Finding Strength in Adversity

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In returning and rest you shall be saved;

in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”     Isaiah 30:15

Everyone has moments of uncertainty, of trial, of self doubt, and even despair. In these moments we seek help from all kinds of sources: books, counselors, ministers, doctors, friends, or family members. Any one of these may pass on some level of assurance that things are going to work out, that harmony will be restored in our body or in our affairs. With this bit of assurance, we rest a little better, regain some of our optimism, and turn our attention to more creative endeavors.

It is a freeing thought to realize that the strength we seem to draw from others is really a process of opening our minds to our own deeper resource. In consciously returning to this inner resource we find the salvation we seek. In quietness and trust in this larger context of life, the flame of new strength is kindled.

When we are consumed with a problem, we have simply relegated our attention to one miniscule aspect of our being. Our entire universe revolves around our little problem. We weigh everything against it, including our ability to be happy and productive with our life.

There is nothing that can sever your connection with your unsounded essence, that limitless source of energy and inspiration that will lift you out of even the apparently tightest corners. Regardless of how far you feel you have strayed from your Source, it is still present and will still flood your being with the strength and assurance you need to move beyond this current stretch of uncertainty.

Begin now to take the healing advice found in Isaiah’s words. Feel the “rest” of letting go of your frantic search for answers. Be still and trust that the answers you need are now forthcoming. Turn from the apparent adversity and let new strength and courage arise from the core of your being.

All that you seek is always with you. Embrace it now, in the quiet.

 

Love Yourself Through Fear

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Question: “I know I need to make some changes in my life, but I’m afraid to make them. How can love help me to overcome fear?”

A familiar misunderstanding we have about love is that it is a power we call upon or we employ as we might employ an air freshener. Love is not a power we employ but an aspect of our being we express. What’s the difference? We don’t try to muster enough love to power our way through obstacles. Instead, we allow love to do its perfect work through us.

We start from the premise that love draws to us that which is for our highest good and dissolves that which is not. You may argue, “I’m in an unhealthy relationship that I know is not for my highest good, but I’m afraid to do anything about it. Why would love draw to me an unhealthy relationship?”

Love is not drawing the unhealthy relationship. Love imparts the wisdom to recognize you are in an unhealthy relationship. Love is stirring the discomfort you feel. Love is alerting you to the fact that you are trying to stuff yourself into a container (relationship, circumstance, etc.) that is far too small. Each time you make decisions that perpetuate this confining situation, love alerts you. If you ignore the signals, then love patiently sends them again.

Think of it this way: Love expresses a strength, fear protects a weakness. Am I responding to inner strength, or am I protecting a weakness? You already know the answer. If you make different choices, then know that love will support these choices. You were not given a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love. Your discomfort is your soul asserting itself, assuring you that life can be more than your fear allows. Accept the gift that love inspires in you and watch how it dissolves the chains of fear that have kept you in bondage.

Awaken From Your Sleep

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“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it.’” Gen. 28:16).

This story of Jacob represents a profound moment in ancient Hebrew history, and in ours. Jacob, fleeing the wrath of his brother, Esau, was in a distant region when he had a dream that angels ascended and descended a ladder. Above the ladder, the Lord stood. Jacob had thought, like all his contemporaries, that he had left the presence of God who was considered to be a localized deity. In his dream he realized that God was even in this distant land.

Jacob drew great strength from this revelation, and he made this covenant with God: “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that thou givest me I will give the tenth to thee.” He entrusted himself fully, including his finances, to the guidance and all-supplying power of God.

Omnipresence must become more to us than a concept; it must become a living revelation. Right now, you are in the presence of God. You will not get there in the next fifteen minutes, or with the resolution of your current problem, or when you get that new job, or find that right person. You are here, fully in the presence of God right now!

You and I can follow Jacob’s example by fully committing ourselves to what it means to be in the presence of God. We can trust that God is guiding us, supplying all our needs because we are fully relying upon the wisdom and intelligence, the love and the prospering power that is within us and all about us.

Like Jacob, awaken from your sleep and make a vow to commit your whole being to God. See God guiding every step you take, moving through every deal you make, and drawing to you everything you need to take your next successful step. In return, see all that you have as God’s. See yourself, your finances, all your affairs as God’s and you will, like Jacob, prosper beyond your wildest dreams.

The Call To Come Higher

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Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1).

There is significance in this whole story, though the details in this single verse are sketchy. The Bible tells us that Abram’s father, Terah, worshipped multiple gods; he was polytheistic. Abram was the first to embrace a single god idea: monotheism.

From a metaphysical point of view we can see there is a distinct shift in philosophy here. Abram is called by the single voice of the Lord—Yahweh—to leave his father’s house and move to a land where he and his descendants will become a great nation. The significance here is that God’s promise of greatness to Abram is conditional on Abram’s abandoning his polytheistic heritage and follow Yahweh.

When you think of Terah and Abram, not as biblical characters but as states of consciousness, you begin to grasp the importance of this change. This shift in thinking to the idea of a single power at work in your life is the beginning of your spiritual success.

When our emotions are controlled by appearances, we become subject to a multitude of secondary “powers” that negatively influence our action. Fear, self doubt, resentment, and emotional wounds we don’t think we can get over are just a few of these debilitating little “gods” that we bow before. The conditions they engender become a hydra-headed dragon and we end up devoting a lot of our time and energy trying to keep it at bay. Then we find we have the same problem that Hercules had with this beast: Every time we cut off one head, two more take its place. And at least one of them knows how to swing in and nip us from behind.

