Imelda Shanklin: God's Constancy
Wherever it looks, the emotional mind beholds the signs of unrest. Its own infidelity to ideals, the inconstancy that characterizes the world's aims, and the mutability of phenomena impress upon it the conviction that there is a man-encompassing power which acts wholly on its own responsibility and irrespective of man's desires or efforts. It attributes the unaccountable to an unknowable. Wherever it fails to apprehend the author of an event it fills the gap by placing God in it. Arguing from the known to the unknown, it concludes that God is a being of moods and caprices. It abandons itself to the irresponsible and insatiable, consigning its life, hopes, and consequences to a power which it believes itself unable consecutively to please.
The emotional mind sees appearances, a world wholly unrelated to the abiding universe in which God dwells. It mistakes thought activity for ideas, and by so doing confuses fickle results with substantial cause. By the very fact of holding God to be a variable quantity in the life presence, it multiplies its own fluctuations. It flashes a procession of bewildering views upon the mental screen and ignorantly calls the phantoms life.
There is no stability in life until we put from us the thought that God can change. There is no possibility of our making uninterrupted progress until we know that we have a fixed principle by which to gauge our living. There is no hope of winning God's sustaining approval until we realize that he is an abiding presence of helpfulness with which to cooperate in all our efforts to attain the mastery demanded by Jesus Christ: "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do ... and greater Works."
God does not change. He cannot change. If change were possible to God, our studying to approach him in character would be illogical and superfluous. The emotional man is a creature of changes, and to think of God also as being variable would make existence take on the nature of a fantastic dance, a world of shadows, leaping and wavering in imitation of a master shadow. Prayers would be of no avail; faith would be of no avail; works would be of no avail. For if God were of one mind yesterday and of another mind today, by what adroitness of mental legerdemain could we hope to catch up with his mood of tomorrow?
In whatever study we make of God, it is imperative that we remember his constancy of nature. With that truth immovably fixed in us we can meet all the changes of phenomena and be unchanged by them. We can face all the fluctuations of the emotions and remain serene in the consciousness that the emotions may vary but mind never does.
God is stable principle. Outside of this comprehension of the Father there is no hope of peace. Without this truth as the groundwork of our relations with him, all our ways are based on error, all our conclusions are faulty, all our attainments are vanity, our soul's food becomes dry ashes, our drink brackish waters. To know God as the abiding presence of good is to know him in the uttermost parts of being.
In dealing with the facts and the phenomena of life, we must work at our minds until we have dismissed the last remnant of belief in the reality of what God has not created. We must build the whole structure of our minds on the truths that God is the only Creator and that his creation is flawless. It is not hard for us to accept God as good. We can easily argue ourselves into a conviction that creation is flawless, being God's work; but too often it is an impermanent conviction, and before we are aware of it, we are again seeing evil in some particular of God's creation, evil in some relation of the parts of God's creation. The emotional sense is so tenacious of its convictions, and sometimes it seems so apparent that evil is a thing in itself, that the work of delivering the mind from this mistake becomes one of endless watchfulness.
We have God's word that creation is good, like we know him to be. We have logic for it that a perfect Creator creates — perfectness. We know that God creates all things which really are; we know that he, the Perfect One, is in, and sustains all his creations. If we separate our minds from this truth we set up a dual creation. We name God as Creator and call his work good. Then we name a counter-creator, and the supposed work of the latter we call evil. We cry to God, and then we veto our own petition by the fear of limitation. We address ourselves to his perfectness, and then in the foolishness of the emotional we deny perfectness. Observe the situation thus produced, stated in the terms of a spiritual equation:
Perfectness plus limitation equals an impossibility; or,
Perfectness minus perfectness equals nothing.
This is what the belief in evil does to God's flawless work. The perfectness of creation is not injured by these illogical combinations, but the soul that divides its allegiance between the Perfect and an imagined imperfect makes a confusion of life. Creation is all good. He who builds on another foundation than this erects his life house on the shifting sands of error. God is never anything contrary to himself. To let in the possibility of evil dims his idea of creation in our minds.
God is the only giver. He is no Indian giver. He never takes away what he has bestowed [TruthUnity note: I apologize for this inconsiderate statement written by the author many years ago and regret whatever ill feelings it may cause]. The faculties that we exercise, the health that we enjoy, the friendships that enrich, are for us, to have and to hold, always. God does not wrest one of these blessings from any one. It has nothing to do with his original possessions when a man says: "My health has deserted me; God has afflicted me with sickness." If the man should mislay a book, he would not say that the book had left him, nor would he say that God had taken the book from him. He would not need to be told that the book was still his, that it was waiting for him where he last placed it, and that he must search for it until he found it. He would know all these things for himself, and would set about to correct the results of his carelessness.
Our faith coupled to God's constancy rights every wrong, redeems every failure, restores every loss. The woman who lost the coin swept and searched her own house, and she had the piece of money back. The first lesson of the parable is a warning against carelessness; the second lesson teaches that the nonapparent is always ours, as fully ours when we do not see it as it is when we have the testimony of the apparent to convince us. Therefore, if through misunderstanding of Omnipresence one has mislaid a faculty, God will show that one where the blessing has been placed. Those who trust him, who surrender to his guidance, he will lead to the place where they have put down health or joy or courage; he will restore all that they remember and claim of him. The forgotten gift may again be taken up, be made dominant in life, and the consciousness be renewed into a re-created creature in Christ Jesus.
God does not change. We change our relation to the elements of life, and by that change in us the order and the circumstances of life take on new characteristics. When we acquaint ourselves with God in his wisdom mode, we know how to use the life elements. Then our states succeed each other in a righteous, serene manner. The new exigency absorbs the outgrown need with as little friction as the light of the sun consumes the light of the stars, shedding upon earth the brighter glories required for the renewed activities of man.
Glory to God omnipresent; hallowed in me be his Spirit of constancy to give, and to bring to my remembrance, out of the deeps of being, all things necessary for my complete restoration to him. Amen