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"Rising Above Our Challenges" by Rev. Christine Emmerling 5/29/2022 (text)

“Rising Above Our Challenges” Rev. Christine Emmerling 5/29/22

There are many kinds of challenges we may experience. These may be a personal life tragedy as in a loss of loved ones, disease, or life altering injury. Then there are traumas as in a break-up of a long relationship, loss of a job, a business, or the roof over our head and possessions. All these and many more can bring about pain, suffering, depression or worse. For some people these kinds of experiences may stop them in their tracks. Today I’m talking about Rising Above Our Challenges.

We all will experience some kind of disaster, trauma, or tragedy at some point in our life. I remember when going through something major and hearing, “God never gives you more than what you can handle” and “What doesn’t break you, will make you stronger.” Believe me at times I really questioned these sayings. And they are meant to make us feel better. Regardless, I did get through it, or I should say, grew through it.

Its all in how we deal with crisis when it comes. Having faith can get a person through anything. Its amazing how people rebound after having lost so much. We learn what is really important in life. We’ve seen humanity’s compassion come forth in helping others through their loss. There is always a greater good to come forth. Not sure what its going to look like, but trust it will show itself - if we look for it.

Having a spiritual practice is so helpful in building those faith muscles. Divine Science and New Thought teachings have tools to help us through those tough times, and for an enriched purposeful life. At International New Thought Alliance Congresses we hear speakers say over and over again, “It works if you work it!” That is so true. These teachings aren’t just to be heard or spoken, they are to be practiced, tested and lived. It’s a way of life, a way to a better life.

In the Bible we’re given some examples of how to spiritually prepare ourselves and overcome our challenges. I’m paraphrasing these stories. Beginning with Matt. 25:1-13, Jesus starts by saying the kingdom of heaven is like 10 virgins that were to take their lamps to greet the bridegroom and bride for the wedding. A virgin back then meant a young maiden. Of the 10 maidens five were wise, and 5 were foolish.

The foolish maidens took their lamps but took no oil with them. The wise maidens brought oil for their lamps. While the bridegroom was delayed they slept. It was midnight when the bridegroom came for them to go with him. The five foolish maidens asked the wise maidens to share their oil. But were refused as there wouldn’t be enough for their own lamps, and were told to go purchase some at the market place. When the foolish maidens returned they had missed the bridegroom, and were locked out. They cried out, but were not recognized. Then in verse 13 we’re told to “Be alert, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

Metaphysically, this message is about being spiritually prepared for an enlightened experience while in meditation. It is also about having prepared ourselves to meet our experiences on this journey of life.

The five foolish maidens represent our five physical senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. Meaning all our attention is focused on this world around us. The five wise maidens have their five senses focused on their inner world. Their senses are refined to receive wisdom intuitively by quietly going within for guidance, such as through prayer and meditation. The bridegroom, bride and wedding represents the mystical marriage that brings forth the Christ within us.

Oil means thoughts of love which makes holy. No oil would be thoughts of lack and fear. Our inner light goes out leaving us in darkness. Darkness is living in ignorance to things of the spirit.

When we become distracted and take no time for our spiritual practices we become empty inside - we are without spiritual light of faith, love and wisdom. Only we can rekindle our light through our study of truth, practices and by living it.

The bridegroom represents our Christ Mind or God Consciousness. It is revealed when we have prepared ourselves with faith and love, and then we wait in the silence with all our focus inward to our holy temple. We do not know when this experience of the Christ shall take place. It is up to us to just be prepared, and then we are ready for anything that comes our way. We are strong in our faith and love, and wisdom shall guide us through any difficulty.

The next story is in Luke 8:22-25, Jesus and his disciples got in a boat and decided to cross the lake. And, while they were rowing Jesus fell asleep. There arose a storm of wind on the lake; and the boat was near sinking. And they came up and called out Our Teacher, our Teacher, we are perishing. He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and they quieted down, and the lake was once again calm. Then Jesus questioned the disciples having little faith.

Symbolically the boat represents our soul’s consciousness. Crossing a body of water means a change in consciousness. Jesus being asleep means we are no longer connected to our Christ consciousness. Our disciples, our faculties of mind, when challenged, quickly forget all they have learned, and become fearful and feeling helpless.

