IV. The Obstacles of Peace
D. The Fourth Obstacle: The Fear of God 8-21
i. The Lifting of the Veil
8. Forget not that you came this far together, you and your brother. And it was surely not the ego that led you here. No obstacle to peace can be surmounted through its help. It does not open up its secrets and bid you look on them and go beyond them. It would not have you see its weakness and learn it has no power to keep you from the truth. The Guide Who brought you here remains with you, and when you raise your eyes you will be ready to look on terror with no fear at all. But first, lift up your eyes and look on your brother in innocence born of complete forgiveness of his illusions, and through the eyes of faith that sees them not.
9. No one can look upon the fear of God unterrified, unless he has accepted the Atonement and learned illusions are not real. No one can stand before this obstacle alone, for he could not have reached this far unless his brother walked beside him. And no one would dare to look on it without complete forgiveness of his brother in his heart. Stand you here a while and tremble not. You will be ready. Let us join together in a holy instant, here in this place where the purpose, given in a holy instant, has led you. And let us join in faith that He Who brought us here together will offer you the innocence you need and that you will accept it for my love and His.
10. Nor is it possible to look on this too soon. This is the place to which everyone must come when he is ready. Once he has found his brother, he is ready. Yet merely to reach the place is not enough. A journey without a purpose is still meaningless and even when it is over it seems to make no sense. How can you know that it is over unless you realize its purpose is accomplished? Here, with the journey’s end before you, you see its purpose. And it is here you choose whether to look upon it or wander on, only to return and make the choice again.
11. To look upon the fear of God does need some preparation. Only the sane can look on stark insanity and raving madness with pity and compassion, but not with fear. For only if they share in it does it seem fearful, and you do share in it until you look upon your brother with perfect faith and love and tenderness. Before complete forgiveness you still stand unforgiving. You are afraid of God because you fear your brother. Those you do not forgive you fear. And no one reaches love with fear beside him.
12. This brother who stands beside you still seems to be a stranger. You do not know him, and your interpretation of him is very fearful. And you attack him still, to keep what seems to be yourself unharmed. Yet in his hands is your salvation. You see his madness, which you hate because you share it. And all the pity and forgiveness that would heal it gives way to fear. Brother, you need forgiveness of your brother, for you will share in madness or in Heaven together. And you and he will raise your eyes in faith together or not at all.
13. Beside you is one who offers you the chalice of Atonement, for the Holy Spirit is in him. Would you hold his sins against him or accept his gift to you? Is this giver of salvation your friend or enemy? Choose which he is, remembering that you will receive of him according to your choice. He has in him the power to forgive your sin, as you for him. Neither can give it to himself alone. And yet your savior stands beside each one. Let him be what he is and seek not to make of love an enemy.
14. Behold your Friend, the Christ Who stands beside you. How holy and how beautiful He is! You thought He sinned because you cast the veil of sin upon Him to hide His loveliness. Yet still He holds forgiveness out to you, to share His holiness. This “enemy,” this “stranger” still offers you salvation as His Friend. The “enemies” of Christ, the worshippers of sin, know not Whom they attack.
15. This is your brother, crucified by sin and waiting for release from pain. Would you not offer him forgiveness, when only he can offer it to you? For his redemption he will give you yours, as surely as God created every living thing and loves it. And he will give it truly, for it will be both offered and received. There is no grace of Heaven that you cannot offer to your brother and receive from your most holy Friend. Let him withhold it not, for by receiving it you offer it to him. And he will receive of you what you received of him. Redemption has been given you to give your brother, and thus receive it. Whom you forgive is free, and what you give you share. Forgive the sins your brother thinks he has committed, and all the guilt you think you see in him.
16. Here is the holy place of resurrection, to which we come again; to which we will return until redemption is accomplished and received. Think who your brother is, before you would condemn him. And offer thanks to God that he is holy and has been given the gift of holiness for you. Join him in gladness and remove all trace of guilt from his disturbed and tortured mind. Help him to lift the heavy burden of sin you laid upon him and he accepted as his own and toss it lightly and with happy laughter away from him. Press it not like thorns against his brow, nor nail him to it, unredeemed and hopeless.
