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SurrenderYour Key to the Kingdom Within
By Dan Clark
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Dan Clark
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhy I Wrote This Book
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As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. —Carl Jung
I wrote this book to serve two functions: to help you and to help the world. As mentioned in the introduction, my life as a Jehovah's Witness, my experience with the Watchtower Society, and my break from that ideology has been recorded elsewhere. My first book was written as a sort of personal gestalt, an expression of how my past and present experiences combine to form the total that is me. This book is my attempt to pay forward what I've learned so others may benefit from the same lessons. First I want to help you, the individual reader, to break free from your pain and suffering, whatever its source. Second, I hope to awaken your desire toward Sunship so you too can become a vessel, a light worker, to help carry God's light into the world where it is so sorely needed.
Too many of us live out our lives stuck in a matrix of human conditioning. Every day we wake up and go to unrewarding jobs we don't like. We stay in unhappy relationships that no longer serve either us or our partners. We go to churches where God's Word is misinterpreted and twisted to serve the human needs of religious leaders who govern us with fear and shame. Life becomes a test of survival, devoid of pleasure or fulfillment. We accept these conditions as just the way it is. Hopeless and desperate, we exist as victims trapped in our inherited, predestined situations. We become aging, withering shells—dying a little more each day. We're like the living dead.
While I remained stuck in my own human matrix, the religious ideology of the Jehovah's Witnesses, the only solace offered me was this: "Those are the cards you've been dealt. Live with it." People told me to accept my lot and be grateful: "At least you have a job. At least you have someone to sleep with every night." I was told to accept horrible, degrading life conditions without questioning, to eat crumbs while I watched others eating steak. My world was dominated by guilt and shame, but most of all by fear.
People today are filled with fear, and with good reason. The infrastructures within which we grew up are falling apart. The secure institutions we took for granted for years upon years, like home, family, schools, employment, religion, and government, seem to be crumbling before our eyes. People are losing their homes to foreclosure and their jobs to outsourcing and economic disaster. Financial and social pressures are breaking up families; churches are closing; our dichotomized country seems to teeter on the verge of collapse.
Everywhere we turn the media proclaims doom and disaster. News of tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, starvation, disease, and war bombard our ears and eyes. Yes, the Bible offers prophecies that such events will herald the end of times. For example: "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places" (Matthew 24:7); and "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21); and "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10). But believing in the end of times only encourages us to wait: wait for Jesus to return on the clouds and rescue us from the chaos we've created, wait for God's judgment to fall, and wait to find out whether we'll be saved or overlooked during the rapture. Put in our time on earth and go to church every Sunday, hoping frantically thus to receive ultimate deliverance and reward, to gain admission into paradise earth, or to reach heaven with a bevy of virgins in tow—whatever.
Instead of sitting around waiting, paralyzed by fear, I suggest that now is the time for us to act. Why? Because that's what Jesus called us to do. Even if we believe that now is the end of days predicted in Biblical prophecy, our question should be this: What are we supposed to be doing during these times?
Jesus didn't hide or run away from the world; in fact, He wanted to stay. On the day of His crucifixion, "He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, 'O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will'" (Matthew 26:38–40). Jesus did not charge us to sit around waiting for His return, but rather tells us to get to work, and that He will remain with us always: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19–20; emphasis mine). And finally, Jesus promised not that we would witness the world's destruction, but that "you will see greater things than these" (John 1:50); as He told the Pharisees, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20–21; emphasis mine).
Christ himself invited us—you, me, the whole world—to see and to do greater things. All that is required of us is the merest little amount of faith: "For ... if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20; emphasis mine). Now, in these times of trouble, the world needs us to become what Jesus wanted us to be. We must become bearers of the light. We must become suns of God.
You may have been sleepwalking through life, slaves marching to the beat of someone else's drum. You are not living the life of your dreams. You've wondered how you could be more, get more, and give more. What's the missing ingredient? What's the magic formula? No one is happy living in a box, dancing to someone else's music. Each of us forms a unique expression of God. How could such a unique expression, such a spark of divinity, be happy going through the motions of life as a clone just like everyone else?
I am writing this book to tell you that you have a choice. You can wake up from the trance in which you've existed and create a life that works for you. Your upbringing, parents, teachers, preachers, relatives, and friends and the media have surrounded you with a reality that limits your exposure to life and its many resources, the teachings and ideals that lie outside your box. Each of us is born with a unique essence of God that can bring great light into the world. That shining essence is so beautiful that it must be of God. We are living evidence of God's existence.
