It was the spring of 1983, and I was about fifteen days into a thirty-day fast honoring my thirtieth birthday: March 19. I had dozed off to sleep while lying across my bed in what was supposed to have been a time of meditation. It was a sunny afternoon sometime between two and three o'clock, when I was awakened by what I thought was someone whispering to me, "Pssst, Carley Moses," the nickname only my grandmother used to call me. I looked in the direction of the voice, and I saw an image of her over in the corner of the room, standing behind the soft blue recliner I liked to sit in while watching television. My mother is her only child, and we affectionately called her "Big Mama." She was a slightly built, fair-complexioned woman with beautiful, mostly-black, wavy hair. She had passed on nearly twenty years earlier in January 1964, when I was just ten years old. She was only fifty-three, two years younger than I was at the writing of my newest book, God Is Not a Christian, Nor a Jew, Muslim, Hindu...: God Dwells with Us, in Us, Around Us, as Us. We were close; in fact, I was told I was her favorite of the six grands. Not sure why. During the last two years of her life, I spent every weekend I could with her. We spent literally hours just talking, driving in her big blue Cadillac with electric windows that I loved to play with. I actually got to sleep in her bed with her until she was in too much pain for my sometimes thrashing and active sleeping habits.
At first, I thought I was just hallucinating, since I hadn't eaten in nearly three weeks, and strange things were already happening to my body. Having fasted as many as twenty-one days before, I knew how the body and mind could play some fairly strange games when they perceived that you were trying to starve them.
Fasting was common in our family and was an esteemed practice in our particular Pentecostal discipline. I was fasting for special faith, spiritual strength, wisdom, and a more powerful anointing with which to carry out my ministry and fulfill my life's destiny. Jesus had started His ministry at thirty, and the Apostle Paul had encountered Christ in Consciousness at around that same age, as did my mentor Oral Roberts.
I had founded my church, Higher Dimensions Evangelistic Center, a year and a half earlier in a small storefront building in Jenks, Oklahoma, a sparsely populated suburb just south of Tulsa and only a ten-minute drive from Oral Roberts University, my alma mater.
What was so strange about this experience, daydream, vision, or whatever you want to call it was that when I located the sound as coming from my beloved grandmother, she wasn't looking at me, but at the foot of the bed. She had this warm and excited smile on her face. She seemed thrilled about what she was seeing. I followed her eyes, and as I did, there appeared at the foot of my bed several other people who had also passed on to what I assumed was heaven, paradise, or somewhere in some wonderful eternal abode.
Needless to say, I was captivated by a scene that seemed to fill the entire room with warm, effervescent light and a peaceful ambiance I hadn't experienced before. This was an unusual encounter, but not an unbelievable one. After all, I'd been taught about the resurrection all my life, and my family -- particularly the women -- were given to dreams, vision, and premonitions.
We'd been taught about a great cloud of witnesses who had gone on before us and were in the grandstands of eternity, cheering us on -- as recorded in the New Testament writings of an unknown author (Hebrews 21:1).
To us, both death and life were states of illusionary limitation. Even God had somehow found a significant place for death and, according to our Christian doctrine, used it to purchase our redemption and salvation.
I had accepted the presumption that God used life's number-one limitation, which was death and dying, to accomplish a divine purpose. In other words, the Christian dynamic articulated itself through the common limitation of life, which was its opposite: death.
Christianity is the only religion that is built around the death of God and His subsequent resurrection as its primary premise for the redemption of humankind.
Apparently, God needed to die in order to conquer death. God, in effect, had to succumb to man's number-one fear and flaw in order to be triumphant and omnipotent. It has always been a conundrum to me that death should play such a prominent and seemingly important role in life or our concept of it, and that death and dying somehow dominated our theology and its proceeding doctrines and dogmas.
My book is not necessarily about believing in God, just a discussion of what you believe about God and why you believe it.
I won't name all the people who were assembled at the foot of my bed, as the names would be insignificant to most readers. I will simply say that they were all people and ministers who had impacted my life in deep, abiding, spiritual, and sentimental ways. They were spiritual heroes and heroines whom I'd observed and admired when they were alive and whom I wanted to in some way emulate. I felt they had come to urge and encourage me to move forward with my thirty-day fast and with my pursuing my life's calling and destiny, just as they had done when they were alive.
Millions of people believe in the value and virtue of Scripture but don't necessarily define God by them or confine God to them. I am one of those persons. This transition in consciousness was at first painful and halting for me but over time has become fun and gratifying. Our world would be different if millions of us entertained new thinking and broader perspectives -- if we treated holy writ as a source of inspiration and learning to fuel our own growth and self-discovery rather than as an owner's manual for how everyone else should live their lives; an attitude that, sadly, is all too common and, I might add, insultingly narrow-minded.
For years, I didn't know that such personal and spiritual freedom was possible. My emotions are a bit scrambled when I say that I believe in a God whom I don't have to know or seek to know. I think it's easier to be God than to know Him or It. Being comes naturally; knowing involves effort, work and self-manipulation. Some would way they know God by faith. I think it takes more faith to be than to know God.
This is a wonderfully liberating but stunningly different and disconcerting mindset for people who were raised as I was, in an intensely Christian tradition built around one principle: one must accept Jesus Christ as one's personal Lord and Savior or spend eternity in God's personally customized torture chamber. New Thought is for me a consciousness wonderfully liberated and liberating from that bone-deep fear, a consciousness I am eager to see millions enjoy.
I don't view Jesus as saving us from God but perhaps for God and from ourselves, not so much by His death but by His life and the light of His expanded consciousness and transcendent but practical teachings.
We are walking dualities, simultaneously very earthly creatures of thought, emotion, and action and beings of pure consciousness. However, in our childlike ignorance, we call and mistake God for something outside of ourselves. Each one of us are partakers of a divine whole and inner code of consciousness that belies and defies man-made religious constructs.