No Samson Needed

I heard a cultural reference to the biblical character Samson the other day and it got me thinking about the story. I decided to revisit what I recalled of it from childhood Sunday School lessons.

As a small child, the story is of a strong man whom God favors, and who – even though blinded and bound – is able to defeat his enemies. A closer, more intentional read of the whole story tells a much different tale and shifts the takeaway significantly.

Samson was born to a couple who had been childless for many years, and feared they would never have children. The Israelites are in captivity in the land of the Philistines (40-year captivity) and an angel appears to the woman and promises her a son. There are “rules” of course as there are whenever an angel appears with a message.

The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

Judges 13

Due to the nature of his birth, and the desperate circumstances of the Hebrew people (who believed that he would deliver them from the Philistines and captivity), Samson appears to have been spoiled as a child and his temperament did not improve into adulthood.

His relatively short life was marked with petulant deeds (tying foxes together and lighting them on fire), and poor decisions driven by his desires. The evidence that he was perpetually indulged culminates in his final fate – being captured, blinded and imprisoned by the enemy of the Hebrew people.

He has a documented habit of being with women outside of a sanctioned relationship, and appears to be so needy for their attention that the last one he met (Delilah) talked him out of his greatest secret in short order, resulting in his demise. So much for the great hope of the Israelites.

Leadership lesson

The story of Samson is not the story of men being foolish (although it could be) as much as it is a tale of warning for those who anoint leaders. In organizations religious, spiritual and secular there is a tendency to put all our hopes, dreams and future stakes in the hands of someone whom we believe can rescue us.

Too often, the story is like Samson’s. These “saviors” are entirely too human, and being human (prone to mistakes) in combination with being anointed as some sort of messiah is a lethal move – and it’s lethal on two planes.

The first problem is that the very-human “Samsons” are susceptible to believing that all the hope and adoration heaped on their heads by the organization they are now leading is well-deserved. Too many of them get cocky and lose the ability (if they indeed ever had it) to look critically at themselves and see the areas where they need help, or where others may have more experience, expertise or wisdom.

This, coupled with the ga-ga eyes of those in the organization who anointed them, is a fatal combination. Too often, the blind trust in this “savior” extends for far too long. By the time it becomes impossible to overlook “Samson’s” faults, lack of skill and bad behavior; it is too late and the organization faces peril.

Some will survive and recoup their losses, while others will survive but never return to the place they once held; still others will not survive. History’s ledger is littered with the names of organizations taken down by poor leadership choices.

Avoiding Samsons

The first step to avoiding the disasters that inevitably come when we invite someone to lead an organization as a “savior” or answer to all our problems is to stop right there. If there are fundamental issues that prevented our organization from growing, expanding, becoming profitable or otherwise improving – the “answer” may or may not be a new leader. But we have the responsibility to be clear-eyed before proceeding.

A new leader at Blockbuster (with the same focus of in-store DVD rentals) would not have saved the business; a new leader at Border’s (insisting on selling DVDs and physical music media when the world had moved on to digital) would not have saved them, either.

New leadership must be coupled with good business sense and the ability to make hard decisions that benefit not only the person getting paid, but the entire organization.

Samson was so consumed with his own needs that he neglected his mandate from birth (to save the Hebrew people from the Philistines) and hastily gave his secrets to Delilah. His own personal needs superseded the needs of the many and this is one of the WORST traits to have in a leader. Sadly, it is also a common one.

Another option for avoiding a Samson is to look around and see if the depth, wisdom, experience and ability already exists within.

Is it hard work? Yes.

Does it sometimes mean that we have to sacrifice sacred cows? Indeed.

Will we have to let go of some things we don’t want to let go of? Again, yes.

But life is a “big picture” project and sometimes, we have to let go of the death grip we have on the old in order to allow room and space for the new things to come – things which may feel foreign, but that align with our overall goals.

The story of Samson is a story of false hope, entitlement, and foolish, misplaced trust. It’s also a reminder that the process of saving ourselves and our organizations should not wait for for some external, likely-flawed Samson.

