It's hard to believe that some teens and 20-somethings barely remember answering a telephone without caller ID. And many middle school children and younger have never known answering the phone without it.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a similar ID check of the thoughts that come throughout the day? If we're able to discern which thoughts come from God, we can pick up and listen. But ideas or impulses that don't have their origin in Him don't need to be listened to or obeyed.
Thankfully, we do have a "caller ID" that enables us to know the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. It's spiritual sense. Unlike the five material senses, spiritual sense is the ability to know God, to feel His presence and power. The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, described spiritual sense in the Christian Science textbook as a "conscious, constant capacity to understand God" ("Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures," p. 209). While many of us are still working at the "constant" part of understanding God, as with anything else, success increases with practice.
Jesus had the constant capacity to know when God was speaking. One of the best illustrations of this was when he was tempted in the wilderness in three different ways (see Matt. 4: 1-11). After the third temptation, he said, "Get thee hence, Satan." And the temptation stopped.
Years ago, a teenager's life was severely damaged by submitting to the temptations of drug and alcohol abuse. Her choices had been poor, and they all but prevented her from graduating from high school. With a checkered transcript and no study skills, she worked menial jobs upon graduating.
When, through a series of circumstances she found herself quite humbled by suffering, she began to read the Bible and Science and Health, something she'd seen her grandmother do often. Through reading and studying those two books, she began to develop her spiritual sense, her ability to listen to God's voice and to understand something of God's creation. She realized that the impulses she'd listened to that had initiated the poor choices she'd made had no more truth than the crank telephone calls that people sometimes make.
The qualities in the Beatitudes found in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount were good landmarks, showing her that she was now headed in the right direction. For instance, to be "pure in heart" and to "hunger and thirst after righteousness" – to do what was right and law abiding – was what she needed and wanted to do.
This woman was beginning to know God as the loving God found in the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible. This was the same divine Love that guided Moses and the children of Israel out of captivity. The same Spirit redeemed Saul's murderous ways until his character was transformed and his name changed to Paul.
Initially, Moses doubted his ability, and initially Saul behaved cruelly and wickedly. But that was only while they weren't listening to God. When guided by spiritual sense, letting God govern their motives and decisions, Moses had the confidence and wisdom he needed, and Saul gained a new purpose – to preach the good news of Christianity, which before he'd condemned.
This woman's life also changed. The desire for drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes disappeared. Instead, she found comfort and satisfaction in her understanding of God and her ability and inclination to turn to Him for help. At first, a university wouldn't admit her but suggested that she attend a state school. By proving herself academically, she could then be admitted. That's what she did, and she eventually graduated with honors.
There's no situation so complicated, no pit so deep, no problem so long-standing that can't be redeemed through understanding God's supreme control of our lives. It may not happen overnight and it may not be easy. But guided and governed by spiritual sense, we find the way out of whatever situation seems hopeless.
Check your caller ID. Make sure it's God who is speaking to you.