What's your occupation?

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

I've been thinking a lot about occupation recently. My work changed not too long ago, and I've needed to adjust to differences in schedule, pace, and in some simple duties such as meal preparation.

During that time, I heard a talk by a former military chaplain. He said that when evil – thoughts that frighten, frustrate, depress – occupies a person's thinking, it takes over the ground the way an army occupies territory. His remark set me to thinking about what we call occupation. It's a lot more than the work we do; it's what we entertain mentally while we do it – what claims our attention and fills our lives. In that sense, everyone has an occupation, since everyone's thought is engaged and employed – either in the service of God, good, or in the contemplation of evil.

When ideas from God – what are sometimes referred to as "angel messages" – occupy thought, they are a formidable army. Hebrew Scripture refers to the "heavenly host," an angelic troop that surrounded the divine throne (see Isaiah 6, for example).

Several times in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy spoke of angels. She referred to the angel Michael: "The Old Testament assigns to the angels, God's divine messages, different offices. Michael's characteristic is spiritual strength. He leads the hosts of heaven against the power of sin, Satan, and fights the holy wars" (pp. 566–567).

Michael establishes control and holds the ground for God. And the angel Gabriel comes along with him. Mrs. Eddy continued, "Gabriel has the more quiet task of imparting a sense of the ever-presence of ministering Love." Michael and Gabriel form a significant partnership: The mighty Michael fights for righteousness, while the tender Gabriel comforts. Such divine warfare challenges the claims of evil, vanquishes its apparent influence, and destroys it. The result is liberation, joy, and harmony for all.

While some wars are fought on battlefields, more of them take place in individual thought. Every day people are besieged by temptation, pain, fear, unhappy memories. Sometimes these occupy our attention and fill every waking thought. Their ability to control our aspirations, health – our very lives – seems almost uncontestable.

But rescue is at hand. We are already preoccupied; angels enfold us, with divine power to defeat evil and destroy its claims. An army of angels fills consciousness, and they hold that ground; there is no room for anything else. These angelic warriors have authority from God to repel all harmful attacks.

Some jobs appear to carry "occupational hazards" – physical danger, stress, or conflict is apparently built into a particular line of work. For me it was faculty distrust of administration in higher education, and I served as an academic dean.

Sometimes the attacks felt personal and inescapable. But I came to realize hazards like these are stereotypical lies, false images imposed by mortal mind. If we permit them to occupy thought, we may find evidence of them in experience. But we can choose not to do so, and reject these stereotypes. When I filled my thought with the light of the Christ, these gloomy shadows disappeared.

I now feel more secure in God's care, whatever I'm required to do. If I must make decisions that affect the lives of others, I can lift them up to God, confident He will bless and sustain everyone involved. These prophetic words offer assurance that my occupation is established in God: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee" (Isa. 26:3).

One's occupation remains steady, no matter what's going on. God is always the center of our being. As that fact holds the ground in consciousness, we see practical evidence of it in our lives. We are thoroughly occupied, established in His unconditional love.

Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel.

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