This time of the year, with the extra demands the holidays make, it may feel things are getting out of hand.
At that point it’s helpful to ask who or what is really in control. Am I personally in charge of things, or is God? Maybe that seems like a strange question when you may have a lot of shopping and other things to do that don’t seem at all related to God. But the reality is that God’s love can permeate everything we do. And when we let divine Love guide our decisions, we make better choices and experience His protection.
From her vast knowledge of the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, turned to the Bible and explained God’s control in this way: "Understanding the control which Love held over all, Daniel felt safe in the lions’ den, and Paul proved the viper to be harmless" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 514). The biblical account of Daniel, who was thrown into the lions’ den, illustrates the protecting power of God’s control. The lions did not hurt him (see Daniel, Chapter 6.) The other scriptural account referred to, about Paul, makes the point that even if we have not been able to prevent something bad from happening, we need not suffer the consequences; Paul suffered no harm from a snakebite (see Acts 28:1-5).
The challenge/opportunity is always to recognize and submit to the control of Love, of God, and the more diligently we do this, the more able we will be to hear His direction. Nowhere is this more important than in letting divine Love govern our thoughts. I learned more about this at a time in my life when I tended to be critical of others, and I had to admit that this critical attitude wasn’t helpful or constructive. In fact, indulging unloving thoughts and actions actually involves surrendering control of our feelings to that which is unlike divine Love.
As I indulged in criticism, in a way I was patting myself on the back that I wasn’t like the offender. I knew I needed to get back to having God in control of my thoughts rather than this critical attitude or the false superiority I was feeling. So I talked to a Christian Science practitioner and teacher about this, and she recommended that for every critical thought about someone, I find 10 good qualities that the individual possessed and expressed.
I really attempted to follow this advice, and I soon found this judgmental type of criticism giving way and not even coming to thought. It’s so much more pleasant to be loving and constructive in offering one’s views than to be critical and destructive. Also, it better enables us to hear God’s direction in our lives because we’re striving to follow divine Love’s direction.
One day I found a deeper meaning in this passage in the textbook of Christian Science: "Divine Love is infinite. Therefore all that really exists is in and of God, and manifests His love" (Science and Health, p. 340). I looked up "manifest" in the dictionary and found that it meant, in part, "to make obvious." I reasoned that everything God created (and He created All) exists to make obvious His love and His divine control in our lives. There is hardly anything more comforting than yielding up a sense of personal control to divine direction.
A great benefit of God’s control is that when we truly understand it and are obedient, there are no conflicting directions. One person is not inspired to do something that’s in conflict with another’s prayerfully derived instruction. Rather, we have the joyous opportunity to work together with others in seeing God’s will fulfilled on earth.
No matter what time of year it is, when we place our lives under God’s control, we find all things are working together for the benefit of everyone. How much more satisfying this is than just having things go our way or having to bear the responsibility for making things come out "right." We can rejoice that when we’re following God’s direction, nothing is ever out of His control.