Declaration of Deliverance part 1

18 Jun

As Christians, we can all agree that the Lord knows the thoughts He thinks towards us, and that He has plans for us. Often times, we do not agree with these. We feel that the Almighty is leading us in a direction that is contrary to our best interests. How are we so bold to question the working of divine providence? There are valuable lessons in each trial we find ourselves in, and the Word speaks for itself when we are reminded that “those whom I love I chasten” and in the letter to the Laodecians, Jesus bids us to “buy gold tried in the fire”. It is through this fire, through these experiences that we draw near to the reality of God. In the depth of perilous times we are able to more fully realize the patience, mercy, and love of our Creator. So we may rest assured that regardless of circumstances, there is a greater vision behind them. This point being stated, I wish to relay to you the series of events that lead me to follow the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior. I have purposed to remain brief in my espousing, one cannot condense a lifetime of events into a single article, and so I prayerfully move forward to grant you insight into the life, death, and re-birth of a being named Christopher Andrew Yarbrough.

In the fall of 2006 I had managed to live through the summer of my high school graduation, despite the countless nights spent in a stupor from alcohol and drugs. I was just a few months into my eighteenth year of existence, fresh from the road with the band I played with at that time. The season to begin college was ever nearing, and I was careless of this fact. I had far loftier and grander visions for my life. I was a musician and I saw not the need for learning that which would not further my love and knowledge of rock and roll, jazz, and blues. Regardless, I entered into the local community college and began the road to higher education. By this time I had already developed a terrible habit of smoking. No, not smoking cigarettes, but smoking marijuana. It engulfed my activities, and life seemed so bland without the THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) in my brain. I found it to be of necessity to smoke before I could enter into a college class. Certainly before a biology lab. As one can rightly deduce, this did not last very long. I believe I made it through, roughly, six to seven weeks of school before fully withdrawing from all my classes. Why would I do such a thing? The answer is found in yet another chemical substance, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide or LSD. A close friend of mine, who was also a musician, approached me with a look of divine revelation; his excitement seemed to me as if he had found the answer to life. There was a time when LSD seemed to be ,at the very least, the key to unlock the door to the answer of life. He assured me I would love it, and he was absolutely correct. After “stepping out of the box” as we termed it, my perception of reality and my understanding of values changed dramatically. I can still recall the self-induced insanity that I went through that first night. Sadly, there was even a video camera rolling and my actions were forever recorded before God and man. The most interesting aspect of this first “trip” is when the morning had come, the effects began wearing off, and I crawled into my vehicle to drive home. As I arrived I immediately turned the shower on, and stood lifeless as the warm water bathed over me. My mind felt numb and my spirit listless. There was a peculiar thought that crossed my mind, “Go buy the Tao Te Ching.” Now, what is this Tao Te Ching? It is the principle text in religious Taoism, believed to be written in the 6th century BC. I cannot explain why the urging had come over me, but I heeded the advice of the inner voice and made the purchase. I began to fill my mind with the chapters of simple, yet beautiful, poetry that unveiled the realm of spirituality to me as never before. Now over the course of the next year, I found myself continuing to take acid whenever available, and whenever possible. I do not recall how many times I had used the drug in 6 months, but I am certain that it’s effect upon my still growing mind at that time was paramount to my beliefs in eastern spirituality. The process began with the Tao, and the rabbit hole grew deeper and deeper until I had immersed myself in the philosophical ideology of the far east. From the years 2006-2009 I was a self-educator on all things spiritual. I believed myself to be raising not only my consciousness, but that of the entire planet  to a higher level . All the while, I continued abusing my body with marijuana, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, alcohol, and for a time pharmaceutical medications. Through reason I justified my actions as a means to attaining a more enlightened self. The books I read during these years molded my fragile mind into the image of a New Age spiritualist. I believed there to be no difference in myself and a follower of Jesus Christ, for in my mind I believed all spiritual pathways were ascending the same mountain, and that ultimately we would all meet at the peak.

