Reader's Question: What are your thoughts on déjà vu?
First of all, let’s establish this up front – there is no direct Biblical teaching for us to refer to on this topic. The term déjà vu is a French term meaning “already seen”, so pulling out your concordance will not help you on this one as the Bible was written well before the French language was even a thing. However, that does not mean that the Bible has nothing to say about it. It just means that we have to dig a little to find it. So grab hold as we explore this little glitch in the matrix because this is the longest answer to a question I have given yet.
Second, we need to distinguish between the three types of déjà vu that people are often referencing when they talk about this phenomena, or more precisely, we need to distinguish between the sources cited for the experience.
The first source people often credit is neural misfiring. They dismiss it as a glitch of the brain due to stress, fatigue, or some random event among neurons, which is one possible legitimate reason. The brain is highly complex and perfect functioning is reliant on many factors that can be thrown out of whack for a host of reasons. Personally, I have seem to have far more occurrences of déjà vu when I am overly tired, and I tend to attribute the majority of these during times of stress to this cause. However, that is not to say that I believe this is the only cause for it.
The second source many people cite is reincarnation, particularly when visiting place of historic significance either to themselves personally or in a grander scheme of things. Many of the people I have talked to who have ascribed to a belief in reincarnation have told me that it was a déjà vu experience that first prompted first their curiosity in reincarnation and eventual acceptance of it as fact after investigating what they deemed to be corroborating accounts.
We need to be perfectly clear on this – there is no place for reincarnation within Christian theology. This is an issue that the Bible addresses with total clarity.
And just as it is appointed for man to die once,
and after that comes judgement.
However, this does not mean that we should dismiss anyone’s experience with déjà vu. When you think about it once you are out of high school, this is a rather weird thing to try and fake. To even admit that this occurs to you on a somewhat regular and reliable basis can be seen as admission of total weirdness, being out of touch with reality, and delusion. That, and I think it is rather rude to invalidate anyone’s experience as a lie or to deny the impact it has had on their lives.
Before we jump to the third reason, we need to examine what are some of the possible reasons why this occurs that do not affirm reincarnation. One theory is that somewhere inside of what is sometimes referred to as “junk DNA” the memories of our ancestors have been encoded and passed on to us, and that we somehow have a cellular memory of certain places. I do not know if this is correct or even possible, but I am open to the possibility. This theory violates no Scriptural teachings and is a rather cool reminder that God has an infinite imagination that we are just catching the merest glimpse of in this life.
A second theory is a little more sinister, and one that I believe does happen as I have experienced it. As I have mentioned before, I believe in a spiritual realm wherein both angels and demons reside. I believe in a cosmic battle for the hearts and minds of humanity. I believe that evil does not fight fair and it does not show itself in the light lest it be identified and rejected. The easiest way to describe this theory is simply to share my story.
I once lived in house that was built in 1840-something. The events that happened there would take up far more space than allotted for this blog post, but there was no denying that something spiritual was taking place and they were witnessed by more than just me. One of the events was the reoccurring sound of music, specifically a cello, violin, and piano. Guess who lived there before I did? If you guessed musicians who played these instruments and died long before I ever set foot on the property, you would be correct. Along with the music were many of what I call pseudo-memories, for lack of a better term, and when I would mention them, others who knew the family history of this house would confirm what I knew to be accurate.
During a trip back to Oklahoma, a friend showed up at my doorstep one morning telling me that he had a message for me that could not wait. He told me about how demons had been around since the dawn of time, how they had lived side by side with humans, watching our every move, listening in to our conversations, and collecting memories of their own. He then asked one very pointed question that I had never considered, “What if they are trying to pass off their memories as our memories, trying to get us to believe that we were the ones who experienced these things, and not them?”
Instantly, I knew that he had hit upon a truth. As if to further confirm the point, from that day forward every non-human thing that lived in that house turned hostile towards me, but those events are a tale for another day. As you may guess, this has led me to approach all experiences with déjà vu with caution and a healthy dose of skepticism concerning its origin which I think is a right and fitting response to any event of a spiritual nature.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit,
but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,
for many false prophets have gone into our world.
By this you know the Spirit of God;
every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.
This is the spirit of the antichrist,
which you have heard was coming and now is in the world already.
