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17 Do not be concerned with time and fear not the instant of holiness which will remove all fear. For the instant of peace is eternal because it is wholly without fear. It will come, being the lesson God gives you through the Teacher He has appointed to translate time into eternity. Blessed is God's Teacher, Whose joy it is to teach God's holy Son his holiness. His joy is not contained in time. His teaching is for you because His joy is yours. Through Him you stand before God's altar, where He gently translates hell into Heaven. For it is only in Heaven that God would have you be.

"Time and Eternity"
Workbook for Students
Lesson 166
I am entrusted with the gifts of God.
1 All things are given you. God's trust in you is limitless. He knows His Son. He gives without exception, holding nothing back that can contribute to your happiness. And yet unless your will is one with His, His gifts are not received. But what would make you think there is another will than His?

2 Here is the paradox that underlies the making of the world. This world is not the Will of God, and so it is not real. Yet those who think it real must still believe there is another will, and one that leads to opposite effects from those He wills. Impossible indeed, but every mind that looks upon the world and judges it as certain, solid, trustworthy, and true believes in two creators or in one, himself alone. But never in one God.

3 The gifts of God are not acceptable to anyone who holds such strange beliefs. He must believe that, to accept God's gifts, however evident they may become, however urgently he may be called to claim them as his own, is being pressed to treachery against himself. He must deny their presence, contradict the truth, and suffer to preserve the world he made.

4 Here is the only home he thinks he knows. Here is the only safety he believes that he can find. Without the world he made is he an outcast, homeless and afraid. He does not realize that it is here he is afraid indeed and homeless too—an outcast wandering so far from home, so long away, he does not realize he has forgotten where he came from, where he goes, and even who he really is.

5 Yet in his lonely, senseless wanderings, God's gifts go with him, all unknown to him. He cannot lose them. But he will not look at what is given him. He wanders on, aware of the futility he sees about him everywhere, perceiving how his little lot but dwindles as he goes ahead to nowhere. Still he wanders on in misery and poverty, alone though God is with him, and a treasure his so great that everything the world contains is valueless before its magnitude.

6 He seems a sorry figure—weary, worn, in threadbare clothing, and with feet that bleed a little from the rocky road he walks. No one but has identified with him, for everyone who comes here has pursued the path he follows and has felt defeat and hopelessness as he is feeling them. Yet is he really tragic when you see that he is following the way he chose and needs but realize Who walks with him and open up his treasures to be free?

7 This is your chosen self, the one you made as a replacement for reality. This is the self you savagely defend against all reason, every evidence, and all the witnesses with proof to show this is not you. You heed them not. You go on your appointed way, with eyes cast down lest you might catch a glimpse of truth and be released from self-deception and set free.

8 You cower fearfully lest you should feel Christ's touch upon your shoulder and perceive His gentle hand directing you to look upon your gifts. How could you then proclaim your poverty in exile? He would make you laugh at this perception of yourself. Where is self-pity then? And what becomes of all the tragedy you sought to make for him whom God intended only joy?

9 Your ancient fear has come upon you now, and justice has caught up with you at last. Christ's hand has touched your shoulder, and you feel that you are not alone. You even think the miserable self you thought was you may not be your identity. Perhaps God's Word is truer than your own. Perhaps His gifts to you are real. Perhaps He has not wholly been outwitted by your plan to keep His Son in deep oblivion and go the way you chose without your Self.

10 God's Will does not oppose. It merely is. It is not God you have imprisoned in your plan to lose your Self. He does not know about a plan so alien to His Will. There was a need He did not understand, to which He gave an Answer. That is all. And you who have this Answer given you have need no more of anything but this.

11 Now do we live, for now we cannot die. The wish for death is answered, and the sight that looked upon it now has been replaced by vision which perceives that you are not what you pretend to be. One walks with you Who gently answers all your fears with this one merciful reply: "It is not so." He points to all the gifts you have each time the thought of poverty oppresses you and speaks of His companionship when you perceive yourself as lonely and afraid.

12 Yet He reminds you still of one thing more you had forgotten. For His touch on you has made you like Himself. The gifts you have are not for you alone. What He has come to offer you, you now must learn to give. This is the lesson that His giving holds, for He has saved you from the solitude you sought to make in which to hide from God. He has reminded you of all the gifts that God has given you. He speaks as well of what becomes your will when you accept these gifts and recognize they are your own.