The stranglehold of lies wrapped ever tighter around my neck. I spent more time meditating on emptiness. I joined a metaphysical meet-up group to discuss the raising vibratory rate of the planet as we neared consciousness evolution in 2012. I studied Toltec wisdom, native american shamanism, holistic healing, rei-ki, the art of lucid dreaming, the Upanishads, the rig Veda, the baghadvagita, the four noble truths, the bodhisattva vows, the works of Baba Ram Dass, Timothy Leary, Carlos Casteneda, Daniel Pinchbeck, Terrance Mckenna, Aldous Huxley, and the list goes on and on. I allowed myself to be blinded by what seemed to be an angel of light, whose message was of peace and love. I was deceived, and ultimately being lead to lay waste to my life with Christ. The greatest deception that fell upon my ears throughout the three year period was a man by the name of Lee Carol who is a channeller of a spirit that calls itself Kryon. I had never been taught about channeling, was never warned to be leery of it, nor even knew of its existence. I was captivated. This man went into trance and spoke for the voice of an “angel” who claimed to have been here from the beginning of time, that he had watched the human race grow and change and that desired to impart the wisdom of the ages to us. I was ensnared with his soothing voice, with the love I believed he had for me personally. I began each day listening to his messages through the internet,  beholding his false wisdom and accepting it as truth. He taught me principles of existence that seemed to be so in line with my “own” theology that I was astounded. It was as if this being who was “beyond the veil” had a personal relationship with me. He encouraged me to pray for angels to guard over me, to think “inter-dimensionally” and to open myself up to become a channel for these “heavenly” beings to work through. I followed each command that I heard. I began going into trance, writing messages that I had not authored. Even to go so far to begin writing in a language I still cannot decipher. I never saw what I was doing as wrong, I had no moral authority to compare it with. I delved into the occult arts of divination, astrology, and numerology. I believed that I could understand my life program, and by willing and dreaming could alter it according to my wishes. I can tell you of a particular night I stood in the rain and wept tears because what I had been trying to manifest in my mind through meditation and “prayer” had not come to fruition. I believed that I was divine! How then could my ways not come to pass? It was a hard lesson that night, and sadly It took at least another year for me to ultimately accept that I did not have total governance of my reality.

As the body of New Age believers I associated with grew, my belief in myself did so equally. There was a community in northern Alabama where there seemed to be quite a spiritual presence. I became acquainted with a certain land owner who held different events on her property. My brother, in this spiritual journey, actually moved there to live on their land and work for them. All preparations had been made that I too should come and be a part of “the family”. I had found this to be “synchronicity” and that the“Divine ruler of the universe”, as I termed God then, was leading me to this place. I simply had one job to do in New Orleans before I would have earned enough money to make the move. I wish that the written word was capable of describing the licentiousness, filth, vulgarity, and abyss of evil that inhabited the downtown district of Bourbon Street. Even as the New Age preacher I was, spreading the false gospel of divinity within you, it was quite a scene to bear. So, to quiet any possible voice of truth, I imbibed liquor and smoked clove cigarettes. Walking up and down the den of corruption I found a tarot card reader. I was very fascinated by divination, the telling of future events through a supernatural agency, and felt that I would fit in more with like minds. So I enter the dark room where an overweight man with an unkempt beard asked me what I was seeking to know. I presented him questions about my life and the direction it was headed, about the relationship I was in, and my “potential to spread peace on this planet”. He dealt out the cards and began to explain the meaning thereof, telling me that my relationship would come to an end because she would find someone more convenient to her location. When asked about if I should go forth with moving to the community as I intended, the cards gave a resounding “yes” that I was meant to be there and had a work to do there. Finally the last question of my potential on this planet provided an interesting answer. The answer I was given was that I had to decide what I was going to follow and pursue it. I believed most of what was said, although I doubted that my relationship was headed in a negative direction. Just to skip to the answer there, it did end, and it was for the purpose of her dating someone that lived closer. Sometimes I suppose we can just give the devil and his evil angels their due. The events that followed were simply unbelievable. A young man and woman, whom I did not know, met me outside the establishment and invited me to a bar where supposedly vampires frequented. I followed and continued imbibing liquor throughout the night. I then began to search the streets up and down for anyone who might have some marijuana they were willing to share. I had been drinking very heavily, and was not use to doing so without the use of other drugs. I gave money away in efforts of receiving the drug of choice, but no avail. I eventually ended up on the front stairs of a house and a kindly gentleman with dreadlocks offered a pipe to me. I accepted and inhaled the woman I was truly betrothed to, marijuana. As we sat together, I began to tell him of the peace that would come to the earth if only we would realize we were God. I babbled on and on, regurgitating the sophistry I had been feasting on for years. I recount this experience only to note how many people Satan used me to influence during the time he had dominion over my life.

