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Escape from the Spirit Guides

by Sharon Beekmann

Sharon Beekmann had it all: a good marriage, a son, a successful career as a psychotherapist, a home set against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. But something was missing?a deeper spiritual dimension to her life.Initially out of curiosity, Sharon met with a spiritist who regularly delved in the paranormal. Before long, Sharon herself became a skillful channeler, regularly communicating with spirits. But what had started as an honest search for truth became a seven-year torment. In her book Enticed by the Light (Zondervan, 1997), she describes how her spirit guides began controlling every aspect of her life, preventing her from just walking away from their power. Could God's power overcome them?Click to see a related article.

Fascinating!" I uttered half aloud as the words on the pages of the books by medium Jane Roberts [writing for the spirit Seth] jumped out at me. Whenever I picked up the books, Seth Speaks or The Nature of Interpersonal Reality, the rest of my life faded away. I felt alive.

"Seth believes that people live a fraction of their potential, but that spirit can empower us as we journey toward actualization. Everything in nature has a spirit that interacts and contributes to the evolution of life. He refers to God as 'All That Is.'"

My husband's curiosity was piqued. "That's interesting. What else does he say?"

"Well ? that we can learn to focus our spirit, or consciousness, through meditation practices, and that spiritual energy systems empower us as we tap into them."

"Hey, tell it to zap me as I plow the driveway. It looks like the Arctic out there," he laughed.

"No, really, what he says is completely compatible with existential philosophy and humanistic theories. We are responsible for how we manage ourselves, but our spirit is linked to a vast spiritual universe containing pockets of power and wisdom. It's a universe waiting to be explored. Wouldn't that be fun? Could be an adventure. What do you think?"

Shaking his head, he teased, "I think it still looks like the Arctic out there, and I'll leave it to you to figure out the inner truths of the universe while I go plow this one."

That week I bought a Ouija board. After a few hours, a spirit introduced himself by spelling his name and describing details of his life before he died. Mesmerized, I asked him questions by moving the pointer from one letter to another; he answered in the same manner. But toward the end of the afternoon, he responded to questions before I spelled them on the board?as they formed in my mind!

Eager and thrilled, I waited for the universe to lead me further. I did not wait long.

Stepping into the Snare

"I visited a ? um ? a medium," my counseling client stammered. "I hope you don't think me crazy. My family has consulted Donna for years. She goes into a trance, and a spirit girl speaks through her." Marilee glanced at me. "Sounds silly, huh? I know a lot of people scoff at such things."

"Oh, I'm open," I said warmly. "I don't think less of you for consulting a medium. What did this lady tell you?"

In one hour, according to Marilee, the spirit had summarily identified her symptoms, the source of her problem, and how to resolve it?with virtually no information offered by Marilee. Spellbound, I listened to my client's tales.

"She's not a hundred percent accurate, but she's good! Give Donna a call," Marilee said as she prepared to leave.

I closed the door behind her and thought, My, that didn't take long! Last week the Ouija board, and now this. What stronger confirmation do I need?

I made an appointment. Welcomed by her friendly husband, John, I waited to meet Donna. When she appeared with another client who was on her way out, I was pleasantly surprised. She wore a pale blue printed dress, a gray hand-knit sweater, and fuzzy bedroom slippers. I stared into tired eyes. I saw no malice, no ill will. She smiled kindly and offered me her hand.

"Would you like a cup of hot tea?" she asked.

"That would be nice."

I sat in an overstuffed beige chair, not four feet from Donna's recliner. "In a few minutes I will go into a trance and the spirit girl will speak to you," she explained. "Feel free to ask her questions. After an hour, I will come back, and you will again be speaking to me."

Donna closed her eyes, lifted her shoulders, wrinkled her face, and shook her head. Suddenly, her face brightened, and in an animated voice, the spirit girl welcomed me. "My, don't you have pretty colors around you today?the whites, purples, and reds radiate from your spirit. A real dynamo you are! Yes, you help people. Yes, you work with people ? like as a counselor or something like that." Transfixed, I listened as she rattled off information about me and about my husband, son, and home.

