Not Mine, But Thine

As 2017 unfolds, some of us are noticing that what we wholeheartedly resolved on January 1st is already a challenge to manage.   Perhaps we’re avoiding, procrastinating or resisting.  Perhaps we’ve asked ourselves: “Do I really want this?” or “Is this truly best for me?”

If we’ve asked either of those questions, or one like them, then we’re ready to take another faithful step forward, to consider putting our personal will in the backseat and allowing God’s will to direct our lives.

While God’s will is rarely easy to understand, it’s always for our best.  As Richard and Mary-Alice Jafolla, former directors of Silent Unity, explain:

God’s will is the unrelenting desire in you to express your divine potential.  . . . God’s will is radiant health, abundant prosperity, limitless love, eternal happiness, and the knowledge that you are part of God.  . . . God’s will is God, seeking to express in you and as you.  [Adventures on the Quest,  2001, p. 120]

When we argue for our will, instead of trusting God’s, we imprison ourselves in destructive behaviors and self-defeating attitudes.  We wander endlessly, needlessly, dazed and confused, like Alice in the rabbit hole, because we refuse to open our eyes, ears, minds, hearts, and especially ourselves, to behold what’s before us — in new, transformative ways.

Ultimately, to know God’s will, we must surrender preconceived notions — including other’s opinions and the way it’s always been done — to something greater.  Discerning God’s will, rather than our own, requires faith, patience and trust so we know exactly which steps to take and when.

Here, then, are some practical ways to discern God’s will:

  • Schedule daily time for contemplation, meditation and prayer in a sacred way and comfortable place. This includes sitting on our meditation cushion, as well as hiking in the forest, fishing on the lake, or strolling through the park.
  • Breathe deeply, gently, and speak the words: “Not my way, God, but Your way. Not my will, but Thy will be done.”
  • Acknowledge and mourn whichever desires, dreams and/or goals are dead and which won’t occur as we once hoped.
  • Concede our ideas about how something “should” unfold and allow time and space for Holy Spirit to do Its work.
  • Consider which roads are blocked, whether detours can be cleared and what other avenues may lead to something better than we imagined.
  • Stop checking the rear-view mirror and release the past to the past.
  • Focus on the road before us, eyes on the horizon, while still noticing what’s immediately ahead.
  • Remember: God is eternally grace-giving, infinitely compassionate and unconditionally loving. Refuse to believe fatalistic notions portraying God as a capricious presence which wills evil, pain and suffering on Its creations, or picks and chooses who wins and who loses in some great cosmic lottery.
  • Trust that every ending brings another beginning, and know that as we release our way, God’s way meets us exactly where we are.

© 2017 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks.  All rights reserved.

Surrender — And Succeed

Sometimes, on our journeys of faith, we reach a juncture with jagged cliffs or steep drops.  If our goal is to reach the other side, whichever side that is, we need to dive or leap.  Either way, we need to let go and fully surrender ourselves and all which was, as we trust in God.

This kind of spiritual, transformational surrender is one of life’s greatest challenges.  When we reach whatever our precipice is, it’s usually because something in life isn’t cooperating with us, and all our personal efforts have failed to create fulfilling change.

As we scan the horizon, we can remember: We have all the inner resources we need to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges.  These include our powers of intuition and discernment which help us determine how we want to live.  They also allow us to surrender ourselves and our limited vision to God Vision, something more awesome than what we already see.

While surrender often is considered an admission of defeat, it can be a powerful, positive, life-affirming act.  As Richard and Mary-Alice Jafolla, former directors of Silent Unity suggest: When we surrender (also called letting go and letting God), we release our doubts and fears about outcome.  We shift from stagnating in a problem and make way for growth and transformation to occur.

When we surrender, we remember: We can change ourselves and our beliefs.  We also remember: We can’t change other people.  And, especially, we can’t change God.  Which means that no amount of bargaining, begging, crying, pleading or yelling will work.  Neither will shopping lists of everything we want and everything we don’t.

No matter what our situation, we can remember: God is Unconditional Love, Ever-Abiding Grace and Infinite Compassion.  God is not a short-order cook.  Which means, sometimes, things happen in divine ways, not our ways.  It also means that sometimes we believe we want our eggs sunny-side up, but they come scrambled.

That’s when we can choose whether we’ll fight for our way — or whether we’ll surrender to God’s.  Because divine outcome occurs either way.  And when we choose to surrender, life becomes much easier.

Furthermore, in surrender, we realize: Surrender isn’t quitting or sacrificing.  And letting go doesn’t mean giving up.  It means we cooperate with life — from a spiritual perspective.  Rather than staying stuck, we trust in divine outcome, even if we don’t know what that is.  We release our anxiety about results and stop forcing our will on things. We choose to shift our perspective and give the situation to God, remembering that God can only do for us what we allow God to do through us.  Then, we discover the best answers, ideas, solutions, places and companions we need for our ultimate well-being.

Remember Blessed Reader: The choice is always ours.  We can do it our way and stay stuck.  Or we can surrender to God’s Way — and succeed.

© 2016 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks.  All rights reserved.

You Got It?

With the 2015 World Series now underway, I’m remembering an old, black and white film which includes a scene on a baseball field. In it, Bud Abbot plays a manager and Lou Costello an outfielder. Abbott yells at Costello to catch a line drive careening toward him in the outfield. Costello calls out as he chases the ball: “I got it! I got it!” As he appears ready to grab the ball in his glove, he repeats, “I got it!” Then the ball drops to the ground. He looks at it dumbfounded and says: “I ain’t got it!”

Sometimes in life, I think the same thing happens to us, especially when an unexpected fly ball comes our way. We know we can get it; we’re sure we have our eye on the ball. Then, when the ball hits the ground, we stare at it, shocked and surprised. We wonder how we missed it. We thought we could just see it into the glove, as if our personal will power would make it so.

Except, some of us have a lot to juggle in our lives, let alone track all the fly balls which sail into the outfield of life. Sometimes we believe we’re supposed to catch every line drive which comes our way or that we’re meant to be full-time jugglers. We can put ourselves through all kinds of machinations, believing we’ve “got it.”

The Truth is: Sometimes we just don’t have it. Sometimes, although we hate admitting it to anyone other than our dearest loved one, we feel scared, worried, upset, confused, or overwhelmed. Often we’re exhausted from trying to keep up, catch up, do it all, get it all and have it all.

Yet, some of us still walk around saying, “We’ve got it,” which is only a lie we tell ourselves. Sometimes we need great courage to admit: “I don’t have it. If you could grab this one, I’d really appreciate it.” Sometimes we need to dig deep down into our inner well of faith. Or we need to rest on our raft as we go with the flow of life, occasionally without any kind of map for where the journey is leading.

That’s when we remember: We can’t control everything which happens in life. But, if we choose, we can control ourselves. So we stop juggling, put down the glove, and allow God to play the outfield. This is the surrender which gets us out of our own way and lets God catch the ball, so to speak. It actually gives us power, because it lets us flow more easily on the sacred journey of life, just as many other biblical sages and spiritual masters have done before us. Then we notice that someone else can plan the meeting; write the report; make the dinner; mow the lawn; clean the garage; or grab the line drive.   Because even when we don’t “got it,” God always does.

© 2015 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.