As 2015 drew to a close, my spiritual experiences started getting more and more intense. One day in late November, as I was delivering sandwiches for work, I felt the presence of a wise, elder spirit watching over me.
At first, I couldn’t tell who it was. This spirit was clearly different from that of Sophia (the Holy Spirit), or Christina (my deceased girlfriend); but whoever it was, it was someone that loved me.
A couple minutes later, I noticed a truck in front of me with an Army bumper sticker on the back. Then I realized who this spirit was that had been watching me – it was my maternal grandfather, who had served in World War II ( he died of cancer in 2009)!
Then I saw my grandpa in a vision. He was smiling, but looked tired. Why is he tired? I wondered. He’s dead now. He should be at rest.
Then I looked closer, and saw that he had a wound in his side. (This wound was not physical, but spiritual). I realized that this wound was from all of the terrible things he had seen in the war. He had been carrying all of this around for years, and had never told anyone about it!
When I saw this, I broke down and wept – even more than I had at his funeral a few years earlier. Though I had never been in a war and couldn’t even imagine the horrors he must have seen, I felt on a deep level that I was somehow experiencing some of the pain he must have gone through. I prayed for his healing and returned to work. The next day I saw him again in a similar vision – but this time the wound was gone.
Over the next few weeks, I had several visions of this type. Some of these involved people I knew (such as my maternal grandmother, who had also died of cancer); others were impersonal or cosmic in nature. I had visions of a young woman struggling with bulimia, racial riots in the inner cities, environmental destruction, Jesus’ apocalyptic return, and more.
In all of these visions, I felt the joys and sufferings of the people involved as if they were my own. I came to realize that God was showing me these things for a reason – to increase my sense of compassion and connection to others.
I was slowly being transformed into a more godly person, by seeing things as God sees them. I was beginning to experience what the Eastern Orthodox Church calls theosis (becoming God).
By early December, I realized I was being called to a ministry that involved more than just preaching and teaching. One day, as I was reflecting on my inner connection to the spiritual Christina, I said to myself, It feels like I have two spirits in me, just like the Native American shamans.
That’s because that’s who you are, God responded. I was so shocked by this that I could hardly think, let alone speak! Could I really be called to a shamanic ministry, something that involved mediating visions of the spirit world to a whole community? I wasn’t prepared for something like this!
But I would soon see that God was right (as He/She always is). I was being equipped for a ministry that would involve both prophecy and healing – for more than a few people.
One night in mid-December, God worked through me in a very powerful way. After a period of silent meditation at the First Metaphysical Church in Davison, a woman sitting near me described a vision where she saw Jesus calling her forward to an altar; but every time she tried to move, she was stopped by a voice in her head that yelled “Bastard!”
As soon as she said that, I knew that God was calling me to help her; for in my childhood I had gone through something very similar. (At the time I had been suffering from repeated nightmares, which made me scared to go to sleep. I tried praying for God to help me; but my prayers were always interrupted by a voice in my head yelling “God damn it!”).
As soon as the group had dispersed, I shared my story with this woman. Then I asked if she would be open to intercessory prayer, with the laying on of hands and possibly involving other tongues. I had not been planning to do this, but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
The woman gladly consented to this prayer, and I proceeded to call on Sophia, Jesus, and God the Father to cast this “bastard” spirit out of her. (I reconnected with this woman about a month later, and was pleased to find out that this spirit had not returned!)
About five days after this prayer, I moved into an apartment on the east side of Flint. I was pleased to finally have my own place to stay, though it was unclear how long I would be there.
The visions continued, and as I grew closer to Sophia (God) and the spiritual Christina (or Stina, as I affectionately call her), my depression continued to lessen. By the end of December it seemed like all the pain from my past had been erased!
I had no regrets; for I realized that everything that had ever happened to me had led me to where I am today. It also became clear to me that in some sense I had always known Sophia and Stina – even before I had met them! I had never really been alone.
(Coming Next Week – A Long Strange Trip, the Finale: The Loss of all Fear)