RECENTLY I was thinking about some of my favorite high-school teachers. A couple of them, I remember, set a very serious tone on the first day of school. With gravity, and even a touch of severity, they told us there was much ground to cover. It was essential that we take our work seriously. While my friends and I at first didn't find this a winning approach, we came to respect these teachers as among the best in the school. And as the year went along, we found that, far from being cold, they expressed a great deal of warmth and love. Their emphasis on diligence and obedience together with their love for the pupils was an ideal combination, and it contributed to our progress. Remembering their example has been helpful to me in thinking about the nature of God's care and what we can do to feel that care increasingly. The Bible teaches that God is Love. It points to His tender provision for His creation. But the Scriptures also speak of God as Lawgiver and stress the need for obedience to His law. Matthew's Gospel, for example, records how the teachings of Christ Jesus show us the importance of seeking ``first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness'' rather than giving primary attention to worldly needs.
So, while God is Love, He is also the source of all true law, the very Principle of the universe. It follows, then, that as we conform to divine law, found in the Bible's teachings, we'll more consistently feel and experience His love. As the Psalmist sang, referring to God, ``No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.''
Clearly, divine Love wouldn't be Love unless it were also Principle. But sometimes we may be inclined to feel that God isn't Love if we don't think He has given us what we've asked for in prayer. We know that a parent's love isn't expressed by simply giving a child everything he wants. That wouldn't be genuine love. Nor is the teacher's care for a pupil shown in a refusal to require at least some measure of discipline and hard work. If we don't think that God is answering our prayers, maybe we need to consider His nature as Principle and the importance of conforming in every way to His law and of yielding more wholeheartedly to His perfect will.
Prayer in its truest sense isn't a matter of persuading God to give us something but of recognizing more clearly that He is always providing good for His children. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``God is not moved by the breath of praise to do more than He has already done, nor can the infinite do less than bestow all good, since He is unchanging wisdom and Love.''
God is providing good for His offspring. This is the spiritual reality of creation, the truth of God and of man as His spiritual likeness, inseparable from His care. The need is to demonstrate this truth through prayer and through deeper, more consistent worship of the one God. We might strive even harder, for example, to live in harmony with the Ten Commandments and Christ Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. This will show us more clearly our relationship to God, give us a conviction of His care and of the operation of divine law to correct whatever needs correcting. Then we may find our prayers answered in a totally unexpected way.
Our efforts to conform to divine Principle's government will certainly bless us. And they will help bring spiritual light to others. Divine Love's care for each of its children is constant. But the work to prove this truth begins in our own lives, in lives made better through obedience to divine law.