Testing for Divine Impulsions
SOMETIMES a sudden desire to take a bold or unusual action comes with such force that you're impelled to comply. Perhaps it comes so clearly in consciousness that God appears to be talking to you. On the other hand, strong urges, however sudden or persistent, can prove to be wrong, and following them brings undesirable conclusions. The mere strength of the impulsion isn't always enough to ensure that it's right. We know for instance of people who thought they were being compelled to murder or destroy -- in disobedience to the Ten Commandments1 and Christ Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.2 As bystanders we may whisper or even shout, ``How could they be so misled?''
But when it comes time to make our own bold decisions, we may wonder: Is this really the right thing to do? How can we be sure? How can we know that we're not mistaking our own strong desires or willfulness for God's direction? Prayerful listening can show us how to test an impulsion to see if the inspiration really is from God.
Before he led the children of Israel out of Egypt, Moses carefully tested the source of his instructions. When he saw the bush that was on fire without burning up, he was prompted to stop and listen. He heard God speaking to him clearly as a voice coming from the burning bush. And there were other signs that what he was hearing indeed came from God. Even so, Moses questioned his own ability to speak convincingly. Exodus records: ``And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth?...have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.''3 And Moses did listen to God before proceeding and all along the way as he led the children of Israel to the Promised Land.
Do we have direction from God today? We do. God's inspiration can be part of everyone's experience if we listen for it to come through spiritual consciousness. And God, divine Love, impels only good. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, points out: ``Divine Love is the substance of Christian Science, the basis of its demonstration, yea, its foundation and superstructure. Love impels good works.''4
It is important not to make the mistake of thinking, ``I want this so much it must be right.'' Such strong desires are sometimes imposed on us by influences that are anything but godly! An obsessive urge may be just a blind, stubborn, willful insistence on following through on compulsions without listening prayerfully to God. It is often impelled by the worst of motives.
Many kinds of urges can seem compulsive: addictions or immoral behavior, for instance; or wanting a person, position, or possession to such a degree that it becomes an idolatry. Unyielding desires may leave us pleading with God for something that might not be right. We can stop pleading and trust God to give us what is right -- to be willing to let God guide us.
We need to turn to God repeatedly for direction through prayer, and that means asking sincerely that God's will, the right way, be revealed to us. This prayerful listening brings us guidance even through rapids of compulsive or obsessive urges. Right desires bring their own confirmation with them; they solve problems rather than create them. The way opens up even through conflict. Great peace, regeneration, and healing follow.
1See Exodus 20:3-17. 2See Matthew, chaps. 5-7. 3Exodus 4:11, 12. 4Miscellaneous Writings, pp. 357-358.