13 The gifts are yours, entrusted to your care to give to all who chose the lonely road you have escaped. They do not understand they but pursue their wishes. It is you who teach them now. For you have learned of Christ there is another way for them to walk. Teach them by showing them the happiness that comes to those who feel the touch of Christ and recognize God's gifts. Let sorrow not tempt you to be unfaithful to your trust.

14 Your sighs will now betray the hopes of those who look to you for their release. Your tears are theirs. If you are sick, you but withhold their healing. What you fear but teaches them their fears are justified. Your hand becomes the giver of Christ's touch; your change of mind becomes the proof that who accepts God's gifts can never suffer anything. You are entrusted with the world's release from pain.

15 Betray it not. Become the living proof of what Christ's touch can offer everyone. God has entrusted all His gifts to you. Be witness in your happiness to how transformed the mind becomes which chooses to accept His gifts and feel the touch of Christ. Such is your mission now. For God entrusts the giving of His gifts to all who have received them. He has shared His joy with you. And now you go to share it with the world.

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Lesson ARCHIVE
Course in Miracles
Original Edition
Text
Chapter 15
 The Purpose of Time

III. Time and Eternity
 par 16-21
[PAUSED FOR WEEKEND]
16 The Atonement is in time but not for time. Being in you, it is eternal. What holds remembrance of God cannot be bound by time. No more are you. For unless God is bound, you cannot be. An instant offered to the Holy Spirit is offered to God on your behalf, and in that instant you will awaken gently in Him. In the blessed instant, you will let go all your past learning, and the Holy Spirit will quickly offer you the whole lesson of peace. What can take time, when all the obstacles to learning it have been removed? Truth is so far beyond time that all of it happens at once. For as it was created one, so its oneness depends not on time at all.

17 Do not be concerned with time and fear not the instant of holiness which will remove all fear. For the instant of peace is eternal because it is wholly without fear. It will come, being the lesson God gives you through the Teacher He has appointed to translate time into eternity. Blessed is God's Teacher, Whose joy it is to teach God's holy Son his holiness. His joy is not contained in time. His teaching is for you because His joy is yours. Through Him you stand before God's altar, where He gently translates hell into Heaven. For it is only in Heaven that God would have you be.

18 How long can it take to be where God would have you? For you are where you have forever been and will forever be. All that you have, you have forever. The blessed instant reaches out to encompass time, as God extends Himself to encompass you. You who have spent days, hours, and even years in chaining your brothers to your egos in an attempt to support it and uphold its weakness, do not perceive the Source of strength. In the holy instant, you will unchain all your brothers and refuse to support either their weakness or your own.

19 You do not realize how much you have misused your brothers by seeing them as sources of ego support. As a result, they witness to the ego in your perception and seem to provide reasons for not letting it go. Yet they are far stronger and much more compelling witnesses for the Holy Spirit. And they support His strength. It is, therefore, your choice whether they support the ego or the Holy Spirit in you. And you will know which you have chosen by their reactions. A Son of God who has been released through the Holy Spirit in a brother, if the release is complete, is always recognized. He cannot be denied. As long as you remain uncertain, it can be only because you have not given complete release. And because of this, you have not given one single instant completely to the Holy Spirit. For when you have, you will be sure you have. You will be sure because the witness to Him will speak so clearly of Him that you will hear and understand.

20 You will doubt until you hear one witness whom you have wholly released through the Holy Spirit. And then you will doubt no more. The holy instant has not yet happened to you. Yet it will, and you will recognize it with perfect certainty. No gift of God is recognized in any other way. You can practice the mechanics of the holy instant and will learn much from doing so. Yet its shining and glittering brilliance, which will literally blind you to this world by its own vision, you cannot supply. And here it is, all in this instant, complete, accomplished, and given wholly.

21 Start now to practice your little part in separating out the holy instant. You will receive very specific instructions as you go along. To learn to separate out this single second and begin to experience it as timeless, is to begin to experience yourself as not separate. Fear not that you will not be given help in this. God's Teacher and His lesson will support your strength. It is only your weakness that will depart from you in this practice, for it is the practice of the power of God in you. Use it but for one instant, and you will never deny it again. Who can deny the Presence of what the universe bows to in appreciation and gladness? Before the recognition of the universe which witnesses to It, your doubts must disappear.

