New Thought Editorials > Stake Your Claim


Summer 2012

Stake Your Claim

The theme for this year’s Congress is "Claiming Spiritual Inheritance". We as New Thoughters have a magnificent spiritual inheritance, as I am particularly aware at the moment, having recently been rolling around in a lot of early New Thought history. The challenges are that too many of us have either prematurely inherited our portion and wasted it in riotous living, or we were never aware that we were heirs.

In the Foreword to a collection of essays, Stake Your Claim, by New Thought minister and author Emmet Fox, his "assistant, companion, and friend" Herman Wolhorn comments, "It is your God-given duty to Stake Your Claim to peace, poise, power, prosperity, and health—and God expects you to be satisfied with nothing less." No selling our birthright for a mess of pottage is permitted (some times you just can’t beat the old King James Version wording). In his essay of the same name, Fox describes the "old gold rush days": when a prospector had finally found gold, he would "stake his claim so that others would know that that particular discovery belonged to him. But the promising claims didn’t always pan out. Fox reassures us, "Unlike the prospector, however, when we stake our claim with God, we need have no anxiety about the results."

The Prodigal Son in Jesus’ parable mismanaged his claim and squandered it. Just as many of us do things the hard way or fail to do them at all because we are unaware that we are the rich children of a loving heavenly father. Lying in the pigpen, certainly no place for a nice Jewish boy, the Prodigal "came to himself", and back in his right mind, realized that his father’s servants were in better shape than he was. He decided to go home and sign on as a hired hand, figuring that even that was better than he deserved, since he had so royally put his foot in his big opportunities. Boy, was he surprised when his father spotted him drooping down the road and ran out to greet him with great joy, sparing him the finger-wagging sermon, which at that point he definitely didn’t need. He had staked his claim with God, in the meaning behind the fictional parable; and even though he had all but given up on himself, God hadn’t given up on him.

There’s an old business story about a young manager who had just made a mistake that had cost his company $100,000. Downcast, he presented himself to his boss, saying, "I suppose you’ll want me to resign." "Resign?" was the answer. "We just spent $100,000 educating you!" It’s one thing to blow it; it’s quite another not to learn from your experience.

One of the most important things packed into our New Thought inheritance from its Judeo-Christian taproot is the character ethic, which early New Thoughters expected so fully that they took it for granted. A pleasing personality is valuable only when it rests on a solid foundation of good character: self-discipline. We may mess up, but qualities such as courage, perseverance, and integrity will help us to recover and to learn from our mistakes. That old prospector had done a lot of hard digging and sieving before he was able to stake his claim. The Ten Commandments, interpreted on numerous levels, are still the road to a happy and prosperous life. Our heritage is moral absolutism, not moral relativism.

So, like the Prodigal, we may stray from the path to either side: doing things the hard way because we are unaware of the power of our God-aligned thoughts, or trying to work our way magically on the world with no thought to its natural, God-given laws, including the laws of money or of physical wellness. But as Joel Osteen likes to say on television, "Our God is a God of second chances." It’s not too late to climb out of the pigpen and claim our spiritual inheritance.