A GREAT deal in life seems to rest on our own shoulders. There's no question, for instance, that success in any endeavor requires that we act responsibly, doing what needs to be done conscientiously. Sometimes we're faced with tough decisions in the midst of challenging circumstances. The weight of responsibility can appear to rest directly on us alone. St. Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, ``Work out your own salvation....'' But then he adds, ``For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.'' I've sometimes remembered the part about working out my own salvation and berated myself for not doing it very well. Yet I've tended to overlook the reassuring statement that follows. The New English Bible translates this passage, ``for it is God who works in you, inspiring both the will and the deed, for His own chosen purpose.''
In our efforts to do the right thing and to meet life's demands head-on, do we forget about God? It's so easy to think of ourselves as forging ahead, struggling alone to fulfill a personal goal, often frustrated by stubborn obstacles. Yet Christ Jesus said, as the Gospel of John records, ``The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.''
While it may seem as though we're simply on our own, Jesus' words remind us that this isn't the case. They point us beyond what seems to be, to the spiritual reality of creation, to the truth that man is the child of God, inseparable from His love and care, created to express the purity and goodness of the divine nature. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says succinctly in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``Man is the expression of God's being.''
Our true selfhood is God's spiritual image, His reflection. We have a right, then, to lean on Him and to feel His guidance. To do so is to acknowledge our unity with Him. It's to acknowledge that He is indeed our creator and that we are in fact His offspring. It's to acknowledge the spiritual reality of creation, beyond the surface, materialistic view of things.
Yes, a great deal of responsibility does rest on our shoulders. Yet maybe the most important responsibility is to gain increasingly clearer views of God's government of our lives. The book of Micah asks us, ``What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?''
Our struggles are usually efforts to cope with an increasingly complex world. Maybe what we all need is to struggle for clearer views of God's presence and care, of the actual, spiritual nature of creation under His wise government. This isn't escapism. Our clearer views of true creation will help bring that reality to light in more peaceful, orderly lives.
How do we gain these clearer views? By striving to live in greater harmony with the Ten Commandments and Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, walking humbly with God, to echo the prophet's words. By taking time daily, even if only a few minutes at a time, to commune with God in prayer, to acknowledge His government and feel His presence, to discern more of our actual selfhood in His likeness. Clearly, our individual, day-to-day responsibilities must be met in the working out of our salvation. But these efforts are strengthened as we view our fundamental responsibility from a spiritual standpoint, as we recognize the underlying demand to worship the one God and to express more of the divine nature in all that we do.
We're not truly alone. We're God's offspring, inseparable from His wisdom and strength and from all the good He imparts. God is working in us, and we can feel more of that reality today.