UNITY OF VANCOUVER
3814 FRANKLIN ST. VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON 98660 360-696-0996
Responding to Challenges with Faith
Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
January 3, 2021
All Rights Reserved
Take a deep breath and relax into the Spirit of God everywhere present. Our meditation today, will be a sweet, peaceful journey into Divine Mind, to draw the twelve powers you have been given by God into your mind, body and life. Still your mind and body and surrender into the peace of God. As God’s Peace infills your mind, heart and body, you become peaceful. You are at peace and one with the universe, not separate or alone. You are at peace and one with God and all that God is within you as well as around you.
Your quest--the goal of spirituality--is to ask, knock, seek and find. To find is to become possessed by that which you seek. If you seek peace, your prayer is to become an expression of God’s peace. If you seek Love, your prayer is to become an expression of God’s love. If you seek healing, your prayer is to become an expression of God’s Wholeness.
Right now, all of the attributes of God are flowing through you, Using your all-powerful name, “I AM”, claim and call forth into expression your full God potential by affirming: “I am faith.” “I am will.” “I am understanding.” “I am imagination.” “I am zeal.” “I am power.” “I am love.” “I am wisdom.” “I am order.” “I am strength.” “I am renunciation.” “I am life.” “I am that I Am.” “I am a spiritual being living in a spiritual universe, governed by spiritual law.”
I call upon my God given powers to become fully manifested in me and I am filled with the whole spirit of God. Every attribute of God now makes its way, electric with its vibratory power, in and through me. I am created in the image and likeness of God. “I am faith, will, understanding, imagination, zeal, power, love, wisdom, order, strength, renunciation and life. I am that I am. I am a spiritual being living in a spiritual universe, governed by spiritual law.” In celebration of my Christ nature I pray. Amen.
RESPONDING TO CHALLENGES WITH FAITH
"You gotta have faith!” we tell a despondent friend. To someone disappointed or shocked by one of life's unexpected turns, we say, "Hey, baby keep the faith!”
Faith is one of those words, like love or prayer, that gets used so much it almost loses its meaning. The dictionary defines it in many ways, including, “belief and trust in and loyalty to God” and “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” In Hebrews 11:1, we read the famous Biblical definition: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." According, to Unity's co-founder, Charles Fillmore, metaphysically faith is one of our twelve powers, the twelve interdependent aspects of the Christ self, within us that make up our spiritual nature.
I’m sure you’ve heard someone say, “I’ve lost my faith in God.” Faith isn’t something you can lose because Faith is an aspect of God, just like H2O is an aspect of water. Water doesn’t have H2O. It is H2O. Likewise, you don’t have Faith. You are Faith because God is in you and you are in God. Faith is a part of what the Bible calls ‘your divine inheritance and the rock or foundation power of consciousness.
Peter is the disciple who represents faith. He and his brother Andrew were the first disciples chosen by Jesus. Jesus spoke to Peter and about Peter more often than any other disciple. Jesus often referred to faith and spiritual eye as the lamp of the body saying, “When the eye is sound then the whole body is full of light.”
Mr. Fillmore defined faith as "“the perceiving power of the mind linked with the power to shape substance.” This dynamic definition gives fresh meaning to Jesus' statement: “According to your faith let it be done to you" (Mt. 9:29). Thus, from what we perceive through faith, we mold our thoughts, words and actions into a magnetic energy that draws to us its mental equivalent from the outer world and through us from the invisible realm the divine substance to shape by the formative power of thought what we need as useful good. You might say, “Aren't we always filled with perceptions? Aren't we always using faith?” Yes, we are but not always in positive and constructive ways.
Faith is your ability to draw your good from the invisible to the visible. This is accomplished through right thought as prayer and meditation.
1. Let’s talk about prayer for a moment and how to approach your prayer need.
The first step in prayer isn’t to become aware of the situation in which you find yourself, like recognizing I am in the midst of this pandemic, or a healing challenge, or I don’t have a job, etc. The first step in prayer is to become aware of the attitude that you are holding in your mind regarding the situation in which you find yourself. It is the attitude you are holding in mind that is most important and not the situation and this is why.
