Faith, the Challenger

By Edna Lister

From the earliest primitive man, ruled by fear, hiding in a cave from predators and enemies, to the devotee of the highest intellectualism, the turning point in all civilizations has been the soul’s unconscious aspiration toward something greater than self. As unconscious aspiration urges soul to look up and truly see the stars for the first time, the faint stirring of conscious intelligence comes into expression within the soul.

Aspiration finally rouses the sleeping soul’s higher creative consciousness from its long slumber. Slowly soul opens its eyes, stretches and begins its long upward search for its Source, God.

“Faith challenges you to become what God meant you to be.”

The soul’s search always reaches above the stars toward a dimly remembered Source from which it descended to take on a form of flesh. Once even dimly conscious of a life beyond the natural fundamental urges of eating, sleeping and mating, the soul leads you ever higher until you are again living by desire, faith and devotion, the three fundamental soul principles underlying all life.

Aspiration is the soul seeking food to stay its hunger for a greater path to follow than the instinctive lower self, a Source that the soul may hold as its own to worship. Instinctive desire is always toward the lower appetitive soul and its gratification, while rational soul desire is always toward a God whom you may worship.

However, all desire originates in the one creative impulse with which God filled the universe as the motive power behind His desire to create. Desire is God’s Creative Impulse as the life in you. Desire is your God-given heritage. You can repress and misuse the creative impulse as you express it, but you cannot kill it. The creative impulse is the very Breath of God, the Breath of the Creator, which must finally return to God.

Since desire seeks, finds, then cleaves to a Source that is greater than the lower self, faith and devotion wrap their delicate tendrils about it and follow desire wherever it leads them. Whether it is a stone image, a great, invisible God or an idea — altruistically ideal or blackly false — once your desire accepts it, you invest complete faith and devotion in it. You follow the source of your desires gladly, though the end may find you wrapped in bitterness and grief.

Aspiration has always been and will continue to be the pilot light under desire. The results you gain in life’s expression depend on which direction your desire takes initially. Your success depends on whether you let self or soul direct and control your expressions of desire.

If you turn your desire inward toward sensory gratification through self-indulgence, you will exalt the lower self to the detriment of your soul. If you turn your desire upward toward the Source, you allow the Power of the Living God to possess your soul consciousness. Then desire, entwined by faith and devotion, will make you strong enough to conquer any obstacle life places in your path, any lesson that contributes to your soul’s growth.

The desire, faith and devotion principles form the foundation of every religion, family, organization, political party and cult on earth. In every activity and expression of life, the three go hand in hand. Desire seeks and finds, while faith and devotion follow blindly after.

When desire changes direction, it takes faith and devotion right along with it to the new idea, expression or adventure. You can trace all life’s difficult problems directly to letting self direct and control desire’s blind following of strange ideas and false gods.

Since hedonism, which is self-gratification, is the greatest of all false gods, it follows that self-satisfaction must become the breeding ground for the four outstanding enemies of soul growth — indifference, lukewarmness, doubt and fear, the lower self “termites” boring into the soul’s original God-inherited strength until you collapse under the many strains of world pressures.

Indifference weakens your desire toward worship of and devotion to a Source outside and higher than the instinctive appetitive lower self. Lukewarmness quenches the fires of faith in your heart and you lose that crusading, conquering spirit of the soul, which you bore to earth as part of your divine inheritance.

Working together, indifference and lukewarmness, when continuously indulged by the appetitive soul imprison all aspiration for God, without which the soul perishes from lack of nourishment. Only aspiration can keep your desire at the white point of heat. This native flame of the soul finally makes you a Christed One, a creator in your own right. As a true creator, the Power of God, which alone enables you to climb from the dark land of self back to your Source, then uses you.

The first tiny doubt you allow entrance to your heart opens the way to fall prey to fear. Fear, unless conquered, sends you cowering behind the bars of your dark thoughts and mental images. Fear allows your emotional life to rule while you continue to rationalize away your native ability.

Your God-bestowed talents can then die without your ever using them to progress, either as success in material affairs or in unfolding your soul. Indifference, lukewarmness, doubt and fear are four noxious weeds that imprison the soul who entertains them and render him powerless to act independently.