The work is ours to do. And when we stop waiting in the desert for “Samson” – some anointed answer to problems that are ours to solve – we’ll find success; especially when we recognize at last that we had the power to save ourselves, all along.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Sustainable Spirituality

I have gained a great many benefits from learning and digging deeper into the teachings of New Thought; benefits that have helped in ways too numerous to count. The great transformations I have seen in my own experience and in that of others inspire me to support the continued sharing of these principles and teachings. They also give me strong reasons to hold the movement accountable to first do no harm. We should take care not to set up guidelines and guardrails that serve ourselves but that lead others to cast the whole lot of teachings aside.

This casting aside is what I hear most often from people who affiliated with the teachings for a while, but never saw the great abundance they were promised (or believed that they were promised) – and left, disillusioned. Some went back to their Christian roots. Others are simply disillusioned with organized religion and spirituality as a whole, and that makes me sad because I know of the great Good that can come out of walking a spiritual path.

In a recent blog, I wrote that the teachings in New Thought are based on Christianity as well as other spiritual traditions. As such, I feel that is is helpful to teach the larger context instead of putting so much emphasis on things like “Prosperity” because the core essence of the teachings lies in the larger message.

Louise Hay shared in her movie, “You Can Heal Your Life” that when she placed her foot on the spiritual path, things began to open in front of her.

I recognize in using her example I am potentially creating another expectation that when we step on to the spiritual path, the fame and fortune of a Louise Hay is ours. That is NOT what I am saying: I am using her – a prominent and beloved teacher – to highlight the message that walking in the Light helps bring the “green lights and parking spaces” to us with less effort.

In the biblical canon, the concept of “green lights and parking spaces” is illustrated throughout, but here is one example that nicely highlights the concept that Truth teachings are a way of life – and not about manifesting millions:

Now the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See, the place where we dwell under your charge is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan and each of us get there a log, and let us make a place for us to dwell there.” And he answered, “Go.” Then one of them said, “Be pleased to go with your servants.” And he answered, “I will go.” So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was felling a log, his axe head fell into the water, and he cried out, “Alas, my master! It was borrowed.” Then the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick and threw it in there and made the iron float. And he said, “Take it up.” So he reached out his hand and took it.

2 Kings 6

It’s easy to pass by this mini-miracle as the next passages move quickly into a story of chariots, horses, fires and the ability of the prophet (Elisha) to hear what is spoken in the King’s bedroom from afar. But I believe that the sum total of the benefits to walking the spiritual path is codified in this passage.

Elijah passing the mantle to Elisha

This was not a life or death issue. It was not a crisis. It was someone who had borrowed an axe to do work, and who lost the most valuable part of it when the head (heavy, metal portion) came off and fell into the deep river.

Elisha, being a holy man; a prophet, stopped what he was doing and cut off a stick that he threw into the water where the axe head had sunk, and the iron axe head rose to the top where the man could retrieve it.

This seemingly small act of Good no doubt kept this worker from having to take money he did not have to replace the axe head that he borrowed. We don’t get much more detail around this event but we can imagine ourselves, having to purchase something to replace what we had borrowed. We can assume he was poor, or on hard times, or he would have purchased his own axe. We can also assume from his statements that losing this one and needing to replace it would be a hardship.

Elisha is that person whose feet are firmly planted on the spiritual path. He was Elijah‘s heir apparent, and the mantle of responsibility as prophet to the people of Israel had been formally passed to him at Elijah’s transition.

The lesson of the axe head is in many ways more relevant in today’s modern world than the story of how Elijah called down fire and brimstone to defeat the false gods.

It is likely that we will become disillusioned if we position ourselves to wait on the heavens to open and smite our enemies, or deliver us the bejeweled answers to our financial problems. The reason is that in this expectant posture, we can (will!) miss the many, MANY miraculous things that come our way – the green lights that help us make it to work on time on a critical day; the parking spaces that make our day a little easier, the axe heads that we borrow and do not know how we could afford to replace.