The word ‘attitude’ comes from a Latin word meaning ‘to fasten or to join.’ Our attitudes are invisible bridges from our Spirit self to our Human self. Our attitudes reflect what we are imaging in mind. Since our images are constantly creating our world, our attitudes are our prayers. “Pray without ceasing’ literally translates from the Greek as “monitor your attitudes without ceasing.” The basic Law of Creation also called the Law of Mind Action is: “Thoughts held in mind produce after their kind in our world.”
Once you can recognize the level of consciousness (physical or spiritual) you are perceiving from, you can re-align your attitude with God if necessary. It is your changed attitude that heals whatever dis-ease or lack is present. True prayer is a recognition that there is nothing but God expressing. The recognition of this Absolute Truth or Ultimate Reality is what changes the appearance of lack. The lack appears because you are believing and imagining that there is a spot or place in the universe and in your life of body where God is absent. When you recognize God’s presence in that spot, the Truth then sets you free. As one Gnostic Gospel put it, “From the invisible He made all things visible, himself being invisible.” (2 Enoch 18:5). In order to exercise our faith and pray rightly, we must come to terms with the most fundamental metaphysical law, ‘thought creates reality.’
2. Now let’s examine the difference between Faith and belief. Faith and belief are not the same though many people use the words as if they are the same. Faith and belief actually occur on two different levels of mind. The human mind can believe in anything. The human mind can believe in sickness or health, wealth or poverty, intelligence or ignorance, in fear or security. What the human mind believes in, it identifies itself with so belief will appear to draw to you whatever you believe in because you’re always co-creating with God and the law of affinity and resonance is always at work. It works just like an echo. Whatever you yell into a canyon will echo back to you. If you find yourself drawing something harmful or drawing a lesser good to yourself, it’s because you have belief in it. But you can’t have Faith in it, because Faith is God and God does not create limitation. God can’t create limitation because God is Absolute Allness everywhere equally present. There are no voids in the universe.
We are all “created in the image and likeness of God.” We all “live, move and have our being in God.” So, everyone inherently has the gift of Faith (an aspect or quality of God self) and the ability to draw good from the invisible. But not everyone has an ‘active’ or understanding Faith and that’s where belief really comes into the picture and what you believe really matters for “As you believe, so it is done to you.” Faith without belief is like having a million dollars and forgetting where you put it.
Your belief is the activator of Faith. Affirmations (short statements of Truth) need to be repeated until you believe them. You repeat an affirmation not to convince God of something but to shift your own attitude about a situation. It often takes a lot of effort to do this but when your, thinking and feeling nature accept your affirmation, they become the foundation for a discipline to rise to a higher level of mind in times of trouble, through which God can then communicate to and through you as fulfillment of your prayer. Faith without belief lies dormant and belief without Faith in only God and good can draw anything to you, good or bad.
For example: You have an automobile. The thing you want (your prayer request) is movement, transportation, but before the car will move, you must use the ignition, which starts the engine. The quickened or ignited engine becomes the power behind the movement of the car, which is transportation.
This also holds true on a metaphysical level. Let us say you want healing. Faith is the power which will heal you, just as the engine is the power to move the car, but belief in healing is necessary first to ignite your faculty of Faith, just as the ignition is necessary to first ignite the engine. The quickened engine transforms the car into transportation and your quickened faith transforms your body into wholeness. Sometimes we have more belief in our fears, failures, and diseases than we have Faith in God and in God in us. So, as we begin a New Year, it is wise to some spend time contemplating the question: “In what direction is my mind taking me? Do I have more belief in God or in my human problems?”
3. Now I want to talk about discovering Faith. At some point early in our lives, it must have occurred to each of us that there was a power and presence beyond our immediate grasp.
Maybe as a child walking through the dead of winter, you saw a green shoot coming up. You looked at this sign of life and were astounded. “How could this be?" you demanded to know. “How incredible life must be!” Or maybe it was looking up at the stars at night and feeling a sense of cosmic joy and wonder. “Looking at a lunar eclipse you thought, Wow, This is really something!” Or perhaps one spring morning you were helping to plant a garden and dug up a pile of dirt, to find hundreds of insects scurrying away and a whole new world of life and order and thought, “There’s something more to life than just me! Something bigger must be running this show.” Much of what we perceive is defined by what we’ve perceived in the past; our present ability to express Faith is often determined by our previous ability to express Faith. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is why Charles Fillmore and others wisely tells us that each of our twelve indwelling disciple powers, even Faith, must be in used harmony with the other twelve powers. Faith is often linked with understanding, which brings an openness to new ideas and a discernment that is the beginning of true Wisdom, another power. In collaboration with understanding and love, faith tends to gravitate towards what we call true faith, or faith in God.
