In every business meeting in my branch church, the moment for “new business” would come up, and the topic would be gently raised that our church had been without a full-time Christian Science practitioner for decades. The membership would be reminded to pray about this void, and I would gladly dive into prayer about it on my drive home. At times I felt quite hopeful that this need for active, committed public healing practice would be supplied by God. A few times I even thought how nice it would be if the yet-to-appear practitioner would have a little family! But essentially, I would forget about it in the midst of the demands of my busy life with young children until it was again raised at the next meeting.
Finally, during the moments before one of these meetings adjourned, I was cherishing this desire for active, consecrated practice to support the church and the community, and a loud, unavoidable question popped into my thought: “What about you?” It actually startled me. But before I could really consider it, even while I knew it came from God, there flowed forth a long stream of reasonable objections: I had a young family that took nearly all of my time. My husband was gone all week on the West Coast working, and only home one night a week before returning to his project. I owned and ran a little restaurant that was my dream job. I was too young to consider such placid work as the practice. I had other talents that suited me better. I was already doing plenty of work for church—the kind of work that fitted in with my life as it was.
Nevertheless, the arresting question posed to me would not be dismissed. It followed me around wherever I went, whatever I was doing. Then, not too much time went by before I was elected to the position of Second Reader, which I accepted with some trepidation. On the way home from that meeting, through tears of self-doubt, I promised God that if this was what was being asked of me, I could do it—with His help.
I set aside one day a week to prepare for reading at Sunday church services. I did nothing else but study and pray on those Thursdays, which became very precious to me. I felt that the commitment to God had sort of stopped me in my tracks and was blessing me. It was also prying me free from a lot of “my” plans. During these days I found myself reflecting on Christian Science and my great gratitude for it. I knew that it was my first love, and I began to see how animal magnetism had, to some degree, convinced me that while Christian Science was important to me, it was not the first priority. As I reflected on all the healings I had experienced and seen growing up, I felt the urge to reorder my priorities.
I was cherishing this desire for active, consecrated practice to support the church and the community, when a loud, unavoidable question popped into my thought: "What about you?"
Preparing for Sundays became a holy time, and daily prayer for myself and for the world found its way into my routine. The services on Sundays became the centerpiece of the week. Then, people began to call for help through prayer. So as I stirred the soup or put a batch of muffins in the oven, I found myself absorbed in giving prayerful treatments.
After attending an association meeting where my Christian Science teacher encouraged us to earnestly consider going into the full-time practice of Christian Science, I began to ponder the idea that God might be steering me in that direction. I wanted most to follow His leading. Upon my return from that meeting, I felt inspired to make two phone calls—one to my teacher, asking if he would support my entering into the public healing practice, and the other to a person I knew who had an office in New York City that might have a vacancy. My teacher answered yes, and the office day available was Thursday.
Sometimes these little signs are like billboards when we really need them. Not many Thursdays went by before I knew this was what God was indicating to me to do. I was living these words from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy: “Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way” (p. 454). Within weeks I closed up the restaurant, which was soon revived by two talented cooks in the area. A short time later I was advertising as a practitioner in The Christian Science Journal.
This new career fell rapidly into place once I was receptive to it and willing to let it redirect me. And I will never cease to be astonished by the good it has brought to me and my family. I have literally felt saved by the constant influence of the Christ as head of God’s household.
When I entered the full-time practice, I thought of the work as a career—something I was doing on the human scene, with God’s support, to help and heal others. What I have found is that it is really going on in the mental realm, where God causes His child to draw nigh to Him and know Him, and all are blessed thereby. The practice is one way God assures us that He is with us and never forsakes His own. A verse from Isaiah, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (26:3), expresses what’s happening in the healing practice.
It may be that God is in some way presenting this idea uniquely to you. If so, you can trust Mrs. Eddy’s counsel on page 326 of Science and Health: “Working and praying with true motives, your Father will open the way. ‘Who did hinder you, that ye should not obey the truth?’ ”
Rebecca Odegaard is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher who lives in western Massachusetts and teaches in New York City.