The continuity of good
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
Whether it's a change of seasons or a change in jobs, advances in technology or a shifting political landscape, ironically, the only thing that seems certain these days is the uncertainty that change brings. Like Maria in "The Sound of Music," how often do we find ourselves asking, "What will this day be like? I wonder./ What will my future be?"
For Maria, finding the courage to face change boiled down to having confidence in herself and in her abilities. But in times of real upheaval, even confidence in ourselves doesn't always feel substantial enough to see us through. So what makes it possible to approach life from the standpoint of fearlessness - with expectancy instead of anxiety, with trust, not trepidation?
The Bible is a great guide in answering this question. From the story of Moses and God's provision of manna in the wilderness to David's psalms, which sing praises to God for His faithfulness, the Scriptures point time and again to a God who is a tender Father, actively supplying His children's need - always.
One passage that has been particularly helpful to me is the 23rd Psalm, which promises not just a moment of goodness but a lifetime of it.
The last portion of the psalm reads: "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
I love the assurance this psalm offers of the continuity of good - even in the midst of frightening situations. But also significant is what it demands of us.
There's a hopefulness that accompanies "I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." There's also an indication of the mental posture that's necessary to experience the ever-presence of God's mercy and goodness.
I've come to think of "dwelling in the house of the Lord" as being at home in divine Mind. This involves keeping one's thought in accord with what Mind is and knows, cultivating a state of awareness of God's love for us. This awareness is a spiritual sense of things that allows us to feel cared for in times of trouble, to stand firm in God's constancy, even in the face of change.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, recognized the power of placing trust in God when she wrote: "Entirely separate from the belief and dream of material living, is the Life divine, revealing spiritual understanding and the consciousness of man's dominion over the whole earth" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," page 14). As we turn to this Life, we'll feel more certain that we can approach any situation, knowing that God's goodness can never lapse.
I was crushed this past spring when I learned that two close friends were unexpectedly moving cross-country. These friends are like family to me. They were also my neighbors. I couldn't imagine not having them nearby. In addition, I was afraid of being lonely. I was genuinely excited about the opportunities that awaited them. But it seemed as if all that was left for me was a void.
The day after my friends' move, I awoke with a heavy heart. But as I turned to God in prayer, I heard a message that changed everything: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 10:7). This was the good news Jesus told his disciples to preach. And that particular morning, it was also very good news for me.
I realized I'd approached my friends' departure with the expectation that eventually something good would come of it for me. Someday I'd have friends again.
But this passage promised that the kingdom of heaven - the spiritual reality of God's goodness - was at hand. There was no waiting period. No temporary void. The foreverness of God's love, I realized, also involved continuity.
Recognizing this instantaneously healed my sadness. And though the several new friendships that did develop didn't do so for a couple months, I never felt lonely or left out of love after that moment. I was so busy trusting in the ever-active goodness of "the Life divine," that I felt fulfilled and happy even though the circumstances didn't change immediately.
The promise of Love's continuity belongs to everyone. Like God, good is changeless, and as His children we have every reason to place our trust in it - and to see it manifested in our lives. In other words, when we find ourselves asking Maria's question, "What will my future be?" our answer doesn't have to be her response: "I wonder." Instead, we have a firm foundation for answering with authority: "I have confidence - that it's a future full of good."