Somehow I connected with some barmaids and got a ride back to my hotel. The associate who was with me throughout the night began talking to me in our room. He questioned me on my beliefs, wondering If I really followed the nonsense I had spoken to everyone. Somehow as our conversation went on, I began to realize the deception I was in. Although I was completely inebriated, a cold sense of sobriety overcame me. What was I doing with myself? What was the goal of all this religious piety I had affixed in my character? I had never asked those questions before. I simply followed “the way” and floated carelessly like a feather in a stream. The claws that had been thrust so deeply into my mind seemed, for a time, to loosen their grip. I was able to think about the decisions I would soon be making, to leave all my family and friends behind in search of some unattainable truth in the mountains, with others searching for the same. I purposed in my heart at that time that I would not be moving. I needed time to find some solid ground to stand on, the last two years had been an unbalanced mixture of drug abuse and spirituality and now I was questioning my reasoning.

The rest of the time spent in New Orleans was for a job. I awoke somewhere around six in the morning after the previous nights escapades. I attempted to drag my lifeless body into the shower and turn the water on. Before I could make it into the water, I was on my knees hugging the “porcelain queen”, as my father called it. The abuse I had done to my body had caught up with me, and rightly so. I had never really had what is known as a “hangover” at least nothing so severe as what I was experiencing. I remember rolling into the shower and just laying there, letting the water wash over me. I scarcely recall a more helpless moment in my life. Knowing full and well that I had to pull myself together and work for a full day. I met my boss and other workers in the lobby for breakfast and made a terrible decision of yogurt and cereal mixed together. Needless to say I was not at the job site for more than a few hours before I began visiting a new queen to pay homage. My boss, having mercy on me, allowed me to be driven back to the hotel and just sleep the rest of the day. Even as I was so far away from God, I see now that His love for me pervaded into the heart of my employer. It is amazing, truly awe striking, the immeasurable love of our Father in heaven. I mark this trip to New Orleans as the turning point in my life, finally reaching that dark and unfathomable region of sin. When I arrived back in Birmingham, there were many phone calls to be made. I had a whole community of people to inform that I was not the “crystal child” they thought I was and that I wanted no part in their kinship. In addition to this, I was living with my father. It was the first, and only, time I lived exclusively with him. I had grown up in my mothers home, or my grandparents home with her. There came a point in she and I’s relationship where I was so seduced by drugs and spiritualism that she simply could not handle me being in her home any longer. On October 31st, 2007 ( a year prior to the aforementioned events in New Orleans) I moved out of her home and with my father. Now almost exactly a year later I was beckoning at her door with the fresh experience to relate to her. She lovingly received me back into her home. My vehicle had somehow been infested with maggots during the time that I was away traveling, and when I came to her home we noticed the disgusting mess. It was quite the allegory of my spiritual condition. My mother and I cleaning the foul mess out of a temporal vehicle unbeknown to us both that we would be cleaning out our own vessels to receive the fullness of God. However, there was still much wrestling to be done before that appointed time.

I managed to connect with a drummer who was a relatively close friend, that is to say we used drugs together, and informed him of my experience. He explained that his father lead a Wednesday night bible study and that we should both attend. He was in a rough place in his own life, and to bear one another up would prove most useful. As I went to these bible studies, it appeared to be more a weekly discussion group. Not that I wasn’t happy to have new friends and share experiences with others, I was just hungering and thirsting for Truth. I had just stepped out of years of following after demonic prodding and really needed the light of the Gospel to shine before my eyes. Needless to say, I quit attending these meetings. I made the declaration that “I will find God” and saw fit to apply some of the eastern practices to my daily life again, so long as I wasn’t directly being influenced by them. So I began living for myself, and appreciating myself as a being. I became very involved in the practice of yoga, believing full and well it was a fitness regiment. I continued working for my employer, who now had added a man to his staff who was also into the New Age culture. We spent long drives across the beautiful southern landscape discussing our thoughts and ideas. The other young man on our crew was a practicing and card carrying member of the Church of Satan. Lastly there was yet another close friend, different from the one in New Orleans, who helped me get the job at this company. He and I became friends in the summer of 2006. We had gone through all sorts of nonsense together, and we shared many first experiences together. It was on my 18th birthday that I was able to get him to consume brownies made with cannabis, ultimately opening the door for him to begin smoking weed. It was in his home we first dropped acid together, and would do so multiple times. He had watched the progression of my character over the years, and the deeper I went into the new age spirituality the further we were from friendship. I was glad to have the ability to somewhat reconnect with him after my experiences, and rekindle our friendship. We both shared the common bond of smoking marijuana, I had still justified it in my mind somehow, and so we were soon back to our old ways. This process continued for the better part of 2009.

