Fresh Thinking, Inspiration, and Vision on the Process of Spiritual Transformation
Life has fulfillment and destiny to give for each of us, and for all of us together. In so many ways, life is conspiring to bring wonder and beauty. And yet, all the wonderful things that are possible for a person may not manifest if they are not open to them. Of course that’s often not how it seems. If you ask most of us, “Would you like something wonderful to happen in your life?” we would say yes. But if we’re not really open to it in the living of our life, it won’t happen. If we are in some way distracted, we don’t see it—we don’t see what’s coming, we don’t see the wonder that God has in store. Then we may be preoccupied with what seems to us to be more important things, such as all the ways that we aren’t feeling fulfilled.
Or it’s possible that a person has expectations about how something wonderful will happen. They think it will happen just like this, and they keep waiting for it to come just like this. “I know it will be that special job, just made for me, that career, and I can see it in my mind.” And meanwhile, the opportunities for service may be overlooked when they show themselves. A person might think there is that special someone: “I can see them in my mind’s eye, they look a certain way, and I’m just waiting for that day,” and yet fail to see the people that are in their life—people with whom there’s the potential to share something wonderful, maybe people who need your blessing, your love or your care. But if you have it fixed in your mind how it’s supposed to look, the opportunities to share something creative in relationship may be missed. You may not see that special someone when they come into your life if you have it all fixed in your mind’s eye just how they are supposed to be. You may not appreciate the gift that is given because the package that it comes in may not look just like you think it should.
For many Christians around the world, they believe in the Second Coming of Jesus, and of course the question comes up, how would you know? “Well, he would look somehow glorious—floating on a cloud; he would probably still have those robes on.”
What I’m getting to is that there is a way that most human beings tend to believe that what is wonderful is going to come a certain way. And that certain way isn’t just a mediocre way; it’s a good way, it’s a right way, it’s a true way—it’s going to come like this. Even for someone who has some kind of spiritual awakening or rebirth, there can be such a tendency to try to put what is opening in the person into a box. So often what is in that box isn’t really the fulfillment that God has in store for that person. What is in that box is some kind of self-sacrifice, some kind of hurt and pain and limitation, some reason why what is wonderful, what is beautiful, cannot be accepted right here and now.
There is a very powerful story in Genesis that speaks to this. It is the story of Abraham and his son Isaac. This is the story of Abraham believing that he has been called to sacrifice his son—as we hear it now, a most tragic thing, but altogether too common in that day. Altogether too common, because in his age human sacrifice was common among the peoples of the world. So while it’s a story of this one man who is seen to be the father of a nation, both for the Jews and also for Islam, it is also representative of a change in consciousness. It portrays an act of spiritual pioneering that had huge impact around the world. We can see the reverberations of the way this issue was met down through the ages.
We can certainly see it in the story of Jesus, which includes a story of a sacrifice of a son, and a belief that this was something that God ordained, rather than something that God used to the highest advantage. Even today, as American troops begin to stand down in Iraq, there have been four thousand men and women, and more, who have lost their lives, who America somehow believed needed to be sacrificed. There have been many more Iraqis who have died as well. So in that way, the belief in human sacrifice has not gone away—the belief that something tragic had to be done to bring something wonderful.
So let me share a bit of this story.
“Then…Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
“And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
“And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
“And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
“And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
“And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.” (Genesis 22:4–9)
What is stupefying about the story is that, in Abraham’s own mind, God was telling him to sacrifice his son. In his mind, this was coming from the highest place. While we can applaud the fact that Abraham had the kind of openness that was willing to listen, we can also take note of the fact that the impulse of the divine was working through him in such a way that it was hitting the structures that were in his consciousness. He came from a people in the land of Ur, where human sacrifice was common. So as the divine began to move in him, it began to move through those structures in consciousness that told him the right thing is to do something horrible, to sacrifice something that is precious. And he wasn’t just prepared to sacrifice all that his son had become up to that point. He was going to sacrifice everything that this son would become.
“And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
“And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.” (Genesis 22:10,11)
Throughout the Bible we hear this spoken by people who are open to the divine: “Here am I.” That is radical openness. “I am open and available to hear what God is actually asking of me in this moment. Here am I.”
“And he said,” this being the angel, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”
“And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
“And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.” (Genesis 22:12–14)
We see this ram caught in the thicket as a symbol of a mind that is locked in the past—a mind that sees the impulse of the divine through mental structures from out of the past. For Abraham, something had to be sacrificed: it was either going to be all the promise of what that son was in Abraham’s life, or it was going to be Abraham’s structures of consciousness, represented by that ram.
Isn’t that how it is for any one of us? There are all these structures, all our ideas about what would be good. Where do they come from? Inevitably they come from out of the past. We are either going to sacrifice those structures or we are going to sacrifice what is symbolically represented here by Isaac. And there was so much of all of Abraham’s life that was tied up in his son.
The story goes on to say this:
“I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
“And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:18,19)
What would have happened to this promise of God to Isaac if Abraham had carried through with his initial intent? As history unfolded, Abraham’s legacy all came through Isaac, didn’t it? There’s so much that came that would never have come if Abraham had interpreted the impulse of spirit according to the structures in his consciousness. Isn’t that true for any one of us? There is so much that will come in our life if we are willing to sacrifice our ideas about how it should come. Those ideas, for any of us, are dressed up in clothes of righteousness. They always come that way.
For people associated with Emissaries of Divine Light, those ideas could show up as Emissary ideas. That’s how we think of them. But I don’t mean to pick on us, because people around the world are doing the same thing, whatever the religion or philosophy, whatever the pattern of belief, whether it’s secular or sacred. What I want to know is not whether it’s an Emissary idea—is this God’s idea? Is this really what God has in store? For us to know what’s in store for us, from the standpoint of the divine, we have to find a higher place from which we can meet the impulse of spirit on its own terms.
“In the mount of the Lord, it shall be seen.” Usually when a person is stuck in their beliefs about how God should work, in their demands that it should come “this way,” they are very focused on their life and what’s not working. They’re looking right at whatever it is that displeases them and think, “Something needs to happen with this.” They’re fixated on that thing in their circumstance, that person, or whatever it is that’s not working for them.
The Book of Genesis is the first book in the Bible. In the last book, the Book of Revelation, John talks about turning to see the voice that speaks with him. You do have to turn to clearly receive the impulse at work within you. You have to turn away from what you don’t like about what is happening in the circumstance of your life, and away from your beliefs about how fulfillment should come, to find out what life is trying to bring if you would let it.
Later John speaks about a new heaven and a new earth coming down from God out of heaven. When we turn, we get to see what’s coming out of the future into the present. We get to be in the place of knowing that there is something wonderful happening, there is something wonderful manifesting now. When we are, we can say, “I see it. I’m participating in it. I know I have a vital part to play in it. It’s coming through me, as well as everybody else and everything else.” For most people, they find themselves in the position of turning their back to what’s coming, and then wondering why they keep fussing over the same thing, over and over and over again, without any answer.
In the process of interpreting what life has in store for us in terms of mental structures out of the past, there is something that’s sacrificed—probably not nearly so dramatically as sacrificing a firstborn son, but there is something of life and of destiny for any one of us that is sacrificed.
There is something of God’s promise to Abraham that is still present with every human being. It wasn’t just unique to him. The seed of what we offer in our life could be prolific and wonderful, creating something that would be a blessing to all the world. Is that not possible for a human life? Is that not possible for us together, with other people? It is possible when we set our destiny free from the box in which we have held it.