Money and power are the reasons we often cite for much of what happens in the world. I had thought I would speak this morning about good, and the good that we do for one another and for the world through our thoughts and actions, but when I found the new ARE magazine in my mailbox and I sat down and read an article by Dr. Mark Thurston who teaches at ARE's Atlantic University and writes extensively for them, I knew power was my topic for today.
When we think about power, we must think about personal power first of all-empowerment. And when we consider empowerment, we must speak about free will. Spiritualists talk a lot about free will. It's a good thing to have free will and we know that God thought so because he gave it to us. It is free will that gives us power-the power to make choices in life. This also creates a dilemma, though. The dilemma is that we must always, by definition, use our free will. If we, in fact, make no decision at all, and let ourselves be blown about by the winds of chance, it's not really chance, because we decided not to make any decisions. And so we have used our free will not to decide. We've used our free will to choose to have our fate determined by chance. We always have the responsibility of the power of our free will, and it is a responsibility.
We grow as we exercise our free will. We are faced over and over again with choices we must make about our actions as a result of our God-given drive to grow and change. If there is one thing that we can depend upon in our lives, it is the desire to change that wells up within us endlessly and the opportunities this desire brings into our lives.
The problem that often springs from this is that in a competition, such as when we compete with others for jobs or other opportunities in order to reach our personal goals, there is another power that has to be taken into consideration and that's where our dilemma comes into the picture: we must also take into consideration God's will. "God's will be done" is not just an idle saying.
People in Protestant, Catholic, New Thought and Spiritualist churches alike recognize the conflict that we all face when we're told we have free will, but that at the same time we must always stand ready to accept God's will, even when it brings a different outcome from the one we would prefer. And it's not just a religious dilemma, it is a universal dilemma. I'm sure that there is, right this very minute, some entity out in space somewhere pondering this very problem, even as I speak-someone who looks very little like we do, some creature from another planet who has just found himself up against this puzzlement, just as we often find ourselves.
There's a saying that we often hear: "Be careful what you wish for, because you just may get it!" It seems that we are not always the best judge of what is good for us although because we have free will, we always make efforts to achieve what we believe is good for us. It's man's nature, simply, to pursue what his needs and desires direct him to seek. Having been made in God's image, man has, after all, God's endless creativity, potential for growth, and free will as a part of his very nature.
I've sometimes looked back on my own life and at pivotal points in it, could see how, having made a certain choice, my life's pattern was changed and I have understood how even when my choices seemed to have gone wrong, they had brought me to my present condition. It has seemed to me that the decisions I had made, even when I felt that they turned out unhappily at the time, have ultimately led me into a greater mastery of life, led me into more peace and more freedom to choose my own path.
The dilemma, then, is our own free will as opposed to the will of God. It's all about the use of power. A simple thing like walking through a door and taking a turn to the right or to the left can bring a completely different outcome in life-just a simple choice made to turn right or left as we leave this very room could turn out to be crucial in the events that will follow in our lives. It seems like a simple choice, but even a simple choice, an insignificant exercising of our free will, can have a mighty outcome.
What then can we do? How must we make choices, how do we find our way through life? We must exercise our free will because it is built into us and we have no choice but to exercise it, even in the smallest things like the choice made to go right or left as we move through an ordinary doorway.
How can we know what is going to be best for us and for those around us? How do we bring ourselves into alignment with what is the highest and best for us? Do we read books? Do we ask wise and holy people? Do we take a neighbor's advice? I'm sure we've all done these things at one time or another, and perhaps not with any better results than when we've made our own choices without advice.
How do we learn to accept God's will when it means not getting what we think we want in life? Must we just keep on making choices that God seems to be refusing to grant us? Do we see a therapist? Do we give up and visit the neighborhood bar?
There seems to be just one activity that can make an actual difference in lives and help us to "weave together these two paradoxical qualities about empowerment: (and that is) Meditation," as Dr. Mark Thurston says, in the closing paragraph of his article I read that started me writing this. The article is called "Getting Connected to Our Power."
My experience, and that of thousands of others who meditate regularly in life tells me that what Dr. Mark Thurston is saying in this article is absolutely true.
Here is what he says in the rest of the article's final paragraph:
"Meditation requires both aspects of the will-focused, individual effort, plus willing surrender to God The result of a meditative life is exactly the kind of empowerment that allows us to be in the world, present to what is happening in the material conditions around us, and simultaneously connected to the invisible world of spirit and its intentions for us."
That's how Mark Thurston summed up the power of meditation. This is what I have found: When we meditate, we allow something bigger than ourselves to work in and through our personalities-we allow ourselves to live with a measure of surrender to God's Will. We let the all-knowing have a chance to work in and through us and to bring us those circumstances that we truly should have, the ones that are really the highest and best for us. Sometimes that means that our God-given power to choose, our free will, must be overridden by God's choice for us, but in my experience, when that has happened to me, it has always been a better choice than the one I would have made using my free will.
Wielding power, then, is not a choice between God's will and my will, as it turns out. It is a melding of both, so that God's will becomes my will when it's the best thing for me, and I've learned to look forward to that outcome with happy expectation now. That is what happens when we "let go and let God," when we say, "Not my will, but Thy will be done!" When we work diligently to achieve our goal, propelled by our free will, as if life itself depended on it, but at the same time agreeing to surrender to the power of God, if need be, saying, "Thy will, not mine be done." When we can combine both of these things, putting them in the framework of the power of meditation, we can never be disappointed in the outcome.
"Not my will, God, but Thy will be done."
Let's just silently say this now, thinking about whatever issue may be troubling us at this very moment in life: "Not my will, God, but Thy will be done."
Then we release that issue to God and know that the outcome will surpass anything that we might have desired.
Then let us end by saying simply, "Thank you, God." And so it is.