Greetings, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has shared many spiritual truths with me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we examine some problems associated with the long haul of achieving spiritual perfection and perhaps offer some insights that might help us to endure the long haul better.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Long Haul
"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded." Philippians Chapter 3, Verse 14
At some point in the journey from transitioning from humanity to divinity, becoming perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect, we come to realize that it is not going to be an easy transition. We begin to realize that it is going to take considerably more effort than we had expected. We must settle down for the long haul of transformation and regeneration.
Where will we get the additional moral and spiritual power to complete this journey? We also struggle with the emotional reactions associated with a prolonged journey. We become weary and worn. And oftentimes, we find that there are material difficulties associated with settling down for the long haul, for while we are moving from the human to the spiritual on the inside, our material selves proceed according to the laws governing material reality.
We are dismayed to realize that we must settle down for the long haul; we question whether we have made a wrong turn. But as we search our instructions and directions, we find that we have not. Neither can we detect any conscious deviation from those instructions and directions. The Spirit of Truth is still with us, saying, ““yes, this is still the way.”” In the face of this, what are we to do?
The soul says that the glass of spiritual progress is half full; the material mind says that the glass of material progress is half empty, and that we are rapidly losing sight of the real thing, for no matter how hard we look and try to understand, the material mind sees nothing to understand. The material mind begins to rebel at the choice that will has made, and doubt surges in the mind once again. But this time, doubt reaches peak levels in the material mind, questioning the validity of the whole faith experience that has led it to this uncomfortable place. It points out a thousand and one reasons why a mistake must have been made, all of them material in nature.
All along in its material prison, the material mind seeks to de-throne faith and continues to assault the door of material escape from its intolerable condition. Doubt rages through the material mind like a trapped tiger, pacing back and forth, growling in an unseemly manner. It is relentless in its assault upon the door of faith, seeking to demolish and destroy it once and for all. Day and night and night and day it rages. The self can find no relief from it. It even invades the quiet time of sleep, bringing disturbance to the usually merciful interlude from the problems of life. No pleasant dreams populate the dream landscape. In fact, there are few dreams and when they are, they are filled with chaos. If beauty is the unification of contrasts, then the ugliness of doubt is the disruption of unity. Sleep offers no regeneration, and the self awakens just as tired as it was prior to going to sleep. The experience of sleep is like a bird flying over a desert. There are no rest stops or springs of water or food supplies to replenish it.
And when the door of faith that stands between it and the soul withstands the savage attack of doubt, doubt fires its awesome weapons of depression and anxiety. These weapons on the one hand take all of the wind out of the sailboat of life and, on the other hand, fills the sailboat of life with hurricane force winds. This depression and anxiety further cripple the resolve of the self to continue on with the journey. And when this does not work, doubt fills the whole room of the mind with the darkness of disappointment. And now the self struggles not only with the sense of anxiety and depression but also with the sense of failure, the fear of having hit a dead end.
Doubt is determined to make us abandon the faith journey. It has learned that it cannot succeed in making a direct attack on the door of faith, so it attacks our desire to continue with the long haul. Doubt can then assault the next barrier preventing its victory——hope. If doubt can demolish hope, it can destroy faith. And if it can destroy the door of faith, its victory will be complete and will concentrate on more practical matters and be done with this silly game involving all of this material uncertainty, pain, suffering, disappointment.
So it makes its assault upon the desire to continue the long haul towards spiritual perfection. It does this by suggesting that it is futile to continue this moral and spiritual journey that involves so much self-denial. It says, "You only go around once, and you should go for the gusto. You should be enjoying yourself. Don’’t you know that when you are dead, you are done? You should be selfish and get the most out of the life that you have left. There are still some pearls of selfish joys remaining that even you can enjoy, but you must act quickly; time is marching on, and soon it is going to run out, and then where will you be? Look how much ice cream you’’re missing!"
But this assault only meets with failure, for the desire to continue on is linked to doing the Father’’s will. And as long as it is linked to doing the Father’’s will, doubt--even with its weapons of depression and anxiety and its acute sense of disappointment and failure——cannot nudge it out of place or decrease it in the least. In fact, the attack of doubt upon the supreme desire to do the Father’’s will only makes it stronger, for as long as the desire is linked to the Father’’s will, it also remains linked to hope. Hope is something that doubt cannot penetrate. It is the forecast of the glory of achievement at the end of the journey. The other quality——faith--which it is linked to has shown it the vision of its completed journey, and it is a glorious vision, one that is so real that it cannot be clouded by doubt. It is the vision of the soul raptured in the glorious presence of the heavenly Father, the creator of the journey, the sustainer of the journey, and the consummator of the journey--the infinite, eternal, and absolute heavenly Father, the all-powerful, loving and merciful one.
To destroy hope, doubt must destroy faith, but it cannot because faith is the gift of the heavenly Father, that powerful quality that assures that the transformation from incompleteness to completeness will occur. The door of faith which houses hope is indestructible just like its source. Faith empowers the soul to comply with the Father’’s mandate to be perfect even as the heavenly Father is perfect. Doubt being a temporal quality will eventually burn itself out as it continues its assault upon the door of faith which is eternal. In a last ditch effort it marshals all of the power it has and lunges at the door with absolute failure. Our doubts are always the strongest just before they collapse and concede to the victory to faith, even as the darkest part of the night is just before dawn.
By submitting our wills to the Father’’s will, our wills become impervious to the assaults of doubt.
Submission to the Father’’s will is the absolute defense against doubt and its attempt to undermine us by attacking our desire, hope, and faith. When we settle down for the long haul, the Father, who is faith, hope, and desire, settles down with us and goes through the experience with and as us. This truth——by itself--is our assurance that we can sustain the long haul and emerge victorious. When the soul desires God and the will chooses God, there is no force in the universe that can derail the soul. In the process of settling down for the long haul, metamorphic changes are made so that as we traverse the journey subject to God’’s will, we are transformed into the image of his Son, Jesus.
In addition to the qualities of desire, hope, and faith, we encounter that immovable support of trust in the goodness of God which anchors our desires, our hopes, and faith to Him. And we have the fruits of the spirit. These qualities are the result of striving to do the Father’’s will. They are the character traits and the character reactions of the Father to our moral and spiritual environment. These traits contain the quality of long suffering which allows us to patiently wait while the Father’’s will as well as peace and joy in our souls unfold. Peace and joy give us spiritual satisfaction as we continue the long spiritual journey. We also have prayer, communication with the heavenly Father that gives us
everything that we need to continue the journey. This practice also teaches us how to do the Father’’s will, how to become perfect even as the Father in heaven is perfect. And finally we have worship, the soul’’s identification with the heavenly Father, the oneness with the Father that allows us to view him in the image of his Son, Jesus.
This concludes today's message on understanding how to endure the long haul. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.