[acimlessons_list] Lesson 317 - November 13
suelegal at gmail.com
Mon Nov 13 21:46:41 EST 2006
LESSON 317 - NOVEMBER 13
"I follow in the way appointed me."
See complete instructions in separate document.
A short summary:
* Read the commentary paragraph slowly and personally.
* Pray the prayer, perhaps several times.
* Morning and evening: Repeat the idea and then spend time in Open Mind
* Hourly remembrance: Repeat the idea and then spend a quiet moment in
* Frequent reminders: Repeat the idea often within each hour.
* Response to temptation: Repeat the idea whenever upset, to restore peace.
* Read the "What Is" section slowly and thoughtfully once during the day.
"I have a special place to fill; a role for me alone" (1:1).
There is a place for me in the plan of Atonement. There is something that is
meant specially for me to do, and until I find and fulfill my part,
"salvation waits" (1:2). My particular twist on the insanity of separation
needs to be healed before healing is complete.
I do believe we each have a particular part to play in the drama of
salvation. We each have a "special function" to fulfill, and part of
following the Holy Spirit is learning to discover what that role is. It may
not be anything grand or large in the public eye. It may be the healing of
one particular relationship. It might be, as it was with Helen Schucman,
bringing some message from God into this world. It might be raising children
and bringing them up from the perspective of a healed mind. It might be
tending bar and listening to the patrons with forgiveness. But we do have a
function, and we need to find and fill it.
Whatever it is, it will be some aspect of healing, some aspect of
alleviating guilt, some way of recognizing the Christ in those around us. It
will be a function which, in some way, gives and brings grace into the
world, for all functions within the plan of God fall into this general
category. Healing is our function here.
When I find my function I will find my happiness, for happiness is my
function. This is what I choose today. Today, Father, I pray:
"I'll go where You would have me go; I'll do what You would have me do. I'll
be forever in love with You."**
All my sorrows end in Your embrace. (2:5)
WHAT IS THE LAST JUDGMENT?
Part 7: W-pII.10.4:1
God's Final Judgment is as merciful as every step in His appointed plan
to bless His Son, and call him to return to the eternal peace He shares
The plan of God and its ending are characterized by one thing: mercy. The
final outcome will be mercy, and every step along the way to our learning
that will be merciful. God has a plan, and that plan is to call us "to
return to the eternal peace He shares" with us. No part of that plan is
anything but merciful.
Sometimes, even though we may believe that the ending will be merciful, we
think that harshness, pain, and suffering are necessary along the way. I
don't think so. I believe that the merciful nature of the outcome permeates
the entire pathway. Every bit of it is aimed at release from suffering.
"There is no need to learn through pain" (T-21.I.3:1). When we have already,
in our blindness, chosen pain, it can be used to teach us; but there is no
need for it to be that way. God's only desire is to release us from our
And in the end, He will. In the end, we will know the fullness of His mercy,
the consistency of His Love, and the shining radiance of His joy. At the
heart of the universe, God is an infinite expanse of welcome.
* * *
ALL MY SORROWS END IN YOUR EMBRACE
In a couple of articles for A Better Way, I have shared my love for the
prayers in Part II of the Workbook. They are a wonderful way to prepare
one's mind to enter into quiet communion with God, which is exactly what the
Workbook says they are for (I make this claim based on a careful examination
of the introduction to Part II, especially 3:3 and 4:6). To encourage their
actual use for this purpose, I would like to comment on the prayer for
Lesson 317, "I follow in the way appointed me":
Father, Your way is what I choose today. Where it would lead me do I
choose to go;
what it would have me do I choose to do. Your way is certain, and the
The memory of You awaits me there. And all my sorrows end in Your
which You have promised to Your Son, who thought mistakenly that he had
My comments take the form of suggestions for how one might pray this prayer,
and so I suggest that you may want to do just that. One way to do this is to
read a line from the prayer and my commentary on it, and then pause and
spend a minute or two focusing on that line, actually praying it, before
going on to reading the next part.
<Father, Your way is what I choose today.>
This prayer opens (as do more than half of the prayers in Part II of the
Workbook) by having you address God as "Father." Rather than speaking into
empty space, or beseeching some remote and fearful deity, you begin this
prayer by speaking directly to your Father. The word "Father" here is meant
to call upon our image of the ideal father, the perfect dad. What is the
perfect dad like? He is near, available, accessible. He is a source of
safety and protection, a place of refuge. He provides for all your needs,
making sure you are not lacking. All he wants is your happiness. He regards
you as a part of himself, a continuation of his line, an extension of his
very identity. And so he gives you all of his love and plans to pass on to
you all that he has, including his name, his station in life, and his
fortune. In addressing God as "Father," try to hold this image of fatherhood
in mind. And try to make it a personal address, so that you are really
speaking directly to your Father. Expect Him to hear you.
