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by Harry McMullan, III
Meaningful decisions are never easy, for life in this world is continual compromise. We must earn a living to stay alive and, whether reluctantly, enter mammon's service. We crave to serve others, but seek personal success as well.
"Father show us!" our souls cry, but no clear answer comes, and we stumble on, unsure of the path, hesitant and indecisive. We marvel at those who think they see life's beacons and march toward them, damning all obstacles, direct as army ants in their devouring quest, while we, spectators, flounder in time-wasting inanities, trying first one thing, and upon its failure, something else. Nights we lie awake seeking guidance while a veil of unknowing separates us from what we sought most-a sense of personal purpose and destiny.
"The people perish without a vision," Proverbs said, and indeed, without direction, our motivation to accomplish worthy purposes is unstable as children's blocks. We require goals to nourish our spirits and provide the momentum to carry us through life's briery thickets, when its cuts and welts might otherwise cause us to question whether the goal on the far side is worth the pain.
Doubt and confusion are quite different. Occasional confusion is nothing more than the byproduct of grappling with new ideas, and does no harm provided we do not become rutted in its disorienting corridors. Confusion arises from immaturity in the face of the multiplicity of human philosophies and the surface logic appearing to justify them. Confusion is unavoidable, but so long as we remain in relationship with our Father, ongoing spiritual revelation dissipates its transient debilitation.
Doubt is more sinister, for it rationalizes taking our own way instead of God's. Doubt is deliberate turning away from the human heart's natural orientation toward God. Doubt is denial of God's presence in our minds, the most real and true thing within us. It is abandonment of our highest values of love, truth, service, hope, and faith. Doubt turns us toward nothingness, toward the void which exists in the absence of spirit. Doubt is the ultimate enemy, and is fought by turning back to God, where Father's radiant love drives away all that might harm our souls.
Doubt is the aberration, faith the normal condition. Faith is a gift; to receive it requires only that we open our minds and hearts to God. Faith brings our souls into the upward stream of universal love which Father bestows upon all who love and follow him. It is the way of life. We feel the difference between the nothingness of doubt and the expansiveness of faith, and the joy and peace of spiritual communion provide positive proof of Father's presence in our souls.
The knowledge of Father's power, loving-kindness, and guidance becomes our spiritual gyroscope against life's Sargassos of ennui and hurricanes beyond our meager control, stabilizing our ship as it slices through the darkness of the unknown sea.
After all, the greatest evidence of the goodness of God and the supreme reason for loving him is the indwelling gift of the Father-the Adjuster who so patiently awaits the hour when you both shall be eternally made one. Though you cannot find God by searching, if you will submit to the leading of the indwelling spirit, you will be unerringly guided, step by step, life by life, through universe upon universe, and age by age, until you finally stand in the presence of the Paradise personality of the Universal Father. (2:5.5)
Religious living is devoted living, and devoted living is creative living, original and spontaneous. New religious insights arise out of conflicts which initiate the choosing of new and better reaction habits in the place of older and inferior reaction patterns. New meanings only emerge amid conflict; and conflict persists only in the face of refusal to espouse the higher values connoted in superior meanings.
Religious perplexities are inevitable; there can be no growth without psychic conflict and spiritual agitation. The organization of a philosophic standard of living entails considerable commotion in the philosophic realms of the mind. Loyalties are not exercised in behalf of the great, the good, the true, and the noble without a struggle. Effort is attendant upon clarification of spiritual vision and enhancement of cosmic insight. And the human intellect protests against being weaned from subsisting upon the nonspiritual energies of temporal existence. The slothful animal mind rebels at the effort required to wrestle with cosmic problem solving.
But the great problem of religious living consists in the task of unifying the soul powers of the personality by the dominance of LOVE. (100:4.1-3)
Belief may not be able to resist doubt and withstand fear, but faith is always triumphant over doubting, for faith is both positive and living. The positive always has the advantage over the negative, truth over error, experience over theory, spiritual realities over the isolated facts of time and space. (102:6.7)
You humans have begun an endless unfolding of an almost infinite panorama, a limitless expanding of never-ending, ever-widening spheres of opportunity for exhilarating service, matchless adventure, sublime uncertainty, and boundless attainment. When the clouds gather overhead, your faith should accept the fact of the presence of the indwelling Adjuster, and thus you should be able to look beyond the mists of mortal uncertainty into the clear shining of the sun of eternal righteousness on the beckoning heights of the mansion worlds. . . . (108:6.8)
Confusion, being puzzled, even sometimes discouraged and distracted, does not necessarily signify resistance to the leadings of the indwelling Adjuster. Such attitudes may sometimes connote lack of active co-operation with the divine Monitor and may, therefore, somewhat delay spiritual progress, but such intellectual emotional difficulties do not in the least interfere with the certain survival of the God-knowing soul. Ignorance alone can never prevent survival; neither can confusional doubts nor fearful uncertainty. Only conscious resistance to the Adjuster's leading can prevent the survival of the evolving immortal soul. (110:3.5)
"I will trust in the Lord with all my heart; I will lean not upon my own understanding. In all my ways I will acknowledge him, and he shall direct my paths." (131:2.8)
[Jesus] decided to leave the final untangling of this complicated situation to the outworking of the Father's will. (137:5.3)
And when Jesus heard these words, he looked down into the father's anxious face, saying: "Question not my Father's power of love, only the sincerity and reach of your faith. All things are possible to him who really believes." And then James of Safed spoke those long-to-be-remembered words of commingled faith and doubt, "Lord, I believe. I pray you help my unbelief." (158:5.2)
Jesus experienced that natural ebb and flow of feeling which is common to all human experience. . . . (182:3.7)
Theology may fix, formulate, define, and dogmatize faith, but in the human life of Jesus faith was personal, living, original, spontaneous, and purely spiritual. This faith was not reverence for tradition nor a mere intellectual belief which he held as a sacred creed, but rather a sublime experience and a profound conviction which securely held him. His faith was so real and all-encompassing that it absolutely swept away any spiritual doubts and effectively destroyed every conflicting desire. Nothing was able to tear him away from the spiritual anchorage of this fervent, sublime, and undaunted faith. Even in the face of apparent defeat or in the throes of disappointment and threatening despair, he calmly stood in the divine presence free from fear and fully conscious of spiritual invincibility. Jesus enjoyed the invigorating assurance of the possession of unflinching faith, and in each of life's trying situations he unfailingly exhibited an unquestioning loyalty to the Father's will. And this superb faith was undaunted even by the cruel and crushing threat of an ignominious death. (196:0.5)