"How do you do this?" I asked during a brief pause. "How do you know my past, present, and future? Is it true, as Seth suggests, that because you transcend time and space of the physical universe, you can see things we can't? It seems that, with your capabilities, you could really help people. May I ask some questions?"

The spirit girl bristled. "Well, a philosopher I'm not, but since you have a curiosity about such things, your guides inform me that they are willing to help. In fact, they've been waiting for you to ask."

After a long silence, she warmly offered, "You may join our spiritual development class at the church. My instrument, Donna, and her husband, John, are the pastors. There you will learn to meditate and speak directly to your guides about these matters. You are naturally gifted and with training you could make a fine medium. Talk to Donna about the class. Goodbye for now. See you in class."

Donna squinted her eyes, lowered her head, and shook it from side to side. Rubbing the back of her neck, she opened her eyes and said, "Quite the talker, isn't she?"

"She mentioned I could attend your spiritual development class."

"We'd be happy to have you. I begin the class with exercises and a teaching, and then the spirit girl comes through to help you communicate with spirits."

Two weeks later I joined the group of twenty or so regulars with whom I would meditate for the next seven years. Donna's spirit girl helped us discern spirit communication from our imagination and taught us to interpret what we saw, felt, and heard. Over the years, she introduced me to my five guides who worked with me in the classes. I felt their presence throughout the week, but as far as I could tell, they did not intrude into my daily life unless invited.

I meditated and performed yoga for an hour each morning, read voraciously about spiritual matters, and attended class religiously. My husband said that my preoccupation with spiritual development had become an obsession, and indeed it had. But I considered it a wonderful obsession!

Seven years after joining my class, my guides spoke through me. I sat comfortably, breathed deeply, and cleared my mind. As a thought came, I entered the twilight experienced between sleep and wakefulness?fully present but disengaged.

As I drifted away, another presence swished into my body, moved my mouth, blinked my eyes. He talked. I listened. He related positive, uplifting, and personally encouraging messages. When the reading ended, he exited as quickly as he came, and I became fully myself again.

The spirits came only when invited and left when the session concluded. I never questioned their intentions or character?that is, until the one called Seth turned on me after I refused to communicate material I thought would frighten people. I no longer wanted to be a medium. It was January 1985.

Who's in Charge Now?

I sat forward on the couch to plant my feet on the floor, wrapped my arms around my ribs, hesitated, and with a nod, whispered, "Yes, this is right for me." I closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and entered the silence where the physical and spiritual meet. I quieted instantly.

I concentrated and soon the back of King Egglog's head materialized. As leader of my band of five spirits I channeled, it was proper that he be the first to know. He exuded vibrations of warmth, strength, trustworthiness, and wisdom?reflections of his character that endeared me to him. He probably suspected the intent of my call.

He turned until his profile filled my vision and then said to me mind to mind, "You have something you want to tell us?"

"I've decided to stop channeling. You have been kind and helpful to me and others, but it's time for me to move on. I want to explore other aspects of my life now, so I must say goodbye."

"We're sorry to hear this, but of course you must do what you think best, and we will respect your decision. We wish you the best. The others will say goodbye now." And they did, one by one. The last was Seth.

He whimpered. "I'm so disappointed, and I don't know what I'm going to do. What if we can't find a replacement? Please don't ask us to leave!"

"You'll be able to find someone else," I reassured him.

"It doesn't seem fair. You could have given us some warning."

"I've been thinking of it for a while, but I wanted to be sure before announcing it to you."

Angry, he said, "All right, if you must!" He left abruptly without saying goodbye.

That's strange, I thought. I've never known Seth to behave like that. Guess spirits have feelings, too. He'll be okay once he gets used to the idea.

