Spiritual Guidance

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“Is there a man among you who will offer his son a stone when he asks for bread, or a snake when he asks for fish? If you, then, bad as you are, know how to give your children what is good for them, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11).

If we apply this logic of Jesus to the notion of spiritual guidance, we can know that our need and request for guidance is being fulfilled at this very moment. This is true even when it appears we’re being given a stone rather than bread, or a snake rather than a fish.

Stones and snakes are not really stones and snakes. They are more likely answers to our prayer for guidance. They just don’t look like the bread and fish that we’re expecting. When we ask God for guidance, we are to believe that we have received the guidance we seek. This means that everything we do, everyone we encounter, every new unfolding circumstance is part of the solution to our desire for guidance.

In some cases, our circumstances may take an unexpected turn that seems to have no relevance to the greater good we seek. But Jesus also cautioned against judging by appearances. This is good advice, because intellectually, there is no way we can have all the facts about unfolding events. Neither will we fully encompass all the possible scenarios that can present themselves. While we’re looking in one direction, our answer can sneak up behind us.

Think of how many times this has happened. You get something fixed in your mind, but the actual solution unfolds in a very different way. What may look like failure or a misstep from one angle, turns out to be the exact right thing for the whole picture.

Paul reminded us that all things work together for good for those that love God. We can reframe this thought to all things are working together for our highest good, as we trust that God’s guiding wisdom is fully in play, right now. Our every step is the right step, our every move, the right move.

Hold this thought. Know this truth. At this very moment, God is guiding you to the highest and best solution to your need.

 

Spirituality and Fatherhood

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“Do not call any man on earth “father”; for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9).

While this saying of Jesus may appear to reduce the role of fatherhood to irrelevant, it’s really a call to understand who and what we are as spiritual beings. Bodily incarnation obviously requires a father and a mother, even if neither actually stay around to raise their offspring. We all have an earthly father.

What Jesus is implying is that souls do not give birth to souls. Our bodies are the physical offspring of our parents, but our soul predates them both. Our parents provided the door through which our soul entered this earthly plane. Jesus is reminding his followers (and us) that the source of their being is not found among their ancestors, but rises from the eternal spring of infinite life.

When we tie our identity to our biological heritage, we tend to limit the way we think of ourselves. What if you realized you have had many incarnations, thus, many parents? And what if you realized that you have also been the parent of more children than you care to count? I’m referring here, of course, to the idea of reincarnation, which you may or may not believe is possible. If the source of our being is truly one heavenly Father, however, then the birth and death of a single body becomes incidental. What appears obvious and fixed in relationships, is suddenly not so obvious and fixed.

We can also look at Jesus’ statement in a slightly different way. We consider the intuitive side of our being the feminine. The intellectual side is the masculine. Jesus can be saying that that self of us that is born of the intellect–the self-image–is not to be thought of as our true identity. The soul, our heavenly Father, is our real Self. That part of us that is fathered by the intellect is tied to the body and subject to environmental whims. The soul is indestructible. Approaching our life experiences from the soul level gives us the advantage of retaining our center of power, for we see from a much larger context. Of any negative appearance, we know that it shall pass, and we will come out fine.

Jesus sometimes had a strange way of saying things, but a little consideration of his words can open some interesting doors.

The Goal of the Goal

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“For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice” (John 18:37).

This passage represents a partial response of Jesus while under interrogation by Pilate. When Pilate asks, What is truth?, Jesus makes no reply. Among Christian theologians, however, there is no shortage of answers as to the nature of truth, and Jesus’ purpose on earth.

Stripping this statement of its theological implications, we can see Jesus is simply saying that he understands the purpose of his incarnation as that of giving full expression to his soul, unhindered by the restrictions of the body-based self-image. Pilate, firmly established in his own position-oriented identity, could not grasp the profound implications of Jesus’ statement.

Think of Jesus as a window who is saying he is here to let in sunlight, to bear witness, not to himself as a window, but to the truth of the sun. The window may be dressed and beautified in a variety of ways, but always its purpose is to bring sunlight into the house.

You and I are designed to bring the light of our soul into everything we do. Our desire for greater freedom is the warmth of the spiritual sun shining from our innermost depths. We feel this warmth and we are inspired to find new ways to express it. All our endeavors become the means to the end of bringing forth the light. Our window can be as complex as a career or as simple as a kind word or gesture.

Try beginning your day with this thought: I enter this day with the single purpose of bearing witness to the truth of my soul. In all that I do, I let the light of God shine through. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth of who and what I am as an expression of God.

 

 

Seeing Through the Fog

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It is often when your world is shrouded in fog that you gain your clearest vision.