Abundant blessings come to us in strings of many mini-blessings. If we are aware of them, they form a tapestry of a most abundant, blessing-filled life. Our challenge is to take care not to calibrate our vision to be waiting on the BIG ONES, and unable to see the great flood of little ones that come into our experience, every day.

In life there are times when we feel overwhelmed. Nothing seems to be working, or going our way. This is often when people navigate to a spiritual teaching or organization – to seek an end to the pain, to the struggle. I understand that impulse, but I also know that it doesn’t work that way.

In pondering this blog post, my mind wandered off to a story told by a friend – a former US Army officer who had to learn survival skills as part of his training. That memory reminded me of scouting, and the field guides we used to use when we went camping or hiking in the woods.

Field guides don’t teach you how to ascend the ranks to be the grand poobah. They teach you how to identify poisonous plants from edible ones; how to treat minor cuts and scratches with plants; how to make a fire without matches; how to survive by building a shelter if you’re caught in a snowstorm; how to identify the direction (N/S/E/W) using natural landmarks and the stars.

Learning spiritual principles is a good first step to ending our pain or stopping our struggles, but this solution is only sustainable if we understand that the teachings are not a primer on how to manifest the next Power Ball winnings or Prize Patrol visit. They are a field guide on how to live a life using spiritual tools to navigate the challenges that come with being here, now (physical existence on this planet).

When I am engaged with someone who is in a “life pickle“, one of the first things I do is to encourage them to get a small notebook and begin to journal the many little blessings that I know are already coming into their lives. I have seen this simple exercise transform the individual experience on many levels time and again.

I will close this post with a reference to one of my favorite 20th century spiritual writers: Florence Scovel Shinn. She wrote in one of the 4 books she is best known for that we must take care not to “…neglect the day of small things, for little beginnings have big endings“.

And along the spiritual path, these “big endings” are very often a life of peace, harmony, wholeness and being provided with what we need in each moment.

This is what I call “sustainable spirituality” and while it might not be as “sexy” as the prospect of manifesting millions; sustainable spirituality is achievable by anyone, from any perspective, in any situation or circumstance – and it’s free to you, and to me.

(C) 2020 Practitioner's Path

Most popular

Modern technological tools allow writers to track the number of posts read, which makes it interesting to look back and see what has been the most popular and ponder what that means.

My statistics have shown steady growth. June marks the halfway point in the calendar year, and indications are that my blog is well on its way to meet and exceed last year’s statistics in terms of readers and views.

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Practitioner’s Path statistics: 2014 – present

Here is a snapshot of what’s been popular based on these statistics. If you’re a data wonk or a even just a curious person, I think you’ll find this interesting as I do.

Top posts in 2018 through present day are Uncircumcised Philistines and Fill Your Horn with Oil and Move on. Most interesting to me about these 2 blog posts is that they are based on biblical stories from the Hebrew scriptures.

Uncircumcised Philistines is about the metaphysical meaning of the story of David and Goliath. Key takeaway, while seasoned soldiers refused to stand up to the bully (Goliath) – David, a young shepherd boy volunteered, taking his sling shot, and 5 smooth stones from the brook and brought down the giant menace. It’s a story about the importance of faith, and remembering when we have been supported in the past.

The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

David telling King Saul that he will be victorious over Goliath (I Samuel)

The 2nd most popular post in 2018 and continuing on in 2019 is Fill Your Horn with Oil and Move On. Also a story from the Hebrew scriptures, this wisdom lesson is about the importance of moving on when things don’t work out.

In the years 2014 through 2017, Jesus the Great Example was a consistently popular post, and it still ranks in the top 10 most popular each year. It was a blog I wrote in rebuttal to some corners of New Thought that believe giving to those in need is anathema to spiritual living. I disagreed then (and still do) and wrote what turned into a blog with a sustained interest from readers across the world.

Honorable mention for popular blog posts goes to Practice World Peace – a post I wrote about world peace being something we can start right here, right now – in morning (or afternoon) rush hour traffic.

I’m never sure what causes all the interest in one blog over another and am not sure if all the hits represent people who read the entire post or just landed on it after searching for something entirely different.

