The walk with God

First published as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel

Life often presents hard choices, whether they affect thousands of city residents or are made around the kitchen table. Sometimes things don't go as expected. The child who seemed so promising suddenly takes up with a bad crowd. Changes in a city's economy make it hard to keep the household going. A senior parent needs care, but there's nowhere to turn. The car breaks down, and there's no money for repairs.

Everyone who faces these situations or others like them (and who hasn't?) knows the scene. While there's a certain amount of aid and comfort friends can give, in the final analysis it's up to us as individuals to decide what to do next.

Perhaps like David, you've prayed, "Out of the depths have I cried unto thee ... Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications" (Ps. 130:1, 2). Maybe a feeling of peace came after such a prayer, but then new challenges break out. Or maybe it seems as though God hasn't been answering the phone that day, and your prayer is stuck in His voicemail.

Here's a way to get unstuck: Get a new concept of God. To that end, Mary Baker Eddy explained in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "Paganism and agnosticism may define Deity as 'the great unknowable;' but Christian Science brings God much nearer to man, and makes Him better known as the All-in-all, forever near" (page 596).

Science and Health elaborates on the nature of God - and the spiritual nature each of us has as His much loved creation. But the book is more than an intellectual treatise. It is a guide for spiritual living, and literally will take its reader step by step, thought by thought, toward a better life.

To allow yourself to understand God as infinitely knowable - as Science and Health brings out - is to be like Moses, developing a friendship with a Father-Mother whose love and wisdom never fail us. Infinite Spirit is always everywhere, even in the darkest and most fear-filled places. This is the God who hears our prayers - and who answers.

If it appears that the answer to prayer is no answer, that doesn't mean you're back to voicemail again. Perhaps the need is to be more open to God's message. And it may come in an unexpected form. Moses, who had been Pharaoh's highest officer, was reduced to being a shepherd in a desert land. It probably never occurred to him that God's message would come to him through a bush that appeared to be burning (see Ex. 2:15-4:17). Yet that encounter with God totally changed the direction of his life. Bushes still burn in this day and age - figuratively, at least.

That didn't mean Moses had no further difficulties in life. Accounts of his subsequent labors show he had his share of worries. Yet there was a difference: He knew he could count on God. That he wasn't alone as he led the thousands of Israelites through the wilderness to freedom. The closeness to God that had developed gave him both strength and wisdom in the face of a fractious people.

Anyone can learn to walk with a knowable God. It doesn't matter what the past has been or what the future appears to hold. It doesn't matter if the path winds through the inner city or a wealthy suburb. No one is alone. God is simultaneously with one and with all.

Gradually, the steps we take with God render us better able to hear the divine voice and to trust it. To feel more hopeful and convinced that Love really is at hand all the time, and to say (and mean), "I really can hear Love's voice, even in the middle of trouble." First, those spiritual convictions uplift our lives. Then, they enable us to help others. To be a healing presence anywhere. And to stretch out our hands to a brother or sister who may be crying for help "out of the depths," and who then feels God's love as we do through the healing touch and footsteps of our lives.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalms 119:105

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