This first sentence makes a powerful declaration. You are telling God that
His way is what you are choosing today. What is His way? You might try
filling in things you associate with God's way. You might say, "Your way of
forgiveness (or peace, or love, or salvation) is what I choose today." You
might even have specific things that choosing God's way today will entail.
It may come to your mind that choosing His way means forgiving your coworker
or giving up some fear you are hanging onto.
But to make this prayer meaningful, you have to mean it. As much as you can,
endeavor to genuinely view today as a day in which you choose God's way.
This may mean reflecting on some questions: How much have you chosen His way
as yours? How much are you still holding out, so that His way is only one
option among many for you? How much do you still see your happiness as
coming from your ability to control external events and situations and
people? Based on your experience thus far, which way seems to promise you
more: yours or His? To the extent that you can honestly answer "His," then
put that feeling into the saying of this line. See this day as one you will
look back on and say to yourself, "That was the day when I chose God's way."
To make this more real, when you come to the word "today," you might even
want to fill in the day of the week and the date.
<Where it would lead me do I choose to go;>
When you enlist in God's way you are agreeing to all that goes with it,
which includes going wherever He sends you. You are placing no limits on
this agreement. It is a blanket commitment, covering all possibilities. This
not because you have some sense of blind allegiance or slavish duty, but
because you trust that God knows better than you what will make you happy.
So as you speak this line try to evoke a feeling of trust, knowing that your
Father would not lead you to your doom. You might even add, "because I trust
You might also want to think of some of the places where His way might lead
you. "Where" in this line specifically refers to places in this world you
would go as part of fulfilling your special function; this lesson begins by
saying, "I have a special place to fill; a role for me alone." Yet it can
also refer to more abstract "places" like peace or salvation or Heaven. Try
taking whatever places come to mind in terms of where His way might lead you
and then add them onto the end of the above line: "to my in-laws' house, to
move to Maine, to peace, to Heaven."
<what it would have me do I choose to do.>
This line is, of course, very much like the previous one. Again, you may
want to remind yourself that you can trust your Father's way to lead you to
peace, not death. You also might want to listen for things He specifically
wants you to do today. Perhaps you can sense that He wants you to call
someone, do a favor for someone, or take care of something you have been
You have now said three times in different ways that you are choosing His
way. This is no trivial statement. Remember the power your choosing has.
What the Course says about your learning power also applies to your power of
choice: "There is no greater power in the world. The world was made by it,
and even now depends on nothing else" (T-31.I.3:2-3). If you say, "Your way
is what I choose today" and <mean> it, your whole life could change.
<Your way is certain, and the end secure.>
Once again the word "way" is used. In addition to being the focus of every
line of the prayer so far, it also crops up in the lesson's title ("I follow
in the way appointed me") and in the paragraph before the prayer ("when I
willingly and gladly go the way my Father's plan appointed me to go"). These
two references tell us something about this way. This is a way we can
"follow in" and a way we can "go." Clearly, this way is a sort of roadway,
pathway, or highway. It is a path that one travels on.
What does it mean, then, to say that this "way is certain"? For this, we can
turn to clues in nearby lessons. Lesson 321 tells us that God's way is the
certain way to finding our <freedom>. Lesson 331 tells us that it is the
certain way to our <release>. So, "Your way is certain" means "Your way will
work. It will take me where it promises. It will lead me to freedom, to
release, to my home." Try to say this with real conviction. To gather this
conviction, you may want to reflect on where <your> way has led you. Has it
worked? A recurrent theme in the Course is that our roads, though they
promise to lead us to freedom, end up leading us nowhere. Only God's road
brings us to the destination we truly desire.
This leads right into the second part of the above line, for it too refers
to the destination of this way or path. We now affirm that the end, the
goal, the destination of God's way is secure. This means that we will get
there for sure. We will reach the destination, for God has guaranteed it.
So when you say this line, "Your way is certain, and the end secure," try to
envision your own journey home. You have walked down many dead-end roads in
the past, roads which started with high hopes, yet got increasingly bumpy
and futile the further you traveled. Yet when you truly set your feet on
God's way, you will be walking on a smooth road straight to your
destination. It may seem thorny and twisted at first, but this is only
because you will frequently leave His road in search of your old pathways.
Yet the further you travel on God's way, the more committed to it you will
be, and so the easier it will become, until the day comes when you reach its
very end. And that day <will> come for you.