Thinking becomes atrophied, and the soul is dragged back continuously from its highest original devotional expression until it is unable to reach upward. You must conquer these, and all such enemies of the soul, but how?

Aspiration is the pilot light that ignites desire and sends it seeking. In conquering enemies of the soul, you must use aspiration to ignite desire to ascend upward only. This conquering must be part of a plan that consciously directs and controls the path desire travels. Selfish desire is forever at the mercy of fate, blown this way and that by every wind. Soul desire travels untouched on a planned path through the winds of earth.

“Acceptance, surrender, and becoming are three steps in soul conquering.”

Acceptance, surrender and becoming are three steps in soul conquering. When you understand the laws governing them and form them into a plan for living, your flame of desire will ascend higher hour by hour.

Obedience to law spells the complete conquering of the instinctive lower self and will eventually lift every impulse of self-indulgence until the lower appetitive soul is united with and becomes one with the soul.

Acceptance. “I accept.” What must I accept? The hardest fact of all to accept (against which the lower self struggles with all its might) is that you are responsible for everything that comes into your life. Both the good and the less-good are direct results of your own conscious or unconscious creating.

You can discover what lessons you came to earth to learn only by understanding the reason for your less-good creations. To accept full responsibility for creating a less-good, to change from indifferent and lukewarm ways of creating, allows aspiration to soar high above old ways, for you have well-learned one of earth’s many lessons. When a less-good visits repeatedly, until you grow tired of being at its mercy, the soul is crying, “Move up!”

Every lesson you learn opens a new law, which you must then apply to your whole life. You must accept each new law for it to become part of your plan for conquering, though you may not understand immediately how to apply the new law. With every new law, you continue to search the lower self for flaws that allow soul-enemies to enter and delude you into forgetting that you have begun to conquer the lower self.

Surrender. The second step is surrender, but surrender to what? To understand fully what surrender means, you must lift misuse of law, another lower self idea. In the past, man thought that God created him to use the law, a misconception that has led to all kinds of misuse of God's Power. It leads directly to the use of force and false thinking that you can make the law work for you. You cannot make the law do anything by using words.

Law is already perfect. Perfect law already desires perfection in all its creations more than anyone can desire. When you change your conception of your relation to law, your life begins to change and your creations will all be good.

God desired to create. He created man in His own image and likeness for perfect law to use in His perfect way. Once you accept this idea, Light divinely impels you to surrender to be used by the Power of God.

It is a joy to become the servant of all the Power of God. As the servant of all perfect Power, you know that Power can use you only as a mouthpiece, as an instrument through which it moves to do its perfect work.

Spirit will put the words of perfect direction and guidance upon your lips while you let the Power do the work of creating through you. Faithfully and confidently you stand, working out your salvation, while waiting upon the law. To “wait upon the Lord” means to serve.

Becoming. The third step in your plan for conquering is becoming, but becoming what? Step by slow step, through acceptance and surrender, you finally learn your lessons and the Law to apply in each situation. When you apply law automatically, you can apply it unconsciously, for you have “become” the expression of that law.

Each time you become a new law, you are nearer that original “image of and likeness” of your Creator. Each acceptance and surrender to greater responsibility shows in your outer expression of inherent Godlike attributes and qualities.

We know this process of becoming as ascension of the soul, and it carries the very cells of the physical body upward with it until the body takes on a translucent quality. This is the true secret of Eternal Youth, the ever-renewing fount of youth within the soul.

When you move your acceptance, surrender, and becoming upward, from a process into an act of conquering, desire merges with the full vibration of the faith of God principle, taking devotion upward to joy, its highest peak of expression. While conquering is still a process, you usually have to apply conscious thinking before you can move up in consciousness. When conquering becomes an act, no thought is necessary, for only one desire remains in the lower self, to move up. Backward looks no longer pull you down because you have lifted self gratification from the lower self.

Now the three principles of soul — desire, faith, and devotion — have again become indissolubly the one great pure Creative Impulse, and have moved in and taken up their abode within your higher creative center as the Oversoul’s I AM consciousness. When you become law, and desire is one with faith and devotion, you rejoice because you release the soul’s fundamental devotion only in worshiping a Source greater than that portion of the soul contained within the body.