Near the end of May, I found myself fully indoctrinated back to the New Age. This time through the writings of Eckhart Tolle. He was pushed to the forefront of the media by Oprah Winfrey. They created this entire religious phenomenon of meditating in silence on television and so forth and so on. Well, I didn’t catch all that. I read his book from the fellow New Age follower I worked with at the time. Day by day I waxed over its pages and my mind accepted the very same message it had previously rejected. I was once more eliciting superiority in myself. Believing that I possessed power and knowledge that was out of a less spiritually inclined persons reach, although I was a desk jockey at a local outdoors store, I was as high as the infinite mind of God in my eyes.

There was a festival I had been attending the past couple years in Manchester, Tennessee called “Bonnaroo” which is a Cajun slang phrase for “a really good time”. I had already had two “really good times” there, what need was there of a third? I had this renewed spiritual vigor and I wanted to see what the consciousness level of my fellow generation was. As circumstance would have it, every year the festival fell on the week of my birthday. I once viewed this as a message from the universe that I was destined to go every year and attain some new experience. It goes without saying that this was a lie planted in my mind by the Father of lies himself, yet there I went again. Traveling with some companions who I was never very close to, and certainly shared none of the same spiritual interests that I did, I felt like a father figure to them. That I had come and conquered this festival and knew it’s ways, so long as they were with me they would be sure of a good time. As we reached that seven hundred acre farm and were directed to our place to set up camp, the memories flooded my mind. I recalled the very first year riding in a tiny white Honda civic with two companions. The events that unfolded, how open the drug trade was, and how easy it was to procure anything you wanted. I had the intention of coming for a music festival, but what I found was an inroad to the hard drugs I desperately searched for back home. I can still remember the look in my dear friends eyes that first year. How he had eaten his first batch of mushrooms and his pupils were as wide as dinner plates, then small as the head of a pin. How he climbed on all our neighbors cars, attempted to climb atop our tent, and ended up falling and breaking the post of another tent. How he had no sense of identity, he couldn’t recall his own name, or why he was here. It would be only a few years hereafter that he had a psychotic episode and was hospitalized. By the marvelous Grace of God, he is at a local college working on his degree moving on along as if nothing ever happened. It amazes me how he can’t see the divine hand of love that protected and healed him. Even more amazing is that his experience in no way hindered my use of the exact same drugs. I would continue to come with him year after year, watching as our appetite for pleasure found no satisfaction. The most painful memory is one of my own experience. The second year I attended, I had already plunged deep into my spiritual journey, and I hadn’t eaten any LSD in over a year. I felt the urging that I just had to subject myself to it again, that this time my spirituality would help me master the drug and connect deeper with the god-man that I believed myself to be. If only you could witness the events that passed before me that night. I was a part of a giant parade, there were burlesque dancers, fireworks, a 30 foot bird puppet, a band traveling on a mobile stage, fire breathers, things you would only imagine. I must state, these were all tangible things, not the side-effect from my drug-induced state of being. I ran back to my circle of friends and told them not to worry about me, that I had found my calling for the evening. I quickly raced back to the parade and followed it around the festival. The hour was very late and it was the most popular night of the weekend, music would play until six or seven in the morning. I had desired to listen to and witness something spectacular while I was in my altered state. There was supposedly a 3-D light show in conjunction with a performance, so I set my mind on seeing it. Long before it was to begin I found myself beneath a lamp post. It was of course no ordinary lamp post, everything at this festival is decorated to be very “drug friendly”, it looked like a giant lightning bug. In fact there was an entire section of the field that was these lights on posts. I sat in the warm light and began to meditate. I wanted to commune with the “higher self” while the drug was reaching it’s peak. I slowly came to a lamentable realization. I was in a sea of close to eighty-thousand people and I was completely alone. I could not outstretch my hand to single person I knew. My so-called enlightenment had not cultivated anything more than isolation from society. I watched as the waves of people moved to and fro and felt I had reached the point of nothingness. That my existence was not to be an all powerful spiritual leader. I was no prophet. I was nothing more than a very confused young man in the middle of a field on a Saturday night. I encountered a few people as they passed. Some handed me drugs for free and with puzzlement I just looked at them. I was already on drugs, what could I possibly do with more? I felt restless and I began walking aimlessly around the stages and tents. I was heavy with anxiety and pained with loneliness. I still had my girlfriend at the time of this particular incident, and I just wanted someone to tell me everything was OK. I ended up finding our campsite, and a few of my friends were awake, I told them of my journey and they of theirs. I concluded they had a much better time than I did. I sat and watched the sky turn from black to purple to shades of blue until the sun was shining. I smoked close to one-hundred dollars worth of marijuana that night, trying to mitigate the emptiness I felt within myself. Nothing every really satisfied. Alcohol, drugs, rock and roll festivals, sex, vain spiritual practices; they all left me less fulfilled than before with an ever widening void inside.

