Ariana Grande made her Broadway debut at the age of fifteen, starred on Nickelodeon’s Victorious two years later, and has released six studio albums, five of which peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. She is also the newest judge on NBC’s hit show, The Voice.
Now she is in the news for a different reason. During a recent appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, she revealed that she has had a “weird” manifestation gift her entire life.
In case “manifestation” is an unfamiliar concept for you, I’ll let Oprah Winfrey explain: “You control a lot by your thoughts, and we control a lot by our joined thoughts . . . by what I [and we] believe. When I started to figure that out for myself, I became careful of what I think and what I ask for. I was like what else can I do? What else can I manifest, because I have seen it work. I have seen it happen over and over again.”
Four victims were Milwaukee Dancing Grannies
On this Thanksgiving eve, it can be hard to be grateful in a fallen world filled with tragedy and suffering.
For example, we now know that four of the five people killed in the Waukesha Christmas parade attack on Sunday were part of a group of older women called the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies. The attack is just one example of a growing trend of vehicles used as weapons for mass killing.
In other news, Washington, DC, has recorded its two-hundredth homicide of the year, a mark not seen since 2003. Dozens of San Francisco area stores and pharmacies have been hit by mobs of smash-and-grab looters. And a bus carrying North Macedonian tourists crashed in flames in Bulgaria before daybreak yesterday, killing at least forty-five people, including twelve children.
In a world that feels more chaotic than ever, strategies to gain personal control will always be popular, “manifesting” among them.
“You have God potential and power”
This concept was the focus of the 2006 bestselling book, The Secret. It claims: “You are the master of your life, and the Universe is answering your every command.” This is because “you are God in a physical body. You are Spirit in the flesh. You are Eternal Life expressing itself as You.
“You are a cosmic being. You are all power. You are all wisdom. You are all intelligence. You are perfection. You are magnificence. You are the creator, and you are creating the creation of You on this planet. . . . You have God potential and power to create your world.”
The author adds: “We are the creators not only of our own destiny but also of the Universe. . . . Your life will be what you create it as, and no one will stand in judgment of it, now or ever. You are the master of the Universe. You are the heir to the kingdom. You are the perfection of Life.”
As a result, “You can have, be, or do anything you want.” Here’s how: “Decide what you want to be, do, and have, think the thoughts of it, emit the frequency, and your vision will become your life.” This is because “all good things are your birthright! You are the creator of you.”
Is this biblical? The author claims: “Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus were not only prosperity teachers, but also millionaires themselves, with more affluent lifestyles than many present-day millionaires could conceive of.” You can join them, or so the book says.
“Shut up I’m manifesting”
Now this promise has been made into a process that is exploding in popularity.
Vox reports that “a new generation is discovering its central thesis” on social media: “On TikTok, teenagers share stories about how ‘scripting,’ or repeatedly writing down a wish,” is working for them. Vloggers on YouTube are leading tutorials on “how to properly manifest your dream future.” Instagram and Twitter are being used to “manifest” as well.
During one five-month period last year, Google searches for “manifesting” skyrocketed 669 percent; “shut up I’m manifesting” was one of the defining memes of the year. The article explains that “manifesting” was especially attractive during the pandemic quarantine, giving people “a way to accomplish something we have control over in a time when we’re mostly powerless to effect any real change.”
It adds, “There is also a lower barrier to entry than almost any other activity: All you need are your dreams and to think about how nice it would be if they all came true.”
Why “manifesting” doesn’t work
According to German academic and NYU psychology professor Gabriele Oettingen, the advice espoused in books like The Secret is demonstrably false. She states: “The more positively people dream about the future, the better they feel at the moment. People relax and their blood pressure goes down. But you need the energy to implement your wishes, and over time, they actually get more depressed, partly because they’re putting in less effort and have less success.”
Substantiating her concern, the Vox article points to “decades of scientific research and dozens of studies proving that, often, positive thinking actually makes us more complacent and therefore less likely to muster the effort to achieve our goals.”
Of course, the larger issue with The Secret and the “manifesting” phenomenon it has sparked is theological. Satan’s central lie from Eden to today is the same: “You will be like God” (Genesis 3:5). But there can be only one God in your life. There is room for only one occupant on the throne of your mind and heart. If you choose yourself, you substitute your fallen mind for divine omniscience, your finite capacities for divine omnipotence, and your sinful attitudes and actions for the sanctifying and empowering Holy Spirit.
If you resign from your throne today and enthrone Jesus as your authoritative King (Matthew 28:18), surrendering your life and day to his Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and asking him to guide and use your life for his glory and our good (Proverbs 3:5–6), you will have great cause for thanksgiving this day and every day.
You can attempt to “manifest” your desires for your purposes, or you can ask Jesus to manifest himself and his perfect will in your life and influence (Romans 12:1–2). But you cannot do both.
“Only one sermon to preach”
Vance Havner testified, “If I had only one sermon to preach, it would be on the Lordship of Christ. When we get right on that point, we are right all down the line. God honors the exaltation of his Son.”
Keith Green was right: “Making Jesus Lord of our life is not something passive. It’s not a state of being, it’s a state of doing.” Watchman Nee added: “A day must come in our lives, as definite as the day of our conversion, when we give up all right to ourselves and submit to the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ.”
Has that day come for you yet?