“You must make this work—I don’t want to hear that it can’t be done. This is too big a project and too much money is involved. Fix it—now!” And with those words from my boss ringing in my ears I walked out of his office. The problem was I didn’t know how to fix it and had people on both sides of a contract angry because I wouldn’t sign it. Much pressure.
The United States government had issued a large-dollar contract to my university to work on the design of a prototype that could be very beneficial to many. The faculty member assigned to the project had the expertise to do the design, and it seemed like a worthwhile project.
The problem facing me was I could not accept the terms of the contract. Working for a public university that did not do classified work, I could not accept a contract that included supervision of part of the contract that was classified. There was no way we could manage it or provide any oversight.
I went round and round with the parties involved to no avail. The federal agency felt we should be able to accept the contract because no classified work was done on the campus. They even had their security head contact me because they felt I was incompetent and just didn’t understand. Frustrating! Emotions ran high, and I felt trapped in the middle.
It was time to pray—something I have learned to do about all aspects of my life.
I got very still in body and mind one night, asking God what I needed to know. Was there a way forward, and if so, what was it?
The word unfoldment came to me. I thought a lot about that word and what it means. There is a beautiful article in the Christian Science periodicals titled “Being is unfoldment” (Journal, January 1941), which I decided to track down and read again.
One of the primary points I got from the article is that every aspect of an unfoldment of good is complete, a manifestation of God’s goodness. If this project was a genuine unfoldment from God, the elements required for its success were already in place, fitting together harmoniously and working to bless everyone. Seeing this, there was a way forward.
I began to sing a hymn that came to me as I prayed:
Our God is All-in-all,
His children cannot fear;
See baseless evil fall,
And know that God is here.
(Emily F. Seal, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 267)
I felt the baseless evil here was an insistence on one way of doing this project without consideration for all parties involved and their needs. So I endeavored to see the man from the government with whom I was working as a beloved child of God, governed by God and included in His continuous unfoldment of good—not as an obstacle.
I thought about waves rolling to shore and how they could not be stopped. I acknowledged that the forward movement of this project, if it was a right idea, was also unstoppable because it was governed by spiritual law—the harmonious laws of God, good.
I had a meeting scheduled the next morning with all the parties involved. I did not know at that point what to do. Before going to sleep that night, I turned the whole project over to God, trusting that only good would unfold. I did not have to argue or push ideas around at the meeting. The right ideas would naturally unfold and be acceptable to all, blessing all involved.
When I walked into my meeting and we got connected on the conference call, I still had no idea what to do. But when it finally was my turn to speak, I asked if it was possible to restructure the main contract, awarding it to our partner who was handling the classified work, and ask that they have the overall responsibility for the contract. They could accept the terms of the agreement and could in turn issue us a part of the contract for the work we were supposed to do that did not include terms with which we could not comply. The parties involved, work scope, dollar amounts, and personnel would not change. Roles were simply reversed. This could be an answer.
The idea was not one I had ever thought of—it just came out of my mouth when the idea was needed. God provided the direction. This contract was being handled by a branch of the military. They put this idea through their legal department, who ruled this was allowable without going back out to bid. I was able to sign the agreement, and all moved forward.
I was grateful for what I learned from this experience. It showed me that this was much more than “thinking outside the box” because, in reality, there is no box. Spiritual ideas are not bound by human thought processes and obstacles. Good is always unfolding—this is a law of God and nothing can stop it.
Santa Barbara, California, US
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