GRACE

God is within you now, and you are in God now; you already have God’s presence where you are; but it is your conscious remembrance of that Presence which brings it into manifestation.

The light is attained in that moment when you have no external desires, when you have the knowledge that it is only God’s grace, God’s will, and God’s law that you are desiring. … The moment you stop chasing something, it comes into your experience; the very moment you stop running after something, it begins running after you. As your desire for anything, anybody, or any condition in the external world comes to an end, you begin to live this inner life of conscious oneness with God, and then your external life begins to take care of itself. There is an invisible Presence, Something that you cannot see, hear, taste, touch, or smell, going before you to make the crooked places straight, … and to bring unto your own.

… those who spend only a few hours of the day consciously aware of an indwelling Presence, of God as the Substance of their good and as the Source of peace, safety, and security, find that God is their high tower and fortress. God cannot give safety and security; God can give only Himself, but in God there is safety and security. God cannot give peace to anyone: God can give only Himself, but in God there is peace.

 – Joel S. Goldsmith, “Meditation on Life by Grace,”
The Contemplative Life, copyright 1963 & 1991.


(Jesus:) Peace I leave with you,
my peace I give unto you:
not as the world giveth, give I unto you.
Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid.
John 14:27

Delight thyself also in the LORD;
and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the LORD;
trust also in him;
and he shall bring it to pass.
Psalm 37:4-5

 

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A legacy

This post is different from the usual topics which focus on the spiritual life. It is a tribute to my brother, John, who fulfilled his life quite recently. It will be read at his Memorial service. In the interests of family privacy, I will refer to his first name only, “John.” He had a career in military flying, including exceedingly dangerous assignments during the Vietnam conflict. His faith and belief in Biblical precepts was paramount to his flying during those years. Upon retirement from the US Air Force, he trained and flew as a commercial pilot, assigned to journeys westward to Asian and other ports. In its own way, this post represents the “fruits of the spirit” – the life that flows  from a committed, believing spirit.


The Legacy of “John”
Psalm 19:1
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.


Psalm 139:1-18
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
3 You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
7 Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.


A story: John’s career centered on his love of flying. But his legacy centered on his love of people – his dearest wife – his high school sweetheart, their family, and just about anyone he encountered. An example: During his commercial flying years as a pilot, a day came when a 747 was loading and preparing for takeoff. But a young boy was very frightened about this new experience – so much so that he was nearly hysterical. Someone from the cabin crew went into the pilot’s area and related what was happening. John went out to sit next to him and console him. So he started a conversation about –– baseball! As they talked, the plane started down the runway, soared skyward, and all was well. A potentially terrifying new experience transformed into welcoming a new friend who cared deeply for a young soul.

So what is John’s true legacy? – It is found – perhaps in secret, perhaps down deep somewhere in the lives of countless people he encountered in life, and in some bit – some kindness spoken or unspoken – that may have transformed their day, their outlook on a rough patch in life, their appreciation of personal loved ones, their reassurance that there are those who really care – something that each will in some way pass on to others in their life legacy.


To close, a poem that has become a modern day psalm – especially for those who love flying.

High Flight
by
John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (1922-1941), Royal Canadian Air Force pilot

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air . . .
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

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A PERSON

“At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War (World War I) ends. [The Armistice agreement was signed between Germany and the Allies] At 5 a.m. that morning, Germany, bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France. The First World War left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.”
– quoted from https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/world-war-i-ends

This is the background for The World Within, 1918, an early book by the prolific and respected Quaker author, academic, and social activist Rufus Jones. These quotes from the Introduction speak not only to history, but to the rebuilding after the Covid-19 pandemic.

– mjd


We must restore trust and confidence in a living God who is not off beyond and above the storm and stress of life, but in the very pulse and flow of it all, and whose will for a good world is the deepest reality of our universe. … we shall, if we are wise, care more than ever for the central realities by which men live. St. Augustine was right when he said: “My life shall now be a real life, being wholly full of Thee.”

I have always believed and maintained that the apparent lack of popular interest in (religion) is largely due to the awkward and blundering way in which it has been presented to the mind and heart of those who all the time carry deep within themselves inner hungers and thirsts which nothing but God can satisfy.

The easy, inherited, second-hand faith will not do for any of us now. … We demand something real enough and deep enough to answer the human cry of our soul to-day. We need to be assured that we do not in the last resort fall back on the play of molecules but that underneath us are everlasting Arms. We want to know not only that there is law and order but that a genuine Heart of Love touches our heart and brings us calm and confidence.

