When the stakes are high
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
Years ago, I served as an expert in my field for a government agency that was investigating a complex case of fraudulent financial reporting by a failed high-profile financial institution. The public harm caused by the failure was large; the financial stakes for the participants were high; and the professional reputations of many were on the line.
I spent much of the time away from home in the offices of a San Francisco law firm, sifting through hundreds of thousands of documents, with new ones coming almost daily. It was like putting together a puzzle with no end to the number of pieces and no picture on the box. Even more challenging was hearing conclusions not supported by fact, preconceived notions, and hidden agendas. I worked long hours. My only exercise was walking up the steep hills from the financial district to my hotel.
After a particularly stressful day, I was chugging uphill. The words from a hymn flooded my thought: "I climb, with joy, the heights of Mind,/ To soar o'er time and space" ("Christian Science Hymnal," No. 136). I sang them aloud along the rest of the walk, oblivious to those around me on the busy street. I felt uplifted. It was a turning point from feeling so burdened about the assignment.
I'd often wondered why I had been assigned to the case, when many others were more professionally qualified. While praying, I realized that I had an important mission to fulfill. What was most needed was not another human opinion or even a set of expert skills, but a humble desire and effort to see the will of God for all affected. God is infinite good. Each of us is part of His creation, made in His own image and likeness. God's will for us is to express and enjoy the good that He provides. We are, in truth, the sinless, victimless, fearless, tireless, timeless, beloved children of the one all-loving God. I felt I had been placed in that post to bear witness to these truths.
The hymn mentioned earlier begins, "I love Thy way of freedom, Lord,/ To serve Thee is my choice." I thought about how best to serve God in this case. My job was to seek information that would facilitate a satisfactory resolution to seek the truth that would bring freedom to all involved.
Further spiritual study helped clarify my role. This Bible verse became my mission statement: "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Mic. 6:8).
Then, this statement by the founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, articulated the Principle governing the investigative work that would solve the complex puzzle: "Spirit, God, gathers unformed thoughts into their proper channels, and unfolds these thoughts, even as He opens the petals of a holy purpose in order that the purpose may appear" (pg. 506). With new confidence inspired by knowing that God was unfolding whatever was needed, the case developed swiftly.
I listened carefully for God's direction each step of the way. At one point, I was literally down on my hands and knees with a 1,000-page real estate appraisal on the floor in front of me. I humbly asked God to show me what I needed to know. I was led to a few pages somewhere in the middle, which had vital information.
The whole investigation continued this way and concluded with an incisive report, supported by only a dozen or so key documents (out of the hundreds of thousands reviewed) that told the whole story in a compelling and convincing way. I was in awe as the evidence fell into place, and the report seemed to write itself.
Presented with indisputable facts, divisive factions blended in unity. A prompt settlement was reached, avoiding protracted litigation. The solution served God's purpose; it was indeed both just and merciful. I often look back at the victorious climb up the hill and how it was a turning point in the case and in my career.
Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning;
for in thee do I trust: cause me
to know the way wherein I
should walk; for I lift up
my soul unto thee.