It was late at night and I found myself driving on a strange road with no street lights or signs. As I drove into dark, unfamiliar countryside, I knew I was lost. I pulled over and programmed an address into my car’s GPS navigational device. A comforting, steady voice told me, turn by turn, what to do. In a short time, the device directed me to my destination even though I had no idea of where I was.
At the risk of stretching the much-used analogy, it has occurred to me over the years that, in a profound context, divine Love, God, operates much like a GPS—correcting and guiding without recrimination. Sometimes we may feel too busy to stop and listen for God’s guidance or feel too sure of our own human plans. Sometimes we may even lose sight of where we are going. But Love, God, is always present, always guiding, and we can experience this when our thought seeks this divine direction. Divine Love also illumines the destination, which inevitably involves spiritual growth.
So how do we get back on track and engage with this divine guidance? Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Whatever holds human thought in line with unselfed love, receives directly the divine power” (p. 192). In this statement Mrs. Eddy aligns love with divine power. When we prayerfully turn our thought from “self” to God, we find harmony in our lives. This is not simply because of our own human goodness or strict discipline of thought, but because our thought naturally aligns with the Principle of being, the power of divine Love, God, which governs the universe.
Throughout the Bible we find stories of individuals whose love for and trust in God allowed them to triumph over situations where power appeared to be in the hands of others, and where they appeared on the surface to be “lost” in some way. Take the story of Joseph, for example. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers who sold him into slavery, and then through the duplicitous actions of his master’s wife, he was cast into prison. Joseph could have spent his time feeling shackled by recrimination or self-pity, but instead he trusted and served God faithfully and helped his fellow prisoners. At each step, “the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper” (Genesis 39:23).
Gratitude is a sure bond and often the first step Spiritward.
Joseph was eventually made second in command over all of Egypt. His spiritual focus and faithfulness to God allowed him not only to triumph personally but to help others, including his brothers, in a time of famine (see Genesis, chaps. 37, 39—43).
Such unselfed love brings healing and reformation. As Mrs. Eddy explains, “The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God,—a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love” (Science and Health, p. 1).
However, keeping thought focused on unselfed love can seem challenging. Fear and anger can undermine thought and keep it fixated on self. Or we may be too determined in “willing” how events should unfold. As love for God and for our fellow man fills our thought, we realize divine Love’s power, which operates as an infallible guidance system. Our experience becomes more spiritually directed.
What then holds thought to unselfed love? Gratitude is a sure bond and often the first step Spiritward. The acknowledgment of any and all good in our lives is essential. Even if we feel powerless or frustrated by the turns our paths take, recognizing good is like turning on a guidance system and allowing divine Love to direct the journey. We may be confused, afraid, or doubtful of the road ahead, but acknowledging and giving gratitude for good reminds us of God’s unfaltering, loving, and intelligent nature. As our thought shifts from a material to a spiritual destination, our experience will adjust, often improving in ways we could never have imagined.
A few years ago, one of my sons faced many dangerous situations during multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Whenever I grew fearful for him, I turned to God in prayer, listening for God’s messages of spiritual truth and affirming that divine Love’s guiding and governing presence is available for all mankind. This fact is based on divine Principle, on spiritual law, which doesn’t choose sides on a battlefield, but is always available to all who turn to it, eliminating fear and inspiring thought and action. My fear was replaced by the assurance of God’s loving care.
My son returned safely, and this demonstration of God’s protection was a touchstone for me, an affirmation of Love’s presence even in the harshest circumstances.
We can take to heart Mrs. Eddy’s call to action: “Let us rid ourselves of the belief that man is separated from God, and obey only the divine Principle, Life and Love. Here is the great point of departure for all true spiritual growth” (Science and Health, p. 91). No matter where we find ourselves, it is not possible to be separated from the Love that is always guiding the way.
Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, a former reporter for The Christian Science Monitor, is a writer and lives in Washington, DC.
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