Mountain peaks and stars can not embody love and sympathy–they can embody only energy. Love and sympathy, tenderness and patience, forgiveness and grace are traits of character, attitudes of a personal spirit. If they are ever to be revealed, they must be revealed in the life of a person.

Now once there was a Person who felt that his life was a genuine exhibition of the divine in the human, the eternal in the midst of time. He lived and died in the consciousness that through his life he was showing God to men; that his love was a revelation of the real nature and character of God; that his sympathy for the weary, heavy-laden, sin-distressed, heart-hungry people of the earth was a true unveiling of the heart of the universe.… He felt this, and consecrated his life to this deeper revelation of God. Some have doubted and some have been perplexed, but there have always been some…who profoundly believe that here in him is the personal character of God revealed to us. However leaden and pitiless the march of the universe may be at other points, at this one point, at least, love and tenderness break through and enwrap us. This God who is unveiled in Christ is the God our world needs to-day.

…through him can come afresh to us the God whom our chemistry and astronomy were too limited to reveal–we can see him in the face of Jesus Christ.

 – Rufus M. Jones, excerpts, Introduction of The World Within, 1918.


That which was from the beginning,
which we have heard,
which we have seen with our eyes,
which we have looked at
and our hands have touched
—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
The life appeared;
we have seen it and testify to it,
and we proclaim to you the eternal life,
which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard,
so that you also may have fellowship with us.
And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We write this to make our joy complete.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you:
God is light;
in him there is no darkness at all.

I John 1:1-5

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JOINT HEIRS

Always remember that God, the Mind of you, has prepared for you all that is necessary for the fulfillment of your individual experience. You are never outside the harmony of God’s being. Cultivate the consciousness of the presence of God every moment.
It is our conscious union with God which enables us to live without taking thought and makes possible a life of complete abundance–“by Grace.”

From the height of spiritual vision we do not look upon each other as man and woman; as rich or poor; as grand or humble. All human values are submerged in our common interest to seek and find the Kingdom within. We see each other as travelers on the Path of Light; we share our unfoldments, our experiences, and our spiritual resources. We would not withhold any of these from each other.

We are all “joint heirs with Christ in God,” therefore, we all draw upon the resources of our own infinite Mind and Soul, and we need not labor, strive or struggle for that which is already divinely ours.

 – Joel S. Goldsmith, “Supply,” Collected Essays, copyright 1986


For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD,
thoughts of peace and not of evil,
to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11
The Bible, New King James Version

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying,
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men,
and he will dwell with them,
and they shall be his people,
and God himself shall be with them,
and be their God.

Revelation 21:3
The Bible, King James Version

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PERFECT PASSIVITY

There is a perfect passivity which is not indolence. It is a living stillness born of trust.

There are some things which we are to do ourselves, but there are others which God does not expect us to do. … They are His part, and our greatest trouble lies in our trying to do God’s part, just because we have not learned how to trust Him to do it. We are, with our conscious thought, to speak the words of life, of truth, of abundant supply, and we are to act as though the words were true; but the “bringing it to pass” is the work of a Power that is higher than we; a Presence which we do not see with these mortal eyes, but which is Omnipotent, and which will always rush to our rescue when we trust it.

From the smallest thing of our everyday life to the rolling away of the largest stone of difficulty from our path, this Presence will come in to deliver us. But its working depends upon our trusting; and trusting means getting still inside.

In this effort of ours to bring into manifestation the good which we know belongs to every child of God, it is when we get beyond the point where we try to do it all ourselves, and let God do His part that we get the desires of our heart.

After we have done our part faithfully, earnestly, we are told to “stand still, and see the salvation of God which He will work for you.” “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:13a, 14)

It must be peace, peace; possess your soul in peace, and let God work.

excerpts, H. Emilie Cady, “Trusting and Resting,” Miscellaneous Writings, 1916


Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him.
Psalm 37:7a

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MEASURE of the SPIRIT

The measure of the spirit – of inner light – that we are given is the measure intended by the Creator so that we may live out the intent for our time here. Ultimately the point is not to compare the “completeness” or “perfection” of our life in God to that of anyone else – including Christ Jesus – but rather to keep our focus on living out abundantly the measure we DO have. Thus it will grow, develop, mature as the Creator intends. Should a vocation run its course and a new direction develop, it will be part of the life Plan. It will be “right,” satisfying, perhaps challenging as new directions can be. But we will be guided; we can trust; we can be free.

mjd


Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Psalms 37:4

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

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SOURCE

In understanding God as the Source, there is nothing that we are spending–not strength, years, wisdom, substance, or life-force–because it was not ours to begin with. It is all pouring through us as we call upon it from an infinite Source.

