PROBABLY all of us have times when it's not clear what the future holds or what we are meant to do or be. We may long to pursue a particular interest but can't seem to make a living and also develop our talents. Yet there is a way for us to feel a sense of purpose even as we strive toward a fuller understanding of our personal and professional goals.
The key to our efforts is the Bible. The book of Proverbs urges: ``Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths'' (3:5, 6).
Joseph, Moses, Nehemiah, Gideon, Esther, Ruth, Deborah--this only begins to list the men and women in the Bible whose trust in God enriched their lives! One thing that has helped me at times when I've felt uncertain about the future is that some of these individuals had doubts and questions as they went along their paths of life, too. But they stayed with what they knew of God, and they experienced His care for them.
All of them learned the importance of trusting God's will rather than relying on human force or influence to manipulate things to turn out the way they wanted them to. This willingness to trust God gave them the spiritual inspiration needed to make the right choices when their prospects looked bleak.
We, too, can trust God's will because the Bible's message, especially in the New Testament, makes clear that God is Love and that His purpose for man is always good. Christ Jesus' life illustrates very clearly how living in harmony with God enables us to surmount whatever might seem to be holding us back.
When Jesus first taught where he grew up, Matthew's Gospel tells us, everyone knew he was ``the carpenter's son'' (13:55). Given this background, he certainly would not be thought of as having the potential to be a great preacher or as the one who would best express Christ to the world. Yet Christ Jesus' recognition of man's inseparability from God was so clear that he could confidently say, ``I and my Father are one'' (John 10:30).
Because man is inseparable from God, we each can affirm that we are ideas of the divine Mind, God. As such, we have a complete and fully spiritual identity known to God, which is revealed to us as we trust our lives to His care. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, brings out this human and divine coincidence in her little book Retrospection and Introspection. Explaining that no one can ever take another's place, she writes, ``Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity'' (p. 70).
God doesn't prepare us for specific jobs as bankers, tailors, lawyers, secretaries, or archaeologists, of course. His purpose for us is spiritual, and we discover our goals in human terms as we express spiritual qualities in a more diligent way. For ex-ample, an excellent accountant is precise, accurate, honest, alert. We'd expect a good teacher to be clear, knowledgeable about the subject, intelligent, patient, and loving. This doesn't mean, however, that a teacher doesn't need to be precise or that an accountant shouldn't express patience! As we become more adept at expressing spirituality and at looking for it in ourselves and others, we will find our horizons broadening even as our individual sense of purpose becomes more focused. This change in thought may or may not lead us out of--or into--accounting, but the main thrust of our work, whatever it is, will continue to be seeing ourselves more and more as the spiritual children of God.
As we work and pray diligently to perceive and express the spirituality that is ours--and to recognize it in others--we will be living the purpose God has for us no matter where we are.