good.
Our time on earth is but a tiny speck. Eternity is forever. God promises that, after this brief life, there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4). So how much are we willing to love God while we’re here? Will we love Him enough to obey Him always and to accept our circumstances, whatever they may be? Will we love Him enough to struggle for Him, to sacrifice for Him, to suffer for Him till the very end? It’s only for a little while. And there will never again be another opportunity.
In Luke 14:16-23 Jesus tells the story of His great banquet. In this parable many honored guests were preoccupied with worldly matters and turned down the invitation. The master then sent His servants to gather others to the feast and still there were not enough. So the master delayed just a little longer and one last time the servants were sent farther out to gather people from the roads and country lanes.
I believe that we are the last of those people from the country lanes; the last to be invited. To accept this invitation we must prepare ourselves without delay.
I am sensitive in my spirit, shaky in my understanding and confidence, quickly confused and disturbed, often absentminded, a bit socially awkward and easily embarrassed. Yet here you find me, willingly baring my soul to the world.
Writing my story was no easy task. It takes courage to be honest and make yourself vulnerable, knowing fully well that you appear ridiculous in the eyes of a judgmental world. But God promises that those of us who trust in Him will never be put to shame (Isaiah 49:23), that because He helps us, we should not be ashamed (Isaiah 50:7), that He did not give us a spirit of timidity, therefore we should not be ashamed to testify (2 Timothy 1:7-8). So here I am shouting in the wilderness, albeit with somewhat shaky legs and a quivery voice, but I am shouting for my Lord just the same.
This testimony is yet another step of faith; evidence of a commitment. I am working hard not to allow my feelings of embarrassment; my Achilles heal, to stop me. I am going all the way — regardless of what the world may think. My heart belongs to that gentle son of a carpenter from the small town of Nazareth some twenty centuries past. I will never deny my love for Jesus and for God; my Creator; my Papa, for in that at least I will be bold. They are my intimate Family, my breathtaking Future, my real Home.
I also deeply long for the friendship of those who are truly God’s people; those loyal, trustworthy folks who’s beautiful, long-suffering hearts are sincere, tender, gentle and peaceful. I am seeking the real deal. For, those who truly belong to Him are patient, kind and loving like His son. That is how you will know His sheep.
But looking for them in any church building among the Sunday goats causes me great hesitation, as I become so easily disturbed by the heaviness I feel when near the stiff, lifeless, superficial ways of organized religion, which make a relationship with God seem trite and impotent. That disturbing first taste of religion from my childhood has actually grown stronger the more that I have suffered.
Jesus told Choo Thomas that less than 1% of Pastors and less than 10% of Christians will hear the trumpets announcing Christ’s return. This horrifying fact seems to serve as a painful indicator of the rampant lukewarmness in modern Christianity.
One way you can know if you are lukewarm is if you don’t even love your Lord enough to willingly risk embarrassment for Him. Is not a desperate, passionate love willing to do anything, including make a fool of itself?
There is a horrible war going on right under our nose, and we, my friends, are the prize. Most of us, myself included, have been asleep right in the middle of it, living unclean lives, perhaps without even realizing it; without even recognizing our own sin. We were meant for so much better than this. Please wake up to the truth. This is a very serious matter. We need to be working on our own salvation every day (Philippians 2:12). But, how?
Perhaps we should start by fully realizing that God answers to no one; that He is totally sovereign and can do anything He pleases. And that God hates (LOATHES) every sin. He alone holds all power, including the power to destroy the very souls He created. And He is completely just. He will judge 100% fairly, declaring a wage-of-death on every sin, regardless of how small we, ourselves, might want to judge that sin to be.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.” (Psalm 111:10) “To fear the Lord demonstrates true wisdom, and to turn away from evil shows real understanding.” (Job 28:28) “The love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:17)
Because we’ve all sinned, even in ways we’ve yet to realize, every one of us has earned the penalty of eternal death. This is entirely intentional, by design. And even before the very founding of the world, God intended that Jesus should be the Key that sets us free. This is why we need Jesus so desperately. This is why He is our one, true Superhero. Without Him there is no hope. He came to court and willingly paid our fines imposed by the Judge. For who else but God could withstand the crushing wrath of God. So, for those of us who wholeheartedly accept Jesus’ offer, God’s just judgment is satisfied, and we are provided a precious, slim chance to live — but just barely. What we do with it is up to us.
God has defined for us what is sin…
God has also defined for us how to live like His Son…
Every one of us is ultimately responsible to keep working out our own salvation daily. Every day we must try our best to love and to please God by obeying His commands and emulating (living and behaving like) His son. And Jesus wants so very badly to help us along that narrow path. The fact is, we can’t do it without Him. So keep asking Him. Beg Him! Trust Him. Never quit trying! And He WILL change you and teach you the way of love — while loving you every step of the way.
We are born naked into Satan’s mud pit. We are born an empty slate, wicked and sinful right out of the box, and ignorant of a better way. And although we might look around and not see a Creator, each of us is continually being asked a silent question. “Will you choose what Satan offers during this brief lifetime, or will you choose instead to listen to that tiny voice deep inside your heart — the one that whispers of a treasure infinitely greater; of a truly happier-ever-after beyond all description?”
You see, with little or no proof, and no matter how long or what the cost, we are asked to force ourselves, of our own free will, to walk away from that comfortable, familiar mud pit, to wash ourselves off in Jesus’ cleansing rain and to climb barefooted up that steep, narrow, stony, mountain path, hand-in-hand with our Savior, until we ultimately reach the top. It is there that we will find our heavenly Father waiting, desperate to wrap His mighty arms around us and tell us that we made it; we persevered, that He is so very pleased, and that He loves us so very, very much.
Love is always patient and long-suffering. Love is always gentle and kind. Love is never envious. Love is never boastful or arrogant with pride. Love is never conceited or rude. Love is never selfish or self-seeking and does not demand or insist on its own way. Love is never irritable or easily provoked to anger and does not take offense. Love is always quick to forgive. Love is never resentful nor does it keep a record of past wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices when truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith and never stops hoping. Love always perseveres, bears ALL things and endures through EVERY circumstance. Love is never ending. (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7) This is the way of God and His Son. It is the very nature of the Holy Spirit which They share. It is what should live fully in our hearts.
By this I can see that I have yet such a long way to climb. But I know that I am not on my own. Whenever I need help, all I have to do — is ask (Matthew 7:7).
Thank you for reading my testimony.
P.S. I’m sorry if anything I’ve written has made you uncomfortable. I tried very hard to be sensitive and careful in my choice of words throughout my story. By now you know that I can most likely relate to how you feel. For 40 years I “wandered in the wilderness” letting my intimidation and discomfort with “religious-sounding” words and phrases keep me from an intimate knowledge of my Creator and a closer relationship with His kind and loving Son. I believe Jesus is now saying to everyone “Dare to brave your embarrassment and social discomfort. You can’t afford to let that stop you a moment longer.”
Heaven is pure joy and wonder, fun and laughter playing with God, our Father, forever. And hell is — well — absolutely terrifying and unthinkable. Just read the testimony of the seven youths below.
Why any of God’s precious children would willingly reject Him and walk themselves straight into the horrors of Hell while Jesus is standing right there with an outstretched hand and a breaking heart is totally beyond me. Please dare to entrust yourself into the loving care of God’s one-and-only Son.
“The great tribulation is about to begin. The time has come for the churches to wake up and read the book of Revelation aloud. It is time for the servants of the Lord to wash their robes of all worldly filth and to be about His work, for the Master is coming.”
God said He would always speak to the world through His prophets. Just like He used to in ancient times, that is just what He is doing now — listen…