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Spirituality

A Face Bright with the Fire of God’s Love

David Langness | Aug 4, 2016

PART 7 IN SERIES A Rule to Guide Thy Life

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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David Langness | Aug 4, 2016

PART 7 IN SERIES A Rule to Guide Thy Life

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Consider these last four lines of Abdu’l-Baha’s advice to a woman who sought “a rule whereby to guide thy life:”

Recite thou the verses of guidance. Be engaged in the worship of thy Lord, and rise up to lead the people aright. Loose thy tongue and teach, and let thy face be bright with the fire of God’s love. Rest thou not for a moment, seek thou to draw no easeful breath. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 26-27.

When I read this part of Abdu’l-Baha’s advice to my six-year-old son, he asked for an explanation. I went through it with him, one sentence at a time, to see if we could both understand.

“Recite the verses of guidance,” I said, “means read the Baha’i writings out loud, and say the prayers.”

“OK,” he said, nodding. We had read Baha’i books together for quite a while already, so that one seemed easy to him.

“Be engaged in the worship of thy Lord, and rise up to lead the people aright,” he read out loud. That one didn’t need much explanation, except for one word. “What does ‘aright’ mean?” he asked.

“It means ‘in the right direction,’” I said. He nodded when he understood.

“Loose thy tongue and teach…” he read. He seemed puzzled by that one.

“I think Abdu’l-Baha means for us to tell other people about these rules of life,” I said.

“And about Baha’u’llah,” my son said.

“Aright,” I said. He laughed. We kept reading: “…and let thy face be bright with the fire of God’s love.” At that point, my boy looked up at me, smiling.

You know how some moments in life resonate forever? That moment, as my young son’s happy, cheerful face gazed up at me, was one of them. It reminded me of Christ’s advice to “be thou as little children.” Their pure, loving hearts serve as a bright example to every one of us.

Then he asked “Does this mean to never sleep?” referring to Abdu’l-Baha’s next admonition, to “Rest not for a moment,” and “seek thou to draw no easeful breath.”

“I think that’s what’s called a ‘figure of speech,’” I said. “It’s strong advice, and it means don’t waste your time. It means to try your best to develop all of these spiritual qualities.”

My son thought about it, taking it all in. I could see his concentration and his sincerity. While he thought about Abdu’l-Baha’s advice, I read him the last line of the letter:

Thus mayest thou become a sign and symbol of God’s love, and a banner of His grace. – Ibid., p. 27.

“A banner is a flag, right?” he asked me.

“Yup, that’s right.”

“What does it mean to be a flag of His grace?” he asked.

“I think it means to be an emblem, a sign and a symbol, like Abdu’l-Baha says. “It means to be bold. That’s how I think about it, anyway.”

“Maybe,” my son said, “it means to fly high on the flagpole and wave so everyone can see.”

That reminded me of a Baha’i prayer, which we said together:

O God, my God! This is thy radiant servant Thy spiritual thrall, who hath drawn nigh unto Thee and approached Thy presence. He hath turned his face unto Thine, acknowledging Thy oneness, confessing Thy singleness, and he hath called out in Thy name among the nations, and led the people to the streaming waters of Thy mercy, O Thou Most generous Lord! To those who asked He hath given to drink from the cup of guidance that brimmeth over with the wine of Thy measureless grace.

O Lord, assist him under all conditions, cause him to learn Thy well-guarded mysteries, and shower down upon him Thy hidden pearls. Make of him a banner rippling from castle summits in the winds of Thy heavenly aid, make of him a wellspring of crystal waters.

O my forgiving Lord! Light up the hearts with the rays of a lamp that sheddeth abroad its beams, disclosing to those among Thy people whom Thou hast bounteously favored, the realities of all things.

Verily, Thou art the Mighty, the Powerful, the Protector, the Strong, the Beneficent! Verily, Thou art the Lord of all mercies! – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i Prayers, pp. 153-154.

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Comments

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  • rodney Richards
    Aug 4, 2016
    -
    David, one I envy your spiritual bobnd with your son -- beautiful (and I know your mate helped develop that). two this uplifted me quite a bit and the first simple piece of advice resonated with me, as not only true, but easy to follow if we just put smiles on our faces also.
    best
    rod
  • Aug 4, 2016
    -
    A sectarian reading of verses of guidance being Baha'i Writings rather than all scripture regardless of religion, sect, church, denomination, etc. Since when did Non-Baha'i scripture become something that is not guidance? In each and every one of the rules of life article you have added sectarian spin where the original lines of the text don't specify any specific religion other than being religious in general.
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