excerpted from Inner Healing by Dan Joseph

As I mentioned earlier, I find that the best way to throw the gate open at step three – and keep it open wide – is to let God's love flow through us to others. As we open our minds to God's inspiration, we can extend this inspiration to the people around us. In doing this, we open an ever-wider channel.

One of the most fundamental ideas in A Course in Miracles is the idea that we will experience God's love to the degree that we share it. The love of God is a flowing thing. It needs to move through us.

I remember the day that I first came across this idea in the Course. Up until that time, I had been spending months by myself – months in prayer, study of spiritual ideas, and so forth. Despite my hard work, my efforts weren't producing any fruit. I felt isolated and cut-off – anything but inspired. I didn't know what was wrong. I was trying my best to access God's love, but I felt bereft.

When I finally came across the idea that I could experience God's love only as I extended it, I was shocked. I thought that I had to "get" it all by myself, and then begin to share what I had received. The Course taught otherwise. The receiving and giving happen at the same time, says the Course – just as the river flows into and through our land at the same time. I wasn't giving anything to anyone; consequently, I could not receive.

To be clear, when I talk about "giving God's love," I don't necessarily mean anything dramatic. We can give a kind thought or word to someone. That may be all that we're able to offer at the time, and all that the other person needs. My problem was that I was focusing exclusively on trying to get to God myself. I blocked out everyone else from my mind in the process. I believed that it was a personal, solitary journey. The Course clarified why that approach doesn't work.

These days, when I begin to feel a sense of God's comforting presence in step three, I often let my mind move to other people and things, and try to let that love embrace them. I believe that this is one of the best practices for keeping the river flowing. The love of God comforts us as it moves through us.

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