That remark was made by someone who had decided to stop smoking. She told a friend that she was going to smoke that evening, and then no more. Her friend replied, "That's fine, but you can't do it just like that."
That's when the woman declared, "I can, because I must." She'd just been appointed head teacher of a large school for girls that had a reputation for severe lack of discipline and poor academic achievement. Recognizing this as a challenge, she maintained, "If I'm going to be able to discipline those girls, I must first discipline myself." By her decision, she was endeavoring to lift her thoughts to a higher level where she would no longer feel any desire to smoke, and could make better choices.
She actually did stop smoking that evening, no doubt gaining strength from her newfound freedom. She felt impelled to bring order and strength to that school, and sometime later her aim was achieved. Things completely changed, and the school became known both for its very good standard of behavior and for its academic achievement. As a result, the teacher was awarded a high national honor – an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) – in recognition of her service to education.
Having a clear motive often inspires achieving results. Maybe this is especially so when the aim is unselfish and blesses others.
A desire to pursue a certain course of action that is obviously good has its source in God. So it carries within itself its own means of fulfilment because it is empowered by divinity. This also ensures that God's will, not human will, is the power that is governing.
St. Paul makes this point in a letter he wrote to the early Christian church in Philippi, where he speaks of "being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it" (Phil. 1:6).
Each of us has spiritual qualities that will enable us to break free of addictive behaviors, sometimes by helping us see the higher goal of wanting to bless others. Compassion, love, a desire for harmony and for honesty and goodness – these help us achieve much good in our personal lives and in the work we do for a living. As each of us expresses these qualities and strives to let go of attitudes that prevent progress, we're also able to help change the world around us. A high goal produces good results.
The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "The devotion of thought to an honest achievement makes the achievement possible" (p. 199). She continued, "Exceptions only confirm this rule, proving that failure is occasioned by a too feeble faith." Could that observation perhaps serve to encourage greater faith in the power of good and a stronger motivation to succeed?
The realization that all good comes directly from God points to the fact that we're not responsible for achieving anything by ourselves. Letting God work His good will in us, and through us, enables us to do all that we need to do.
An old proverb declares, "Where there's a will there's a way." That sentiment often promotes persistence in pursuing a project to its completion. But to recognize the "will" as expressing the will of God, which is absolute and supreme and therefore can't be opposed, gives a far greater assurance of success. By getting our own will out of the way and being ready to let God's will be done, we find the sure way to the goal. Perhaps we might then find ourselves affirming, "I could, because the all-power of God was with me."
This verse from a well-known hymn by Benjamin Beddome ("Christian Science Hymnal," No. 354), sums up that concept:
God works in us to will,
He works in us to do;
His is the power by which we act,
His be the glory too.