17. Give faith to your brother, for faith and hope and mercy are yours to give. Into the hands that give, the gift is given. Look on your brother and see in him the gift of God you would receive. It is almost Easter, the time of resurrection. Let us give redemption to each other and share in it, that we may rise as one in resurrection, not separate in death. Behold the gift of freedom that I gave the Holy Spirit for you. And be you and your brother free together, as you offer to the Holy Spirit this same gift. And giving it, receive it of Him in return for what you gave. He leadeth you and me together, that we might meet here in this holy place, and make the same decision.
18. Free your brother here, as I freed you. Give him the selfsame gift, nor look upon him with condemnation of any kind. See him as guiltless as I look on you and overlook the sins he thinks he sees within himself. Offer your brother freedom and complete release from sin, here in the garden of seeming agony and death. So will we prepare together the way unto the resurrection of God’s Son and let him rise again to glad remembrance of His Father, Who knows no sin, no death, but only life eternal.
19. Together we will disappear into the Presence beyond the veil, not to be lost but found; not to be seen but known. And knowing, nothing in the plan God has established for salvation will be left undone. This is the journey’s purpose, without which is the journey meaningless. Here is the peace of God, given to you eternally by Him. Here is the rest and quiet that you seek, the reason for the journey from the beginning. Heaven is the gift you owe your brother, the debt of gratitude you offer to the Son of God in thanks for what he is, and what his Father created him to be.
20. Think carefully how you would look upon the giver of this gift, for as you look on him so will the gift itself appear to be. As he is seen as either the giver of guilt or of salvation, so will his offering be seen and so received. The crucified give pain because they are in pain. But the redeemed give joy because they have been healed of pain. Everyone gives as he receives, but he must choose what it will be that he receives. And he will recognize his choice by what he gives, and what is given him. Nor is it given anything in hell or Heaven to interfere with his decision.
21. You came this far because the journey was your choice. And no one undertakes to do what he believes is meaningless. What you had faith in still is faithful, and watches over you in faith so gentle yet so strong that it would lift you far beyond the veil and place the Son of God safely within the sure protection of his Father. Here is the only purpose that gives this world, and the long journey through this world, whatever meaning lies in them. Beyond this, they are meaningless. You and your brother stand together, still without conviction they have a purpose. Yet it is given you to see this purpose in your holy Friend and recognize it as your own.
It is not the ego that leads us to peace. The ego would not teach us what the obstacles to peace are and how to overcome the obstacles. The ego would not have us expose its lies and dark magic and go beyond it to truth. Holy Spirit brings us on this path and continues to stay with us as we learn to look upon the fear of God and see beyond the fear to the love and everlasting devotion we have to God.
In paragraph nine, Jesus tells us that we must accept the Atonement and learn of the unreality of this realm before we can stand without fear before God. I must look upon you and you must look upon me with complete forgiveness for our humanity and all it holds. I must forgive you all the wrongs I have held against you and you must forgive me. I can harbor no grudges toward you for anything.
The other day my sister and I were talking about my first husband. Kenneth was only twenty and I was sixteen when we got married. We came from two different worlds. I was raised in Pennsylvania farm country, Pentecostal, a bookworm, rule-bound and afraid of everything; Kenny was raised with a beachboy approach to life. A good-looking, well-built, blonde, tan, surfer – he was “cool,” and I was not. Less then six months into our brief marriage, he left me – pregnant, alone, and broke. He had little interest in being a husband or a father. For years, I played the part of the victim and the betrayed in this relationship. But there in the pool I started talking about what a vixen I had been toward him – how my jealousy and insecurity had driven him away from me, the mean things I said to him and about him, the ways in which both of us, not just Kenny, made choices that made it impossible to stay married.
Later that afternoon I met with Kenny in the holy instant, and we completely forgave one another for our youthful marriage, for the ways we had mutually failed one another, for all the ways in which our egos destroyed what could have otherwise been a lovely walk together through life. You may think, Oh give it a break. You were both young and stupid! But there is no young and stupid in God’s Kingdom. All of us come in the world to remember holiness and we can remember it at any age we choose. And when we remember holiness, our innocence is restored. The things that seemed to come between us are no more. Our union and communion is restored.
The holy instant is not magic. It is a conscious choice to join together in holiness with the purpose of repairing what was broken, to restore innocence and purity, to join with the purpose of Holy Spirit to accept the love of both the Brotherhood of Christ and the Fatherhood of God. While the ego would have us talk about our past lovers, broken friendships, and disturbed family members, while the ego would have us dwell upon the shame, hurt, and sorrow inflicted on us by those we perceive responsible for our happiness, the ego will never have us go to holiness and express forgiveness, grace, and mercy toward our past.