Faith in God is much more than a belief in a given system of principles or dogma. It is a simple yet profound knowing that divinity is real and at the core of our existence because you have experienced it for yourself. All knowing is based on personal experience. Knowing is both mystical and practical. It causes our souls to soar to the highest heights of ecstasy, while it moves our feet to take the necessary steps in our personal process of evolution. Faith in God is, of course, what we usually mean when we use the word faith.
But most importantly, Faith in God is a choice of direction. In every moment you are choosing where to place your power of faith. When you choose to place your faith in God you are choosing not to stay stuck in a place of fear and hopelessness. You are choosing to raise to a higher mind within you than the level of mind which created the problem in the first place. You are shifting from the level of human mind to Divine or Christ Mind.
STORY: One day as a mother was washing dishes and her teenage son walked into the kitchen and with great urgency asked her, “How can you believe in God?” He wasn't being sarcastic; he earnestly wanted to know. “When I was younger, I used to find it easier. Now that I can see all the suffering and injustice in the world, I find it hard to believe.” The mother paused before speaking, resting her hands (still covered with soapsuds) on the edge of the sink and taking a moment to turn within and ask for guidance she answered. “I don't just believe," she said, “I know. I know that love is real, and that God is that love." She paused and then added, "“It's a choice. I choose to believe because I see what the world seems to be like when I don't believe there is a God. I'm happier when I have faith. I'm nicer to people. I'm more patient. So, I choose to believe over and over and over again.”
It’s often during our darkest hours that we learn the most about our beliefs and faith. It’s when life's challenges are getting us down and we feel our pain, our depression and our childhood fears re-emerging to consume us again that we have our greatest opportunities for a quantum leap of Faith that will release the miracle working power of God into our lives. When we get in touch with our personal helplessness while staying connected to the Divine Order of everything in the universe, we trust that all is well and give thanks that our prayer has been answered and the pain removed, despite the pain we’re feeling in the present moment. When we do this, we begin to discover new and deeper levels to our power of Faith. The more in touch we get with our true helplessness while we stay rooted in the truth of our Divine security, the more space we create in our human minds for our Faith to grow. The more faith we feel, the more powerful we become because Faith is God.
When Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing on his own" (Jn. 5:19) and “the Father who dwells in me does his works” (Jn. 14:10), He was giving us the greatest understanding of both helplessness and faith; the understanding of simultaneously being human and divine.
Often, hiding behind a bluster of self-assurance and arrogance is a well defended belief in worthlessness. Do you worry about whether what you just said will be misunderstood? Are you anxious that someone may not like you? Are you afraid to speak your personal truth? Such thoughts reflect a belief in unworthiness. It is only as our capacity to let go grows and we allow ourselves to truly relax into our essential helplessness on the physical level of being that we permit ourselves to deepen our trust in God.
Story: There was once a climber who had conquered many mountains. One day while he was climbing, a gust of wind unbalanced him and he missed his footing. He began to slide down the rock face toward the edge of the cliff. Just before he was to go over, his hand grabbed a ledge and he hung there, suspended in midair. Desperately, he tried to pull himself up, but he wasn't strong enough. There was nothing he could do to save himself. “Lord," he pleaded, “You know I've always believed in You and now I need You. Nobody else can help me now. Please come to my rescue!" The Lord answered: “Yes, Harry, I hear your prayer. Before I can help you, though, there is one thing that you must do." “Oh, Lord," said Harry, “Anything! I'll do anything! What must I do?” “Harry," the Lord said, “First, you have to let go of that ledge.” We are all in Harry's predicament. "Letting go & letting God" is never as easy as it sounds.
Surrendering to a Higher Power isn’t about giving up and hoping God will jump in and rescue you, it’s about becoming more conscious by lifting up our human minds through prayer and meditation into the same mind that was in Christ Jesus. Surrendering to a Higher Power often offers us a knowledge of things we initially don’t want to know!
