In one of her enduringly spiritual and relevant books, The Secret Door to Success, Florence Scovel Shinn offers a most profound and powerful meditation. “Spiritual development means the ability to stand still, or aside, and let Infinite Intelligence lift your burdens and fight your battles.” Simply put, Shinn recommends “letting go and letting God” as His infinite power, goodness, knowledge and presence will justly resolve any adversity you face. You need not demonize people who attack you. God will vindicate you. Accordingly, forsake extracting revenge upon anyone and relinquish our right to insist upon their punishment. In His mystery and justice, God will mete out punishment in a perfect way. He will force your accusers to live with the direct consequences of their choices. Moreover, if you trust unswervingly in God’s unquestionable faithfulness, you experience His unfailing love and unending grace as He perfectly removes daily and lingering obstacles and defeats longstanding and intrepid adversaries.
It is so easy to recite Shinn’s meditation with fierce emotion. In contrast, it is very hard to practice it in daily living. However, I assuredly attest it works. For so many years, I reasoned that I had to defend myself against all enemies. I did not think that I could rely upon anyone to speak on my behalf. As a result, I inadvertently alienated countless people as I relentlessly defended my honor and reputation as I resolved I could not trust anyone else to do so. I wrote countless memoranda spanning hundreds perhaps thousands of pages. I insisted upon numerous and lengthy meetings in which my very argumentative disposition further distanced people from me. My intensity overwhelmed people; the feverish pitch of my anger resembled an erupting volcano. Though some people actually agreed with me and believed that I had been falsely accused, they remained silent lest they be thought as sharing my righteous indignation. My personal attempts at self-justification and self-vindication failed miserably each time.
As I incorporate Shinn’s books and meditations into my thinking and practice her suggestions in daily living, I more greatly acquire peace of mind, happiness and wellness. Life is considerably less stressful and emotionally taxing as I learn to be still and watch Almighty God advocate my cause. Embroiled in a current battle in which some persons wish inexplicably to eliminate my position, surprisingly, I remain silent at meetings and allow justice, truth and righteousness to emerge. Though I have been on the receiving end of numerous belittling, demeaning and dehumanizing remarks, I have not fought back by reciprocating those insulting and harmful words. In total contradiction to the hardwiring of my personality, I proactively apologized to the authors of the memoranda and speakers as I reason I must have said or done something to warrant their vitriol. Further, I offered to meet with them to clear any clogged channels of communication. I remain open to the redemption of these relationships; further, I entertain the
possibility of reconciliation were all persons to assemble in good faith and commit willingly to restore our relationships. As I seek to honor God with these overtures of establishing genuine peace, He neutralizes my “enemies” and advocates for me.
Being still and standing aside demand silence, humility and patience. It is hard to remain silent when I wish to speak forcefully on my own behalf. In instances when I am silent, I experience a better outcome. The difference amazes me as I accept my words can worsen a situation; the very sound of my voice taints a perspective for some people. Humility means that I realize that an Infinite Intelligence is better able to resolve difficulties. My limited view, no matter who correct, remains imperfect. As I learn to cease taking myself so seriously, I must accept the correctness of other people’s opinions. Lastly, patience teaches me to trust that God does indeed desire the very best outcome for me as He does for everyone else. He will not bless me at the expense of others; neither will He favor them at my expense.
Waiting upon Almighty God equates with cultivating spiritual maturity to rely genuinely upon Him and developing greater trusts in His faithfulness. Shinn’s meditations are a contemporary appropriation of the Psalmist’s experience. During a very turbulent period in his life, the Psalter declares “God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in the time of trouble.” Later in Psalm 46:10, the Psalter exhorts his own soul, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted over the Earth.” Though wars burst forth, earthquakes occur and the mountains shake, the Psalter takes refuge in God’s everlasting faithfulness. The Psalter need not fear for his physical and emotional well-being. As the Psalter’s Infinite Intelligence, Provision and Protector, Almighty God perfectly possesses the power to preserve the Psalter. Self-reliance is meaningless. The Psalter realizes rewards and blessings of being still in the presence of God and allowing God’s favor to bestow unimaginable joys, mysteries and experiences upon the Psalter.
In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat experiences God’s defense against three formidable armies. Three fierce rivals decide simultaneously to attack the nation. Jehoshaphat, anxious at this threat, declares a period of fasting and prayer which includes new born babies! The king despairs to such an extent that he cannot eat or sleep. Still, he wisely and reasonably prepares for battle. On the day of the conflict, after offering praise and thanksgiving to God, Jehoshaphat learns from God that he will not have to fight after all. Rather, the Lord will fight for the king and His people. “This battle is not yours; it is the Lord’s. Stand aside and see the salvation of God.” Jehoshaphat watches the Lord confuse the three armies of His foes; they eventually destroy each other.
The Psalter’s and Jehoshaphat’s experiences reinforce the necessity of maturing in our trust in God’s faithful promises. We can relate these two sacred stories to our current challenges. If our financial situation mirrors a natural disaster, we can appeal to God for wisdom and resolution. If threatened with termination, we can let God fight our “enemies” and defend us. Should we receive a diagnosis which means that our physical life hangs in the balance, we can commit this challenge to the Infinite Intelligence of our loving Heavenly Father. Summarily, being still and standing aside rather than being indicators of weakness are actually practical and pragmatic means of spiritual growth and personal development.
by Victor M. Singletary