Drawn By The Lord (02/25/23)
Going back to my college years, a favorite spiritual concept for me was the idea that we (in the events of our lives/things we go through) are constantly being overseen and guided by the Lord, in terms of what we can learn and how we can grow spiritually from our experiences.
This year (as we embark on our preparation for Easter season as a church) I have been considering how the disciples too were being guided, even as they were given the incredible
opportunity to learn at the Lord's feet. They were Divinely cared for in their journey to learn about and share who Jesus was (and is) and their response to that care and learning laid the foundation for early Christianity.
As I was reflecting on these things, I was overjoyed to find an article by the Rev. Geoffery Childs on the same theme. I particularly resonated with his ending sentiment: "That [heavenly] land awaits, and the Lord is there, drawing us to Him."
Love and Peace,
Picture yourself on a ship,
being carried on a large ocean. You can see and feel that your ship is being carried along, moved eastward by a current. At times you pass near islands, some quite desolate, others of quiet beauty. You feel complete trust in the captain and a sense of freedom about this journey.
But still, in talking with him, you learn new things. You wonder about the boat's destination, and he explains that in time you will reach a land of great wonder, of unimaginable beauty. But more than this, the people there will be your friends, close and completely caring. It will be like coming home. The captain explains these people are
utterly unselfish, loving and gentle.
In thinking about this, you begin to feel unworthy. Aware of [your evil inclinations],
even though recently you have done no open evil, nor do you want to. Still, you do feel guilty in some undefinable way. But the captain looks right at you, into your eyes, and simply says, "You are wrong; the Lord doesn't feel that way about you. The Lord looks upon you as good, as a future angel of heaven." And then a sense of peace comes like dawn in springtime. You trust the Lord. You trust this captain. You know it is the Lord, though, who can bring
you home, to this distant land of wonder.
That the Lord imputes good to every person, and evil to none, consequently that He does not condemn
anyone to hell, but so far as a person follows, raises all to heaven, is evident from His words: 'Jesus said, When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto Myself . . . . There is actually a sphere proceeding continually from the Lord and filling the entire spiritual and natural worlds which raises all toward heaven. It is like a strong current in the ocean which unobservedly draws a vessel. All who believe in the Lord and live according to His precepts enter that sphere or
current and are elevated, while those who do not believe are unwilling to enter, but withdraw themselves to the sides, and are there carried away [by a different] current... (Swedenborg, True Christianity 652).
We could consider also the 46th Psalm: "There is a river whose streams shall gladden the city of God" (verse 4). And in this passages in the work Secrets of Heaven (Swedenborg) which speaks of the stream of Providence: "Be it known that the Divine Providence is universal, that is, in things most minute, and that they who are in the stream of Providence are all the time carried along toward
everything that is happy, whatever may be the appearance of the means; and that those are in the stream of Providence who put their trust in the Divine and attribute all things to Him." (Secrets of Heaven 8478)
As we all know, evil is a real counterforce with us through our hereditary tendencies; spoken of in the Word in powerful ways. ...But the Lord does not impute this to us if we are faithful to the commandments and look to Him. Rather, good is imputed to us!
"That the Lord imputes to a person good and not evil, while the devil [meaning hell] imputes evil and not good to them. This is a new teaching in the church" (Swedenborg, True Christianity 650).
The captain was right. We are not automatically destined for hell. Rather, "there is actually a sphere . . . which raises all to heaven." That land awaits. The Lord is there, drawing us to Him.