Some weeks ago, in Lesson Three, I spoke to you of the importance of letting your desires for success come first with you. Remember? I wonder if any of you thought, “But we have to put ‘first things first’. We have to ‘seek the kingdom’ by just trying to live a good life, not thinking too much of the success we want. Then our success will be given to us in addition, as a reward.”
That has been the mistaken idea of tens of thousands of people in this century and of millions of people in the centuries that have passed since that injunction was uttered. It has kept millions of people poor and unsuccessful, many of whom have attempted to glorify their poverty wrongly thinking of it as a sign of special favour. It has also kept millions of people ill. Good folk who have “sat down under it”, saying resignedly, “God’s will be done” – and doing nothing whatever to make themselves well again.
What then was meant by the injunction, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you”?
It was this. “Do not imagine that you will have any lasting success by seeking outwardly for your success, by looking to other people to supply you with your needs, by thinking that position, capital or influence will help you. Look within yourself to the kingdom wherein the Spirit of God dwells and there you will find all that is holy and good and right, for you.”
“There you will find the gifts, the ‘hidden talents’ which have been given you for the building of your own success. Look within to all these, and then the things in the outer world will be added unto you.”
Only thus can the injunction be linked up with that other, “Prove me now, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open to you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing so that there shall not be room enough to receive it”. Any other interpretation of “Seek ye first” would cancel out the “Prove me now” one – and the real wisdom of the scriptures does not “fight” with itself, does not contradict itself. If you see something in the scriptures that seems to be a contradiction, pause and ponder until you know the true meaning.
So you see that the real meaning of the injunction to “Seek first the kingdom of God” is to do exactly what you are doing now. To seek, seek, seek by every possible means into your inwardness. To learn to make contact with all the wonderful God-given powers lying sleeping within you, so that you can “prove” God and receive such an abundance of His blessings that “there will not be room enough to receive it”. Think how pleasing you must be to your heavenly Father, and how fully you must have His support in your aims! Think with what a clear conscience you can turn to Him and with what confidence you can draw upon the powers He has planted within you!
“If God be for us, who can be against us?” says the scripture. And you will find a similar question in the Thought Bricks Course. “Who can say ‘Nay’ to you if the Eternal Himself says ‘Yea’ to you?”
The next thing to do is to find out what are the special gifts which God has given you for the attainment of success. Every normal man and woman has been endowed with personal gifts, you see, which will enable him or her to do something better than others can do it. For instance, there are many artists in the world. Some use crayons, some water-colours, some oils, some ink and so on. Each one can only achieve full success by finding out which is the best medium for his own special gifts, and even when they have discovered this, what kind of picture their special talents suggest to them as their own truest expression.
If they are hasty or indifferent, if they do not “seek first his inward kingdom”, but are overly influenced by desire for money or wordly praise, or are afraid to do anything that is not considered the conventional thing to do, or do not want to persevere in seeking, then they will fail or will achieve only a partial success. But if they earnestly seek his inner kingdom and unfold his own God-given powers then they will not only achieve success in producing a wonderful work of art, but all the outer things will be added as well. For they will have wealth and the praise of wider society. They will be so respected by the world that what they do will be considered the conventional thing to do – even if it that was not the way it was considered when they started.
Get out your notebook and begin to write down briefly what are your own gifts and capabilities. Ask yourself:
1. What comes easily to me?
2. What do I do well while those around me find difficult to do?
3. What makes the time fly when I am absorbed in doing this?
4. What did I like “trying my hand at” when I was young, before the rush and bustle of the world drove it from my mind?
5. What is the thing I can do best, or that once I could do best of all?
6. What did I want to be when I was young?
Take your time over this, for remember that you are seeking into the kingdom of God-power within you. For years you have had the idea, perhaps, that you were not much good at anything. You have been blinded by the false thinking of the world, that “judges by appearances” and bases its opinion on the finished product instead of on the hidden skill which went to the making of it. But the scriptures tell us to “judge not by appearances” – in other words, to look deep.
