As you know, I’m not a long-tenured Unity minister or teacher. Although I am honored to be the pastor of this congregation, I feel more like a bright-eyed school boy with a great motivation to discover my Spiritual essence. Like you, I want to find the answer to the question, “Who AM I?”
And like you, I am walking the Spiritual path. We are comrades on this journey, both of us learning, sharing, and lifting each other further and further along.
Now, I want to confess to you a bit of a personality trait I have. I question everything. If someone says to me while we’re standing in the middle of Padre Island on a typical Texas summer day, “sure is hot.” My immediate inclination is to take a millisecond and say to myself, “Is it hot? What’s ‘hot’? Is this as hot as it can get?” Then, having confirmed the obvious, I’d reply, “yep, sure is.”
This tendency to question everything is also one reason I like the Spiritual journey. As much as we think we have figured it all out, we soon discover that perhaps a bit more reflection, reading, or contemplation is in order.
But sometimes, we can also overthink things, as well. The deep dive into the abyss of the contemplative mind can lead to “analysis paralysis.” We spend so much time studying and reading, we miss the obvious need to simply be in the presence of Spirit.
For me, the ideal space is somewhere between these two poles. I want to understand my relationship with God on terms and in ways that don’t cause me to be discouraged because some concept doesn’t resonate with me, and I want to experience this relationship, not just study it.
To that end, I’m always on the lookout for some manner and means of understanding my Divinity with such personal clarity that living in that understanding is not only possible, but more likely. We can only experience that which we can understand on a personal level.
It’s a bit like golf. I like playing golf, but my primary involvement with the game is my enormous contribution of balls to the water traps along the course. I have a terrible slice.
Along the way, I’ve read book after book about golf. I’ve watched golf lessons on TV and YouTube, as well. And while I can talk a good golf swing, I find that all the reading and watching cannot compare at all to actually picking up a club and a bucket of balls and going to the driving range. It is the actual practice of hitting the ball over and over again that allows me to arrive at a swing that works for my body type, strength, and muscle memory. Eventually. At my current rate of improvement, however, my slice may be with me for a very long time. But, I keep trying.
And so it is with my Spiritual journey. After all the reading and the studying and the courses, I have to eventually put into practice the actual act of connecting with the Divine. And in that process, discover an understanding of my Divine role – the perennial, “Why AM I here?” – on terms that resonate with me.
In my studies toward the ministry – I’m just now completing another semester of online courses – we are taught a lot about metaphysics, the Unity movement, and new thought theology. And it’s a lot to absorb.
What I’ve found with any learning is that we can approach the teachings in one of three ways. We can accept what is taught and replace any contradictory ideas we might have with the learned instruction. We can take bits and pieces of the lessons that we agree with and cast aside those that feel contradictory with our preconceptions. Or, we can use the teachings as footholds that allow us to move with our own ideas into higher planes of understanding.
This third method is the one I like, but it’s a bit more time-consuming. It also requires that we assume that neither the teacher or ourselves have all the right answers; that the truth actually lies somewhere beyond both, and the studies simply serve to point us in a direction of deep inquiry and contemplation.
And so it is with how I am approaching my studies at Unity Worldwide. It’s the way I’ve approached all my lessons over the years. If anything is to be meaningful to me, I have to find how it relates to me. For Spiritual lessons, it has to help me elevate my level of consciousness in the process, as well.
For a Spiritual lesson learned, it must allow me to move beyond the rhetoric and into the experience.
This month, I am going to share with you a bit of my own personal Spiritual journey. For these four weeks, I’m going to bring you into my contemplations and the understanding I am crafting – it’s always a work in progress.
Now, what resonates for me, might not resonate for you. And that’s okay. If we all could easily adopt the same understanding and resonance at the same level, we would only need to share one book or experience. But, our individualized levels of consciousness, our personalities, our challenges, and our shadows quite naturally mean we come into our Spiritual journey at different points along the trail. As long as we’re on the trail, that’s what is important.
So, with all that, I now invite you into my evolving view of our relationship with God.
Today, I want to explore the first part of this understanding. What is God and what did It create?
We often have the idea that God is an active, intervening, creating entity. We’re taught that God knows us individually and by praying to God, we can bring Its grace and personal attention into our lives.
In New Thought, it’s often said that we are One with God; some even suggest we can become God ourselves.
One of the first books I was given when I was introduced to New Thought decades ago was a small book called “Three Magic Words” by U.S. Andersen. In his book, Andersen deduces, in so many words, that since God is everything, we can each claim that “I AM God” – the three magic words.
For all of that to work for me, I have to move into believing that: one, God is an active, intervening God. Two, that I am as powerful and omnipresent as God, or, in the least, I am a co-creator with God. And, third, that God considers me as an individualized creation.
And while I understand that line of thought, it doesn’t quite resonate with me. Again, understand that I am sharing MY journey with you. Yours is most likely different. But, if something I share works in your processes, great. If not, consider it a means of fortifying your own beliefs. Fair enough?
Okay, let me try to articulate my disconnect with these ideas. First, if God IS and if God has created everything, then what is there to continue creating? God doesn’t need to be continually creating. God IS. And if that’s true, then I have to believe that God has already created all that God is going to create. In fact, if God has always been, then nothing has ever been created by God; it always existed, yes?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. He was with God in the beginning.John 1:1-3 NRSV
So what did God create – or what is God? What is, was, and will be is Divine Law and Divine Substance. By the laws of Spirit and the material of Spirit, everything is then created.
If I came to you and gave you a lump of Play-Doh and said, “Hi. Here is some substance that you can use to create whatever you wish. The only law or rule of how you can create, though, is that you need to continue working with this until you feel you have created what you think best represents me.” And what would represent God?
Of course, it’s Love. If we subscribe to the ideal that God is Love, then it makes our use of Divine Substance so much more powerful and productive.
You would be charged in this analogy with shaping the Play-Doh until you arrived at what you feel represents Divine Love. And it could take a long time, and there may be set-backs, or you get close, but then have to go get some more Play-Doh to continue. The supply of Play-Doh substance, by the way, is infinite.
So it is, I believe, with God. God is the Divine Law and Substance from which everything we experience derives. God has given us all the materials and the inspiration to express God.
When it is said that “God created Man in our image” I believe it is us that created Man in God’s image. That we collectively scooped up the clay of Substance and began the long process of representing God in our reality.
Metaphorically speaking, of course. There’s more to this idea, which I’ll share with you over the next three weeks.
The important takeaway today is that if we consider a God that truly IS and always has been, it enables us to consider the more important role we have individually and collectively in discovering, experiencing, and manifesting the power of God in our lives and in our world.
And that, to me, is the most exciting and extraordinary aspect of being a Child of God.