God penetrates our consciousness with sudden inspirations, unexpected brilliant moments and unexplainable illuminations! There are high moments in our lives when our minds are strangely alert, amazingly fertile, startlingly productive, and ideas flow in a delightful and thrilling torrent of dynamic thought. We are so shocked at our own extraordinary spiritual aliveness. How do you explain these times?
Still there are those who do not see the hand of God. How do you convince an illiterate person that the book placed in his hands contains a message? Or how can you prove to a person born deaf, dumb, and blind, that he is surrounded by sounds, colors, music and light?
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THE SECRET OF GETTING
He leadeth me in the paths
“He guides me on the right track for his name’s sake,” is the way C. C. Briggs translates the classic Line from the twenty-third Psalm. . .What very remarkable confidence, what superior calmness, what extraordinary faith are expressed here! Whoever the poet is, he is very positive in his thinking, and steady in his soul: ‘He guides me on the right track.”
Precisely, what is his faith? It is this — although he travels a long and perilous journey, he enjoys the presence of a Guide who keeps him from taking a dangerous turn off the right road. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
Unquestionably, dccision-makino is a major cause of anxiety. Few people can escape the responsibility of making decisions. And experience teaches us that what seems to be an insignificant decision often times turns out to be a major resolution upon which our entire future turns and swings . Decisions are wild horses on which history often leaps to be carried sometimes for a long and wild ride.
To illustrate: The year is 1919, the month is February. The place is France. The Big Four, Lloyd George, Clemenceau, Wilson and Orlando have now been wrestling for months over the problem of the “peace” after World War I. What should they do with Russia?
How must they handle Lenin who less than two years before had taken command of the Soviet Union? It is a crucial decision-making moment in history. One observer, Lewis Strauss, has recorded this incident. While the Big Four were wrestling with the question of Russia, a stormy young member of the British war cabinet made a fast trip across the choppy Channel to plead with the Big Four. He had an idea. Lewis Strauss writes, “He practically demanded an invasion of Russia by the Allies.” But his advice was ignored. What did he know about such matters? He went back to England with his proposal rejected and ignored. His name was Winston Churchill.
The decision was made. They would do nothing about Lenin or the Communists in Russia. And at that moment the history of the twentieth century took a flying leap upon a wild horse that has raced with crazy fury down through the treacherous years and today still carries the whole world along on a precarious ride. Tragic? Indeed! But does it not remind us of unfortunate decisions we have made in our own lives?
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This brings us to the point at hand:
Is it possible for a human being to be guided by supernatural wisdom in the decision-making moments of life? Christians, of course, claim that God is a living, invisible, personal Spirit who penetrates our mental consciousness and guides us. So we constantly pray for divine guidance when decisions must be made. We realize that the possibility of human error is almost infinite. Is this an opportunity that I am passing by? How shall I interpret these facts? How shall I judge this man? What tactics shall I take in this struggle? We often need the wisdom of Solomon! “He guides me on the right track.” Ah, that is what we really need!
The hill country of Judea is wooded, rough terrain. The barren, sun-bleached hills are scarred by deep, ugly ravines as if some super colossal beast had clawed deep gashes in the hillsides. In the canyon walls, black holes like the hollow eye sockets of a skull look down upon you. In these caves live wild animals and thieves.
Traveling through these hills requires a guide. But the shepherd knows the hills and is able to guide his flock safely through dangerous territory. For he knows what lies on the other side of the hill. “He shall feed his flock like a shapherd... and gently lead those that are with young.”
So this Psalmist believed that as a shepherd is able to guide sheep safely through perilous and uncharted territory, so God is surely guiding His life on the right
But is it really true? The answer to that question depends largely upon our doctrine of man . For too long we have been deluged with a dialectical, materialistic doctrine of man which teaches that the human being is only an intelligent animal. We are taught that man is a biological, chemical organism with no soul, no spirit, and superior to animals only in the sense that we have a superior intelligence . Ideas that enter the brain can be explained naturally: they are just stimulated by chemical activities within the body organism, triggered by past experiences, or stimulated by heredity or environment. In other words, all human thought processes can be analyzed and explained naturally.
Now, suddenly, from the University of Vienna in Austria comes a new study in psychology called logotherapy. Its founder, Dr. Victor Frankl tells us that man has a spirit. As head7 of the Department of Psychiatry at this internationally famous university, he contends that there are a variety of uniquely human phenomena which human beings experience and which no other animal experiences. According to him man has a logos, or spirit. Man has the capacity for living in another dimension. Man has a conscience, which no other animal has. Intuition, instructive impulses, and imagination re-enforce his argument.
