Unification News for July 1996


40 Day Divine Principle Reading Condition

Testimony by Chris Bickerton; he and his wife Kazue live in Somerville, Massachusetts.

On June 9, 1996 Rev. Jae Suk Kim asked me to give a testimony about a recently completed 40 day condition. At first I was hesitant to appear to offer advice or provide inspiration to brothers and sisters of our region, but after hearing Rev. Kim's sermon, I realized that I more than anyone was qualified to give this testimony.

Rev. Kim spoke of the need to change our bad habits into good habits.

He spoke of the problem of irregular Sunday Service attendance by our members and our poor attitude in general. This caused me to reflect on my own standard of faith as a blessed member.

I know only too well how easy it is to develop bad habits as a home member. My spiritual life is in my own hands. It is easier at the end of the day to pick up the TV channel changer than to pick up the Divine Principle book. It is also too easy to stay at home on a Sunday morning than to go to Sunday Service.

Like most people, I have made many resolutions year after year to shed old bad habits an adopt new good ones. At every New Year's time we all make a determination to do those things which will make us better people and to stop doing that which has always made us less fulfilled and even unhappy.

Since my 40th birthday in September of 1995, I have looked hard and often at myself, questioning why I still hold on to old habits, and what it would take to change. There is only one answer-drastic effort on my part!

Externally my life has been unsatisfactory. I found myself dwelling on my situation. What would make me happy? A different, better paying job that would alleviate financial worries? I realized what was really lacking was a sense of true direction in my life. What was needed was to reconnect to a true spiritual purpose. You know the Bible verse "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you." I was too absorbed in external things. I determined to make effort in developing my internal purpose.

What could make me more fulfilled than anything on Earth? To share God's message with those who have not been given the blessings I have undeservedly received. My dilemma all these years has been my inability to learn Divine Principle well enough to share and teach it.

How often have I been approached by a member of the Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses or some other group who confidently shared their doctrines easily, quoting from the Bible. And yet I continually lack the confidence to do the same with the Divine Principle. I have always thought that if I could teach the Divine Principle as confidently as Kevin McCarthy or anywhere close to that level, then I would feel so very good about myself.

However, year after year has passed without any movement in this direction. Sometimes, we need a good shot in the arm. On April 18, 1996 my wife Kazue and I went down to New York to see True Parents on True Parents Day. Having maneuvered myself to front center stage, I was in a position to make close eye contact with True Father. Father spoke for seven hours, expounding on the Divine Principle and God's Providence.

Twice Father came close to me, peered into my eyes and asked me a question pertaining to the Principle. I was unsure of the answer, even hoping he would look to someone else. However he did not shift his gaze, and I responded rather weakly (and apparently incorrectly). Father made a funny face, mimicked my answer, and then hit me on the head.

While overwhelmed with joy at the time because of having physical contact with Father, I later felt a deep sense of shame for my shallow understanding of the Principle. I resolved that night to do something about it. The next day I began a 40 day condition to read the Divine Principle eight time through. At first I was hesitant at making such a commitment. But I realized only this kind of determination could help me break through my spiritual fog.

I work 40 hours a week driving for Rocky Neck Seafood, as well as part-time for my brother. Consequently this required me to read every opportunity I had. I read while walking in line at the supermarket and of course at home. The TV went on the moth balls, and I even had to turn down some social activities. I was determined to read thoroughly and with a keen mind I didn't want to just speed read through 536 pages every five days.

I completed eight cycles in 40 days; what was the result? I think of what Kevin McCarthy said about reading the Divine Principle. He shared that the Principle is a valuable gem that is hidden, buried under many layers. We can read the same words over and over without breaking through, but with continued heartistic effort, we will find the Principle opening up, uncovering small sparkles of jewels. Something which before we were unable to see, suddenly reveals itself to us.

This is the experience I had. Parts of the Principle that I had struggled with, even some sections I had previously found dry and burdensome, gained new richness and luster. Points I had always struggled to understand became much more clear. Different parts of the Principle began to connect in my mind. I found myself speaking the Principle out loud while I was driving at work, as if sharing the Principle with someone.

Whether it was breaking through the layers of Principle or through the fog that has enveloped my mind all these years, I felt a gradual lightening of my spirit. If nothing else, the intensity of the condition simply allowed no time and no space for bad habits.

There are so many ways that we allow ourselves to be filled with mundane and/or unprincipled thoughts. Television alone fills our minds with thousands of images. However, by constantly filling our cups with good spiritual images and information, there is no room for all of the other negative, low spirit information that is always trying to find its way into our minds.

This condition was like climbing a mountain. At times it was inspirational and exhilarating. Other times I was tired and asking myself "why?" When I reached the top, what did I see? Endless mountain ranges before me. This is only a small beginning, one small hill on the way.

I've decided to repeat the condition a second and third time. To be honest, this second course is difficult and less inspiring-its more hard work. The sparkles of the Divine Principle treasure are less easily evident. It reminds me of the story of the survivors of a plane crash in the Andes Mountains of South America with no food and little hope. Three of them set off to find help. They traveled many days through the high mountain ranges. Teach time they reached a mountain top hoping to see a green valley below, they only saw more snow covered mountain ranges. When they were ready to give up they finally reached the last mountain top, and saw below them a land of green and warmth and hope.

I feel that I have many mountains to climb but I'm headed in the right direction. Strong conditions of this sort are an important means of shedding our old ways and habits. I feel the fog slowly lifting. I know that this hard work will pay off. I pray that I can share God's word with others confidently and joyfully.


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