It was spring of my sophomore year in college and I was leaping for joy. I had just found out about something I was sure would be the perfect way to spend the summer. It was a farm-stay program in Norway, a place I'd always dreamed of visiting. I sent for an application and told all my friends.
When I called my dad, I already had my heart set on it. To my surprise, his answer was an outright "No." I was in quite a huff when I hung up the phone.
I knew I shouldn't hold onto a willful sense of what I wanted to do. I had believed for quite some time that God governed my life, and willfulness was certainly not in line with God's government.
But it wasn't easy to let go of that image I had of my perfect summer. I couldn't seem to shake the disappointment.
After a day or two, though, I realized there was no point in clinging to disappointment. Deep down, I knew that God, divine Love, had a perfect plan for me, and that if I was willing to listen to His guidance, something good could work out.
That was the beginning of the door of my thought opening – at first only a crack – to other possibilities. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote, "Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 454).
Over the next couple of weeks, I prayed to give up human will and listen for ideas from God. These words from a hymn spoke to me:
Lord, my times are in Thy hand:
All my sanguine hopes have planned,
To Thy wisdom I resign,
And would mold my will to Thine.
(Josiah Conder, "Christian Science Hymnal," No. 46)
Praying along those lines brought me a sweet sense of peace. I became confident that God would open the way for me.
And He did. First, a friend invited me to go on a wilderness canoe trip. It was a great adventure. Then I spent several weeks in an outdoor job I really enjoyed. I was also able to share some fun times with my dad, who needed company at that time.
The second half of the summer I worked away from home, where I became better acquainted with the guy I eventually married. My whole summer was full of love, fulfillment, and joy. And the following year I did get to go to Europe – for four months. It was an incredible experience – much richer than what I had originally imagined with such determined desire.
It can seem clenched-fist hard to give up our own idea of a good plan. It can seem hard to trust God's plan if we can't see yet what form the good will take. But whom is it we are asked to trust? A fallible, temperamental god? No! God is infallible, perfect Mind as well as infinite Love itself. How could we not trust that?
"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" was Christ Jesus' assurance (Luke 12:32). One way to think of this kingdom is the law of harmony. Since God is the all-knowing Mind, He knows what will make us the happiest. And since He is infinite Love, He loves to give us what will bless us most. Not only that. God's plan harmonizes our good with blessings for everyone involved. In my case, my friends and especially my dad were blessed by my not going to Norway, and this added to my joy.
We can pray to humbly recognize – maybe more fully than before – that God's nature is wholly good and that He is in control. And we can pray to be completely willing to follow His wisdom and trust His outpouring love. We can pray to see that He always was guiding and blessing us, even if it hasn't always appeared so. This kind of thinking leads step by step to wonderful developments in our lives. They may not take the shape we had fondly hoped for, but they will be even better.
Be willing to be surprised.