Keep your bearing

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

When mountaineering, you take a bearing with a map and compass so that when you want to go from Point A to Point B, the compass bearing, or reading, will point you in the right direction. This can be very helpful in bad weather, especially in whiteout conditions or heavy fog, when the destination is obscured.

I've come to see that prayer to God each day – establishing in my thought in a fresh way that God is in control of my life – gives me a spiritual bearing to keep me on the right path throughout the day. To the degree that I glimpse something of God's goodness and ever-presence, I can find my way through whatever confronts me.

My morning communion with God, which continues throughout the day, helps make my decisions wise and my actions loving. It establishes in my consciousness that I am God's child, His idea. Understanding that God is the source of all goodness, intelligence, and power, I can drop willfulness and fear. The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, described the desire to trust God in this way:

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My prayer, some daily good to do To Thine, for Thee; An offering pure of Love, whereto God leadeth me.

"Poems," p. 12

Recently, my spiritual bearing helped me through a difficult situation. A workman left our driveway too quickly and hit the finished stonework at the top of the drive. The rocks, as well as part of his van, were strewn into the street.

When I gently confronted him the next morning, he denied it and said that perhaps someone had turned around in our driveway and caused the damage. What he didn't know is that my husband had seen him do it. But once my husband had realized it was happening, it was too late to get outside and flag him down before he drove off.

I'd begun that day in prayer getting my bearing – the knowledge that God is the only power and presence. With this understanding comes the further understanding that evil has no power, no government, no control over my life or anyone else's. So when confronted with dishonesty, I wasn't impelled to react willfully or impatiently. The contractor went upstairs to work, and I continued to pray.

At lunchtime, the contractor told me that perhaps he'd hit the stonework and could split the expense of repair with us. I suggested that we drop it for the moment so he could concentrate on the job he was doing. I wasn't avoiding the awkward situation, but my intuition told me not to argue.

I continued to pray, trusting that God, divine Love, was the only power, presence, and law governing humanity. There's no better example than Jesus of one who understood God's control of all. No fear, dishonesty, or intimidation could ever sidetrack him. In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus said, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matt. 6:13).

By keeping my bearing, trusting that God was in complete control, I couldn't be led or tempted into believing that there was a dishonest, uncaring man in God's creation. Truth, or God, is all that is real. Man, Truth's idea, including male and female, has to be honest and upright. My prayer was not to manipulate the truth out of someone, but to yield my incorrect sense of man to the understanding of God's man, the only man.

At the end of the day, the contractor looked me in the eye and told me that he had in fact hit our stonework. He explained that he'd been afraid that he would lose further contracts with the company he was working for, but he realized that no contract was worth dishonesty. He offered to pay for the damage. I thanked him for his integrity. And I gave great thanks to God for His loving care of us all.

I felt I'd glimpsed something of Isaiah's promise, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else" (45:22). This is a bearing worth obtaining and keeping.

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