As a writer, I am very interested in knowing what makes one blog (or topic) consistently rank higher than all the rest. Writers also like to think we’re profound each time we write, and this is clearly wishful thinking 🙂 but we would like to know what resonates (and is worth the time) and what does not.

These statistics help somewhat, but may end up being just one more “fuzzy” data point to ponder. So I will continue to write, review the statistics, and wonder what it is that makes one blog post a 2-year “hit” and another not even register,…and write some more.

(C) 2019 Practitioner's Path

Job for the New Thought audience

(re-sharing)

One of the more prominent controversies in New Thought today is the blow back against those in the movement who teach that it is consciousness and consciousness alone that creates – and that when we are ill, or have bad fortune; we have created or even invited it into our experience.

This has caused a tidal wave of backlash, and terminology like “sick shaming” and “spiritual malpractice” has emerged to push back against this largely unhelpful interpretation.

Some New Thought “purists” may scorn the push back as being evidence of a weakening commitment to the principles of spiritual living, but a deeper dive into the ancient spiritual foundations may provide more support for the push back than the purists.

In the Hebrew scriptures, the book of Job tells a story of a wealthy and prosperous man who seemingly has everything one could desire: health, wealth, family, power and stature in his community. AND,…he had a strong relationship with the Creator.

According to the scriptural canon, God allows Satan to test this man by inflicting all measure of horrors on him. Satan believes that Job’s love and devotion to God are situational, and so to prove Satan’s error, God allows him to test Job.

Those with any biblical history in their background will recall that Job suffered the loss of his livelihood, his servants, his family and then suffered horrible physical ailments.

During the trials and tribulations that Job suffered, 3 of his friends came to him and provided comfort and commentary. They also suggested that Job has created all of his own problems through his relationship with God and encouraged him to repent – or in New Thought parlance: to get his consciousness straightened out.

This is rejected in the telling of the story: we read that the reason was Satan’s desire to prove Job as a “fake” and we see in the end that Job remained steadfast in his devotion to God throughout the ordeal, and was restored and increased – no repentance or consciousness change needed.

This same Truth is reiterated in the teachings of Jesus in John 9, where Jesus and his disciples come across a blind man who was begging.

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” 

John 9:1-3

The lesson here is clear: the blindness was NOT due to a lack of consciousness on the part of the man, or his parents – but presented instead as an opportunity to show the power of Spirit to heal.

The spiritual tools taught in New Thought are indeed powerful and life-changing. However, adherents and practitioners without an in-depth knowledge of the historical spiritual canons (Hebrew scriptures, New Testament, Bhagavad Gita, Dao de Ching, etc.) must take care to study beyond the counsel of a limited circle of teachers before pronouncing the truth as they know it and teaching it to others.

The challenges in our lives, and the lives of others, present a grand opportunity to tap into the rich spiritual history of humanity and to use the refined and modern tools of 21st century spirituality to do good works in the world.

New Thought practitioners – and their clients – benefit greatly when the perspective of first do no harm is practiced throughout the spiritual guidance process. The counsel to “first do no harm” is taken from the writings of Hippocrates and used today in the oath taken by medical professionals (physicians) upon entrance into professional practice.

Seeing lack, illness, misfortune and other trials as an opportunity to shine the Light of Spirit is a noble undertaking. Pointing out that the person experiencing these challenges has invited them into their lives is not only cruel and unusual and often harmful; it’s unsound spiritual practice and well-documented in the historical spiritual canons as wrong.

The healing benefits of spiritual living are accessible to all, but there is a responsibility for those who put themselves forward as professionals in the art that extends beyond passing the tests, paying licensing fees and hanging out a shingle. There is a responsibility to own the wisdom we are sharing and ensure that it is based on sound principles that stand the test of time and align with the teachings across the ancient wisdom canons.

(C) 2019 Practitioner's Path

(read the 2nd Job blog in this series here)

Metaphysical bible story #7

SMA-2 (color)In writing about the story of the 3 Hebrew teens, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah I remembered the imagery from the story that I learned as a small child in Sunday School and carried with me all these years. I knew that it would become my next Kid’s Sheet or metaphysical bible story activity sheet.