"One phase of my life over," I sighed, "and another beginning." Of course I had my reasons to stop channeling. Somewhere in the quest to explore my spirituality, I lost the vibrancy of self-confidence that once characterized my personality. I felt fragile, and a coldness advanced from the inside out. I had other concerns.

My guides asked to communicate with me often when I was not attending the spiritual development class. Their requests disrupted my life, making it difficult to concentrate, attend to business, and converse with people.

When they asked me to predict a nuclear holocaust, the message frightened me and I knew it would frighten others. I wanted no part of this prophecy, true or not.

I'm free to get on with life now. I was concluding a journey. In 1982, at the peak of my fascination with the spiritual realm, my marriage unexpectedly dissolved. Now I could see I had let go of many people. I needed to get back into the mainstream of life. I looked forward to spending time with my nine-year-old son, Michael, further developing my psychotherapy practice, completing my doctorate, widening my circle of friends?using my mind for my own thinking again.

The next day was Saturday, errand day, and before rising, I snuggled under my comforter and whispered, "Yes, it's right." But the words were barely uttered when a foreboding permeated every pore and Seth whispered in low, menacing tones, "Couldn't leave, Sharon. Sorry. Have to stay. Nowhere to go. Sorry."

I stilled myself. No ? No ? Can't be! I thought. Then I said aloud, "Seth, leave. You've got to leave. You'll find something."

"No. You ? " and he flung a string of crude names at me. I reeled, recovered, and vied for my mind, but he muscled me out. My insides trembled, and the horror dawned?overnight my wise, caring counselor had shed his skin, and a sadistic tormentor occupied my mind and body.

I leaped from bed, dressed amid his vile cursing, ran downstairs, and paced the house. Aloud I cried to my guides, "Help me! What happened? Help me!"

But I only heard, "You're mine to do with as I please. And you will obey me. I will decide when you sleep, what you think and feel. You will be free when I say."

I was Seth's captive. Albeit unwittingly, I had become a pawn in a spiritual battle and was utterly ignorant of my enemy and his terrain, weapons, and rules of warfare.

Looking for a Way Out

"I'll do anything to get free," I confided to Joan, a long-time friend and fellow psychotherapist. "But the answer has to be of a spiritual nature. Don't you think?"

Joan had also taken a circuitous spiritual journey but had left her group when it "got too weird." Although she never channeled, she explored the spirit-mind-body relationship and believed in spirits?and in evil.

Joan nodded. "A friend of mine meditates with devotees of Sai Baba. They don't channel and perhaps she could help you. Sai Baba is a powerful healer from India."

"I'm willing to try."

A wide candle sat on the pale cloth covering the makeshift altar, and its flickering served as a point of focus for our meditation. Six devotees gathered in the sparsely furnished room to pay homage to Sai Baba.

"Lord Sayta Sai Baba," the worshipers chanted, "Lord Krishna, Lord Jesus ? " The devotees praised the avatars, the incarnations of the godhead, and especially bowed low to Sai Baba, who reportedly produced precious stones from the air, miraculously healed blindness, drove out evil spirits, and relieved physical suffering.

I listened to the tormentors in my mind, the music, and the devotees professing love for Sai Baba?suspended and waiting. Waiting for what? Him to free me? How? How does this work?

"Lord Sayta Sai Baba ? "

"Is Sai Baba who he says he is?" I asked myself. "I sing the songs and do what they say, but shouldn't he help me in some way?" After three months of meditating weekly, nothing had changed.

"Lord Sayta Sai Baba, Lord Jesus," they sang.

Lord Jesus ? Lord ? Why call him Lord? I thought as the devotees praised the avatars.

Freedom, that's all I ask for. I want to put my life back together. Give me a chance. I sang along with the others, but it meant nothing to me. I hated to leave these gentle people, but I sensed Sai Baba was not who he said he was. I put no stock in someone's ability to produce miracles or see visions; those experiences were commonplace in my world. No, I sought a spiritual presence who was who he professed to be, and I desired to be with people who truly loved one another.