Had we been taught from the beginning the lesson that the Master (Christ Jesus) has so plainly given us of our true relationship to God–that it is not our life that is being lived but God’s life; it is not our strength that is being used, but His strength; it is not our understanding or supply that is infinite but His; and that we are but the instruments through which God pours His life forth to glorify Himself–we would long ago have realized that it is our function to live, not as ailing, aging human beings, but as the image and likeness of God, drawing upon God for our daily wisdom, strength, and supply.

So, whatever we show forth in the way of spiritual harmony, let us take no credit for it, but realize that through us God is showing forth His handiwork, God is glorifying Himself as our form, as our wisdom, and as our grace.

The Master had an answer for everything. He knew that God is our Soul, closer than breathing and nearer than hands and feet; he knew that there is nothing going on within us that the Soul of us does not know. Therefore, while we may possibly hoodwink the man standing beside us, we certainly cannot fool the Man standing within us.

When the spiritual capacities have been developed, there is absolutely no limit to what can be accomplished because it is not we who accomplish it. God it is who does these things, God it is who goes out invisibly into this world and draws to us everything and everybody necessary for our experience, and we find ourselves drawn to the place where we should be at the right time, receiving that which we should have.

– Joel Goldsmith, excerpts, “I Say Unto You, (Sermon on the Mount)”
The Thunder of Silence, Edited by Lorraine Sinkler. Copyright 1961.


Jesus:
If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me;
but if I do, though you do not believe Me,
believe the works,
that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me,
and I in Him.”

John 10:37-38

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STILLNESS

In this writer’s experience, most – nearly all – discussions of prayer include the necessity of silence – quietness – stillness – to know and recognize God’s presence. It is not a stillness that shuts off the mind from thought, but rather a time simply to set aside active thinking in the expectation of hearing and receiving the Almighty’s messages to us. Modern culture is very noisy and dominating. We need to cultivate sensitivity to what our minds are receiving and take control of it, when pushed in unproductive, unwanted, or negative directions.

Despite universal recognition of the role of silence in the spectrum of prayer, precious few sources actually expand concepts or methods of achieving it. Scripture tells us to “pray without ceasing.” In other words, it is central to true life. Silence can take the form of time spent apart, or be as simple as an inner listening pause to recognize the Almighty’s presence when considering an action or choice in day-to-day life.

This writer has been on a long venture to discover written experiences of others that confirm a personal time when Silence enabled life-changing patterns and a sense of the “new creation” promised to believers. I found that spending devoted quiet time was nothing to fear, was not a poor use of time, but rather the opposite: a time to shut down outer pressures, ask, seek, knock, listen, learn, receive guidance for day-to-day activities and knowing the right time to proceed or wait. Silence confirms the value of time, of our Being in God’s realm, of our human authenticity. It is deep assurance that God is available here and now, the One true reality. We can only give what we have received.

And yes, silence is a window into times of transition and spiritual growth.

This blog post is lengthy, but includes a reassuring quotation regarding times that do not seem to gel in life, despite dedication to prayer and knowing the Almighty. In short, such times can signal an immanent step in our ongoing spiritual maturing – the very substance of life.


Is not God the great silent force moving in and through all creation? If so, the moment we come into a sense of stillness we have actually become aware of the very first attribute of God–we have touched the hem of His garment. To acknowledge this sense of stillness as the very presence of God–which it is–is to take the first and most vital step toward actual revelation of further degrees of the divine nature, which lie beyond this hem of His garment, this outermost nature of the divine presence.

The ideas of yesterday are inadequate to meet the demands of a growing soul. No matter how great yesterday’s experience may have been, we should look forward each day in anticipation of still greater revelations. Sometimes, however, … we do not pass quickly over the transitional period; consequently we experience a depression. … Such periods are not only evidence that our former ideas have run their course, but are prophetic of a new cycle of experience, the dawn of a new creation in us, the herald of the next step in our spiritual growth. Instead of being times of despondency or discouragement, they should be times of keenest anticipation, of a new hope arising from the fact that we have arrived at the point of spiritual revelation. At such times one’s expectancy should be at its highest, for God is about to speak to one. At such moments in the future, let us look forward to a new revelation that shall, for another period of progress, be our very meat and drink.

– E. V. Ingraham, The Silence, 1922.

