Before I went to kindergarten, I had my first spiritual experience. How precocious, right? Well.. This spiritual encounter was actually from the devil. I was between 2 & 3 yrs old. I remember it, grant you. Not sure forgetting that is possible. I was in the middle bedroom at my grandmother’s house, where we were living due to my parent’s recent divorce. It was little kid nap time, and Mammaw Hill had laid me down for a nap. To the left side of the bed he appeared at some stage in nap time. It was a classic depiction of the devil, maybe I’d seen him on “deviled” ham cans, but there was no mistaking who was there. The jest of the encounter was this; he was (falsely) claiming me as his own. This experience was not from God and was accompanied by a payload of fear, with a side of attempted control and deception. I never wanted to nap in that room again.
Humans are Spiritual Beings
“Keep a man from food and he will gobble poison”, CS Lewis astutely declared. In this exploration of things spiritual, I hope to help you discern between the food and the poison. Discernment is the needed key ingredient, which we appear to be very nearly devoid of in our times. Discernment of spirits as it’s called in the old KJV, is as much for discerning the true as it is the false. We are lacking the discernment of the true just as much as we are the false. “Don’t be deceived” is a recurring phrase in the scripture and not without reason. Absent vigilance, and growing skill, deception is unavoidable. We might even slip so far as to call the good, evil and the evil, good. Woe to us!
Contend for the faith once delivered to the saints – it stands from of old. The scriptures are and must be our basis for clarity and calling strikes, balls and fouls. Many are going far afield today in the name of Jesus. This must be understood and opposed. At the same time, keep in mind that any Godly spiritual encounter that is mentioned in the scripture is valid, and shouldn’t be ruled out just because you get a touch spooked.
To be clear, I have had quite a number of spiritual encounters from God. They are real. They can be scary. And they are powerful to the point of being life altering. I have also had a few spiritual encounters that weren’t from God, and they are destructive by contrast as encounters with God are edifying / enlightening. These encounters with God I have had largely because I have asked for them. Remember the encouragement to “ask and you will receive.” It can be just that simple. I’ll give further example shortly.
A little while back now, I saw Oprah’s interview with Will Smith, about his book that was just releasing, among other topics. As an podcast interviewer, I’m always trying to pay attention to such things. Interestingly, the interview turned to spiritual things and Will had quite a bit to say, especially about his grandmother, who was called GiGi. She evidently was a strong believer in Jesus and he admired that. I’m not sure the order of the comments, but at some point he got around to talking about his personal spiritual journey, which involved a supervised hallucinogen trip in a South American country. The interview was done as well, as one would expect, but, as I thought about over the next few days, I had a troubling sense. Not everything spiritual is holy. To the lost and the undiscerning, this will not make sense. It is possible to have encounters in the spiritual realm that originate in darkness, and still be on what would rightly be called a spiritual journey. The scriptures are clear about such things. To believe you can go on your own spiritual journey that will define your own truth in a way that leads you away from scripture is to be misled.
God is spirit, and those who worship Him must do so in spirit and truth. But, that does not mean all spiritual worship is actually worship of God. We are urged to “try the spirits to see whether they be from God or not.” Further, “ What the pagans offer they offer to demons. You cannot eat from the table of the Lord and the table of demons…”. Not that you shouldn’t, you can’t.
One such sacrificial offering that comes to mind comes from 2 Kings 3, where a king offered his son, the future king, as a burnt offering. This released great spiritual power against Israel. Such a sacrifice was overwhelmingly spiritual and full of dark power.
Angel of Light
Even Satan transforms himself into an angel of light (deception). Some use this as an excuse to discredit and be suspicious of all spiritual encounters. This is not wisdom and is an inaccurate approach. There is a reason there are no counterfeit $1000 bills. Fakes and false things intended to deceive has to have a context of truth to operate in or they would immediately be recognized as implausible. There are spiritual realities at play in our every day lives, no matter how normal and mundane they may appear.
Encounter with Jesus
In the late 90s I was depressed for a few years. Disillusioned too. This was on the heels of a very powerful season of my life where God had really touched me, and used me to touch many others. Some may remember the revivals that swept about North America during the mid 90s. It was quite a time to be alive and engaged in pursuing God. My cup overflowed. But then, schism between myself and really close brother in the Lord. If you want to know a quick way to arrest the liberty of the spirit, I can help! Disunity started a process that ended up stealing much of what I received. And so I started a slow decent into darkness.
By personality, I can be a touch extreme. You may not know me well enough to know that, but I think those close to me would confirm. At some point in my deceptive decent, I started picking up speed. This landed me in a very dark place with intent to make the most of the darkness. I thank God that my fall was brief. I don’t say so to minimize it’s impact, because it was very destructive.
At the crisis point in my situation, something I would think unlikely happened. Jesus appeared to me, in bodily form.
How did He know how to find me, because I was hid out in places I shouldn’t have been with people I shouldn’t have been with? And yet, there He was. The encounter was very brief. He said nothing to me, but the atmosphere changed immediately, including instant freedom from the growing deception that had been working it’s way deeper and deeper into my mind and thinking. I went home to my family straight away. For sure there were some counter-attacks that followed, but, I thank God He kept me.
Through this and other encounters I have had since, I have learned some things about the spiritual realm, discernment, and how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. There is more to know and learn, I am very sure. Lord, please continue to teach me. One thing to note is that I had prayed for a couple years for the Lord to appear to me before I entered that period of deception and falling. And He answered me. I do think this is rare and shouldn’t be taken lightly or tossed about with irreverence. That has been more than 20 years ago now, and I don’t believe I have written about it before, and have spoken of it only in recent years.
One thing to understand, the spiritual realm is superior to and surrounds the natural realm. Also, it can be said that the natural realm is inferior to the spiritual realm and is contained within it. The natural realm is temporary, the spiritual realm, eternal. We are spiritual beings and were created as such. The fall of man created an experiential schism between these realms. This could be expanded on, but, for now, I want to urge you to take a step back from all the movements and lunacy in the world today, and try to understand the things that are moving it. Read scripture, pray and ask God to show you. He will answer your request. Ask Him to send His Spirit to infuse into you discernment, which is so desperately needed and in rare manifestation. And may the God of peace guide you into all truth.