I thanked them and left.

Six months later, when I was in California on business, I decided to call an old friend, Tad. We had first met during nurses' training twenty-some years before. A psychotherapist like myself, Tad had also abandoned her Christian roots, opting to become a Zen Buddhist instead. In a recent Christmas letter, she described a dramatic turn in her spiritual journey, but I couldn't remember how or where she ended up.

"Hi, Tad. It's Sharon."

"It's good to hear from you. How are you?"

"Not so well. You remember when I wrote about channeling spirits? Well, a couple of years ago they turned on me, and I can't make them leave. I don't know what to do."

"What's it like?"

"It's bad, very bad, especially when I'm alone. They infuse thoughts and feelings into me and keep me awake at night. Sometimes my body is wracked with pain, and yet I know nothing is wrong. They allow me to work but make it impossible to sustain a friendship. My life is not my own. I trust your spiritual odyssey is going better than mine!"

"Yes, it is. I'm very happy." Then Tad added, "I know only one person who came up against what you are facing and came out okay. I'll send you his biography."

"That would be nice. Send me whatever you have. I don't know where to turn. The solution has to be spiritual, don't you think?"

"I certainly do!"

"Thanks, Tad. Look forward to hearing from you."

Small Steps Toward Deliverance

Not long after, Tad's package arrived. It contained two books. I picked up the gray, hard-covered book and read the title, Oxford NIV Scofield Study Bible, with my name engraved in silver at the bottom. Sure doesn't look like a Bible?more like a dictionary. But how sweet of her to think of me. Then I noticed Tad's note tucked inside the front cover.

"Dear Sharon, I've marked the section in the Bible that describes how my friend Jesus confronted an evil spirit. Also I'm sending a book written by Johanna Michaelsen who battled evil spirits. Give me a call after you've read them, and we'll talk more. Love, Tad."

"Tad's a Christian? Amazing! I'm glad she's found her niche."

I turned to the page Tad had marked with a yellow stick-on note and followed the arrow to the verse she wanted me to read: "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry" (Luke 4:1, 2).

Well, I would think so, I thought. The longest I've fasted is ten days, and I drank liquids. I can't imagine not eating for forty days.

I moved my finger down the page. "The devil said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread'" (Luke 4:3).

Anger exploded within me. Who cares if he can turn a stone into bread?what does that prove? I read on. "Jesus answered, 'It is written: Man does not live on bread alone.' The devil ? " (Luke 4:4, 5). A foreboding and loathing overcame me. I could read no further.

Devil! I thought. Does anyone still believe in the devil? And which Jesus are they writing about here anyway? The ascended master of the light, the one who channeled the Course in Miracles, the impostor who torments me, or the Jesus of the Mormon Church, that my mother tried to emulate?

"No, no," I said, "they're all masters of illusion!"

Then I picked up the other book, The Beautiful Side of Evil by Johanna Michaelsen. Very apt title. Doesn't that say it all? I sprawled on my bed and opened the book.

"This woman understands. She knows," I said to myself. I read, "I reached out my hand and with my fingertips lightly touched the image of the ancient Aztec warrior who was now Pachita's spirit guide ? "

That's how they hook us?through appearances as famous people or ancient gods. I continued. "Soft, low laughter began to echo in my head, a kind of laughter I had never heard before and which filled me with terror ? There are spirit beings all around us. I can see them, hear them. I feel when they are near calling to me?but sometimes I'm so afraid of them."

"Yes, she understands," I said aloud. Johanna's story unfolded to the climax when she asked Jesus Christ to be her Lord and Savior. Dumbfounded, I uttered, "What? She became a Christian? She takes the Bible literally?" Although surprised, I believed her, but I couldn't imagine myself doing that. The last part of the book was loaded with Scripture and my heart raced in a mixture of fear and dread. I couldn't finish it.