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Sarah's Reflections
Lesson 166
I am entrusted with the gifts of God.
This Lesson has a wonderful way of carrying the image like a story. It is a rather sad story of how we have chosen to be outcasts, far from home, homeless and afraid, but we don't remember we made this choice. We try desperately to make this faraway domicile as comfortable as possible. Like a homeless person, we make the best of our circumstances. We go nowhere, feeling very alone. Perhaps you don't identify with this picture, yet this Lesson says, "No one but has identified with him, for everyone who comes here [to this world] has pursued the path he follows, and has felt defeat and hopelessness as he is feeling them." (W.166.6.2)
 
When we are tempted to feel victimized by our situation, Jesus reminds us that we are the ones who chose it. "Yet is he really tragic, when you see that he is following the way he chose, and need but realize Who walks with him and open up his treasures to be free?" (W.166.6.3) Why would we continue to choose this when we can choose abundance and happiness instead? "All things are given you. God's trust in you is limitless. He knows His Son. He gives without exception, holding nothing back that can contribute to your happiness." (W.166.1.1-4) If we can choose God's gifts at any time we want, can we be tragic figures or are we just mistaken?
 
The irony of it all is that while we are wandering alone, miserable, sad, and seemingly without a home for safety and support, God's gifts of infinite value go with us. We are never alone, for God is always there with us. If this is our life, why are we denying His ever-present gifts? We deny these gifts because, as Jesus says, as long as we have allegiance to our will and what we have made of ourselves and the world, we will reject God's gifts. "He must deny their presence, contradict the truth, and suffer to preserve the world he made. " (W.166.3.3) We are instead hanging onto our specialness, uniqueness, individuality, and the world, and we are making ourselves miserable in the process while refusing to look at what God has given us. (W.166.5.3) This treasure is ". . . so great that everything the world contains is valueless before its magnitude." (W.166.5.5) While we are refusing to accept this treasure, we continue in our sorry state. We may not like what we have made, but it is all our own making. Thus, we are committed to it and value it because we made it. But we can change our minds. We can make another decision. Our condition of seeming homelessness is simply a denial of the truth of what we have and what we are.
 
I recently visited with friends who are coming to the end of their careers and are very frightened by the prospect of what to do with their lives. They are casting about for options of how to spend their time and how to find meaning. The options seem limited to volunteering, traveling, getting future contracts for more work, or entertaining themselves with various pastimes. Their perspective is one of killing time. While there is nothing wrong with any of these activities, there is no joy in them if they simply serve as a distraction from the joy to be discovered within. These activities are all distortions of the real thing that we all look for. It is not contained in the forms of this world, but is the content of our right minds.
 
Are we devoted to seeking for happiness in the world, which is what the ego counsels, or to awakening from this dream? In other words, do we look at everything with the ego as the teacher, or do we choose the Holy Spirit to reinterpret everything for us? The question is, "What is the purpose of what we choose to do?" Jesus counsels us, "In all these diversionary tactics, however, the one question that is never asked by those who pursue them is, 'What for?'" (T.4.V.6.7) (ACIM OE T.4.VI.77) Jesus shows us the way out of this futile cycle, where the purpose for the ego is to keep us rooted in the illusory world, constantly looking for peace and happiness where it is not.
 
Why do we continue to choose to be these tragic figures instead of accepting the gifts that await us? Why not laugh at such foolishness? Is there something noble in victimhood? Is there something special about us if we can suffer what we think others can't withstand? Understand that this is not conscious, although we need to consider this question carefully. When we hold this perception of ourselves and take it seriously, we are not seeing the absurdity of it all. "He would make you laugh at this perception of yourself." (W.166.8.3) While we live a tragic story, a sad story, or a story of heartbreak, God only wants joy for us. Yet we fear His touch. (W.166.8.1) If we accept the truth about ourselves, we can no longer claim victimhood. Thus, His Presence is a great threat to us, which is why we resist it. We fear our magnitude. We still want to be authors of our own lives, rather than surrender to God. It seems, as Milton wrote, that we would rather rule in hell than serve in Heaven.
 
