Do you know your course?

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

Not long ago I was talking with one of my daughter's teachers after a school program, and she poured out her troubles – her elderly father had broken his hip, a colleague's sister had just passed away, and another colleague was ill. By the time she finished, she was in tears. I spoke kindly to her, hoping to comfort her, just as others have treated me tenderly when I've been distressed.

From time to time, each of us reaches out for comfort in some area of our lives. Maybe we need a better relationship with our spouse or children, or the job environment isn't ideal. Perhaps we don't have a job and desperately need one. Maybe we have so much to do that we feel overwhelmed.

When something like this happens to me, I take solace in these questions from Mary Baker Eddy's book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "When the ocean is stirred by a storm, then the clouds lower, the wind shrieks through the tightened shrouds, and the waves lift themselves into mountains. We ask the helmsman: 'Do you know your course? Can you steer safely amid the storm?' " (p. 67). Why is this so comforting to me? Because I can answer that while I don't know the course, God does.

Looking to God for guidance, comfort, and solace in the midst of our storms isn't ignoring the problems. It's actually facing them, armed with a love and power that are far beyond a human sense of things. As the Bible declares, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10). And when I surrender to His will, I'm able to be still and listen to His divine pointing.

Admittedly, finding time to get still in the midst of a mental storm may seem difficult, but it's actually the only reliable way out of the storm. The stillness reveals that God is speaking to us, pointing the way to health and safety. Comforting us.

A couple of years ago, I was canoeing down a river in Washington State. Now, I'm not the best at canoeing. In fact, at this point I've promised God not to bother Him with any more emergencies that have to do with water and canoes. But this particular day, I was heading straight for a gigantic two-story tree root on the river bank. I hit it. The canoe flipped, and I went under.

Our instructor had just finished telling us not to get into this position as it could be a deathtrap, because we could get pinned to the roots by the force of the water. Well, I was in that position, but my canoe got pinned instead of me, and I popped up underneath it. There was a pocket of air – of about three inches – but the force of the water was not allowing me to go anywhere. Of all places to have to get calm and still and listen!

Loudly, I heard in my head these words from the Bible: "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord" (Ps. 118:17).

I knew then that the threat of death wasn't going to touch me. Also, I very clearly knew my course. I went under water to gain force to come up and push the canoe off my head. This freed me. Although I was now without a canoe and without a paddle in the middle of the rushing river, I was fine. After listening for more inspiration on how to get to shore, I left the river safely.

Whatever situation we are in, we may not know our course immediately, but we can always trust God to direct our thoughts and our actions. Turning to Him, listening intently, and hearing His guidance saves us. Through prayer, we learn to be still even in the midst of the storm, even when we're not quite sure of our course, because we can trust that God is.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalms 119:105

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