IN the book of Jonah in the Bible we're told that Jonah found himself in a corner because he was determined to go his own way. When God told him to go to Nineveh and preach, he took a ship going to Tarshish, which was in the other direction. But a terrible storm developed, and when it was decided that he was responsible for this misfortune and the consequent danger to all on the ship, he was thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish. You might say he had been swallowed up by his own disobedience. Jonah prayed to God and was delivered from his extremity. He became obedient and followed God's direction and went to Nineveh. As a result of his preaching, the people there turned from evil, and Nineveh was spared destruction. There was no escaping God's will.
Stubborn human will, the determination to have one's own way, springs from the basic misconception that man is living pretty much on his own, apart from God, in a haphazard material universe. It's impelled by the belief that good is in short supply and that man is a limited mortal in competition with other mortals for the attainment of that good. It's based on the fear that unless we manipulate situations or people in a certain way, we'll lose out on something worthwhile.
Human will tends either to disregard God as the creator of man and the universe or to consider God of little practical help in facing day-to-day challenges. Yet we can learn from the Bible that God is ``a very present help'';1 that He is infinite good, the all-wise governor of His creation, and that man was created to express God's nature. And because the Bible teaches that God is Spirit, it follows that man is infinitely more than the vulnerable physical being he seems to be. Our true being is God's spiritual likeness, inseparable from the creator's care and direction. Yielding in prayer to God's perfect will, we'll be led in the right direction, guided to use our God-given capacities in ways that can do the most good for others as well as ourselves.
The human mind would obscure God's will. It would tempt us to pursue selfish, materialistic goals -- goals that would turn us away from our path Spiritward. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says: ``Will -- blind, stubborn, and headlong -- cooperates with appetite and passion. From this cooperation arises its evil. From this also comes its powerlessness, since all power belongs to God, good.''2
We need not become mesmerized by the temptation to act apart from God's direction. We can avoid this by denying firmly that we can be either the perpetrators or victims of human will and by standing immovably for the power and wisdom of God's government. Christ Jesus has given us the Lord's Prayer, which includes the affirmation ``Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.''3 This can be the basis of our prayer. Through prayer, through sacred communion with our heavenly Father, we can turn away from preoccupation with the moment's circumstances, sacrifice selfish ambition, and seek God's guidance.
I learned the folly of stubbornly exercising human will at a time when my daughter started to learn the piano. She was making rapid progress, and obviously had a talent for music. But then her practicing came almost to a halt. I tried to persuade her to continue, but this led to arguments that sometimes deteriorated into a battle of wills.
One day, while having a confrontation, I suddenly got a stabbing pain in my chest and lost my breath. I sat down and reached out to God in prayer, affirming that God is Life and that divine Life was my Life. I kept claiming my unity with Him and realized that the same was true for my daughter. I saw that I had to let go of her and trust her to God's care and government. I saw clearly that human will was not blessing or benefiting either of us.
I continued to pray, and after about thirty minutes, I was fully recovered. Never again did I interfere. Rather, I made a conscious effort daily to see God as her Father-Mother, governing both of us. Five years have passed, and she is a lovely pianist, still taking lessons at her own request.
In the realm of spiritual reality, the divine control is all there is to be known; therefore human will has no place. To the degree that we perceive this truth and live in harmony with it, we'll find the direction we need.
1Psalms 46:1. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 490. 3Matthew 6:10. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Psalms 37:5