Making Decisions – Seeking Divine Guidance

Making Decisions – Seeking Divine Guidance. Should we ask for exactly what we want in life? Or rely on God only to get what we need? The inspired answer could be a balance and alignment of … both.

Scripture: “Ask and you shall receive. Believe and it will be done unto you.” John 15:7 “Not my will, but Thy will be done” Luke 22:42

In Biblical times, God often spoke to those seeking guidance through acts of nature. A rainbow was a sign of God’s covenant and promise to Noah’s unrecorded question of whether or not there would be another flood. A burning bush was a visible manifestation of the presence of God to Moses and affirmation that Lo, God’s presence was with Moses always. Later when Elijah faced seriously problems and asked God for help, God expressed His presence through “a still, small voice.”

In those ancient times, God seems to have worked not only through acts of nature, but also through angel visitations, dreams and voices. (Of course, the ancient world was a quieter place with fewer distractions then and God may have had an easier time answering pleas for guidance or rescue.)

In present New Thought teachings we are faced with paradoxical teachings in regards to seeking guidance and manifesting that which we desire.

Some classic books such as Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, The Science of Mind by Ernest Holmes, writings by Unity authors Erich Butterworth and Edwene Gaines and even the words of Jesus recorded in the book of John, “Ask and you shall receive. Believe and it will be done unto you.” all extol the virtues of being specific. They teach that vague desires create vague results… that we need to be specific in order to get specific results.

On the other hand, many other books and teachings point to exactly the opporsite conclusion. Joe Goldsmith writes “Contemplate only God.” Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now” and Brother Lawrence’s little, timeless book “The Practice of the Presence of God” are examples of books that tell us not to be caught up in the “how” or “what” but that we should stay focused on the Divine Power that is limitless and available to us all. The writings of the mystics of the world’s wisdom traditions all teach us to reply on God’s will and not our own willfulness.

So which is it?… To be more specific or to rely only on God? Certainly there are benefits of both. When we become specific about what we want, we learn that life mirrors our desires. We manifest what we wish to see and learn that we can create a more positive experience. We enjoy more abundance and resources in our lives, which can feel empowering. When we have more, we can give more. More important, we become an example by manifesting more in our own lives and can help others learn to do the same. All of these are positive outcomes. Our prosperity programs, our making of treasure maps, our affirmations for a specific good are used here. They have the advantage of making us conscious of exactly what we desire to do and have.

The other side, which tells us not to be specific but to focus solely on God, has benefits as well. We begin to sense that we are not alone, that we are part of a larger whole, and that we are connected at some level with everyone and everything around us. God knows what we desire even before we ask, we are told. We become in touch with our intuition and can more frequently sense that small, still voice that is within. We see our experiences through the lens of spiritual eyes, which allows us to see all our experiences as blessings or blessings in disguise rather than punishments. Again, all positive outcomes.

Yet, both sides have shadow or negative sides as well. One shadow aspect of choosing only the side of being specific is that we may become controlled by the ego-self, the limited part of our consciousness which is often fear-based and constantly tries to control our experiences. It tends to be materialistic and externally based. It’s concerned with getting and having more in order to create a sense of control and value, rather than with the inner truth or experience. We try to get more and have more in order to cover up feelings of disconnection, or not feeling worthy, or fear of not having enough.

Another shadow on this side is that we can become spiritually shallow, focusing solely on our wants, needs and desires. We all want our needs and desires met but they can become negative when those external wants dictate our actions and beliefs to such a degree that they rule our lives, rather than enhance them. Thinking we can control everything in life and concentrating on getting more, we set up a house of cards. When something surprising or seemingly devastating happens, we realize that we’ve placed the focus and attention so exclusively on material things that we’ve overlooked important qualities such as love, relationships, and forgiveness.

The “God only” side also has shadow aspects. For instance some of us abdicate personal power by saying, “God’s will, not my own.” In Arabic, we would say “En sha Allah” – “as God wills”, usually said with a shrug of the shoulders. This can manifest as becoming passive and not taking responsibility for our lives. This creates inaction, which in turn creates a sense of being stuck, of not knowing what God wants from us, or living a very small existence afraid to make an informed decision.