Can this be true about us? This Lesson tells us our misery and poverty, in a spiritual sense, are worth it if it means we can be the authors of our own lives. We indulge in our misery, believing no one can understand us, as we feel sorry for ourselves. If we could step back and laugh at the silliness of this notion, Jesus wonders, "Where is self-pity then?" (W.166.8.4) We are the dreamers of this dream, and we can choose to examine our decision to stay in misery. This is not a decision we make when we forget that the mind and not the world, is the cause of our misery. However, we savagely defend our situation when we see the cause as outside our own minds. This is how we maintain the independent, separate self. Indulging in self-pity points the responsibility for our lack of happiness outside ourselves.
 
It is difficult to accept that we are the ones choosing our own victimhood. Initially, we will probably feel attacked and get defensive at the suggestion that we are making a choice to be a victim. We get extremely defensive at the idea that the circumstances of our lives are not inflicted on us, but chosen by us. We seem to prefer to proclaim our victimhood because we are attached to our story, and thus, we fear Christ's touch because it would change everything.
 
Our stories of victimhood are designed to make others responsible for our circumstances. This is because we prefer to see ourselves as innocent, while those who perpetrated our situation, as we see it, can then be punished by God for their "crimes" against us, and we can continue to feel exonerated as their innocent victims.
 
" Y ou cower fearfully lest you should feel Christ's touch upon your shoulder, and perceive His gentle hand directing you to look upon your gifts. How could you then proclaim your poverty in exile?" (W.166.8.1-2) How indeed? We would then have to see the insanity of our attachment to our separate will, and we could no longer hang onto the tragic story of our lives and wallow in self-pity or thoughts of revenge in defiance of the gifts God has given us. The seeming rewards of victimhood trump God's gifts, in our view. It is my will that I want to hold onto, in spite of what it is costing me. It truly is insanity.
 
The insanity of the ego shows up in obvious ways when we are ready and willing to watch our thoughts, examine our motivations, and clearly see our intentions. For every gift of God, the ego seeks to make a counterfeit form. It is a "substitute" gift, yet it is truly a trap. We trade off the gifts God offers for what the ego offers instead, and these "gifts" offer only pain. Until we see that no substitute for God's gifts could bring us what we seek, we will continue to look to the world for our happiness. It takes courage and willingness to take responsibility for our lives and everything that seems to happen to us. With it comes the realization that we have done all this to ourselves. We are the ones who chose this.
 
We resist this thought, but now Jesus asks that we look at the irony of our position where we cry about our situation, yet we have deliberately chosen it. "He would make you laugh at this perception of yourself. Where is self-pity then? And what becomes of all the tragedy you sought to make for him whom God intended only joy?" (W.166.8.3-5) What I take from this is the one thing we might do more of---laugh at the ego. We can only do this when we realize that we are not the character in the dream but, actually, we are the dreamer of the dream. It is our script that we are playing out. We have written the role that we play, as well as the one played by the characters in our script, who play the various parts in our drama.
 
"You even think the miserable self you thought was you may not be your Identity. Perhaps God's Word is truer than your own. Perhaps His gifts to you are real." (W.166.9.3-4) Just maybe, our plan for our lives is starting to fail and our foolishness is slowly, but surely, becoming more apparent to us. Just maybe, we are not who we have believed we were. Just maybe, with Christ's hand touching our shoulder, we feel not quite so alone anymore and start to believe that maybe these gifts of God are real, and His Word is truer than our own.
 
This puts us between worlds, where we start to see the possibility that we are not the poor, miserable, and homeless guy. Now your sight is being replaced by vision ". . . which perceives that you are not what you pretend to be." (W.166.11.2) We become aware that maybe our pain does not come from outside us, but as a result of our opposition to the truth of what we are.  "One walks with you Who gently answers all your fears with this one merciful reply, 'It is not so'." (W.166.11.3) He is telling us that everything we think is not the truth.
 