We all have moments of doubt, times when the road ahead seems shrouded in a fog of uncertainty. Perhaps we are on a path that felt right when we started on it, but now seems unclear and confusing. Our original inspiration has evaporated, and we are in a quandary as to what to do. Or, we may have experienced major changes in our conditions that have left us baffled. People or things that served as anchors are no longer present and we feel adrift in a sea of apprehension.

In such times, it is good to remind ourselves that the inspiration that brought us to this ever-changing life rose from our depths. Our circumstances are simply the temporal clothing of the presence of God expressing through us. I always draw comfort from a verse given by Emma Curtis Hopkins:

He who hath led me to this way,

still on the way will show.

He who hath taught me of this way,

still more will make me know.

We naturally seek stability and predictability in our circumstances, for we feel safe when we achieve it. However, it is when our trust shifts from God to circumstantial stability that we begin to move away from that creative live-wire of faith that brought the seeming external stability in the first place. Drawn by the power of the sea, we built a magnificent sand castle on the beach. We admired and identified with it for a time, only to have it washed away by the restless tide of change. But the sea and its eternal inspiration remains. It is this living, ever moving ebb and flow that never leaves us that is as quick now to inspire and guide as ever.

We live in a world of change and absolute stability. Focused on that which changes, we gain and we lose. With God as our anchor, we lose only to gain. In our moments of uncertainty, we open our hearts to the assuring truth that God is with us, that new ways of being in this life are now unfolding for us, that the apparent end we are witnessing is only a new and fresh beginning to something at least as beautiful as we once had.

 

 

Dancing Through Eternity

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“When you are tempted to think a life has been cut short, remember that every soul is dancing through eternity.”

Memorial Day is a holiday for remembering men and women who died while serving our country’s armed forces. Many use this time to remember all loved ones who have passed. It is certainly a good time to reflect on perspectives we hold on matters of life and death. In ways we may not even be aware of, our view of death impacts the way we live our life.

Recently, a woman was telling me of a family who lost their three-year-old daughter to leukemia. “I don’t understand why some lives are cut so short,” she said. “It just doesn’t seem fair.” While we are empathetic toward those who experience such a loss, we do well to consider the grander picture. We always feel the time we shared with a loved one now passed was too short. But whatever its duration, the earthly experience is temporary. The soul, momentarily tethered to a body, is not the sum of the loved one we knew in bodily form. They are experiencing life free of the blinders imposed by the physical senses. Their stay on earth may have been brief, but their life has not been cut short.

In our consideration of death, the disadvantage most of us have is that we only have memories of events connected to this incarnation. Life, as we understand it, is what happens between the bookends of birth and death. Everything beyond is unknown. Yet the one who sails over the horizon of visibility gains an insight those who remain on the shore rarely grasp. Whether they were killed in the heat of battle or silently slipped away from the quiet of their hospice bed, they would long for us to know that there is no death. They would know that if we do not grasp it now, we will discover it soon enough.

We are all dancing through eternity. The day will come when we step from this plane, but we will never step from life. Jesus reminded us that in the Father’s house there are many rooms. Earth is but one of these rooms. Hold your loved ones in the light and beauty of life and know they are doing the same with you.

 

 

The Road Never Traveled

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“Each man must sooner or later learn to stand alone with his God; nothing else avails. Nothing else will ever make you master of your own destiny. There is in your own indwelling Lord all the life and health, all the strength and peace and joy, all the wisdom and support that you can ever need or desire. No one can give to you as can this indwelling Father. He is the spring of all joy and comfort and power” (Emilie Cady).

If I were to state the single most important message that I gleaned from Unity, it would be the thought that is embodied in the above paragraph. I shared a similar idea in an inspirational message I posted on Facebook:

“Many take the road widely traveled. A few take the road less traveled. Only you can take the road never traveled.”

Jesus said it in a slightly different way.

 “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20

You and I have our own unique connection with God. Cultivating an awareness with this connection will take us down a path that is unique to us. If we feel something is missing, we are likely in a situation that is out of sync with that son of man part of us that does not lay its head in the examples or the trails blazed by others. Our single-most important work is to know ourselves at the soul level and to bring our divine originality into expression.

Cady explains that, while there is a place for books and teachers, our ultimate guide is our own indwelling Lord, that divine fountain of life that is our soul. Some seek to be different as a kind of fashion statement of their spiritual independence. This never lasts. We are seeking to connect with that which we are at the spiritually authentic level, that aspect that requires no manipulating control of how we express. The dandelion does not emulate the rose, even as the rose draws the most positive attention.

When Jesus said he came to bear witness to the truth, he was speaking for you and me as well. We were born to bear witness to the truth, to take the road never traveled, the way of expression that is unique to our being.