After spending several hours studying under this distinguished psychiatrist I arranged a private interview to ask him one question: “Dr. Frankl, I am delighted with your ‘spiritual’ concept of man. I have one question which I would like you to answer. Why is man made this way? What is the cause and the reason for this being? Why of all living organisms does the human being alone have the ability to feel conscience, to experience intuition, to receive intelligent impulses, to exercise imagination?” He placed both hands flat on his desk and gazed at me intently through his thin-rimmed glasses. He seemed perplexed, astonished, almost confused at the simple question, and finally answered, “I don’t know. I don’t know.”
I walked out o f his study confident.
For I know the why.
And so do you!
To illustrate: I have many things in my office. There is a desk, a chair, a divan, a painting, a pen-and-pencil set, a typewriter, and a radio. Of all these things in my office only the radio is able to pick up messages and music out of the air. Why is the radio alone so gifted?
The answer is incredibly simple — because the radio was designed to pick up many messages from the air. Because there is music on the air waves and we want to pick it up we design an instrument to accomplish this purpose. And so God wanted one creature in His creation that would be able to pick up His divine messages and enjoy the music of the universe! So He created the human being with a mechanism designed to pick up spiritual signals. We call that mechanism the soul.
God penetrates our consciousness with sudden inspirations, unexpected brilliant moments and unexplainable illuminations. There are high moments in our lives when our minds strangely alert, wide awake, amazingly fertile, startlingly productive, and ideas flow in a delightful and thrilling torrent of dynamic thought. We are shocked at our own extraordinary spiritual alivcncss. How do you explain these times? When walking at night on an unfaniiliar road, you are not sure of your path in the blackness until suddenly the clouds split to let a full moon illuminate the world around you clearly. You can see trees sleeping in the night, mountains standing strong around you, until the shifting clouds slide back across the golden moon and you are left in the dark again . But the light has shined long enough for you to get your bearings and you are able to move ahead with confident footing . So in an unexpected moment, God’s Spirit illuminates our minds. A sudden inspiration we call it. And we have it — a big idea that may well prove to be a guideline for years to come. In the middle of the night we awaken and the answer to our problem, the right approach to our situation, the brilliant new idea is there clear and bright.
Sometimes God guides through what materialists would call coincidence. Check biographies to see how often this phrase appears, ‘The remarkable series of ----- coincidences ------- ‘By an extraordinary coincidence ---- ‘A strange coincidence occurred -------“By an unexplainable concidence ----- By coincidence — which is to say, by no human intervention something happened which determined a destiny. Paths crossed. Strangers met for the first time. An encounter took place which was destined to change the entire course of a life, or a family, or a nation, or a world . Some people call it coincidence — the Christian calls it providence.
A few years ago I made plans for a world trip. At the same time another minister two thousand miles from my home made plans to take the same trip. Neither of us knew at the time that we would be traveling together. And by pure “coincidence” we were joined in a journey around the world. We lived together day after day and week after week . We rode camels together, crossed deserts together, grew weary and half-ill in Africa together. His name was Harold Leestma. Had it not been for that trip I am sure that he would not be in our church today as a minister of evangelism. Coincidence? No — God’s guidance! There is no such thing as coincidence!
Sometimes God guides us through a sudden impulse or an intuition. Helen Keller said to Philips Brooks that even though she was blind, deaf and dumb, she knew about God all the time. She just did not know His name. Is this divine guidance or intuition? Certainly positive, constructive, inspiring impulses that come out of the blue are often divine signals given to guide us. Suddenly we have an impulse to call a friend, to write a letter, or to turn into a street which we would normally never take, or cancel carefully made plans to take a trip, only to find that this seemingly unimportant decision changed the whole course of our lives!
No doubt God is constantly transmitting signals through space to be picked up in our minds in the form of impulses. And the mind that is dialed to God and is on the celestial wave length will catch these signals and be guided thereby.
We all know that God guides us through our conscience, this “uniquely human phenomena” that we call the moral law within. “Let your conscience be your guide,” we say. Again and again God pricks the human conscience to prod us down the right road.
God also guides through life’s situations. Dr. Victor Frankl bases his entire psychology on the theory that every situation in life has meaning.” He says, “It is our responsibility to make a decision as to the meaning of these situations.” Suddenly a door slams shut and a dream is crushed, hopes fade like dew in the noonday sun, and we are bitterly disappointed. But wait! There is a meaning for us in this situation. Perhaps God is using us in a most remarkable way to do some good that we are not aware of at all.
I have the honor of serving as pastor of the first walk-in-drive-in church ever to be built on the Pacific coast. We have a beautiful, million-dollar, award-winning church that is an inspiration to thousands of people. A thousand people can sit in a magnificent sanctuary. At the same time fifteen hundred people can worship in the privacy of their cars in a landscaped drive-in parking area of the church . Every Sunday parishioners crowd the sanctuary and cars to worship God. It is impossible to calculate the thousands of people who have heard a message of inspiration and hope from the gospel while in the privacy of their automobiles.
