Teacher’s Guide for Even Mystics Have Bills to Pay ($20)
The work ethic used to work. It served past generations well. They made the ends meet. “Work hard and you’ll get ahead.” Effort alone prospered many families, but not anymore. People who once prospered are now homeless. More and more children are living below the poverty level. Industries that once supported successive generations are shutting down. Throughout most of the twentieth century, one person in the household worked and provided for the needs of the family. Now both husband and wife often work to insure a basic standard of living.
In election years, the incumbent politicians used to be able to prop up the economy, so it looked good by the autumn of election year, but they don’t seem to be able to perform the magic anymore.
This is not the time to double our efforts and do what we have always done a little better. The old methods will not work. We are being called to a new way of life. Humanity has only scratched the surface of prosperous living. Now is the time to dig deeper, not for precious metals, but for the treasure that is within us. The issue is not a continuous supply of bread, but whether we will discover “Man shall not live by bread alone” (Mt. 4:4).
There is another way of life, one filled with security and well-being. Needs are provided for without making them the reason for our existence. Even in the winter, this new vision reveals “O, the fields are already white for harvest” (Jn 4:35).
But I’ve Got Needs!
When our son Ben was young and struggling to learn the importance of saving money, he ran out of funds at the same time he found a video game he thought he had to have. Ben asked Nancy and me for the money to buy the game. We declined his request, and he cried out, “But I’ve got needs. I’ve got needs!”
This is the cry of nearly every human being. “I’ve got needs.” Understandably, our focus has been filling these needs. Long ago in human history, our survival depended upon meeting the needs of shelter, food, and water. Members of our human family still struggle with these necessities, but others have needs that they consider to be nearly as essential. The perceived needs may not determine our survival, but they affect our quality of life and the way we see ourselves,successful or unsuccessful. There is much at stake, so we spend many hours trying to build the resources necessary for our physical survival, security, self esteem, and enjoyment.
We think we begin the journey to prosperous living when we answer the world’s call to get a good job,with benefits. This, we are told, requires an education or specialized training, so schooling comes next. Finally, we are employed, so we can receive society’s current medium of exchange,money. With enough coin and currency, the ends meet.
What a tragic story. It is more fable than truth. Many of us are exhausted and disillusioned because we have tried to bring the fable to life. When we become characters in this story, we do not get ahead; we fall behind. This is natural when our focus and life’s direction are trying to get what we do not have.
Needs Are Not the Real Issue
Needs are not the real issue. When we focus upon what we lack, we experience anxiety and a sense of inadequacy. At first there is hope, but it quickly dissipates in the face of another call from the creditor, an unexpected bill, a canceled order, or failed job interview. Focusing upon the need and trying to meet it are the methods of the past millennia. The next millennium is upon us. It demands that we put aside our needs. A life of quality does not begin with what is seemingly lacking. It begins as we turn our attention to what is present.
The Great Gift
Jesus was aware of the great gift lovingly extended to humanity. “…it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk. 12:32). Something is being offered to us; either we do not know what it is, how to recognize it, or how to receive it. The above scripture indicates that our wise Father created the universe and the laws that govern it in a way that supports our well-being and development.
Other earthly creatures experience the Fathe”s pleasure. Years ago I lived in a climate with extremely cold winters. It was not unusual for the windchill to be tens of degrees below zero. Near my home there was a pony that lived outdoors in the elements. Each autumn he began to grow his thick winter coat. One cool November day, I stood at his corral and asked the pony where he got his warm, winter coat. Did he purchase it at one of the local department stores? Was it a gift from someone? Did he find it beside the road? These were absurd questions, but the answer that rose in my mind conveyed a simple truth. It came from within.
In a natural way, this creature of God was provided for and protected from the icy blasts of winter. It was the Father’s good pleasure to provide the coat. It did not come through momentous effort. It was a natural expression of the pony. There was no struggle. He did not focus upon his need. He did not think about growing the coat. The pony was a pony, and his fur thickened for the winter just as surely as it would be shed in the spring
This is a powerful lesson. It is akin to Jesus’ words which are not only truth, but sacred literature. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these:But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Mt. 6:25-29, 33). Our problem is that we toil and spin rather than seek the kingdom. It is the kingdom that is offered to us. It is more than the fulfillment of needs and dreams. It is what makes life meaningful.