Like the stories of Daniel, Abraham & Sarah, David & Goliath, Jonah and the Whale, Elijah and the Widow and the Widow and the Oil – the story of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (better known in Western culture as Shadrach, Meschach and Abednago) teaches simple but profound spiritual Truths.

The imagery of the golden idol, the angry King, the hotter-than-hot furnace and the miraculous emergence of the 3 teens without so much as a hair on their head being singed is a strong tool for teaching children that no matter what they are facing in life, they are never alone and that staying connected with a strong faith in the Divine can work miracles in the face of what might seem like certain doom.

While the teachings of Ernest Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson and other New Thought giants are wonderful for the adult crowd, there’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned Bible story with the rich imagery of the Hebrew Scriptures or Christian texts to create a connection to a universal Truth that will persist over decades.

Today’s kids face increasing awareness and access to “scary adult stuff“. Providing spiritual tools they can use to know the Truth is the best gift we can give – and it’s a gift that will last a lifetime.

Here’s a copy of the Kid’s Sheet for the story of Shadrach-Meschach and Abednago (kids sheets). 

Like the other Kid’s Sheets, these are free to use with attribution (please acknowledge this website/blog): www.practitionerspath.com

If you use this or any of my other Kid’s Sheets, I hope you’ll share your feedback (here’s my email)!

(C) 2018 Practitioner's Path

 

 

Uncircumcised Philistines

220px-Osmar_Schindler_David_und_Goliath

The biblical canons of Judaism and Christianity are filled with wisdom lessons that ring true today as much as in any period. Today I was remembering the story of David and Goliath.

As you may recall, the army of Israelites, led by King Saul were in near-constant battle with the Philistines in the years after the Exodus from Egypt. The Philistines were aggressive and harassed the Israelites repeatedly throughout history. At the time of the story about David and Goliath, the Philistines and the Israelites were at an impasse and the Philistines sent forth a giant warrior named Goliath.

Goliath was clad in armor, had weapons and a helmet. He also had a mouth, and he used it to spew insults and blasphemy toward the Israelites, insulting their God as well as each of them.

In 1 Samuel 17 Goliath’s presentation is described as such:

 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron.

The Philistines appear to have a weapon that cannot be matched by the Israelites: this giant warrior, Goliath, who they are offering up to fight, man to man with anyone the Israelites wish to send. But King Saul’s army is terrified, and not one of his warriors volunteers to fight this large warrior.

David is a young man who cares for sheep in the fields – a shepherd. He is the youngest son of Jesse (the Bethlehemite) and has brothers in King Saul’s army. His father sends him to take food to his brothers in the army encampment and to bring back word that they are OK (by then everyone had heard about Goliath).

David observes the stand-off, hears Goliath’s taunts and the murmurs among the men, and asks:

“… who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

David is offended by the barbarous Goliath and his negative spewing about the tradition of Israel; of God. He refers to him as an “uncircumcised Philistine” and it’s not a compliment. He is speaking to Goliath’s status outside of the Jewish religious law and metaphysically we understand this denotation to be something separate from Truth. In other words, he is identifying Goliath as something vile and unsacred. David goes to King Saul and offers to take on Goliath. Saul looks at the young man and quickly decides that’s a bad idea. He tells David that he’s no match for the warrior giant, but David isn’t hearing it and responds as such:

“[I] used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 [I] struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul probably figures he has few other options, so why not send this kid. He offers David his armor (recall that Goliath is clad in some impressive gear). David cannot move in the armor, and decides that he will take only his staff, and chose five smooth stones from the brook to take with his slingshot.

Goliath roars with laughter when David approaches, mocking him, insulting God and claiming that he plans to “… give [David’s] flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.

45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord‘s, and he will give you into our hand.”

Most of us know what happened next. David shot a single stone from his sling and it hit Goliath in the forehead. He fell to the ground, David killed him, and cut off his head to take to King Saul.