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DIVINE SELF

That which causes one to pray is really the evidence that the answer is already seeking expression in us. The process of the answer’s coming forth is not really the development on the part of the answer, but rather an expansion of the mind of man to comprehend the answer which already existed. In truth, the entire practice of prayer is the self-operative facts of God moving through the nature of man, and urging their way into complete expression in him, in all his affairs, and in all creation. “Before you call I will answer.” In the beginning of prayer–the urge to pray–is the first assertion, and in the end it is the expression of the Divine Self with all its powers and capacities.
Prayer in its truest sense is … the struggle of the Divine Self to come forth into being; and the ultimate answer to every prayer is this Divine Self actually come forth and expressed in the nature of man.

When the Prodigal Son returned to the Father’s house, he found that there was enough and to spare of all the things which he had need of in the way of position, shelter, food, and clothing. All of these lesser needs of his nature were taken care of in his definite return to his rightful place in his father’s house. So when man returns to his rightful place in the Divine scheme of life, when he awakens to the knowledge of his Divinity, he will also find that there is enough and to spare for all of his inner and outer nature.

To the individual awakened spiritually,
his continual realization,
his daily joyous prayer is the living declaration that God is All in All;
that the Will of God is done in absolute perfection
in and through his own being
and in all the world;
that God is his instant and inexhaustible supply;
that God has always and completely forgiven him from the beginning
and he is free from the binding and false notion of limitation;
that the Spirit of God sustains him in every undertaking of life;
that through the very goodness of God he is delivered
from all that which has seemed contrary to Him;
that he, as an individual, is a Kingdom wherein God rules;
that the power of God moves through him
to accomplish that which ought to be done by him;
and that the ultimate expression of all creation is but the crowning glory of God himself.

Thus the beginning and the ending, the alpha and omega of prayer are the same.

The joy with which he (the “pray-er”) proceeded in the beginning was the answer seeking to come forth; and the joy in the end became the grateful acknowledgment of ideals fulfilled.

E.V. Ingraham, Prayer, It’s Practice and It’s Answer, 1935


And do not adapt yourselves to this age,
but be transformed by the renewal of the mind,
to search out what is the intention of God,
– the Good, and Noble, and Perfect!

Romans 12:2
Translated by Ferrar Fenton,
The New Testament in Modern English, Fourth Edition, 1906.


Pray without ceasing.

I Thessalonians 5:17
King James Bible

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DIRECTION

One of the supreme moments in my life was the time when I decided to commit my life to the life of prayer. More than a quarter of a century ago I committed my life to the Lord, and it was not long until I discovered that this commitment led to another: to find the lost path to the secret spring, which is prayer. In my commitment, I purposed in my heart to follow the path and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, never to stop nor to turn back. It has been the most difficult journey I have ever undertaken; but it has been the most rewarding, the most life-giving.


The prayer of direction has kinship to many of the other ways of praying. It is definitely opening our hearts to God’s wisdom, God’s power, and God’s leadership in our lives. As we start out in the day, we go in a sense of His leadership. We move with the elemental energy which created the universe in the beginning and keeps re-creating it. We live and work and act with the benefit of the very Wisdom that runs the whole universe. We can grow from the finite minds we are to the infinite Mind that God is, until actually we see and feel and act, not with our wisdom, but with the wisdom and power and direction of God.

So we go into the day not on our own, but we go as channels through which God is working. Our hands, our minds, our eyes, everything we are and everything we possess are His. We seek His leadership and guidance in the little things of life as well as in the more difficult hours. Then we make fewer mistakes. We increasingly live without wasting energy, and we get maximum results from a minimum expenditure of energy.

As we grow in practicing the prayer of direction, we have many meaningful experiences. We are led to go places and do things at the right moment. If one prays truly the prayer of direction, then he is not on his own; the spirit and power and wisdom that guide the universe will begin to operate through him.

We pray in these ways when we are alone, and we pray in these ways in fellowship. We have the prayer of the group, the prayer of public worship, the prayer of the intimate group, and the prayer of the individual.

– Dr. Roy A. Burkhart, The Symphony of Prayer; Lord Teach us to Pray, 1963.
Dr. Burkhart was senior minister, First Community Church, Columbus, Ohio, 1935-1958.
His ministry was deeply focused on youth and family life.


Jesus:
“The sheep that are My own listen to My voice,
and I know them,
and they follow Me;
and I give them eternal life,
and they shall never at any time be lost,
and no one is able to snatch them out of My hands.
What My Father has endowed Me with is mightier than all;
and no one is able to wrest from the hand of My Father.
The Father and I are one.”

John 10:27-30,

The New Testament in Modern English,
translated from the Greek by Ferrar Fenton. Fourth Edition, 1906.

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