I set the book on my night stand and decided, "If the Christian Jesus turns out to be the way, then so be it, but I'm not going to rush into anything. I do know, though, that she got free, and so will I."

p>For a few months the attacks lessened, but then the demons began harassing me day and night?often allowing me only ten minutes of sleep a night.

Squaring off against the spirits, I yelled, "Enough! Enough! Stop it! You're to leave me alone!" I felt no fear of them for the first time ever. "Johanna. Remember Johanna." I declared, "I'll become a Christian. I'll accept Jesus Christ." My course was set.

Not as Easy as It Sounds

Within a few days, a friend called to tell me about an Oprah Winfrey segment featuring Rev. Erwin Prange, a Lutheran pastor, and Father Malachi Martin, a Catholic priest, both men specializing in exorcisms. "The priest said that time heals nothing and that you need to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and cleanse your house of everything related to the occult," the friend said.

"Yes, but how do I do that? How do I become a Christian?"

"The Lutheran pastor said you should go to the nearest church and tell them you are demon-possessed and want to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior."

"That simple? Okay, that's what I'll do."

Instead of eating lunch, I walked to a small church. I found the pastor in his office and introduced myself. "Years ago I became involved in the New Age and channeled five spirits. They took possession of me and won't leave. So I want to know Jesus."

His gaze never wavered as he said, "Well, we have a very conservative congregation here, and I'm afraid you really would not fit in."

Incredulous, I asked, "Where should I go?"

"Well, I'm not sure, but I know there are churches better suited for you than here. Best of luck to you."

As I left, I knew he was confused, either because I had not made myself clear or because the demons had scrambled his mind. I spoke aloud to override the barrage of demonic hilarity: "Jesus Christ is the answer, and I will find someone who can help me learn how to be a Christian."

I left a message on Tad's answering machine, asking if she could find out what churches in the Denver area believed in demons and could help me. That night she called back with three names. I made appointments with the first two.

A week later I met with a Presbyterian minister, David Stark, and one of his prayer ministers, Carrie. After praying for God to bless our time together, David began explaining a tiny pamphlet, "Steps to Peace with God," by Billy Graham.

"This recounts what God did for us," David explained. "He intended for us to know peace, but the Bible tells us ? "

Suddenly, the demons unleashed their scorn of the Bible inside me: "Naive, simple-minded, unthinking people read that book! The final word from God?" I strained to hear the pastor through their vulgar expletives and finally asked, "Would you repeat what you just said again, please?"

"Yes, I'd be happy to. Are they bothering you?"

"Yes, but please go on."

"The Bible tells us that long ago human beings decided to separate from God, choosing to direct their lives without him, and when they did, they sinned against God, their Creator."

Through the barrage of voices, I heard Rev. Stark read, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).

As he turned the page of the pamphlet, I saw a depiction of Jesus Christ stretched across the cavern of separation, serving as a bridge between man and God.

"In 1 Timothy 2:5, it says, 'For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.' God knew we were doomed without him, and he loved us so much he sacrificed his Son on the cross." Immediately the spirits bombarded me with mental images. I sickened at seeing a bloodied man hanging from a wooden cross, and my body revolted in deep loathing toward God for killing his Son. I wondered why Jesus had to die in order for me to be set free. I sensed that in time I would understand.

Rev. Stark smiled, "Sharon, God did this for you."

"I would never ask anyone to suffer and die on account of me."

"None of us deserves it. His grace?unmerited favor?saves us from a life separated from God." I asked to hear more.

"Sharon, to be reconciled to our righteous God, we must accept his provision, Jesus Christ. The Bible says that 'if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved' (Rom. 10:9). Jesus Christ saves us from much and we gain much?peace, forgiveness, abundant life, and eternal life. That's a lot!"

I smiled politely but privately dismissed the banquet of promises. I just want my mind back and the opportunity to run my life again. I asked, "What do I need to do?"