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them,
for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
They are from the world, therefore they speak from the world,
and the world listens to them. We are from God.
Who knows God listens to us;
whoever is not from God does not listen to us.
By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
1 John 4:1-6
The third source for déjà vu is little trickier, but something I think we need to make room for in our consideration. It is not infrequent for me to have dreams about an upcoming event or conversation. I am not sharing this out of any sense of pride or privilege, because it is not always an easy thing to grapple with nor was it something I sought out. I will also find myself have what I consider rather innocuous conversations with people I know and trust about sensitive but random issues. In the course of these conversations, I often find myself blurting out a new idea or perspective that I had not known was lying about the recesses of my mind, and I am stunned at having articulated it so well. (I would be remiss if I did not pause to acknowledge that I consider these moments nothing less than the guidance of the Holy Spirit because I am daily confronted with the fact that I am not that smart.)
I can usually set a clock by what will happen next – I will encounter a bizarre situation that there was no humanly possible way to prepare for, but I will know what to do because I have already experienced it on some level, either in dream or in that supposedly random conversation. Having been prepared for that moment, I can respond with wisdom and compassion for others that was the direct result of the dreams and conversations, and I have had the privilege of being able to speak the words that aided in their healing and growth. Something I would not have been able to do without preparation that moved me beyond my own concerns.
I want you to notice the difference here between these events. In the first event, at the haunted/possessed house, the emphasis was on me and what I perceived in the situation. The goal was for me to ponder what I knew, what special abilities I possessed, and what may have happened in my life. When I failed to accept the fraud as good or right, the result was a full out assault designed to produce fear in my heart and mind. In the second event, it is not about me. In fact, it has almost absolutely nothing to do with me other than I was willing to move on what I had been shown in a previous instance. The outgrowth of those moments was to move the attention away from me and back to the Father who desires the best for his children, a Father who desires that we be whole and maturing individuals, and a Father who is willing to do the incredible on our behalf. It is just as likely and easier for him to utilize the talents of an ass as it is for him to include me in this moment. (Numbers 22).
In those times I have been reluctant to use what he has shared with me, I do not feel fear or intimidation. Instead, I am grieved that I missed out on a chance to be a part of what he is doing because that is my ultimate desire – to be where he is and doing what he is doing. It really is that simple, and please, do not ask me to give you a “prophetic word” or to tell your fortune. That is not how this works, and God’s revelations are not parlor tricks for anyone’s amusement or self-aggrandizement. Instead, I urge you to be seeking him for yourself, and be open to those times when he chooses to speak into your life.
There is a legitimate place in our faith for supernatural revelation and insight, but it is never anything to be taken lightly. And I do not believe that it is something anyone should seek out. Instead, we are to be seeking him. Not the glitz and the glamour that is often associated with the prophetic ministries, but him – Our God, Our Father, Our Redeemer, Our Jesus, and if you are only looking for what he can give you, you have missed the boat.
And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall see dreams;
But back to our discussion on déjà vu, I do not think that it is any accident that enemy tries to counterfeit what God is doing. I believe it is by design. What would be a more effective way to derail people in the search for God than to appeal to their sense of uniqueness and pride in their abilities? What greater tool does the enemy have then our own senses that can be turned against us, that can be used to distract us from the truth of God’s Word and love? Demonically inspired déjà vu is used for that purpose, and that purpose alone, to entice us to look for answers and meanings outside of Father’s desire for us. There is no hope, no vision for the future in it. It is locked in a dead past, and designed to keep our hearts and thoughts captive there – a time and place that we can never have any effect upon - so that we will never be effective ministers of God in this moment.
Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint,
but blessed is he who keeps the law.
For I know the plans the plans I have for you, declares the LORD,
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
And that is why we have to be willing to test the spirits and we need to be immersing ourselves in God’s Word. God is never offended when we do as he commanded, when we step back and search out confirmation on these things from within the Scripture. That is precisely what he wants us to do, and I believe that he rejoices when we are obedient in handling these revelations with the care and respect that he has decreed we should have. His Word is the litmus test against which all spiritual events should be measured. For how else are we going to be able to tell the Spirit of Truth from the spirit of error? And this is something we really need to get right.