Now, lets return to the third time I was at this festival. Obviously, I was attempting to quench the void once more. I poured money into more drugs. I woke up early each day for a yoga class hosted by the festival. It seemed different this time some how I was more in tune with myself, and thus I appropriated the experience. I would find myself baking under the hot sun, my blood stream poisoned with mushrooms and my body relinquished to the spirit of the moment. I danced to Spanish flamenco guitar with thousands of others. I was completely possessed by the tones coming from the speakers. I felt as though my movements were not mine. I felt the presence of another within me that day.

The days continued on, and I felt like an autonomous robot. I had walked these fields for three years, chased the girls, chased the drugs, chased some dream that was out of reach. I felt ready for the sun to set on this part of my journey. I piled my things into my Jeep on the last day and drove out of Tennessee not looking back. I came down from my spiritual high when I arrived back home. I had just turned twenty-one while I was out of town, and I found myself in a state of languor. What was there I had not searched in the spiritual realm? I had tasted it all, and bitterness was upon my tongue. I let go of spiritual thoughts and concerns for the rest of the summer. I began indulging in alcohol, since I was of legal age, and carousing with my friends. It felt nice to let go of those poignant questions of existence, purpose, and direction. As I lowered myself to the more base passions of life, I became better acquainted with apathy. I was sinking into an all too familiar ocean.

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Fragrance of Honeysuckles

9 Jun

Sunlight.
The warm rays kiss me.
I’m not here. Not yet.
I’ve still much gallivanting to do about in the streets of some unknown town that has become so familiar.
Carols and warbles penetrate the scenery. My fantasy is soon to be no more than a fading memory.
There it is. It burns into my retina. There is a war being waged, each breath I take I’m negotiating between opposing sides. Who will be the victor this time?

There is no time to waste, yet each moment is a waste of time. If only I were a better steward of the time I’ve been allotted. Defeats early in the day that should be victories. How then can I carry a countenance of joy? The war is over. Even still the battles rage on. Won’t someone tell the enemy to go back home? Perhaps the thirst for blood is too strong. Perhaps I’m wrong.

There is hope in silence. There is love springing forth from the soil. There is a symphony without a sound. What have I merited to be so blessed?

As my gaze attends to the endless wave of green trees the answer is echoed. Grace. I lift my eyes to the heavens. The care-free clouds lazily making their way through. I thank God, the Creator, for all His precious, marvelous works displayed. I’m amazed that I never saw them before.