In paragraph ten Jesus tells us that we cannot go to the holy instant soon enough for this is where everyone must come when we are ready to exchange our fear of God for the Love of God. We must bring all of our special relationships to the holy instant; we must accomplish this holy purpose with every single person and circumstance of our lives as they come to our mind or present themselves in our lives. As we practice the holy instant, we will see its purpose. When Kenny came to mind, I could have spent my afternoon recalling memories of him, I could have focused my mind on something else, or decide to go to the holy instant with him in the future. But Jesus has explicitly taught us not to trust in our own efforts or good intentions. In today’s reading He tells us that no time is too soon for the holy instant. Practice the holy instant when the time is ripe, every time someone comes to mind.
Looking back at my first marriage filled me with a sense of fear, apprehension, guilt and shame. Long story short I had connived to get Kenny to fall in love with me. And when things fell apart, it was very scary to think of having a baby all by myself, it was terrible to be broke and have no marketable skills, it was beyond humbling to have to face all the people who had warned me of what a terrible mistake I was making – dropping out of school, marrying a former druggie, being so young and naive. It was all too easy to think that Kenny got off scot-free while I was the one that had to suffer the poverty, the humiliation, the sorrow of having a little boy whose father wanted nothing to do with him. But in the holy instant, perfect faith, love, and tenderness enters the picture and heals it all. All unforgiveness, all that sense of unfinished business between Kenny and I, all that division between us goes away. When I give up my fear of forgiving myself and Kenny for the mistakes and failings of our humanity, I give up my fear of God – instead of making guilty, I choose peace, I choose forgiveness, I choose to see the illusion for what it is and accept that Kenny’s reality and my reality is not in our flesh but in Spirit, as Sons of a most loving God.
Our interpretation of each other can be very fearful. I will attack what I think of as fearful in you. For years I attacked Kenny for all his youthful ignorance, for his petty drug dealing, for ending up in prison, for using his looks to seduce women, for never making anything of himself. And yet Kenny is the key to my salvation. In all the unsavory things I found to condemn him, I was covering up my love for him, my empathy and my forgiveness, my ability to heal and restore. If I do not practice forgiveness toward Kenneth, I will share in his madness; when I practice forgiveness with Kenny, we share in God’s Kingdom of love, peace, and joy.
It is tempting to think during the practice of the holy instant that we may be engaging in imaginary exercises rather than actually accomplishing the purpose of Holy Spirit. We must overcome this resistance for our minds were created in love and for love and to be love. When we put barriers up to the natural and holy love we have for each other, we are entering insanity and we leave our higher minds where holiness abides and enter into a very low-minded, crazy state of being where we continue to judge and condemn one another instead of help and heal.
Jesus tells us in paragraph 13 that our Savior stands beside each one of our brothers. Each person in our life, each circumstance gives us another chance to practice the power of forgiveness, to give and to receive salvation, to see beyond the fear of God and one another to the Love of God and one another.
When I see Kenny as the Christ, the Sonship, I see how holy and how beautiful he is. When I thought all manner of unkind things about him, when I judged him for all his flesh weaknesses, his failure as a father to his son, as the kind of man who would take all our wedding presents, our savings, even our towels and washcloths, and leave me with nothing, I was judging him according to what the ego would make him out to be. It is entirely up to me to see Kenny through the eyes of the ego or the Vision of Christ, as an enemy or as a friend who offers me salvation.
As surely as God created every living thing and loves it, when I offer redemption to you, you offer redemption to me. Forgiveness is never a one-way street. Kenneth needs no more and no less forgiveness than I do. When I extend forgiveness; Kenneth extends forgiveness to me. That is how it works. In our spiritual practice, we do not worry about who makes the first move, who gives more, who is at a greater disadvantage.
Spend as much time as you need with this last section of Chapter 19. Continue to practice the holy instant with everyone and everything that would otherwise weigh upon your mind obscuring the love for God from your awareness. As we bring each one of our brothers to the holy instant and release them from pain, we are thus freed from the past and all that would bind us to the dream of death.
 A Course in Miracles. Chapter 19 The attainment of peace. IV The obstacles to peace. D. The fourth obstacle: the fear of God. i. The lifting of the veil 8-21. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
For daily 2021 Workbook lessons visit www.i-choose-love.com courtesy of Linda R.