Do not think, “This lesson is no good for me because I am growing old. If I had had this Course twenty years ago I might have been able to do something, but not now.” Guard against this excuse – for that is all it is. Those who do not want to make an effort to “seek the kingdom of God-given power within” will seize upon any excuse to escape – and that of age seems a very attractive one
The other day I read about a woman who had lived a very busy life, bringing up, in addition, a large family. She retired at the age of seventy-six and then began to seek within for her real, God-given powers. She found she could paint, though she had never had a lesson. And between the ages of 76 and 91 has painted hundreds of pictures. But more than this, they are wonderful pictures because she is now using her own special God-given gifts and powers. She is now very, very wealthy for her pictures sell for many thousands of pounds each. So do not for a moment think you can escape from your seeking on the grounds of age
Yes, I want you to delve deep and find your God-given gifts. They may be brilliant or they may be gifts considered humble by the world. Never mind about this. Find them. Continue with your “Golden Gate” affirmation night and morning, and then give at the very least half an hour during one day to delving for and recording in your notebook your own special gifts. You certainly have them. No mentally normal person is without them, remember. Many years ago I wrote an article about some records that I had, which had been stored away. The gramophone referred to was one of the ancient, wind-up kind and the records were the old “seventy-eights” I quote the article here:
Ever since the records have been stored and I have often looked at the shabby albums and remembered the beauty within. Then about ten days ago I was offered a gramophone – a table model. It was secondhand but in very good order and, when it had been fitted with my own super Swiss sound-box which I had been saving, it was just as good as our old one. How busy I was for a few hours, cleaning the records with benzine and sorting them out. Then I gave a “recital” – and oh, the joy of hearing them again! We are particularly fond of quiet, peaceful, piano music and soon we were listening to Chopin’s “Nocturne”, the “Hungarian Rhapsody”, Liszt’s “Etu de Concert in D Flat Major”, Albert Sandier playing “Liebestraum” and Thais, Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in C Sharp Minor”, Shubert’s “Trio in B Flat Major” and “Unfinished Symphony”, and to Beethoven’s “Sonata in A Major”.
How uplifted and joyful I have been with all these. I sit beside the gramophone – and – put my hand on it, leaning my head against it too. In this way I seem to hear over and undertones undetectable by the ears alone.
Yet all those years the records were mute, the beauty hidden. How like people! They too are mute, sometimes for years, sometimes for all their lives. If one told them of the divinity within them, the Spirit of God dwelling in the temple of their bodies, they would be unbelieving. Just so would an inhabitant of some savage jungle be, if he were shown my records and told that hidden within them are wonderful musical strains, lovely “voices” of many instruments to charm and delight the ear! But if I put the records on the gramophone and he heard them, then he could not fail to believe. So it is with people.
Like mute gramophone records they remain, unconscious of their hidden gifts and powers until something that acts as the gramophone touches their lives and releases the hidden beauty for all to see and hear. What is this “gramophone”. Well it may be a song which brings self-knowing. It may be an inspired and moving sermon. It may be a lesson or a book. It may be the example of a friend. It may be the Book of Books itself, opened at random. Whatever it is, it acts as the “gramophone” and releases from the “mute record” of the person the hidden beauty and wisdom, the gifts and the power. That person becomes transformed and goes soaring up to the heights and finds the fulfilment of their dreams.
Do not for one moment think that your “record” is mute because there is nothing on it. Your past years of experience, of striving, of sorrowing and suffering, of joying and dreaming, of attaining an desiring, of yearning for what has seemed to be the unattainable have all scored “grooves” in the “record” that is you. When you come into contact with the “gramophone” that is the best medium for you, you will be no longer mute. You will be transformed, and all your hidden beauty will be released. It will all come pouring out of you in a symphony of praise to God the Giver. It is the reason why I write – that my words may be a “gramophone” to the “mute records” who are ready for their joyful release.
In considering your talents, don’t expect to find something startling that will suddenly pop up into your consciousness. In a sense, it is like a bud opening out. First you will have to dig to find the seed, loosening the dry soil, then watering it a little. You will have to coax it to grow, after it has been lying neglected for so long. Allow plenty of time for it to expand, unfold and blossom. And as I said earlier, don’t ignore any talent that appears to be a commonplace or small one.
Years ago one of the students who was studying these teachings at first felt that there was nothing that she could do particularly well. But she persisted, and presently remembered that in her youth she was fond of making fudge. Following on with this idea, she began to thought build for the blossoming of this “seed”. Of course she used lots of faith and optimism and where lo you think it led her?
Well, she came into contact with the owner of a cafe in a holiday village. He was looking for a special line to, sell to visitors, and this woman’s fudge was made from one of those family secret recipes. At his request she supplied him with some, attractively packed, and the visitors loved it. Before the season was half over, they were selling it by post as well, because the visitors returned home and then wrote for further supplies.
She was a widow and life had been rather lonely and dull before – but it opened out, successful, exciting. The last I heard of her, was that she was marrying the owner and they were entering into a double partnership – in life and in the cafe.
Who would have thought that life could be transformed because a person could make a special kind of fudge? But you see, we are all “mute records” that are capable of playing wonderful “music”. Don’t expect to unfold yours all at once. But by faith you will succeed.
REMEMBER: Change your thoughts and you change your circumstances. You have 22 more weeks to practise prosperity-thinking. By then it should be a habit.