There is a fragrance so sweet, a perfume so enchanting that emanates from the honeysuckle shrubs that I can take not one step further. I pause and all grows dim. I’m taken backward in time. I’m just a boy now and I’m out in Nanny’s backyard. I’m grasping for honeysuckles with my careless and gentle hands. Each one brings such a thrill. I draw them in close to my nose, inhale their intoxicating aroma, and relish in the innocent ecstasy it brings. The flashes of memory move rapidly. Days spent on adventures amidst the yards in the neighborhood. They were as big as kingdoms. Each one having it’s treasures and it’s perils. I sojourned across them all, I was a wanderer. Life was more noble, the claws of darkness seemed to be retracted in those days. Humid summer nights spent in the front yard, mason jars in hand, chasing after lightning bugs. The exclamation of sheer happiness upon catching one, and I can remember how my Papa helped me cut the air holes for my new friend. I spent the days upon my steed (which was a hand painted blue and yellow scooter notorious for flat tires) riding up and down the country side. I would entertain the women at my aunt’s beauty salon as they sat beneath monstrous machines that seemed to be doing more harm than good to their looks. I shudder to recall the life choking scent of cigarettes, hair products, and chemicals. After a short while I’d mount up and continue onward. I dared not stray too far into the unknown lands that surrounded our fair kingdom, for fear of what lies beyond the row of overgrown hedges. I had heard noises on many patrols, and feared that invaders could charge through at anytime. I kept a watchful eye always on that area. Not to mention, it’s where all of Papa’s tomato vines were growing. I would at times be accompanied by the fair maidens from the other families, and often their dogs with them. We must have walked every inch of those streets and yards, the length of our days was spent upon them. Cathleen was a dark featured young lass, full of spunk and a tomboy attitude. Kayla, on the other hand, was blonde and seemed more suited for pink things. We could certainly all find a common bond when enjoying a fresh watermelon from the market on a picnic table. I never wondered what my two youthful companions thought of me, and I’ve not spoken to them since the days we were the rulers of Java Hill.

I blink and the memory is gone. I’m twenty-one and standing in the middle of the road smelling honeysuckle bushes. In that very moment I am as free as the young prince I use to know. I would like to believe I can meet him again. I sometimes entertain the thought I still know him. In my heart though, I know that the darkness of this world bound him hand and foot and cast him into the abyss. I can trace the allegorical trail of bread crumbs back to the witch’s house, and I can see the wicked sneer on her repugnant face. I exhale a sigh and continue walking.

Two Poems

9 Jun

The Glory of the Lord shall be the light that leads
Yes it is He who teaches and feeds
The precious redeemer, the most blessed I AM,
Whom laid down His life, that sinless lamb
Oh blood that was spilt that I might be free!
What love! What mercy the Lord has for me
Vain sins stain the days of my youth,
Long before my heart found the truth
I canst now imagine our Fathers pride
In knowing I long to be by His side
Such Joy, such peace doth now reside
Whither I wander His grace abides
He carries the burdens of earthly life, lifts my spirits in times of strife
Directs the path as forward I stride
And hearkens my prayers in the still of the night

***

The earth is trembling, yes it is shaking
for the sufferings of this world my Lord’s heart is breaking
To those who have strayed and lost their way
His voice is calling to you this day
He alone brings soul restoration, won’t you welcome His invitation?
No matter how filthy or vile you might feel
In labor of love, His hands will heal
Though sins be as many as the desert sands
He forever deletes remembrance of them
What tender compassion that bears repeating
As from the world your heart goes fleeing

Ascending

8 Jun
At the base of the mountain
The peak seemed out of reach
Surveying every pathway
And the lessons they shall teach

Pressing forward with ambition
Toward the treasures I seek
Ears listening intently
As nature softly speaks

Hymns in early morning
Birds song of praise
Warbles of red cardinals
The melodies of my days

Blue skies above me
Solid earth beneath my feet
Warm, peaceful greetings
From the critters that I meet

Brief moments of tranquility
As the air grows rather thin
Eyes looking onward
Embraced by gentle winds

Green giants stand tall
While others frown
In distress they cry out
Why was I hewn down?

Absorbing every feature
The setting, time and place
Life’s natural teacher
Encouraging every pace

A pathway of boulders
Firm soil is no more
Atmosphere grows colder
Scaling higher than before

Summit at a distance
Body tired and weak
Rugged perseverance
Grasping for the peak

Missteps here are fatal
How terrible of a fall!
The final test in view
To gain, or lose it all

A face appeared before me
I could not understand
With a love in His eyes
He reaches out a hand

I cling to it so tightly
As my body shuts down
He pulls me to my feet
Atop the mountains crown

“The journey is a long one
Even further til you’re home
Let us ascend much higher
And sit upon my throne”