Those of us who have come out of Wicca, the occult and New Age spirituality carry a burden that most do not have to bear. Our burden is that we know how “real” our experiences were, how “natural” it felt as we thought we were hearing God, receiving signs, and being led through orchestrated coincidences. But we realize now that it was not always God.
Up until now, I have avoided this disclosure, because I did not want to confuse you or frighten you away from the very real, intimate interaction God wants to have with you . . . that the divine dialogue makes possible.
Those counterfeit experiences were produced from a spiritual matrix that deems Jesus’s death on His cross as irrelevant. . . a tragedy maybe, but having no bearing on life or history. That spirituality, to which I once belonged, rejects man’s need of redemption. It may esteem Jesus as a great teacher, but it totally disregards what He taught and how He is presented in Scripture. It is a belief system that seems beautiful, noble, optimistic, open and nonjudgmental — but believe me, it draws a hard, hostile line between the god it believes — and the God of the Bible.
In that spiritual place, there were times — when words from God did come to find me, searing me with Truth. To this day, it is strikingly clear how His hand was on my life at distinct turning points. I truly experienced patches of His leading. But there was another flow of “guidance” mingling with the pure stream of what was coming from Him –another line of reasoning, another “mind” that knew exactly where I was and what I was doing. And that “other mind” exerted its influence on me, driving me away from Jesus.
Furthermore, that “other mind” had the power to create “signs,” to “orchestrate circumstances,”, to bring about a series of “coincidences” that led me to believe that God was guiding me — but it proved to be not God . In my pantheistic naivete I thought everything was God and that the only evil was the darkness of man’s not knowing better. I believed that higher spiritual knowledge, not a blood redemption, would ultimately save mankind.
The belief system to which I belonged is not new or more highly evolved — it is the most ancient seduction of all. It has a name in Scripture. “She” is traced from Genesis to Revelation, where The Bible predicts that at the zenith of her powers she will be the most violent persecutor of those who follow the one true God. Scripture calls her “Babylon” and “Mystery Babylon.” In Scripture Babylon is always a symbol for false religion. The most ancient of religions, she is the root of every false way to God; yet she proclaims to be the gate of God. When I lived there, identifying with her teaching, I called her Ancient Wisdom.
For those of us who have come out of Babylon, the vividness of certain experiences we attributed to God — but were not God — are perplexing as well as humbling. We recognize the stealth of deception. We bear the sober burden of understanding how intimately “a mind” other than God’s can think its thoughts through our own, how a power other than God’s can orchestrate events to make you think that you are being led by God. . . when you are not. And always, this “other mind” appears to be with us and for us, when it is actually bent on using us, bringing us into captivity to itself, leading us away from our only true source of Saving Love. Scripture describes it as “the spirit of lawlessness,” because its energy and drive exults in throwing off all authority but its own.
Those of us who have been intoxicated by the cup of Babylon, come away understanding how submission, obedience, and alignment enabled “that mind” to work itself out through our lives. We are meant-to-incarnate the mind of Christ — but instead, we began to incarnate that other mind.
Consider carefully that whatever mind we submit to, obey, and align ourselves with enables that mind to work itself out through us. . . which is why Scripture implores us:
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus . . .
Phil 2:5, NKJV
* * *
After spending six months as a sannyasin in her Guru’s ashram in India in the early 80’s, my friend, Shella, returned to the States hungry for community with fellow devotees. She began looking for just the right place, where a group of Atlanta seekers could live together and start a meditation center.
At the ashram, her guru’s followers wore the colors of the sunset – deep reds, orange-reds, pink-reds and golds. It had been quite beautiful to see 1,000 sannyasins meditating and dancing together in their red robes in the ashram’s Buddha Hall.
With this vision in her mind, Shella started out one late fall morning in Atlanta asking “the Universe” to provide the perfect place: one that was quiet and set apart, with an open space for worship and meditation. She asked for the rent to be affordable and for there to be space for six of them to live comfortably.
The traffic was sparse that morning, highly atypical for Atlanta. As she rounded the corner of a street in a nice neighborhood, Shella noticed a long circular driveway leading up to a two-story house on a hill. A “For Rent” sign prominently marked the house from the street. The trees were bare, revealing at least two acres of land and few neighbors. A sense of peace permeated the air as she approached the house, and then she saw what was a sure “sign.”
Three stained-glass windows formed an arc above the front door — the exact same colors that reddened her sannyasin robes. From the depths of an inner quiet Shella sensed, “This is it.”
As she entered the house, she discovered three bedrooms and three baths (perfect for six) and a wonderful open room with three walls of windows and a fireplace (perfect for group meditation.) If they could afford it, she would know that “the Universe” had provided and she had found their place.
The landlord worked out a lease they could afford, two couples joined Shella within a week, and the work began. They had been led to their “place,” and every sign pointed to success. But within a year and a half, the project crumbled, they dispersed across the city, and their meditation center had failed. Shella was heartbroken.
Shella did not understand, at that time, that this was God’s protective intervention against a mind that wanted to bring her more and more into submission to itself.
* * *
A beloved sister, who has come out of Babylon, Shella is exquisitely sensitive to God’s leading — especially in prayer and in the pictures God paints in her mind. People think of her as being “gifted.” I used to think that sensitivity to God’s leading was a gift given to some but not to others. But I am now convinced that —
spiritual sensitivity has little to do with giftedness
and everything to do with submissiveness.
