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Set goals, or wait on God?

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How does one move forward, or set goals to achieve something, while allowing life to unfold according to God’s direction? Have you ever felt like you were stuck doing nothing because you were waiting on God to do something?

Sometimes in the pursuit of a goal it can feel like progress occurs in fits and starts. At such times it can be easy to become so focused on the specific goal that we forget the thing most essential: our relationship with God. But a pause to reflect on God’s goodness is never doing nothing. Reflecting on what God is and does for His creation is actually often an integral part of moving forward.

I can share an experience that illustrates this. It was just a “little” problem I faced. But I figured if God really is a “very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1), He was where I was and would help in matters large and small!

My young son couldn’t find his new shoes. Where could they be? We decided to look everywhere in the house, but no shoes. It was a sunny Saturday, so I sent him outside where he had been playing barefooted. He came back empty-handed.

I decided to go outside and take a look myself. I was fairly new to Christian Science at that time and was just learning how to pray, so I wanted to pray my way through this. I was absolutely convinced that God was with me and would lead me.

I began by thanking God in advance, in the same way Jesus prayed before he raised Lazarus from the tomb: “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me” (John 11:41). I figured a “thanking” prayer was important, and I loved thanking God.

I decided I would not hunt for the shoes. I would thank God and then wait for His guidance. If at any time I felt I was choosing my steps, I would stop until I was sure, deep-down, that I was being God-guided.

My daughter wanted to go with me on this prayer trip, so I took her by the hand and off we went. We might have looked strange to an on-looker! I kept thanking God as we walked and stopped to pray, and walked and stopped to pray, and walked until we had walked completely around our house to the stone wall at the edge our property. No shoes to be seen.

We couldn’t walk any further, unless we jumped over the wall onto the road on the other side. I was disappointed. But then, I looked down. There, on a large rock, were those shoes, placed neatly side by side. Thank you, God!

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds” (p. 1). It felt like such a little problem, but my desire was huge. More important to me than finding the shoes was my desire to prove that God was, in fact, a present help.

Prayer is about shifting from human goals—however well-intentioned—to recognizing the larger, spiritual purpose of each of us to fully reflect divine Life, God, without limits or fear. Active pauses in prayer—that replace fear with gratitude, and doubtful, limiting thoughts with confidence in God’s goodness—are essential. Such pauses guide us forward, step by step, until we see our goals right there in front of us, fully realized.

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