When a new watch takes over duty on a ship, the first thing the sailors want to know is the course and position of the ship. They want to know, ''Where are we, where are we going?''
These are important questions for each of us to consider. Every day, and perhaps often each day, it behooves us to check on our mental position and course. If we wish to arrive successfully at a chosen goal, we have to be on a right course mentally.
But what is a right course?
The Bible tells us. Paul the Apostle charts it specifically. In a letter to the Christian people of Rome he writes, ''He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.'' And he adds, ''Let love be without dissimulation.'' n1
n1 Romans 12:8,9.
Paul shows that Christlike thinking is the most important element in charting our course through life.
God is Love, universal Principle. By expressing the qualities of Love, we come into line with God's law of harmony. We are then on a right course mentally , and our activities respond. Turning away from sin or sorrow to the way of Love , we find the loving way to be the healing way.
Christ Jesus illustrated this fact to his disciples. After their Master's crucifixion, the disciples, in a confused and discouraged state of thinking, had gone back to their fishing. Jesus met them on their return to shore. He asked them if they had caught anything. When they answered ''No,'' he said, ''Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.'' n2 When they did this, they got good results immediately.
n2 John 21:5,6.
Jesus' words are a constant reminder to all his followers to keep thought on a right course spiritually. In harmony with the teachings of the Master, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes, ''Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.'' n3
n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scripture,p. 261.
This Science shows that a pure, spiritualized state of consciousness, reflecting the spirit of God, is the first and essential thing at all times. The loving, Godlike way is the really happy and successful way.
A young man in business for himself learned this to be true. He was having difficulties. Although he knew his trade as an engineer, the world of business was an entirely new experience. He started to wallow in a dark sea of discouragement and depression, working long hours fruitlessly. Then he remembered Jesus' command, ''Cast the net on the right side . . . .'' He realized he wasn't holding his thought ''steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true.'' So he changed course. He started to simplify his outlook, be more diligent about spiritual priorities, putting God first and expressing His love. He became more aware of God's ever-present love. Things improved immediately, and he went on to develop a worthwhile business.
Like this young man, we can all change course for the better if the course we're on is fruitless or potentially disastrous. We can change our outlook and thereby alter our experience. But the change required isn't simply positive thinking. It's a mental yielding to the infinite power and perfect government of divine Love and to our own true nature as Love's image. It's a spiritualization, a purification, of thought. In this way we can enter the kingdom of heaven on earth.
Mrs. Eddy writes: ''If the disciple is advancing spiritually, he is striving to enter in. He constantly turns away from material sense, and looks towards the imperishable things of Spirit. If honest, he will be in earnest from the start, and gain a little each day in the right direction, till at last he finishes his course with joy.'' n4
n4 Ibid., p. 21.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.... Make me to go into the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. Psalms 119:33,35