THIS is the time of year that students in the Northern Hemisphere are returning to school, hopefully pursuing the quest for truth, or at least knowledge. Yet students aren't the only ones who will be learning. More of us are being required to learn about new equipment at work and even how to do new and unfamiliar jobs. What happens if we feel we are out of practice and don't really know how to learn?
Our first step might be to pray and to ask God for guidance in how to proceed. God, being divine Mind, never gets old. As our creator, actually our Father-Mother, He doesn't know us as old or young, resilient or rigid. He just knows us to be His ideas, ever fresh, new, and inspired. This is true because we are actually spiritual, composed of qualities such as intelligence, wisdom, love, purity, and peace. Intelligence, in other words, is part of the spiritual ``fabric'' of our being. We can expect to express it, even if in the past we have believed that we were limited or that learning was difficult.
We can be confident that this is the case because of the example Christ Jesus set for us. The Bible tells of his wonderful ability to teach others the gospel of God's goodness and His love for man. This love of God for His creation is so great, so permanent, because God is Love itself!
During Jesus' ministry, there were experts in theology and the Jewish law, who were not always friendly toward him. One day, while he was teaching in the temple, they were astonished at what he knew and asked, ``How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?'' (John 7:15) Jesus answered by pointing out that he was doing God's will, not his own. And this meant that he was relying on divine inspiration and intelligence instead of trusting in material brainpower.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, sheds further light on the relationship between obedience to God and the expression of intelligence. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she writes: ``Whatever is governed by God, is never for an instant deprived of the light and might of intelligence and Life'' (p. 215).
In short, as we pray and trust God to guide us, we have the ability to learn whatever we need to. This is a fact that has a practical effect.
For several years I had a work assignment that involved learning to understand radio frequencies and other technical data relating to what we were doing. One of the people I worked with was extremely knowledgeable, but every time I spoke with him I felt unbearably confused.
I prayed fervently to know and express divine intelligence better and to feel God's guidance in my work. God doesn't know anything about radio frequencies, of course. But I was certain that, as His spiritual idea, I included discernment and understanding. So I prayed to express these more fully.
Finally, one day, when I was talking with the man who was helping me, and had once again become confused, I suddenly said to him, ``Ted, I'm going to get this; I am going to understand it, no matter what it takes.'' From that moment on, the situation changed totally, and I was able to learn--and understand--the needed information.
Prior to this incident, each time I had become confused, I had shrugged mentally and figured that I couldn't understand. But as a result of the praying I had been doing, I had begun to realize that I could understand because it was natural for me as God's idea to do so! Then, when I was talking to Ted that specific time, I had been able to affirm what was actually true. The result was what Christian Scientists sometimes call the human and divine coincidence: my conviction of God's power and presence coincided with my seeing His power expressed in a specific way in my life.
We each have the God-given ability to learn what we need to know. Through our willingness to pray and to trust God to open our eyes to our innate spiritual intelligence, we can move forward into a new learning year with joy and expectation.