Such high devotion is the source of all praise, and can no more avoid rejoicing hour by hour than a bird can fail to beat its wings upon the air. Devotion, moving forth on the wings of joy, is an expression of the flame of life itself.

You have aspired poorly indeed unless your aspiration increases your faith in and devotion to a universal Source of All Life. You run down like an unwound clock unless you allow your aspiration to soar. Faith and devotion can ascend no higher than aspiration allows desire to beam its powerful rays.

Your great inheritance as a creator becomes steadfast and Godlike under all conditions only when you have surrendered fully to be possessed by the faith of God. Faith possesses you when you have ascended through devotion and gained a comprehension of what constant God-consciousness means. Under ascension, all life moves from the creature up through the Son of Man stage, into the Son of God stage and onward and upward into the full powers of a creator.

Nonresistance is the principle of faith in perfect action. To comprehend this fully, you must accept the powerful expression of perfect peace as a divine attribute in man. You must accept peace as part of a great principle rather than as a state you gain through long struggles with the lower self.

Seeking to control the soul’s detrimental enemies, impatience and irritation, will never work. No one ever has or will ever gain lasting peace through self-control. Banked fires will forever burst into flame under trying circumstances to betray you into unseemly speech or actions.

When you allow the soul to take charge and the faith of God possesses you, you move up into the I AM consciousness, the higher creative center where poise reigns supreme. As the Kingly Power descends, it mates with the Queen of Poise, and they name their twin daughters Peace and Patience. With no further struggle, except to allow the faith of God to possess you continuously, your expression becomes peaceful and patience-full, since you enfold the parents within the great mantle of nonresistance.

Soul ascension demands that you learn to comprehend that which you think you know. Unless you comprehend exactly what your God-given attributes, qualities and powers of the soul mean when you surrender yourself to be possessed by the faith of God, you cannot hold fast to your faith of God with any continuity of conquering.

The first three emanations of Creation, called the “River of Life flowing from the Throne of God,” contain every potential possibility of creation with all its manifold combinations. The River of Life is a vibration continuous in action, flowing from and circling back again to its Source, carrying everything along with it, including man.

When the faith of God possesses and uses you, you return to your Source with this mighty stream of life. As it flows through your body's cells, it cleanses and purifies every organ and system. We also know this stream of life as the Christ principle and as that “mind that was also in Christ Jesus.”

It takes great fortitude, backed by a burning desire for God, to raise ascension of the soul from being a long, drawn-out process and struggle into an act that holds fast to its expression from the higher creative center of I AM. You must completely give up lower self indulgences without having to think about it first. Use that one instant in every situation to move up, with never a backward look or thought.

Instant conquering means accepting that any disappointment stems from a demand made of another. It means giving up expecting anything from another. You save yourself countless hurts and griefs by never again indulging in such expectations and demands, since you usually expect something another has no conscious idea of wanting to give.

Always taking the blame for everything that comes to you, never blaming another for anything, requires the greatest possible fortitude. Above all, it takes this great fortitude to call down upon your life the Name of God on earth: Good.

As you face the need to rid your consciousness of old ways of thinking and feeling, you discover that the world is wrong about the law of nonresistance. To be nonresistant does not mean to sit and wait passively for whatever fate sends you. The “will of God” does not require you to be unhappy, ill or impoverished. You will not be shut out of the Kingdom of God if you indulge yourself in a good time.

If the law of nonresistance as taught by Jesus the Christ was the weak and puerile thing interpreted by those who were supposed to know, it would have been wiped from the minds of men long since. Instead, nonresistance has become the most powerful expression in the world today. The cry of “Peace for all men” is no longer puny, but a shout, loud and long.

When you understand your own responsibility for your life, you understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Turn the other cheek also.” Today you must recognize and accept your own responsibility in all matters. If you are stupid enough to allow yourself to get in a position where someone wants to slap your cheek, turn the other gladly just to impress the lesson on your consciousness.