Look at Jesus Christ. The light He brought to the world was so beautiful, so powerful, so stunning that more than two thousand years later we're still talking about it. Jesus was the Son of God. He has called us to be suns of God.
You were created with divine potential, and there's nothing worse than letting that potential go to waste. It's like a tree that dies before producing fruit, or a father who dies in religious shame before realizing that God is love. At a time when the world seems dark with uncertainty and grief, more than ever your unique divine essence is needed. You are asked to shine God's light into the dark corners. You're not defined by your job or some self-righteous religious ideology. You are a light worker, a divine being with a divine purpose.
Millions of people march through life wanting God to kill anybody who's not like them, anyone who doesn't believe what they believe. Whether one's ideology derives from the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, or anywhere else, that mean, angry, hateful God is a product of propaganda. We need to wake up from the propaganda we've been fed and into the realization of our own life-giving spark, the spark that waters, nourishes, uplifts, encourages, loves unconditionally, and radiates life every moment of every day. We must become like Jesus, like the living Christ now—today. You must "let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). The world needs you!
Just like Jesus, you can tap into that energy source, the power of spirit that is God. Divine guidance can lead you to your own individual promised land flowing with milk and honey. You can have a life filled with peace, hope, joy, security, liberation, beauty, and prosperity. I know this because I have learned to tap into God's power and light, and I have witnessed the synchronicity His light creates in my own life.
This is the life God wants you to live. He wants you to become the people He created you to be: whole, complete beings of light; light workers. He wants you to fully embrace your Sunship, to become one with Him, to be of light and of spirit. That spirit grows brighter every day. Be willing, available, and confident. Stop living small. Stop waiting for Christ's return to have life in abundance. Stop waiting and realize that the kingdom of God is at hand—the kingdom of God is within you. It is here, now!
This book presents my personal miracles and describes how they became the catalysts that released me from the matrix of my human programming and led me on a journey toward Sunship. Join me in this journey to find God for yourself. For God is not a religious ideology; he is not a job or a person or a place. Rather, "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24).
Chapter TwoBreaking Free
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Sometimes in life, we're gifted (graced) with the greatest of invitations—and that is to see beyond the limits of our own religious ideologies and beliefs—to see God, the world and people like we've never seen them before. —Dan Clark
How do we come by our belief systems? We're born, and immediately we begin to learn. We learn from our parents, siblings, and extended family. Later we learn from our teachers and peers, mentors and colleagues; we learn from the media to which we're exposed. We grow up being told which behaviors are acceptable and which are taboo. Our culture teaches us what to value and establishes the laws—ostensibly founded to protect society's greater good—by which our lives are governed. These social norms become our reality.
Our religious upbringing, often delivered through a traditional infrastructure of church and a spiritual leader (pastor, priest, rabbi, or elder), helps us develop our sense of what is right and what is wrong, what's good and what's bad. When fear and shame enter the equation, those beliefs become that much stronger. Religious ideology in its purest form is meant as a protective shield against harm to safeguard our souls from eternal damnation. But when religious shepherds control their flocks using fear, shame, and guilt as crooks, one begins to wonder whether those spiritual leaders are actually serving God or merely serving their own interests.
Any time you're asked to believe a doctrine without the freedom to question, your worldview can be only as wide as that doctrine's confines. Any beliefs that you're forced to accept through fear will then construct the narrow box of your reality. If you're born in the box, you may never know what lies outside it. What if you were a fish spawned in a river? You might never know anything about the air above the stream, or the land forming the riverbanks.
Use my Jehovah's Witness upbringing as an example. The Watchtower Society defines its belief system in absolutes: right/ wrong, good/bad, us/them. We have Jehovah; they don't. We will live; they will be destroyed. Everything was either black or white—no middle ground, no gray areas where I was allowed room to question or explore. As I was growing up, what was crazy seemed normal. There was a time in my life when this belief structure worked just fine for me. It was where I needed to be in the moment. Yet now I can't even comprehend the smallness of the world I experienced during that time. I spouted out the words and ideas I was fed, not once realizing that another way of life was possible. The WTS and the elders told me what to do, what to say, whom to marry, how to live, and whom to be; I swallowed it whole. I call this process programming.
For too long we've been walking, talking programs—programs we didn't even design. And our programming need not be founded in religious structure. Many programming sources are out there: television, schools, careers, political parties, and even our exercise regimens or health status can come to define who we are. How many people do you know who let their personal hopes ride vicariously on the fate of some contestant on American Idol? How many others let their lives be built and defined around the fact that they've contracted an illness, like diabetes or cancer? We let other people control us while ignoring our own potential for growth, experience, and achievement. We live in our boxes. The time has come to ask ourselves this: Is that what God really intended for us?
