The other day I caught a friend at work laughing at something that had been floating around the Internet. The story goes something like this:
During "art period," a kindergarten teacher stops beside one child and asks, "And what are you drawing, Mary?"
"I'm drawing a picture of God," Mary tells her.
"But," says the teacher, "no one knows what God looks like."
Without missing a beat or even looking up, Mary says, "They will in a minute!"
As I walked away from my friend's computer, I wondered how often in my own life I've known exactly how God was going to look! That is, I may have thought I was taking a problem to the Holy One in my prayers, but I already had a pretty good idea of how I wanted the solution to work out.
A proverb in the Bible counsels us to "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" (Prov. 3:5, 6). I remember a day several years ago when this instruction was of enormous help to me. Something had happened in our family the day after Christmas - suffice it to say, it left me and other family members deeply troubled.
When I went back to my job several days later, I was still very upset by the circumstances. I couldn't discuss the situation with anyone I knew. I had no idea what to do next about things. No idea where to turn for help. As I stepped into the elevator in the lobby that morning, I couldn't even think what button to push! I was that distracted.
Immediately, that proverb flooded my thought. I saw my hand already raised to press the right button for my floor, and I thanked God even for this little sign of direction. I realized that the divine source of the intelligence which had guided this very small action would also tell me each step that I must take in response to the recent sad turn of events.
Although some people might choose their wedding day, or an anniversary, or a special birthday as the most memorable day of their lives, I still consider that day in January to be the most extraordinary one I've had so far. Never before had I felt my own sense of direction so subordinate to God's. All day long that day, every time I took any action at all, whether large or small, I would stop first and ask God to move me forward.
At one point I was thinking about the events that were troubling me and was just about to cry, when I once again "acknowledged" God "with all my heart" and asked Him to "direct my path." I remember that I took four steps, looked up, and saw a friend. She asked me out to lunch. She was warm. Affectionate. And the pure pleasure she seemed to take in my company gave me just the encouragement I needed to keep on going.
I got through that day, and the next one, and the next one. And - maybe just a little bit like that Energizer bunny - I'm still going. I may not have every answer I need quite yet, but I can say that I've found this: that the closer I am to genuinely feeling the humility and trust in God that I felt that day, the clearer my sense of direction in life is.
I think the key to that passage in Proverbs is probably the part about turning to God "with all thine heart." Whether we are praying to God for ourselves or on behalf of another person, true prayer doesn't have an agenda or involve an opinion about the outcome.
In a book about God and healing, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy wrote a short chapter called "Prayer" that says: "God is not moved by the breath of praise to do more than He has already done, nor can the infinite do less than bestow all good, since He is unchanging wisdom and Love.... Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it" (pg. 2). What more can we ask?
He only is my rock
and my salvation:
he is my defence;
I shall not be moved.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society