Just over half a century ago, I grew up at a time when if you wanted to learn something—about pretty much anything at all—you had to go to a library (yes, actually get in a car and take all that time, or, worse yet, have someone drive you there if you were a kid, like me, back in those days). Then you’d either find literally just a measly few paragraphs or a column or two in an encyclopedia (with an occasional photo, if you were lucky), or if you were really lucky, maybe you’d find a whole book or even a few on the topic.
This endeavor, of course, also required that you knew how to use the card catalog (those monstrous wooden cabinets, filled with stacks and stacks of alphabetical single-hole-punched index cards on secured metal rods—like who wanted to STEAL them anyhow??!!), which further required you then knowing your way through the Dewey Decimal System and seemingly endless isles of books.
Boy, have times changed.
Now I simply consult “the Oracle”—you know, the all-knowing miniature-but-power-packed electronic devices we all carry around—from SmartPhones, to iPads, to Kindles, to laptops, and more! And in about 10 seconds, voila! . . . the world—quite literally—is at my fingertips, and in living color no less, with videos! Holy smokes Batman! (I know, I’m dating myself again.)
Well that same parallel fits perfectly with my experiences discovering God. He used to live in a church, where I could talk to Him from a neatly lined pew, once a week (after being sure I tithed my 10% of course) and sanctified myself with cheap grape juice in miniscule plastic cups and wafers they tried to pass off as Holy Communion once a month. And then too—when crisis struck in my life or my loved ones’ lives—I’d get on my knees and beg for help. God was in the encyclopedia, it seemed. He was the wise-looking old man with a long white beard, who sat on a big throne and lived in the clouds in Heaven (where angels floated on clouds playing harps for all eternity), and He shot lightning bolts and thunder down to earth every now and then, when we mere mortals made Him mad perchance. And oh yeah, the encyclopedia said God sent His only begotten Son to die for us miserable sinners. Basically, God fit fairly neatly into a nicely labeled little box. And frankly (and unfortunately) that was convenient, at least for a while.
Today, nearly 58 years into life, my viewpoints of God and reality have shifted as dramatically as trading an encyclopedia blurb for surfing the Internet. And now that I’m getting to know God a bit more, His vastness and the diversity of His reality just totally blow my mind. As for the nice neat little box, God tore that to shreds, and now I’m having to stretch myself every which way to actually grow and ascend into the likeness of Him and follow His perfect will. Back in college at Penn State, I used to have a bumper sticker on my bulletin board that said, “If there’s a will, I want to be in it!” Boy, since I met God, the joke is on me now!
And the really tricky thing about God is He’s often rather subtle, and if you’re not paying attention, you can easily miss Him and His Providential hand in your life and circumstances around you. That “still, small, quiet voice” is quite a contrast to the thundering angry God of my childhood understanding, and I’m discovering it takes practice to gain “the eyes to see and the ears to hear” Him and discern the threads of His will woven into the fabric of my moments day to day. Basically, the freewill clause in the contract is a real trip!
In opening Pandora’s proverbial box, learning expanded truths about God and Jesus (whose more cosmic name is Christ Michael)—particularly through my studies of both The URANTIA Book and the continuation (known as The Cosmic Family volumes)—has significantly created many personal consciousness-raising experiences (and mental and emotional crises frankly) for me over the last nearly three decades. It turns out that undoing yourself—a kind of remodeling you might say—is much less comfortable and cushy than I’d like. But through it all, God endures with me, and I’m changing (albeit sometimes rather poorly, slowly, and some days just barely). Yet, over time, there is progress, and I’m optimistic if I persevere God won’t give up on me, or any of us, as long as we’re sincere. So upward and onward I traverse, despite losing my footing sometimes.
First and foremost, my overall life focus and raison d’être, you might say, have drastically shifted from “me, me, me” to sincere interest and service towards the betterment of others’ lives. I am serving now as a counselor, including for a personality rehabilitation program, and have become an ordained minister—both of which would have shocked me had you told me the future 30 years ago. But these days it seems somewhat more natural to seek to help (vs. “I’ll just do it myself”) and truly serve (rather than be served), as I’m learning the wisdom of St. Francis, who taught it is better to love than be loved and that it is in forgiving that we are forgiven, with all that entails.
I grew up in a world that taught to “look out for #1” (i.e. myself) and that “money makes the world go ‘round,” so you best figure out a way to get a lot of it, and fast. I believed a degree hanging on the wall from a big university made me better (or at least smarter and more successful) than people who didn’t have one. I thought the same of my nice car and fancy designer label clothes and the hundred dollar bills in my Gucci wallet. But they were all masks to cover up the emptiness in my soul, rooted in my distance from God and doing His will (instead of my own).
And nowhere out there could I seem to find the answers to why the heck the world, and everyone on it, was in such a horrible mess. Then I discovered (or actually was divinely led) to epochal revelation—you know, the stuff big “epochs” in history are made of and that God reveals to man (rather than us guessing and calling it ‘religion’). And I began to understand that a very long time ago a terrible rebellion (led by Lucifer and Satan—two actually different personalities, who were initially both once brilliant celestial beings) took place, leading men and angels astray you might say, falling into the realms of self-serving and away from God’s harder but divine plan for us all, which is caring for and serving others.