For me, the moment of questioning arose when I discovered that the Watchtower Society had lied to me. For forty years I had lived under the premise that the end of days was just around the corner. Christ would return and destroy the faithless, and only Jehovah's chosen would remain to inherit the earth's riches. The WTS stated with absolute authority that the end of times would occur within the lifetime of those people who had been alive in 1914 to witness the beginning of World War I. Since the late 1930s, they'd been holding up the United Nations as evidence that the end of the world was at hand. The UN was an "anti-Christ organization," man's disgusting, evil, and arrogant attempt to bring about peace on earth.
Then one day in 1991, I opened Awake! magazine and read:
Jehovah's Witnesses firmly believe that the United Nations is going to play a major role in world events in the very near future. No doubt these developments will be very exciting. And the results will have a far-reaching impact on your life. We urge you to ask Jehovah's Witnesses in your neighborhood for more details on this matter. The Bible clearly paints a picture showing that the United Nations will very shortly be given power and authority. The UN will then do some very astonishing things that may well amaze you.
And you will be thrilled to learn that there is yet a better way near at hand that will surely bring eternal peace and security! (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society 1991)
Soon after that, I learned that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society had applied for and gained status as a nongovernmental organization (NGO) with the UN, a role that apparently served the goals and agenda of the WTS and its leaders. This reversal of doctrine was followed by instance after instance where Jehovah's supposedly irrefutable law was reinterpreted and redefined—from the end of times, to the pronouncement against accepting blood transfusions, to the doctrine dictating circumstances under which a woman could claim to have been raped. My world was rocked to its foundations; there were holes in my box.
As the Watchtower Society altered Jehovah's doctrines to fit the shifting needs of the organization, I began for the first time to question the calling of my faith. If one piece of my ideology was based on lies, what else among the tenets of my faith was untrue? A small voice of discontent was challenging the ideals to which I had clung out of fear, guilt, and shame.
Fear, Guilt, and Shame
I've said that the box I grew up in was reinforced by fear and shame. What does that really mean? Let me give you a few examples to illustrate fear- and shame-based ideology.
For a Jehovah's Witness, fear is the one constant in an inconstant world. Armageddon would come soon; whether we knew the exact moment or not, we were absolutely sure the end was coming. At the end of times (according to the Watchtower Society), Jehovah would destroy everyone who was not performing His demands perfectly. This isn't figurative destruction I'm talking about here. It's a total, God-willed cut-off-your-head death—an absolute end to existence. That's the fear that shadows every single day of a Witness's life. The problem is that there's really nothing you can do (according to WTS doctrine) to reach Jehovah's standard of perfection. If I spent two hours pioneering, couldn't I have done four? If I spent four hours, couldn't I have done six? The sense of guilt becomes overpowering. No matter what you do, it is never, ever enough.
When a Witness is deemed "weak" by the elders, or (heaven forbid) breaks free from the faith, that person is disfellowshipped from the congregation. Here's where the shame comes into play. Let's say you've been disfellowshipped and then see the "error" of your ways and decide you want to come back. Do the followers of Jehovah welcome you back to the fold with open arms? No. You may come to the Kingdom Hall, but you must sit in the back, and no member of the congregation may acknowledge or speak to you. This goes on for at least a year; you're a pariah, treated like a leper. At the end of that year, if you've shown sufficient penitence, you may be allowed to petition for reinstatement. Your petition is sure to be rejected at least once. This overwhelming shame can't be designed to encourage your return; they don't really want you back. Witnessing the shame of others is meant to keep you from resigning in the first place.
I have seen the fear and shame of being a Witness; I have experienced it firsthand. I know exactly how it feels to give up every worldly desire and pursuit to work tirelessly, endlessly at futile efforts that are never good enough for Jehovah. I know how it feels to live with the constant trepidation of being literally horribly destroyed at any minute. I have watched how the guilt escalates into self-hatred, abusive behavior, and eventually, for some, even mental illness. And yet I stayed. It's like a woman who remains in a relationship with a husband who periodically beats her up. On one hand, she'll want desperately to escape the physical and emotional pain. On the other hand, she'll say, "But I love him" and "I know he really loves me" and eventually "It's my fault." Again: fear leads to guilt, which leads to shame, which eventually leads back to fear. The cycle never ends.
Excerpted from Surrender by Dan Clark Copyright © 2012 by Dan Clark. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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