When walking the spiritual path, there can seem to be a conflict in the guidance for staying on that path. I refer specifically to these 2 pieces of counsel:
- Treat and move your feet (aka God helps those who help themselves)
- Stay out of the “hows” (aka Let go and let God)
So are we supposed to make things happen or sit back, watch and wait?
As maddeningly obtuse as it may seem, both statements are appropriate advice. When dealing with life from the spiritual perspective, we must simultaneously help ourselves, while avoiding the impulse to micromanage.
I have written many times about the need to treat and move your feet, my favorite example being the hot dog and closet story. I’ve also been critical of the position that leans on prayer/treatment followed by sitting on the couch and waiting for money or other opportunities to fly in through the window.
After hearing this it may seem wrong to criticize those who would pray/treat and then try to help things along, but here’s where the subtlety of spiritual law kicks in: there’s a distinct difference between preparing to receive and micromanaging.
A well-known example of this difference is a story as old as time: the biblical tale of Abraham and Sarah who were promised a child but grew older and older without any sign of a baby. Many of you will recall that Sarah began to doubt that God could truly make it happen for her and Abraham, especially as she had moved past child-bearing age, so she sent her servant, Hagar, to sleep with her husband. Hagar conceived and bore a son that she named Ishmael.
Sarah moved past preparing for her son and into the realm of micromanaging when she sent her servant Hagar to sleep with her husband. This did get the ball rolling for the baby to come into the family, but it’s not hard to imagine why this arrangement didn’t work out so well between Abraham, Sarah and Hagar who ended up being sent away with her small son.
Sarah and Abraham wanted a child, and prayed for that child. God promised a child to them, but neither Sarah or Abraham truly believed that it could happen. In fact, Abraham even laughed at God.
15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for your wife,… Sarah shall be her name. 16 And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”
17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”
It’s comforting to know that even figures with as large a footprint in history as Abraham had doubts after seeking divine intervention. As this story goes, Abraham and Sarah did go on to have a child, Isaac but not after the turmoil caused by Sarah’s micromanaging.
In teaching this principle of balance thousands of years later, Ernest Holmes wrote the following:
“Demonstrations do not depend upon environment, condition, location, personality or opportunity,…but depend solely upon our belief…and our willingness to comply with the Law through which all Good comes.”
Complying with the Law requires that we find a comfortable existence in that sweet spot that lies between micromanaging and sitting on the couch. Wayne Dyer taught that we should “live from the end” and reminded us of Neville Goddard’s advice to “assume the feelings of the wish fulfilled“. In the case of Sarah and Abraham, there were surely baby preparations specific to the nomadic lifestyle they lived that Sarah could have focused her energies on instead of trying to figure out the “how“.
In New Thought churches and centers across the world there are plentiful examples of this principle in action, like a woman who sought prayer support so she could attend a family wedding out of town. She initially asked for prayer to help her get the money she would need to pay for the trip, but a wise minister counseled her to place her intention on the desired outcome: the ability to attend the wedding.
The end result? One of her relatives had to back out at the last minute and couldn’t cancel their room reservations and the price of airline tickets dropped significantly. She was able to afford the airfare and got a free room.
The secret to understanding the delicate balance between treating and moving our feet and staying out of the hows is found when we undertake a daily spiritual practice that includes meditation, spiritual mind treatment, or other time spent in the contemplation of our connection to Source.
As we build our spiritual “chops” we gain more patience, wisdom and learn to listen to the quiet nudges from Spirit that encourage us to pick up a book, attend a lecture, call a friend, apply for a job or take some action that is aligned with our intention. Building our spiritual muscles enables us to know the difference between taking inspired action and micromanaging; between sitting on the couch and letting go/letting God.
And the larger biblical lesson?
When we micromanage what we have taken to God to resolve complications arise, but when we put our trust in the divine,…
6″ I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. 8 Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
…the sky’s the limit!
And so it is.