So, what do we have to do to leave this old country and head off to this new land of peace, power, and plenty? According to the story there are only two things we can do at this juncture: say, “yes I’m willing,” and start packing.

Three Steps to Freedom

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One of my favorite Moses stories occurs in the fourteenth chapter of Exodus. Pharaoh has finally let Israel go, but then he has a change of heart and decides to wipe them out. Israel’s escape is blocked by the Red Sea. They see the Egyptian army thundering down on them and they are terrified. Moses issues a set of three instructions that can help any of us under much lesser extremes. “And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.’”

Fear not: Get control of your emotions. Fear squelches the creative imagination and is by far the most unproductive, debilitating emotion we can harbor. Moses simply says, stop doing that. You have a choice. Take the first step and stop your out-of-control habit of fearing. This advice, fear not, is repeated at least 33 times in the Bible.

Stand firm: Just watch where your mind goes when you are challenged. What if this happens? What if that happens? What if nothing happens? It’s all over the place, not firm at all. To stand firm means to center yourself. Stand firm in the idea that greater good is working out through this situation. What spiritual principles do you accept as true? Are you standing firm with them, or are you waiting to see what happens before you will trust them? This is your opportunity to take the high road, to demonstrate the power of your new insights.

See the salvation of the Lord: Now you are to visualize a successful outcome, and not necessarily the one you think is best. Do you suppose Israel had a collective visualization and imagined the Red Sea opening? I doubt they ever would have imagined that. How can you visualize an answer you cannot imagine? You see yourself happy, content, filled with the peace of knowing the storm is over. Does it matter how it ends? No, it doesn’t. It only matters that you learn to hold your peace and continue to live your life successfully in spite of appearances.

Practice applying these three simple instructions in any situation that arises and see how quickly those pursuing Egyptians become a non-issue.

 

 

Your Life is Holy Ground

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Moses is undoubtedly one of the most famous and beloved Old Testament characters, possibly because we all relate to his efforts to set his people free from their Egyptian enslavement. It’s a story we can all identify with. At one point in Hebrew history, Egypt was an answer. The tribes of Israel moved there because of famine in their own land. Later, Egypt became the problem, as a Pharaoh who did not know Joseph saw the growing Hebrew population as a threat, thus enslaving them.

Moses was raised in an Egyptian household and was spared the hardships of his kin. One day he killed an Egyptian who was mistreating a Hebrew slave and he was forced to flee Egypt and live as a shepherd, reconnecting with his roots. While in the solitude of the countryside God speaks to Moses from a burning bush, calling him into service for the task of freeing his people.

Moses represents the understanding of God as law, a quantum leap from the view that God is capricious, moody, and completely unpredictable. The understanding of God as law means that when certain conditions are met, certain consequences are inevitable. Someone described affirmative prayer as the act of setting certain mental and emotional conditions that make a specific outcome inevitable.

According to the story, God’s will for the Hebrew people was the condition of prosperity and absolute freedom. It was the understanding of God as law (Moses) that brought them out of captivity and into their land of plenty. So it is with us. We may be waiting for God to act and bring about our freedom. The voice of God reminded Moses that the place upon which he was standing was holy ground. Like Jacob, Moses did not know he was in the presence of God.

When we realize that we are in the presence of God, that we are now standing on holy ground, we stop asking God to do things for us and begin to affirm and visualize the desired condition coming into manifestation. When we see and hold to a truth, we are creating an internal condition that makes certain external consequences inevitable, like 1+1 always produces 2.

You and I now stand in the fully operating kingdom of God. Dwell on what you want, expecting it to come about, and you will see a positive change for the better.

Understanding Grace

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One of the most famous references to the idea of grace comes from the familiar hymn, Amazing Grace. The hymn began its life in 1772 as part of the sermon notes of John Newton, a former English slave trader turned preacher. The last verse, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years …” was added decades later by, many believe, John Rees. These lyrics were eventually set to a borrowed tune called, New Britian.

The first line, Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, makes total sense when you consider Newton’s slave-trading history and subsequent conversion to Christianity. He undoubtedly felt that he had been spared a very long and miserable afterlife. He would have appreciated the more modern cliché, There but for the grace of God go I, which means that something bad that happened to others could just as easily have happened to him, were it not for God’s grace.

Clearly, the idea of grace is linked to a religiously inspired worm of the dust mentality. Webster defines grace as “unmerited divine assistance,” which points to the concept of God as the moody old man who regrets having created this problem known as the human race. The grace of God, like this limited view of God, are both products of humankind’s low spiritual self esteem.

There is no such thing as unmerited divine assistance. Jesus pointed out that the sun shines on the just and the unjust, that the prodigal son created his own suffering and that a man born blind was not so stricken because of either his or his parent’s sins.

God is love and love operates by law, unchanging and predictable in its nurturing behavior. Does an airplane fly by grace, or because it fulfills known and predictable laws of gravity? Frankly, I would not board a plane whose flight depended on grace. I will board one that flies by law.

The concept of grace can be a major stumbling block in our forward movement of developing spiritual consciousness. It is good to understand how we see our relationship to God. Do we think of ourselves, as Emerson said, as the “permitted” wretch, or have we embraced ourselves as expressions of the Infinite, worthy of all the support and assistance this freeing truth implies?