The sea or lake is the subconscious mind that is filled with all kinds of beliefs. Rowing a boat is about stirring up our subconscious mind. The windy storm represents a collection of negative thoughts that have been stirred up from the sea of the subconscious. Negative thoughts release fearful emotions that overwhelm as in a storm of emotion.

This story is telling us that we are to remind our self that the Christ power is within us. Remembering God first in any challenge. Take a moment to go within and remember God, the Christ within us. Having restored our faith in our Oneness, we are ready to deny the power in any worldly appearance, and affirm that which is true of the situation. Then all the fearful emotions dissolve into nothingness from which they came, and all is calm.

In Matthew 14:22-33 we have another stormy sea story. Jesus had just fed the multitudes, and told his disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of him while he stays and goes up the mountain to be alone and pray. It was now dark, and the boat was many miles from land. The wind and waves tossed the boat about.

Then they saw what they thought was a ghost, and became afraid not knowing it was Jesus until he spoke. Peter then asked Jesus to command him to walk on water knowing he could if Jesus told him too; which Jesus did. Peter took a few steps on the water then noticed the strong wind, he became afraid and began to sink.

Peter called out for Jesus to save him, and Jesus outstretched his hand and lifted him up, and said to Peter, O you of little faith, why did you doubt? And when they got into the boat the wind quieted down. All those in the boat came and worshiped Jesus; and they said, Truly you are the Son of God.

Metaphysically our soul, our 12 disciples or faculties of mind, had just been fed a meal of spiritual wisdom teachings. The boat and crossing water is our change in consciousness. We are going from our Christ mind to our subconscious mind to contemplate to absorb these new ideas. The boat being tossed about, but not sinking, represents being off balance, and having a sense of confusion between the new and the stirred up old ideas.

During this time, the Christ within arrives on the scene walking on water; meaning above our conscious mind and subconscious mind. But in this emotional state we don’t have the inner sight, and become fearful. A ghost represents being focused in thoughts of our past that haunt us and being regretful.

After having been spiritually fed, we get our experiences for us to practice our new spiritual teachings, and if we don’t we get tossed about. Some call this spiritual indigestion when we learn and learn, and have not taken time to practice and integrate. We are reminded, even in the midst of crisis, I am here. The I Am, or God, is here even when we temporarily forget, and can not see the evidence of its presence.

Peter walking on water represents our Faith faculty is putting faith to the test and rises above the difficulty. Faith knows that through Christ all things are possible, and our consciousness now sees beyond the appearances to the truth. Then when our attention gets distracted by worldly concerns, we again find ourselves in the depths of our fears, and again we must turn to the truth we know. Our inner Christ lifts us up once again above the appearances. Ask and you shall receive the inner awareness and guidance to know the Christ within. Then we “Be still and know that I am God.”

This story reminds me back when my parents, aunt and uncle and I went to a 4 day spiritual retreat to hear Herbert Fitch teach on the Infinite Way. The retreat was held in a hotel at San Louis Obispo, CA.

Everyday we were having hours of instruction and meditation. Some of the new ideas were challenging to us. Driving back home over the Santa Cruz mountains on highway 17. My uncle was driving my car and I was in my parents car. A wheel came off a car driving by. It bounced down the road and like a can opener ripped through the hood of the car my uncle was driving. And by the grace of God flew off without going through the windshield. We gave a big “Thank You God” that no one was injured.

After we got home, we asked each other why would this happen when we had been on such a spiritual high? Why wouldn’t we be above these kinds of things happening to us? Our conclusion was that we had been in a protected accelerated learning environment in an uplifted state of consciousness. We were now coming down off our mountain of consciousness when we met our learning experience head on to grow through. To put to practice what we had just learned to integrate and become part of us.

When we are faced with our challenges, we have a choice in how we are going to handle them. Do we go back to our old ways in fear, guilt, blaming others? Or do we lift our consciousness in prayer and put to practice the truth we know?

Albert Einstein said “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” Another way of saying to meditate and climb the mountain of consciousness for the answers. Then to pray and exercise our faith as to walk on water. Be fearless and hold on to the truth we know. Make the stormy sea calm or whatever the challenge is that needs to be transformed or have a greater realization. Regardless the challenge we have our spiritual tool kit to overcome. Through our faith in a God that is here and alive within us. I already possess it - I need only to express it.

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