The Philistines scattered and the victory belonged to the Israelites. A gory story, but one rich with metaphysical meaning.

Many of us have these loud-mouthed, uncircumcised Philistines in our lives. They taunt, belittle and insult us. Sometimes they are external (other people or situations); other times they are the thoughts in our own head. To conquer them we must become like David.

David did not take elaborate armor, or fancy devices when he faced Goliath. He took the tools with which he was familiar and comfortable.  David was grounded in Truth, and he spoke his word: “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head.”

Remembering that metaphysically we substitute the word Law for Lord, we can see that David relied on spiritual law – not heavy weaponry. He remained calm, he used the tools and techniques that were as familiar to him as his own hands and feet, and he spoke his word; then BOOM – down came the belligerent giant.

David also was able to overcome the common belief that this giant was unbeatable. David did not accept the consciousness of the others, and looked only to what he knew – that the Lord who delivered him from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear would deliver him from the hand of this Philistine.

The lesson for us is clear: we, too can approach a well-armored enemy and win. We can be victorious over whatever belligerent giant or uncircumcised Philistine taunts us. We need only remember the story of David, and his takedown of Goliath.

 – – – – – –  – – – – – –  – – – – – –  – – – – – –  – – – – – –  – – – – – –  – – – – – –  – – – – – –

This story of David & Goliath is story #2 in my Metaphysical Bible Stories series (here’s the link to story #1). I am still using “free clipart” – found on Pinterest & Google – and continue to work with an illustrator to create originals (coming soon!).

These are ideal for elementary age youth lessons and help to bring the rich biblical stories into a metaphysical context that can be applied at any age.

Kids Sheet #2:

As always, these are free to use with attribution.

Enjoy!

(C) 2017 Practitioner's Path

Metaphysical Bible Stories

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The rich imagery and stories that make up biblical literature are a treasure trove for metaphysical teachers. Many of my blogs feature well-known as well as less popular Bible stories that I share along with their metaphysical lessons.

There is perhaps no better way to teach young children metaphysical spirituality than with the same rich stories. To that end, I have begun to create Metaphysical Bible Stories for children.

Each story is prepared as a single sheet in PDF format.

The sheet is a 4-pane story board that summarizes a colorful biblical story (3 blocks) and provides the metaphysical summary/lesson in the last block. There is also an affirmation that children can learn.

There are 10 stories in progress (this is #1). I have used “free clipart” for now – found on Pinterest & Google – but I am working with an illustrator to create originals (coming soon!).

The takeaway lessons are captured in the affirmations and each story is kept simple. In addition, each Kids Sheet is paired with a blog that I have written that lays out the metaphysical lesson in detail. Once I get all of them created, I will have a page that links the Kids Sheets to the complementary blog post.

Here’s Kids Sheet #1:

As always, these are free to use with attribution.

Enjoy!

(C) 2017 Practitioner's Path

The Abundance of Daily Bread

Elijah & Widow

In studying prosperity, or abundance over the years, I have found that there are 2 distinct paths that seem to emerge from the general teachings on the topic. The “Get Rich Quick” path, that seems to get a lot of main-stream and secular attention, and the “I Am Provided” path which seems to resonate more deeply with the spiritual crowds.

As almost every church-affiliated prosperity teacher will tell you, the Bible is one of the most profound texts on prosperity. There are countless lessons in both the old and new Testaments that resonate with the Truth that when we walk in Spirit, we are always provided.

One aspect of this Truth, that sometimes seems lost in main-stream prosperity teachings, is that we are not promised a visit from Publisher’s Clearinghouse, or the winning Power Ball lottery ticket, or an obscure relative bequeathing us millions: what we are promised is “daily bread” as taught in the Lord’s Prayer: “give us this day our daily bread“. In other words, I’m living in the right here, right now and those are the only needs and desires I can manage at this time. In acknowledging and thanking the Source of all our supply for the provision of what we need and want for todaywe are always provided.