Jesus said the kingdom is like a pearl of great price. “O,who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Mt. 13:46). What could be so valuable? The answer is an awareness of God. Spirit is the infinite source, but we experience the richness of Spirit when we awaken to the Presence. A promise is given. If we seek the kingdom of God and open ourselves to a consciousness of the Presence, our earthly needs will be met. We do not have to give them great attention.
Dear friend, it is time to accept the challenge of this promise and put the principle of seeking the kingdom to the test. It is time to determine if our earthly needs can be met without taking thought for them. The promise has been fulfilled for others. Can it be fulfilled for us?
Do you remember the story of Eddie Rickenbacker, the World War I combat pilot and ace? During World War II, while on a special mission, he and his crew were shot down by enemy fire. For days they drifted at sea in a raft with only four small oranges to sustain them. They took turns reading from a small Bible one of the men carried. On the eighth day these words were read, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Mt. 6:33). Within an hour, a sea gull landed on Rickenbacker’s head. He grabbed it, and they had food. Later a rain shower came, and they had water. They sought the kingdom, and their needs were met. Faith rose up in them, and it enabled the downed flyers to hang on for two more weeks before they were rescued.
Even in the most dire situation when the outlook is bleak, God remains our creator, sustainer, and source. Surely our God is just, wise, and loving. If this is true, the universe and our very nature must be conceived in a way that provides for all our needs. Our presence in the universe must be for a greater purpose than to be born, have our earthly needs met, and to die. We are here as part of a grand design.
It is reasonable to assume that earthly needs are fulfilled not as we give attention to them, but as we give attention to our purpose and God mission. Anything less gives undue importance to the material aspects of life. They must not be the center of our lives. Our work is to acknowledge God as the source and to awaken to the Presence.
The Bible is filled with stories in which God, the Source, provides for the needs of individuals. Scripture tells the story of Elijah who was alone in the wilderness and how the ravens fed him. This event is not much different from the story of Eddie Rickenbacker and his men. In each event a winged creature, a creation of God, helped to meet the physical need.
God Does Not Fulfill Needs
Humanity has many needs. Millions of people starve to death each year. Why doesn’t God help these people? Individuals who do not understand the nature of Spirit and how divine power is expressed turn from this seemingly harsh and uncaring God. This is particularly true when an individual has a need that is unfulfilled. This person asks, “Why doesn’t God do something for me? I need a job. My children need coats and gloves for the winter.” Once again we hear the cry of the human heart, “But I’ve got needs!”
The truth is God does not fulfill needs. God is love itself. If God could fulfill a need, it would be done. No human being would ever lack for any good thing. From the human viewpoint, having God take care of our needs is a good plan. By the time you finish reading and working with this book, you will know a better plan,one conceived by Spirit,one that offers you riches you cannot even imagine at this moment.
The Open Door
Are you beginning to understand? We have needs. There is no doubt about this. Whole nations have needs. Continents have needs. From the human point of view, it seems reasonable that a loving and compassionate Creator would provide for the needs of Its creation. The truth is our needs can be provided for, but not in the way we think. If God could fulfill a need, it would be done, but this is not the way the universe works. God cannot fulfill needs; the Source cannot express Itself through a need.
Notice that in the story of Elijah and the ravens and Eddie Rickenbocker and the gull, God did not act through a consciousness of lack. Spirit acted through the spiritual consciousness that grew as Elijah and Rickenbocker and his men turned away from their shortage to God.
Spirit needs a consciousness that is focused upon It rather than the problem. This is why the need is not the issue. A focus upon what we do not have leads to anxiety and a sense of inadequacy. When we give our attention to Spirit and allow an awareness of the Source to rise up in us, our needs are taken care of without making them the center of our focus. Two powerful ideas are the foundation of this book and our lives. First, God is our source. Second, a consciousness of God is our supply.
Is there a time when God is not our source? Is there a time when our consciousness of Spirit will not provide for us? People have prospered in the most trying times. The economic climate or the level of deprivation does not matter. When consciousness is unaffected by the rise and fall of national, global, or personal economic indicators, we prosper. Only an awareness of God grants this way of life. Is it any wonder that it is called the pearl of great price?
Needs are not the issue.
God has a plan that makes life meaningful and provides for our earthly needs.
The pearl of great price is an awareness of God.
Our earthly needs are met not as we give attention to them, but as we give attention to God.
God does not fulfill needs.
God is our source.
A consciousness of God is our supply.
I put to the test the great promise, “…seek first the kingdom…” (Mt. 6:33).
I put aside my needs and give my attention to God.
Teacher’s Guide for Even Mystics Have Bills to Pay ($20)