The “God only” side can also create piousness, a sense of “holier-than-thou” which promotes division instead of unity with others. We feel a false sense of superiority because we are doing God’s will and they are not.

In Unity we teach that God’s will for us is Good – not punishing. We have been gifted by the Creator with specific abilities, intellectual perspectives and interests in addition to skills we have acquired. Our gifts and talents were not gifted to us to be ignored but rather to be used rightly for our soul’s fulfillment and to bless others as we use them. So what do we do when we are faced with making decisions and directing our lives?

Jesus told us “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33). It encompasses both parts. It doesn’t exclude one or the other, but puts them in the proper order in which we can embody them for the highest experiences. Jesus doesn’t say we cannot seek out new opportunities, success or specific goals, but that they should not be the ultimate goal or top priority. Instead, these desires should play a supporting role to the top priority which is to seek the kingdom first, meaning being one with Spirit by moving our consciousness to the highest place.

When we do so, we open ourselves to inspiration and revelation from our Source, and we see ourselves as a vital part of this great plan of Life. We’re no longer just trying to BE more and Do more and Have more – we see ourselves AS more. We will no longer make decisions based on fear of lack or limitation or the mistaken idea that having more means that we ARE more. Instead, we live from this awareness that we are One with the flow of life and that God is limitless

When we put our focus in the proper order, we serve the highest vision for our lives and then use the spiritual laws to create the specifics we need to fulfill that vision. In that way we are in alignment with what spiritual teachers would call “God’s will for us.”

My personal experience in seeking direction for my life has been to clarify what I most value and desire at any stage of my life. When I was guided to study and become a Unity Teacher and later a Unity Minister, I realized that all of the skills and abilities, gifts and talents I processed would be used in a new direction…that for ministry. But it also included previously unimagined opportunities for a deeper realization of love and personal fulfillment and – prayerfully – blessing others with inspiration and hope.

If indeed we “one with God” as Jesus taught and that “God is everywhere present”, as we believe, it stands to reason that God the Good, would continually offer us divine guidance in ways that would better our life experience and in ways that we could understand if we were seeking that guidance. In realizing that it is only in our minds that we can be separate from our Source/God, we open up to the possibility of encountering divine guidance in any way that catches our mind’s attention when we are willing to ask, seek, and find.

When faced with making an important decision or when seeking guidance for making changes or for opening to new opportunities, first clarify for yourself what you are really asking divine guidance about. Is it for greater fulfillment in your career, or in loving relationships, or in self-expression, or in making a positive difference in our world in some small way? Is your question coming from fear “What am I going to do now?” or “How can I face tomorrow?” or “What’s the use in going on?” Clarify your current question – this relates to being specific. What do you want to get out of the answer? Then rationally examine the options you are aware of while still leaving yourself open to unknown possibilities.

In your quest to be open to divine guidance, it’s important to keep your rational reasoning skills attuned. Listen with a dose of healthy skepticism to distinguish between God’s guidance and any psycho-babble you read, hear or say to yourself. Ask “Is this premise sound?” “Do I get a definite yes or no when I question myself about this idea, or thing, or person, or direction?” “Can I mentally try on this resolution to see how it ‘feels’?”

Also, To achieve discernment, to look and hear with balance and integrity also do the following:

*Pray in your own way, daily. * This allows you to stay attuned to God’s grace.
*Meditate daily. *This helps you to still your mind and to be clear and receptive.
*Check in with yourself frequently. *This lets you be your own point of reference.
*Develop inner knowing. *Monitor your ability to discern when a person or situation is right for you. This helps you to move with peace of mind.
*Stay grounded. *To help you do this, make a conscious effort to restrain compulsive behavior but also be willing to be flexible.
*Ask God for a sign or a second, third or fourth sign or confirmation in some form that you will completely understand.
*Give Thanks.

While it is fine for us to pray for specific outcomes and the resolution of challenges in our lives, we can do so by affirming “This, or something better.” We first work to stay centered in Spirit, praying for an ever-expanded consciousness which will allow us to receive all the good that God has in mind for us. I believe that God wants us to have it all and we must know that ego-based thinking can necessarily be limited and limiting. God knows no lack or limitations for us. Nor do I.

Blessings, Rev. Jan Mahannah

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