What should I do today? Where should I go? Which path should I take? What should I eat? We have to make choices every waking moment. Even not choosing is a choice.
Often one's choices form patterns that become hard to break. This is especially true when it comes to choosing how to think. Do you wake up to the day with glad thoughts, or is it a struggle to get started? Do you greet people with pleasure, or is there a flag of prior judgment on the mental horizon when someone in particular shows up? Somewhere, sometime, we have made choices to feel a certain way about almost everything and everyone.
It may seem like quite a burden to have to examine every choice. One may even argue that some things work better with reliance on intuition alone. But few of us can afford to float along avoiding conscious choices for very long. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper in 1908, once wrote, "Consult thy everyday life; take its answer as to thy aims, motives, fondest purposes, and this oracle of years will put to flight all care for the world's soft flattery or its frown. . . . Be faithful at the temple gate of conscience, wakefully guard it; then thou wilt know when the thief cometh" (Message to The Mother Church for 1902, pp. 17-18).
The word thief stands out to me. Who or what is that thief? Has it entered my consciousness through such channels as gossip, the news, or innuendo? Whatever robs me of peace, joy, confidence, must be a thief. In Biblical times it was often known as "serpent," "devil," and "Satan." "Evil" is a more common term, but in today's society even it is largely discarded. More and more, the thief goes nameless and undetected.
Evil, or error, is simply a mistake, usually appearing as our own thoughts, accepted as our own choices. In trying to expose this thief as a mere deception, I like to start my day by knowing that God is good and is All. That there is no other power. That there is no evil to steal my God-given peace, security, strength, guidance, happiness. This truth acts as a strong light that dispels the dark images of thought, including wild imagination and fear. It reveals God's control over all His creation.
But then I can't simply lay aside this wonderful truth and go on with the day; I have to keep clearly in thought all through the day the fact that God is the only power. And often this requires going into the "closet" of prayer, as Jesus Christ advocated (see Matthew 6:6)-a quiet place of thought where I can be alone with God.
There are many Bible verses that help me to make good choices in what I think. One is: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). I noticed that in the original the word his did not appear, and this helped me to see that God's "good pleasure" and mine are one and the same; I simply cannot want or do anything contrary to God when I know that He is the only power working in me. I do not say that I have succeeded 100 percent in making good choices. But when I pray, what a difference it makes! I like to turn my decisions over to God and let Him direct my ways, as another Bible passage discusses (see Proverbs 3:5, 6).
Sometimes I feel like a babe in the woods. The problems of the world would arouse fear, hopelessness, irritation, anger. But when I remember that God alone is working in me, I feel the dominion that He gives all His children, and I know that this same loving God is with everyone. My example may help others.
Christian Science, the law of God discovered by Mrs. Eddy, shows that through prayer we find the willingness and ability to make good choices about everything in our lives. And this enables us to heal. Our choices and our resulting actions do give us "good pleasure" when we let God work in us; our days are freer, more spontaneous, more filled with joy; conflicts are resolved; illness is healed.
The choice to be guided by God will help you through any difficulty, see you through any problem, no matter how severe. I know this. Even when I have made wrong choices that seemed irreversible, prayer has revealed a way to get things on the right track again.