"Confess your sins and ask Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior."

I prayed, "Lord Jesus Christ, I confess that I have sinned against you. Please forgive me. I want you to be Lord and Savior of my life. Amen."

I knew I was free. Although the demons still had the ability to harass my mind and body, they no longer controlled me. Jesus Christ lived within me and promised to protect and restore me. When or how he would do this no longer concerned me; I just knew he would as I followed him.

I cried my relief?I had found the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. Now I could fight back using the weaponry supplied by God: prayer and Scripture. I belonged to Jesus Christ now, and in time the demons' harassment would cease.

I kept my second appointment, too, a meeting with the Episcopal bishop. After I told him my story, I said, "I was wondering if you could counsel me on how to make these spirits go away. I understand I'm in for a real battle."

"Being a Christian is more about developing a relationship with God than making demons go away. Here's the name of a church near your home. Introduce yourself there, join a Bible study, and attend the services. You'll be just fine."

I shook his hand feeling a long way from "just fine" but knowing my life had changed. Thank God.

He Set This Prisoner Free

Jesus Christ delivered me?just not how I originally expected. Rather than a sudden relief, the demons lost their hold as others prayerfully interceded for me and as I applied God's Word to my life, prayed, worshiped, read the Bible, helped others, and walked by faith.

But it was a struggle. Daily I strained to differentiate what was of God and what was of Satan. I typed Scripture verses on cards and carried them with me to remind myself of what was true.

I marveled at the changes in my life. Four Christmases ago, I was unable to prepare a meal, complete a thought, or make a living without the permission of malevolent forces. Now I had a Christian counseling practice, a new house, new friends, and God's presence in my home.

I sought opportunities to speak openly about what God had done in my life?at church groups and in my counseling. In 1993, Dr. Gordon Lewis of Denver Seminary asked me to present my testimony to his class, "Christianity and the Occult."

"My rejection of God and denial of evil left me vulnerable to a lie of Satan," I began. "Namely, that my mind, emotions, and body were my personal domain, and nothing of a spiritual nature could influence me without my permission. I denied the sovereignty of God and was ignorant of his enemy, Satan?his character, capabilities, and designs on my life."

After I told my story, there were a barrage of questions. A woman in the back of the room spoke. "I'm a missionary in Lithuania, and what you describe would have stunned me before entering the mission field. But since being overseas, I'm more aware of demonic influences. Many foreign cultures encourage participation in occult rituals."

"Yes, and as our culture grows more accepting, I'm sure we'll see an increase here too. In fact, aren't we already?"

"Could you offer some advice on how to tell someone in the New Age about Jesus Christ?"

"First, pray for the person deceived as well as for guidance for yourself. Second, share the love of Christ. Nothing in New Age thinking or the occult replicates the love of Christ, and underneath the sophisticated words and philosophies lives an empty heart and a cold, restless spirit. Remember that the battle is for the heart and the mind. Third, present the gospel, but try not to be argumentative. Sprinkle your conversation with Scripture. Fourth, if someone relates a supernatural experience, try not to minimize or discredit it; rather, tell that person that you also believe in an unseen universe but that not every spirit is from God. Teach what you know to be true.

"Lastly, remember that God prepares hearts to hear the gospel. One plants a seed and another reaps. We don't know how God will use us, but he does command us to preach the good news."

I closed the session by saying, "God saved us from the work of Satan and ourselves, and though I think it's important to understand how Satan attempts to destroy our faith in God, the Bible tells us to keep our attention on Jesus Christ and his Word. As we love and obey him, his righteousness shines in us and he delivers us from harm's way. Jesus wants us to draw close to him when we are afraid or attacked by the Adversary. During these times, call on Jesus Christ. He's waiting to hear from you."

Copyright © 1997 by the author or Christianity Today International/Today's Christian magazine (formerly Christian Reader).
Click here for reprint information.

Originally published July 01, 1997.

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