One TV game show gives contestants three opportunities to rely on the help of others, in what are called "life-lines." These aids are designed to help a person when he or she can't answer a question. The advantage is that these people can help the contestant win a lot of of money.
Imagine applying this idea to real life - as if you had a limited number of opportunities to rely on outside help. Granted, we do find ourselves saying, "Oh, I can't ask that person to do anything more for me. I've asked enough already." But what about relying on God for help?
Jesus Christ proved, through his healing, that God loves each of His/Her children unconditionally. We can turn to God, who is infinite Love, at any and every moment for help and guidance. For me, it seems that the ability to hear God's direction is clearer and easier to establish when I try expressing in myself the very thing I want to receive from God. So, for example, when I want to hear the truth of God truth, it is helpful if I pay particular attention to being truthful. If I want to feel love from God, I myself must be loving. If I want to experience more of the wisdom of God, I should act in ways that are mindful and intelligent.
That isn't to say that you can't call on God in emergencies, when the only thing you can utter is "God, help me!" But to hear and know the will of God continually, nothing replaces the steady, daily practice of acting as our Mother-Father would want.
The Bible says, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). But when any of us feels it's been a while since we exercised our God-given ability to be righteous, we shouldn't give up! There's no time like the present to reestablish that connection. And it's important to remember that even if someone thinks he or she hasn't been communicating with God for some time, God has been communicating all along - every day, every moment. Truly, nothing can come between you and God.
A friend of mine served time in prison for a crime he had committed. While he was incarcerated, Lee started reading the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy. His life began to take on new meaning and direction. He learned about His unbreakable link with God. He changed his thought about himself, and that led to changes in the way he acted in prison. Soon he found himself released, earlier than expected.
With a new suit and $40 in his pocket, Lee was on his way home. But unbelievably, just as he went through the prison gate, he was arrested and taken to another state, where he was convicted of another crime that he'd committed. He was sent right back to jail.
Such a turn of events could severely challenge a newfound faith in a forgiving God who lovingly leads us up and out and into a better life. But in Lee's case, after a bit of time his humility surfaced. In reaching out to God for an answer, he felt that prison was actually the best possible place he could be right now in order to learn more about God and to build a better life.
He had been about to return to the "old neighborhood" when he was released; that would have meant returning to the old ways because his newfound view of himself would not have been strong enough to resist them.
What helped him maintain his strength now was a very deep love for God. He could see that God's wisdom was truly promoting his redemption from a bad life - and his fresh start in a new one.
Lee was released again from prison. But this time he didn't return to the old neighborhood of destructive thinking. He did return to his former community as a youth counselor, helping to keep troubled children from lives of crime.
God, who gave you life in the first place, is your permanent lifeline. Going to God, you are going to Life itself. No one knows you better than God. No one knows better how truly wonderful you are.
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(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society