<The memory of You awaits me there.>
Now the prayer directly speaks of the end of the road. We have been
journeying since time immemorial, through countless experiences and untold
difficulties. What has it all been for? What wondrous destination awaits us
at the end of the journey? "The memory of You"-the memory of God. To
appreciate what this memory is, we must first discuss the preseparation
state. Before the separation, we lived in a state of knowledge. We knew God
face to face. This knowing was so immediate, so total, that there was no
separation between our knowing of God and God Himself. The two were one and
the same. God was directly present in our minds, and this Presence was our
knowing of Him. He was our Love, and knowing Him was our whole existence and
This is the knowledge we forgot in the separation, leaving us in a state of
chronic lack and loneliness. This is what we have been blindly searching for
through all our wandering. This is what we head straight toward as we follow
in God's way. This is the sweet reward that awaits us at the end of the
road. Our Love Himself awaits us with Open Arms. There, we will remember
Him, the One Who was everything to us, the One we loved with our whole
being, the One we have searched for through all the ages.
Choosing God's way means that you see this one event as what your journey is
for. You see your entire passage through time as an arrow shot at this one
event. You see every day, every hour, every situation, every relationship,
every event, every lifetime as having a single purpose-to bring you to the
event which infinitely dwarfs the entire journey and everything in it: the
memory of your Love.
<And all my sorrows end in Your embrace,>
What a beautiful line! Our Love has been waiting for us with Open Arms, and
now that we reach the end of the road, now that we remember Him, He wraps us
in His embrace. In the total love of this embrace, nothing else matters. All
the pain of the journey vanishes. All the sorrows of the human condition,
the sorrows we have carried since the world began, are gone. The sorrows
were <of> the journey, and both they <and> the journey end together, here in
His embrace. Why? Because at the root of each sorrow was the feeling of
being separated from Him. Now that we are with Him, as the Course says,
"where is sorrow now?" (M-15.1:12).
This poignant line reminds me of two other lines from the Course that
express the exact same sentiment:
The graciousness of God will take them gently in, and cover all their
pain and loss with the immortal assurance of their Father's Love.
I need but turn to Him, and every sorrow melts away, as I accept His
boundless Love for me.
I suggest that you really spend some time with the above line. To help make
it more meaningful to you, you may think of a particular person's embrace
that was so loving it made your sorrows melt away. Then imagine that embrace
being multiplied an infinite number of times. And you also might want to
detail some of your sorrows. List all of the sorrows you can think of, all
those sorrows that will one day end in His embrace.
<which You have promised to Your Son,>
Can you ascertain exactly what God has promised to His Son, according to
this line? It is His embrace. God's promise to you is that, after all your
journeying, you will end up in His embrace forever. How sure do you think a
promise from God is? You might even imagine that you have an actual
promissory note from Him, for is this not what A Course in Miracles is? In
fact, you might try this: Take the Course in your hands and while looking at
it, think of its origins, how it says it comes from God's Own Voice through
Jesus to you. Then dwell on this line: "This is the promissory note You sent
to me, Your Son, promising that I will end up in Your embrace forever."
<who thought mistakenly that he had wandered from the sure protection of
Your loving Arms.>
Up until now the prayer has said that God's embrace waits for us at the end
of the journey and that God has promised us this embrace. Now the conclusion
of the prayer puts a whole new spin on things. Do you see what that spin is?
It is that we never left His embrace. We are still there. That is why the
end is so secure. That is why He can promise that we will end up in His
Arms. We are there right now and always have been.
Imagine the following scenario: You are within the sure protection of God's
loving Arms. In these Arms, you fall asleep and start to dream. And in this
dream you "wake up" and leave His embrace. You wander off, and as you
wander, a growing sense of lack and loneliness opens up within you. Yet this
just provokes more wandering, for now you must find the special thing out
there that will fill this gnawing hole in you. By the time you suspect that
only God can fill this hole, it is too late; He is out of sight and you are
not sure that you can ever get back. And this brings us more or less to
where you are right now in the dream of your life, as you read this sentence
of this essay. For this story is no metaphor. It is the literal story of
your existence. But remember: You never woke up. You are still dreaming. And
so you are still lying asleep in the sure protection of His loving Arms. You
are still in the safety of His fatherly embrace, merely dreaming that you
are on a journey that is soaked with the sorrow of being separate from Him.
Let this idea into your mind as deeply as you can while praying this line.
You might want to use this version: "I, Your Son, thought that I had
wandered from the sure protection of Your Loving Arms. But I am still there.
I am still there. I am still there."
**If you have not heard the wonderful tape album (or CD) by Donna Marie
Carey, Real Love, which contains a song with the words I have just quoted,
all songs based on ACIM, I highly recommend it. Available from Interfaith
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