From The URANTIA Book I’m learning much of the physical and spiritual history of our world, and found out Jesus wasn’t who I thought—not at all. And though humans evolved from apes (via the lemur), God did indeed create us within a divine plan. And God is way way way way bigger than I can ever exaggerate or imagine. Plus there are billions of more angels and celestial beings than anyone could possibly ever count. In truth, The URANTIA Book is in many ways a planetary history book of how the world got to be in the state it is and who’s involved.
Then, in The Cosmic Family volumes, I’ve been learning that all those problems and the strife of the world are actually partially caused by me—my wrong thinking, my wrong choices, my wrong viewpoints, and especially my apathy. And so now I’m trying to unlearn a bunch of philosophies that weren’t founded in truth, beauty, or goodness, nor in God and His will.
Hence, I now routinely sit at the feet of true spiritual elders (a vital key for any spiritual seeker) in order to acquire higher teachings as their student. In my day-to-day comings and goings, I’m attempting to gain spiritual insight into situations and make decisions based not only for the common good of all, but that may require notable personal sacrifice, and bolstering myself up to meet the challenge. I still fail a lot, but my spiritual muscles are getting stronger over time. And I believe with God all things ARE possible.
In the exposure I’m gaining to revelation (God telling versus us mortals just guessing), my mind sees with my heart more now; they’re more fused, and this brings more balance into my perspectives (although of course I’ve got a ways to go, for sure). I see people less as something to check off my To Do list, and more as someone to get to know, love, and enjoy life together with, resolving conflicts in maturity and forgiveness and aiding one another wherever we can. My control issues are lessening their death-grip on myself and others (but I’ve got an even farther way to go there, and often there are still claw marks). And I actually have genuine times of altruism and sincere other-orientedness, whereas decades ago it was just pretty much all about me—my wants, my needs, my opinions, my views. Scary.
Here are some tidbits of the kinds of mind-expanding and transforming realizations that have been dawning on me over time, as my studies of and experiences with God continue—just in case you can relate in your own unfolding journey. I’ll try to list them moving from the (unfortunately) more shallow-but-true views toward the more spiritualized concepts I’m learning.
- I no longer am the sole benefactor of my work efforts and no longer is my goal to make a lot of money (in fact, I make no money or salary at all but rather volunteer my time and donate my services as a Human-Rights Advocate and Minister).
- I moved from the city and fast-paced high-tech world, into the country and slower-paced agrarian lifestyle, learning to value growing my own (and natural) foods and getting back in touch with nature, animals, and God’s originally-designed earth and land.
- I stopped living by myself and driving alone, and began to value sharing and communal living, realizing tribal and village life is the higher design for us all to sustain the world and each other.
- I drastically changed what I eat and drink, eliminating packages and cans and bottles and processed foods, in exchange for whole foods plus raw and natural clean food and drink.
- I got rid of all my credit cards (even that cherished Platinum American Express), quit my shopping (and consuming) addiction, and began living in a more sustainable and mindful manner (after I found out what that even was!).
- I quit believing casual sex is not only OK, but “cool” and instead started having higher morals and values of abstinence.
- I don’t view people and circumstances in other countries (especially those where people look and speak very differently, let alone “third-world” countries) as “less than” or “dispensable” or not as significant somehow. I now see them as planetary brothers and sisters—very real human beings who laugh and cry and succeed and struggle just like I do—and who I actually very much now want to go visit, and eat with and talk with and get to know and aid however possible.
- The world actually wasn’t made in 6 days (and God didn’t rest on the 7th—for that matter, why would God need to rest anyhow?—He’s God).
- Jesus didn’t die for our sins (nor did God send Him down here to do so).
- Mary actually wasn’t a virgin. She had a husband, Joseph, who loved her and they had children together.
- Adam and Eve didn’t meet Satan and there was no forbidden apple or fig leaves of shame (and forget that crazy rib story, to boot!).
- Most all the “saints” and martyrs and other great spiritual and/or world leaders of history were actually very human men and women, struggling and “regular” people, who did some extraordinary things, yet still had many imperfections and flaws. And thus I too can aspire to do extra-ordinary things, within my ordinariness and despite my many shortcomings.
- I no longer see the outworking of things as just “coincidence;” I believe in Providence and the magic of God’s serendipities.
- And, God (listed under “G” in that ol’ encyclopedia) became an actual personality, a Father (the Universal Father)—not just a force, floating out in the ether of the universe somewhere.
In short, I realized my lifestyle and mindsets were part of the problems in the world, and so I made a very conscious decision to become part of the solution. This of course requires tremendous effort in re-educating” myself out of the delusions of the mainstream society and corporate-controlled puppet media and unlearning the lies, thus moving into the sobering picture of our planet in crisis currently and the tremendous suffering of most of the world’s population—people much like me and you, just terribly less fortunate. I basically realized that I have a responsibility, an absolute obligation—before God and humankind—to do whatever I can to ease the suffering of others and contribute to leaving the world a better place than I found it.
And all these more tangible behaviors and mindsets reflect the deeper set of values and morals that keep evolving within me, where I’m becoming more and more accountable before God and all of you, my fellow planetary brothers and sisters, in my quest for ever higher and higher goals of service. I want to become the best I can be for you and this world of ours. Because I’ve discovered all the magic of God and eternity is wrapped up in that one little quip of wisdom: ‘tis (truly) better to give than to receive.