After my husband died in 1993, I was experiencing what Jesus is talking about in this Lesson. I was feeling very alone, indulging myself in my story of victimhood, loss, and sadness. As I lay in bed, crying, feeling abandoned by love, a gentle voice within asked quietly, "How much longer do you need to cry?" It startled me because now I had a question in my mind that seemed to require an answer. The answer I gave this Voice was perhaps, "ten more minutes." Yet the absurdity of this answer made me smile, and I simply could no longer feel sorry for myself. It was a recognition that I could make a choice in that moment to believe the ego version of events or see there was perhaps another way of seeing this situation. And as the thoughts of sadness and suffering emerged, with each one I heard the response, "It is not so." I could either choose to believe my own thoughts about this situation or trust Jesus, who reminded me that my thoughts were not the truth. The grief lifted after this experience, and I never experienced it again in the same way. "For His touch on you has made you like Himself." (W.166.12.2)
 
The Holy Spirit is such a reassuring Presence that is always available to us. We no longer need to continue on this aimless wandering and this feeling of aloneness. We can call on His strength in every turmoil and every uncertainty and know that He will always answer. He assures us that we never walk alone. Ask a thousand times a day, "Who walks with me?"
 
Having been entrusted with His gifts, we are now called to extend them to our brothers so we can be the one to tap them on the shoulder, as Christ has touched us. We can show them that there is another way they can go, since we have been down those same roads and have learned they lead nowhere but to death. "For you have learned of Christ there is another way for them to walk." (W.166.13.4) Yet how do we do this? He says, "Teach them by showing them the happiness that comes to those who feel the touch of Christ, and recognize God's gifts." (W.166.13.5) In other words, we show them, by example, the choice we have made for ourselves and the peace and joy that comes with this choice.
 
"Your sighs will now betray the hopes of those who look to you for their release. Your tears are theirs . " (W.166.14.1-2) And when you change your mind, "Your hand becomes the giver of Christ's touch; your change of mind becomes the proof who accepts God's gifts can never suffer anything. You are entrusted with the world's release from pain." (W.166.14.5-6) It is all about choice.
 
Last night, I was feeling like a martyr and doing a lot of sighing about how much there was to be done as I took on a job for Don, who was struggling to meet his obligations to a volunteer organization. I let him know how difficult it was for me to help him. I quickly realized how I was exemplifying victimhood and was doing exactly what this Lesson says by showing him he had the power to make me suffer. I had to laugh at my foolishness. Watching my thoughts helped me realize the choice I was making. I could choose to either open my mind to receive God's gifts or be cast back in the self-made role of the homeless person. The decision was up to me. We all have this power within.
 
Each time we choose to forgive, we extend a blessing to those who don't yet understand that their suffering is coming from their own choice. Our choice requires that we notice the game we are playing and stay vigilant in mind watching.
 
We demonstrate another way of being in the world by not being of the world. We increasingly recognize that it is no longer the circumstances of our lives that bring us sorrow but only the interpretations we give to every situation. Jesus says that we can't, in fact, tell our advances from our retreats. (T.18.V.1.5) (ACIM OE T.18.VI.41) This reminds me of a wonderful movie called, "The Ultimate Gift." It clearly demonstrates this fact. I have seen this in my own life, where a seeming setback was necessary to show me the miracle hidden there. A friend, who was staying with us, was very frustrated one day when he was trying to arrange to rent a car. He became very angry with the bureaucracy he experienced while dealing with the car rental companies. Later in the day, he was offered a car by a friend for the duration of his time here. He did not know, at the time, that the miracle was awaiting him. It is all about trust and acceptance that everything that seems to be happening is for our good.
 
In our morning and evening practice, for a minimum of five minutes and up to thirty or more minutes, we spend time bringing our attention to our thoughts, our fears, our investments in our ego, and hearing the response from God, "It is not so . " (T.14.II.5.8) (ACIM OE T.13.VII.60) Jesus pleads with us not to choose what the ego has to offer over the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He means that we have to let go of what we are holding onto so tightly. He means that we have to admit that we are wrong about the way we are seeing and interpreting everything. Jesus reminds us that the meaning we give to everything is not the truth. What we are experiencing is what we have chosen. It is our dream.
 
We remember today that our interests are not separate from those of our brothers. We are One. What I do to you, I am doing to myself. My happiness cannot be bought at your expense. We are being called to become a living demonstration of His love, seeing our interests as the same as that of every brother. Our shared reality is outside of this dream. Our reality is Oneness.
 
And today, I am thankful Christ's touch is on my shoulder, and this is not my home.
 
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Love and blessings, Sarah
 
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Allen Watson's
Workbook Commentaries
Allen joined Robert Perry in forming the Circle of Atonement in 1993 in Sedona, Arizona where Allen led retreats and workshops and authored many books based on “A Course in Miracles.” One of his most popular books is “ A Workbook Companion: Vol I and II .”
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