Prayer bridges the gap between where we are and the level of Faith, we can currently manifest and the perfect Christ self, God created us to be and that we are all evolving into. When we feel God’s love and acceptance and realize the degree to which we don’t love and accept ourselves it can be painful. People with a deeply entrenched sense of self-worthlessness may find the gap so wide that they give up. It feels like trying to jump across the Grand Canyon, so they choose to turn away from God’s love and stay stuck. Nevertheless, surrendering our personal helplessness is the critical first step to knowing our true faith and power as spiritual beings.
It is only by surrendering to our Higher self, that we become able to truly face our darkest depressions and to feel our deepest fears which in the course of time, allows us to feel the bliss of God's presence. Little by little, prayer by prayer, the shadows of fear, doubt, self-hate and self-condemnation and rejection fade away in the light of God’s love. The gap becomes smaller and smaller as we continue to choose to place our Faith in God and good. Every one of us is on the same spiritual journey Jesus made as he grew from Jesus to Christ and said, “What so ever you have seen me do, you too shall do even greater things.”
Story: One day I watched a mother pushing her baby in a stroller down a steep hill. The mother was quite focused on holding onto the stroller as gravity pulled at it and trying not to let the stroller roll too fast, but her baby was blissfully unaware of all the effort she was making. He just babbled and waved his hands and enjoyed himself. As I watched, I again realized how natural it is for us to have faith, how innate it is. The baby's faith in his mother was absolute. He had no awareness of any potential danger.
Life doesn't always feel like a smooth and fascinating ride guided by someone in whom we have unconditional faith, but our journey is being guided, all along. It is our faith that brings us this knowledge. As we consciously choose the direction of our faith and clear out error beliefs, our faith softens our hearts and we experience an ongoing often overwhelming revelation of God's eternal love for us.
Jesus constantly admonished his followers of the importance of belief and faith. One of the most dramatic examples of what happens when we lose our focus and slip into doubt occurred to Peter. With his eyes on the Christ, Faith enabled him to walk on water, as did Jesus, then he became aware of the rough wind and turbulent waves, he became afraid and self-awareness caused him to sink - (drop from the Christ mind to the lower sense mind) Peter cried out to Jesus to save him. Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, saying, “O man of little Faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt. 14:31).
We find a similar story in Hinduism, as related by Sri Ramakrishna: Once a man was about to cross the sea. Bibhishana wrote Rama’s name (Prince Rama was an incarnation of God) on a leaf, tied it in a corner of the man’s wearing cloth and said to him: “Don’t be afraid. Have faith and walk on the water. But look here--the moment you lose faith you will be drowned.” The man was walking easily on the water. Suddenly he had an intense desire to see what was tired in his cloth. He opened it and found only a leaf with the name of Rama written on it. “What is this?” he thought. “Just the name of Rama!” As soon as doubt entered his mind he sank under the water.
The men in both stories failed only when they turned their spiritual eye away from the invisible and focused on the visible--the wind, the waves, a simple leaf with a name inscribed. If we put our faith only in what we see with our physical eyes, we cannot manifest all the good that is ours. If we say, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.” We will always fall short of the mark. Rather we must say, “I believe and therefore I see.”
Nothing can stop the emergence of a new culture of light for it has been ordained since the Big Bang when the seed of the sacred was planted in our soul essence as star dust. Human error, foolishness, laziness and apathy may delay it, but with just a little nourishment and attention, the divine seed within us will come to fruition.
The old culture based on instinctual consciousness, violence and exploitation is becoming fertilizer for this new era of light. Right now, a new and better world is being born and we are feeling the pangs of childbirth. A more abundant life for us and our loved ones is struggling to take its first breath. Believe it so. Believe that your highest good is coming to you and everyone and then find a place to work and contribute the best that is in you to help and make it so on earth as it is in Heaven.
Let’s close this lesson on Faith by speaking these affirmations to strengthen our expression of Faith:
The universe is a place of goodness, justice and grace. As I give forth out of the abundance of my heart, all good will flow to me.”
I am the source of my experience. I am the Master of my life and the creator of my future. My world constantly gets better and more beautiful.”
I live in a world of magic and miracles. Amen!
© Unity of Vancouver, 2004 All Rights Reserved.