One particular story that teaches this Truth is shared in the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) in the section NEVI’IM (which means Prophets); I Kings 17:10 – 16

10 So [the prophet Elijah] went at once Zarephath. When he came to the entrance of the town, a widow was there gathering wood. He called to her, “Please bring me a little water in your pitcher and let me drink.” 11 As she went to fetch it, he called to her, “Please bring along a piece of bread for me.” 12 “As the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I have nothing baked, nothing but a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am just gathering a couple of sticks so that I can go home and prepare it for me and my son; we shall eat it and then we shall die.” 13 “Don’t be afraid,” said Elijah to her. “Go and do as you have said; but first make me a small cake from what you have there, and bring it to me; then make some for yourself and your son. 14 For thus said the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘The jar of flour shall not give out, and the jug of oil shall not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the ground.’ ” 15 She went and did as Elijah had spoken, and she and her household had food for a long time. 16 The jar of flour did not give out, nor did the jug of oil fail, just as the Lord had spoken through Elijah.

The widow and her son were sustained; but not through the arrival of a prophet with a large bag of cash, or a wagon-load of food. They were sustained by their faith that they would be provided, which they were on a day-to-day basis. This particular story also illustrates the power of giving – even when it seems you do not have enough, but I’ll address that in a later post.

There are numerous hints in the Bible about this concept of being provided with just what we need. This particular one spoke to me recently as I was pondering another set of verses from the teachings of Jesus.

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” [Matthew 6:19 – 21]

In Evangelical  Christian circles, this is often interpreted as the counsel against building wealth. Through a metaphysical lens, I see this as a lesson on knowing that we are provided, and that our wealth is available at all times to us – that we do not need to stockpile food, clothing, or  money to assure our provision.

As “evidence” that this stockpiling is counterproductive, think about how often we read of families winning large lottery sums, just to end up worse off in a few years? It’s more common than you might imagine. As students of the principles of the Science of Mind, we know that a lot of money dropped into the lap of someone without the proper consciousness is not long for their wallets. Clearly in these situations the treasures, as experienced in lottery winnings, have fallen prey to destruction by “moth, rust and thieves“. Counting on a one-time BIG WIN is a zero sum game as very often the winners lose it all in a short period of time and wind up much worse off than they were before they came into that money.

Laying up treasures in heaven, I believe, refers to learning that we are provided, and will never be without so long as we know the Truth and live by the principles of being provided, in each moment. The story of Elijah and the widow in the I Kings text illustrates this beautifully, as do many other biblical and other stories.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Our treasure is not in dollars, gold bars or food stores, but in our knowledge of Truth principles, that regardless of the FACTS that we may see in front of us – empty cupboards, a negative balance in our checkbook, a “pink slip” from an employer or the latest economic reports on the news – all that we need is available to us, and all we have to do is acknowledge that God is the Source of all our supply.

At this time of year, when it is easy to feel that there is “never enough“, stop and recall the story of Elijah and the widow: know that you are always provided. One helpful affirmation is one shared often here in Pittsburgh New Thought circles: “I always know what I need to know, the moment I need to know it“.

A family friend has been experiencing some periods of lack. In their despair about not having enough at this time of year, I reminded them to remain grounded in the knowledge that they are provided. After a couple phone conversations, I didn’t hear back for a few days,…then a text message came in,

“We are SO Provided!”

Soon after our conversations, they discovered that there were a number of toys that their kids had outgrown that could be sold in a local online sales/bartering group. In addition, they discovered leftover inventory from a direct sales business they were involved in last year. They advertised both sets of items on the local website and in no time, they had generated more than $200 in money substance in less than a week. No one came to the door with a fancy check; no lottery winnings were announced and sent in the mail. They opened themselves to the Truth that they were provided, and ideas emerged in their minds that enabled them to use what was in front of them to meet their needs. In addition, their sales of these objects were welcome “demonstrations” for those who quickly and thankfully grabbed up the items at very affordable prices common on that local bartering website.

My friends were joyously grateful for the realization that they are provided; thankful for the lesson and for the money that came to them at just the right time.

We can all demonstrate this kind of provision; there is always enough, and we are always provided.

And so it is.

(C) 2014 Practitioner’s Path