Shella would laugh if she read this, because she is the least likely candidate to be named “submissive.” She is one of the most stubborn, strong-minded, strong willed, competent, capable, feminist-leaning women I know. But, spiritually, she easily submits because —
- She desperately wants to be obedient to the truth.
- She desperately wants to be led by God.
- And the moment she sees whatever it is that God is showing her, she bends her knee in humble submission, with a contrite heart.
If we want to become more sensitive to God’s leading,
we don’t practice “hearing God” —
we practice submission.
* * *
Imagine a sphere of golden light falling down on you from on High, in the shape of a cone making a circle of golden light around your feet — almost like a golden spotlight illuminating you on a dark stage. That sphere of light encapsulates you in God’s presence, flooding you with God’s mind, wrapping you in God’s protective guidance. When you are in that light, you become light. It is the secret place of The Most High where no arrow of fear can find you.
That sphere is what God becomes to you when you bring yourself into submission, obedience and alignment with His mind.
We read The New Testament and completely miss this. Jesus’ ability to walk in intimate communion with his Father was not because he came from God and was God incarnate — remember that he had stripped himself of his God-ness to become a man, becoming exactly as we are — BUT he lived every single moment of his life in utter submission, obedience and alignment with God.
The reason it was possible for Jesus to see what his Father was doing and understand what his Father was saying to him was because he was always practicing submission to his Father.
When we practice submission to God, it is like stepping into that sphere of golden light. We see, we hear, we understand what He is saying to us.
In Oswald Chamber’s devotional, My Utmost for His Highest (October 10), he writes:
All God’s revelations are sealed until they are opened to us by obedience. You will never get them open by philosophy or thinking. Immediately you obey, a flash of light comes. . . Obey God in the thing He shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. One reads tomes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when one five minutes of drastic obedience would make things as clear as a sunbeam. “I suppose I shall understand these things someday!” You can understand them now. It is not study that does it, but obedience. The tiniest fragment of obedience, and heaven opens and the profoundest truths of God are yours straight away. God will never reveal more truth about Himself until you have obeyed what you know already.”
Jesus did nothing on his own initiative. Everything that flowed out of him flowed out of his submission — for he spoke only as he heard the Father speaking, and did only what he saw the Father doing. (John 5: 18, 20, 30)
Submission to God is
- submission to the truth
- alignment of our thinking with Scripture
- submission to the hard things we are facing in life, not becoming angry at God, but allowing them to drive us in desperation to Him as our only true help
- surrender to whatever it is in this present moment that God is waiting for us to obey
- taking our place in the expression of Divine authority God has placed before us
I struggle with submission — with laughter at myself — the way I continue to dig in my heels, fighting my husband’s leadership again and again. And yet, the more I bring myself into that sphere of light, the more beautifully I see the Lord working between us. I find that I am not just submitting to my husband, but we are submitting to one another, as Bill submits himself to the spiritual gifts he sees working in me.
Coming out of church Sunday morning the sky was filled with bands of Canadian Geese flying Southeast. Their cry sounded over our heads in the crisp cold air. But what caught my attention were the differences in their “V” flight formations. The most practiced flocks flew in a beautiful fluid V, benefitting from the windstream they created, as each one found his place in that structure. But other geese struggled in ragged formations flying in broken V’s — struggling, disconnected, illy-related to each other, lacking leadership, having no unity, making their journey harder, having trouble keeping up with the others. I couldn’t help but laugh, as I recognized the illustration.
All week long I had been contemplating submission as stepping into a sphere of light forming a cone around me, and there in the morning sky, He was showing me the beauty and benefit of finding my place in that inverted “V” of alignment — having His mind.
It is so simple
We long to know that we are not alone, to have evidence that God cares, to not just believe that He is in charge but to experience His navigation of us down the whitewater of life skirting the hydraulics — nothing compares to being led by God.
But only as we submit to Him can we experience that sphere of light . . . can His mind work itself out through us . . . will we see Him orchestrating circumstances around us . . . will we hear and understand what He is saying to us.
To the degree that we are under the influence of another mind, that cone shaped sphere will fade, that inverted “V” of flight will fall apart.
Which is why Jesus came preaching a kingdom at hand, with his first admonition being a call to repent. To “repent” is to change our mind, to turn to God and away from whatever has captured our mind in defiance of Him
It has been my experience that if I ask Him to show me whatever it is that is keeping me from being able to find my place in that sphere of light, from being able to find that secret place of The Most High (Psalm 91) . . . He always shows me.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting . . .
James 1:5-6, NASU
Like the cry of the geese over my head in the cold October sky, signaling a change in the season and the onset of a vast migration movement, I hear another cry . . . God’s cry, imploring us to come out of Babylon. . . to repent of the mingled spirituality, the adulteration of Truth, the mind that has been keeping so many of us from being able to find Him.
I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues . . .
Instead of using our intellect and education to make sport of Scripture, flattering ourselves that we know more than those writers ever could, picking and choosing what we like, bending the rest to fit our pre-conceptions . . . perhaps we should consider the authority of The Mind that streamed through those writers, causing them to fly in a perfect, unified “V” across centuries, demonstrating one mind, presenting one message no matter how different their time, culture and state of civilization differed from each other’s. Perhaps we should listen to their cry imploring us to surrender.
. . . I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. . .
No matter where we are, the word of God will come to find us,
to bring us from where we are to where we are meant-to-be.
Our surrender, in submission to that word , is how we come out of Babylon.