Surrender to God
THE soldier cradling the black assault rifle nodded expressionlessly as I entered the headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior. I was undertaking a research project and needed government permission to interview people in a remote province on the fringe of the Sahara.The region was politically sensitive. The country's dense bureaucracy appeared to be behaving typically, not refusing my request outright, but not assuring me that anyone was seriously considering it, either. I was feeling more and more anxious because, after more than three months of almost daily trips to the ministry, my time and money were running out. I am a student of Christian Science, and I knew that I could find an answer to the problem by praying, as Christ Jesus taught. Other experiences in my life had shown me that I could take heart from the Scriptural counsel found in Psalms, "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. Yet for all this time I had been trusting in myself. I had been going frantically from one official to another while offering God helpful instructions on how He might intercede for me. Then one day in the depth of frustration it occurred to me that I could simply give in. I don't mean that I thought of abandoning my research and leaving the country. Rather, I realized that I could take the omnipotence and infinite love of God seriously enough actually to put my future in His hands. I felt an unreserved desire to trust God, whether I ever got the authorization or not. Instead of heading for the ministry as usual that day, I prayed. I stopped begging God to oblige me. Rather, my prayer was a silent surrender of my personal plans to God's design. It was a yearning to recognize that a loving God's governing of His own creation embraced both my needs and those of the officialdom of that country. I even went resolutely off to do something else that day as a way of expressing in action my bold desire to rely wholly on God. In discussing prayer, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, emphasizes the need decisively to give up our schemes and purposes and surrender to God. This kind of prayer may involve specific spiritual reasoning. But it may also be a wordless giving way to God, a determination to witness the workings of His love, a quiet refusal to project or fret over the outcome of events. Speaking of the yielding to God that is required for man's spiritual rebirth, Mrs. Eddy writes in Mi scellaneous Writings: "The new birth is not the work of a moment. It begins with moments, and goes on with years; moments of surrender to God, of childlike trust and joyful adoption of good; moments of self-abnegation, self-consecration, heaven-born hope, and spiritual love. When I returned to my lodgings that evening, a message was awaiting me. An official had telephoned to report that my request had been approved and that the governor of the Saharan province had been alerted to expect my immediate arrival. Within a few days I was on my way. During the following months the provincial officers and I cooperated amiably. In fact they facilitated interviews that yielded an abundance of important information. Yet something more than a successful project came from this experience. I saw that a tangled situation and one's fears about it are really manifestations of the same error of thought. The moment I realized in prayer the allness and certainty of God's power and found the courage to walk away from the fear, the crisis vanished. When we experience the frustration and anxiety of life's waiting rooms, trusting God not only cuts red tape, it also opens doors of new spiritual awareness.