Gladly accept that cheek-slapping comes because you are in the wrong place, not minding your own business, or you have said or done the wrong thing. You may have said the right thing at the wrong time, in the wrong tone of voice or used the wrong words. Nowhere is it written that you must return to the same person or the same situation to be slapped again just to prove that you live by the law of nonresistance. Common sense dictates that you should know enough to stay out of such a mess.

Learn the lesson involved by conquering the lower self that caused it. Realize that by the faith of God you can learn anything in one lesson, if your desire to conquer self really is burning. When you accept that the law of nonresistance is the most dynamic, positive action of the faith of God, it becomes a strong fortress into which you may retreat from any earth storm. Nonresistance makes you impervious to the "darts of the enemy" from the outside.

When the faith of God rules your life, it wipes out all lesser desires and you can rejoice while declaring all your creations “good.” Now you need not argue with anyone. You have no desire to challenge anyone’s opinions or prejudices, and gladly leave everyone free to follow his own small circle of opinions and prejudices or any other planned path of action.

To be nonresistant does not mean you must give up living by your own idea of God's principles, your own convictions or that you must allow others to push you around. You can define the law of nonresistance this way: being possessed by the full faith of God to stand nonresistant, making no excuse for standing, while the Power moves through you — to stand still, unmoved within and immovable without, while agreeing with the other fellow that his own directed path and plan of life are good and very good for him to follow.

To say, “Yes, you are right. I see how that works for you” does not mean “Yes, I shall follow you in your way.” It only means that you agree with him that he has found his own right plan of life and pathway to follow. You never need to explain. You need no further speech, for the law of nonresistance is based on, “Let your communications be, Yea, yea; nay, nay” which is a direct command of law to stand quietly in the heart of the golden silence, granting all others the right to do the same.

When you accomplish this, the law of nonresistance becomes a strong cable of Light through which the faith of God moves, untouched and untouchable. It becomes the divine rod of Power upon which aspiration is drawn ever higher toward the Source. The pilot light of aspiration becomes the eternal flame of desire, burning as a consuming fire that forever absorbs all darkness.

“Evil darkness of any kind, given time enough, must fall lifeless to the ground, the victim of its own bloated, overbearing weight.”

We are all witnesses to one outstanding fact, strong and mighty before the law: Truth alone can stand the test of time. Evil darkness of any kind, given time enough, must fall lifeless to the ground, the victim of its own bloated, overbearing weight. Therefore, when anyone pits darkness against the full outpouring of the faith of God, he has no chance to create.

Darkness must be absorbed into the Light. When darkness meets the unmoving wall erected by the completely gentle but dynamic and positive faith of God, held within its protective sheath of impenetrable substance, it falls lifeless and is absorbed by the eternal flame.

To accept and surrender to the protective sheath of nonresistance is the most marvelous experience of which you are capable. It becomes an unspeakable glory, which once known, you seek with all your heart and soul. You “hunger and thirst after” it until no giving up of lower self indulgences is too great a price to pay for its possession.

When the faith of God becomes the ruling passion of man’s heart and soul, the twin pillars of flame, honor and loyalty to God, support him on either side. These golden eternal flames shine forth upon a weary world, giant torches lighting the way for truth to lead all Creation back to its Source.

The faith of God cannot be set aside by anything the world might produce against it in the way of darkness or challenge. Man has never conquered faith, and never can conquer it by any action he can try. When you have truly surrendered for the faith of God to possess you, urges emanating from the lower self cannot disturb or move you, nor can you bear to look backward for an instant. The faith of God is constant, and in it you find your own constancy and your own unalterable confidence in God.

The faith of God now claims your exclusive devotion. The faith of God now challenges you to proclaim your complete surrender to become its servant forever. You now know that the faith of God possesses you because you find yourself rejoicing about having found your Source. Steadfastly rejoicing, you find that you have become One with God and that you stand undaunted and silent, worshiping God in the golden silence of all glory. The faith of God is unconquered and forever unconquerable.

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Edna Miriam Lister
1884 – 1971
The original Christian Pioneering Mystic,
Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

Edna Lister originally wrote Faith, the Challenger, as an essay to clarify her teachings on faith. A group of interested students had corresponded with her and requested her further insights and answers to their questions. First edition 1953, Second edition April 2016

Related Topics

See Desire

See Devotion

See Faith

See Faith in Action