IT was an important meeting! And believe me, I prepared for it. I did the research. I mulled over strategies for persuading people to adopt my idea. I practiced my presentation. I planned rebuttals. But when the meeting took place, nothing happened the way I expected. New information was presented that touched me deeply enough that I dropped my strategies and agreed to something far better than I had outlined. Afterward, I realized that all my preparing had left out the most important preparation of all- -the preparation of the heart.
This was just one meeting. What about the larger picture of our lives? Sometimes we're not able to do what we think we most want. Does that mean we can't find fulfillment--that we can't find the good we long for in our lives? No! When we're willing to accept what God has in store for us, we're able to make a contribution that is perhaps beyond anything we'd dreamed of doing.
We can find this peace of spiritual fulfillment because of the nature of God. He is divine Love itself. This Love, because it is God, is universal; it is infinite in its extent, and it's all-powerful. Divine Love creates man and gives each of us a full, spiritual identity. Because we reflect God, divine Spirit, we are intelligent, beautiful, and unique.
The love of God can bless each of us, wherever we are and whatever honest and good work we are doing. This is not to say that this makes everything rosy. But is this surprising? Hardly! Christ Jesus lived the most purely spiritual life anyone has ever seen. His life was completely unselfed--there was not a shred of ego or hope for personal gain in it. Yet, worldly thought rejected his precious, hard-earned message and tried to slay him, the great teacher of God's love for man.
As his followers we shouldn't be surprised if we have challenges to face, as well. The Founder of the Christian Science Church, Mary Baker Eddy, speaks of what his followers have to face when she says in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``The followers of Christ drank his cup. Ingratitude and persecution filled it to the brim; but God pours the riches of His love into the understanding and affections, giving us strength according to our day.''
In terms of our outward lives, sometimes things do not work out as we had hoped. But as we turn more and more to God's presence and love--allowing that to rule our thought and actions--we'll feel His love pouring into our lives, bringing us joy and fulfillment beyond what we could have expected or planned for. But we have to be ready, and willing to accept the good that God is giving us every moment.
This is the preparation of the heart that is more vital to us than getting ready for a meeting, no matter how important. Sometimes Jesus speaks of this preparation in terms of weddings. Remember the five watchful women in Jesus' parable in Matthew's Gospel? They faithfully kept themselves supplied with oil while awaiting the bridegroom. Can't we see this as showing how they were faithful in keeping their hearts prepared for the coming of Christ? Our own preparation of our heart to receive God's saving lo ve readies us to stand, like John, as a ``friend of the bridegroom and rejoice in the coming of Christ, Truth. John said, ``He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.''