The remarkable fact is that this church would never have been built had it not been for a totally paralyzed woman in her late seventies . We had originally begun our iiiinistry in a drive-in theater with the intention of moving the entire congregation to a traditional sanctuary. Before our first sanctuary was erected, Rosie Gray was converted. She was totally paralyzed and could only worship in the drive-in-church. There were indications that she would not live very long . So the church board decided to conduct two services of worship, the first at nine-thirty on Sunday morning in tile new sanctuary, and the second at eleven oclock in the drive-in tlleater. . Until Rosie Gray died.
But she did not die. Months and years passed . Because of this situation a plan evolved ----a plan to hire the world’s best architect to build a combination “walk-in-drive-in” church where people could worship either in a sanctuary or in the privacy of their car.
The idea caught fire. The policy was accepted. An architect was engaged. A down payiiient was made on ten acres of land. Plans were drawn. Money was collected. The contract to build the first walk-iii-drive-in church on the Pacific coast was signed. Strange as it may seem, the day after ground-breaking — the day after tile small congregation had made the public plunge to build a walk-in-drive-in church — Rosie Gray died!
Finally the day of ground-breaking arrived. “They also serve who only stand and wait.” One tiling is certain: God used Rosie Gray to guide this young congregation to build a “walk-in-drive-in” church.
Still there are those who do not see the hand of God in human affairs! How can we make them see it? How do you convince an illiterate person that the book placed in his hands actually contains a message? Or how can you provc to a person born deaf, dumb, and blind, that be is surrounded by sounds, colors, music and light?
r how do you teach a man who has lived all his life in a cave that he actually has a shadow? He will not believe it unless he is able to get out of his darkness and thus stand in the sunshinc. Which reminds us of Victor Hugo’s classic remark, “Of course there are those who do not believe in the Infinite: there are also those who do not believe in the sun, because they are blind.”
To us who have felt the guidance of God in our life it is all very, very plain. So I say to you who struggle with skepticism, if you were to park your car in the new parking lot of our church and saw before you a pile of lumber, a heap of rocks, sheets of glass, long strips of aluminum and beams of steel, and suddenly, without a single human being intervening, you saw the wood float into the sky and join together, and at the precise moment beams of steel spontaneously soar into proper place, followed by flying strips of aluminum, then sheets of glass that slid through the sky like flying carpets, and everything finding its perfect place in a framework that was spontaneously erecting itself until before your very eyes von saw this modern sanctuary rise, take shape, and put itselF together — what would you think? You would assume that there was some invisible intelligent force at work, planning everything and putting everything together!
It is thus that we view our universe, which is far more beautiful, far more complex, and far more orderly. No human being has ever laid claim to its design or its erection . There has been no human intervention whatsoever. Yet it is here, beautiful and organized..
Even more when we look upon our lives and we see a complexity oJ events, circumstances, situations, all fall into place through our years until we draw near to the end of life and we look back and say with certainty that there was a divine plan in all of these human events. Then we testify with the Psalmist, “He guided me in the right track.”
How are we guided? The answer is no secret. Surely God speaks to us through the Bible! Those who read it quietly and prayerfully find God’s guidance . And prayer is still the mysterious experience where we tune our minds to the celestial wave length and ask God to guide us
In addition, there are thousands of people who will testify that in the quietness of worship God entered into their consciousness to illuminate them.
But I would suggest that the real secret of receiving Divine guidance is deeper than Bible reading, prayer, or worship . Th e key word is surrender. Surrender your sins, your self-centered desires, and your life to Jesus Christ. Surrender your mind to the Holy Spirit. Are you sure you want guidance? Would you take it if He gave it?
Do you know how to catch a dove?
It is interesting that in the New Testament the dove is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is God who enters into our mental consciousness. Hundreds of thousands of visitors to the San Juan Capistrano Mission in Southern California try to catch the white doves that flock in the ancient mission.
You may reach out with your hand, fingers open, and just as you are about to grasp the feet of the dove, it flaps its wings and flies away . So you try again. You reach out with your hand cautiously, slowly, furtively, and just as you are about to grab the bird, it escapes again . The secret is this : Simply extend your hand. Hold it out straight in front of you. Open your palm. Wait quietly. And the dove will come and rest right in the middle of our hand. Surrender your soul, your mind, your spirit that same way to God! And He will take over your life and guide you. Something wonderful will surely happen. It may begin with a telephone call, a knock on the door, a “timely” article in this month’s magazine, a sermon in church this coming Sunday, or the chance meeting of a new friend. “That’s odd, “ you say, But I answer, “That’s not odd----that’s God!”
YOUR FUTURE IS YOUR FRIEND.
By: ROBERT HAROLD SCHULLER
copyright @ 1964 by : Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Church of the Science of God
La Jolla, California 92038-3131
© Church of the Science of GOD, 1993