Sacred Scriptures teach us that we should make ourselves worthy of God, fit for His Kingdom. But how can we do this? First by cultivating a desire for God, and then by acting to confirm and reinforce the desire.
Let us begin with the first one: desire. How is it possible to cultivate desire? Surprisingly, the best way is to start with action. Perhaps the two most critical actions are reading and praying. This idea comes from our Creator Himself; that is exactly what He asks us to do. Consider the following instructions from Jesus to Christians to help them recognize Him on His return:
Be on your guard and watch and pray, for you do not know when the time will come. _Christ (Mark 13:33)
Keep awake then and watch at all times; praying that you may have the full strength and ability and be accounted worthy…to stand in the presence of the Son of man. _Christ (Luke 21:36)
What does “Watch!” mean? It means to be awake and aware. How can a person be truly awake and aware? By seeking knowledge. Can a person be watchful if he or she ignores the news of the coming of a great Redeemer from God? There is an abundance of literature proving beyond any doubt that Christ has indeed returned. Can you be watchful if you fail to examine the evidence?
Here is a specific and practical plan of action for you and every other sincere seeker of truth to carry out Christ’s instructions about searching and praying:
Take time to read a little every day. Make knowing and loving God the crowning point of your life’s mission. Can you be loyal to your family if you fail to spend time with them? Then how can you be loyal to God if you put Him last in your life? Seeking knowledge is
the first and most essential step for creating a desire to approach God, yet many fail to take this one simple step.
All blessings are divine in origin, but none can be compared with this power of intellectual investigation and research, which is an eternal gift producing fruits of unending delight.395 _ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
People recognize this universal principle—the need for action—in every facet of their lives, except in their relation to God. They know that to be fit, they must exercise; to be loyal to their friends, they must call them; to earn a living they must work. Yet when it comes to their relationship with God, they forget this most essential step. Why do they forget? Why do they make this exception? This is a great mystery. I hope someone will come up with an answer; it would be nice to know.
At the time of this writing, there are three wonderful seekers in our community who have been coming to our Bahá’í meetings for an average of three years, and yet they have not reached the point of recognizing and acknowledging Bahá’u’lláh. They like the Bahá’í Faith, but they have not fallen in love with it. What these seekers have in common is this: they do not show much thirst for knowledge, they do not take time to benefit from the vast resources of the Bahá’í literature, and they fail to immerse themselves in the vast ocean of the Bahá’í Scriptures.
Recently one of them said, “I feel like a hypocrite to come to Bahá’í meetings, but fail to reach a decision.” He then talked about a dream he once had. “I found myself,” he said, “in a church in front of a group of people. I had an uneasy feeling about them. I knew something was wrong, something terrible was going to happen. Suddenly there was an explosion; the people and the church vanished. Then a brilliant light shone.” He had a general idea about what the dream meant, but was unsure. Dreams are often symbolic and difficult to interpret. Some dreams are of course meaningless; a few carry significant messages. This dream, I said, may contain a message. I told him: “A temple or church symbolizes religion. At the end of each religious cycle, the Spirit leaves the old temple and enters a new one. In God’s sight, when a new Redeemer comes the old church disappears.”
And the street of the city [of God] was pure gold, like transparent glass. But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. _Revelation 21:21-22
The Lord God Almighty symbolizes Bahá’u’lláh and the Lamb symbolizes the Báb, who sacrificed Himself for Bahá’u’lláh. The word Bahá’u’lláh means “the light and glory of God.” In this age, a new Light has dawned, and everything else has spiritually disappeared. Christ promised Christians that He would be with them always to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). At that point His Spirit left the church.
The dream had created an awareness in the soul of this seeker. He knew he must do something, he must move, but wasn’t sure how. I helped him transfer his new awareness into action. I told him: “You spend so many hours every day in so many ways. Is it too much to give the last ten minutes of each day to God?” He said, “No.” I then suggested to him to start reading Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh for ten minutes every night before going to bed. “You have” I said, “mountains of studies to do for your
university courses. You are always short of time. But if you care for God, you must take a little piece of each day and give it to Him. It is in moments of decision that your eternal destiny is shaped. If that destiny matters to you, you must decide and take action.”
“You have no control over your feelings,” I said, “but you can control your actions. God will treat us the way we treat Him. If you do not act to advance towards Him, He will not act either. Always remember God’s promise that He will treat us the way we treat Him.”
Then I explained the second most essential step in the journey of the search for truth: praying. “After reading the Gleanings for ten minutes,” I suggested, “turn to God and pray with all your heart and soul to guide you, to let you know if Bahá’u’lláh is indeed the One He claims to be; ask Him to give you more clues and signs, if it is in harmony with His Wisdom.”
He found my suggestions quite reasonable and practical, and determined to commit himself to both reading and praying.
Let me encourage every seeker of truth to follow the same course, to take these two simple steps as long as it takes to reach a conclusion. God has promised to guide us only if we turn to Him and act. Why should He offer His Kingdom to anyone who does not work for it? That Kingdom is so precious, so divine, so supreme and glorious, that if we got even a glimpse of it, we would give a thousand lives to acquire it. Why then should He offer it to someone who would rather see the glamour of Hollywood than the glory of Heaven? Why should He give His Kingdom to a person who spends time for everything except God? Is it fair and reasonable to allow selfish, closed-minded, fearful, prejudiced, complacent, or worldly people enter His magnificent and everlasting Kingdom?
To repeat: make this little commitment for great blessings: spend the last few minutes of your day—at least ten minutes—reading Bahá’u’lláh’s work. Then spend a few more minutes praying earnestly and pleading with God to guide you in His way. Ask Him to give you a sign, a clue that will lead you to His Presence.
Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men. Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber, the verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered by his mouth, and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb. Though he may, at first, remain unaware of its effect, yet the virtue of the grace vouchsafed unto him must needs sooner or later exercise its influence upon his soul. Thus have the mysteries of the Revelation of God been decreed by virtue of the Will of Him Who is the Source of power and wisdom.396 _Bahá’u’lláh
Seize the time, therefore, ere the glory of the divine springtime hath spent itself, and the Bird of Eternity ceased to warble its melody, that thy inner hearing may not be deprived of hearkening unto its call. This is My counsel unto thee and unto the beloved of God. Whosoever wisheth, let him turn thereunto; whosoever wisheth, let him turn away. God, verily, is independent of him and of that which he may see and witness.397 _Bahá’u’lláh