Making progress is indispensable to our joy and satisfaction. Most of us yearn to be able to go forward in our lives with new ideas, new energy, and commitment. With a new year beginning, now is the time that many are thinking more deeply about how to do things differently, how to do things better than they did in the past.
I’ve often asked myself, What is the best way to progress? What do I have to do in order to move forward?
At times I’ve thought that progress depends on my own abilities, talent, strength. But when I’ve approached things that way, I’ve found lots of frustration and dead ends. I’ve seen another way to find consistent progress. It’s to take a spiritual approach. When I’ve looked to God for help – listened to God for answers and direction rather than to my own human mind – I have always gone forward.
The critical ingredient to progress is spiritual thinking. While material thinking leaves God out of the picture and leaves us on our own to try to figure things out, a spiritual perspective acknowledges that God, Love, is with us, cares about us, and gives us inspired ideas and direction. This approach acknowledges God, good, as the power in our lives that shows us how to go forward.
The Bible shows that Jesus always found a way to bring progress and healing to every situation. He consistently healed because he always leaned on God, listened to his Father. And he said he wouldn’t let anything derail him – turn him away from God or make him reason from a material, limited standpoint. Although his healings were remarkable, they weren’t magical. He encouraged his disciples to understand that they, too, could follow him and learn to heal. It is this Christ, Truth – the strength and spirit of God that Jesus turned to – that we can lean on during difficult challenges. Then we know we're not alone struggling but that Christ, Truth, is working with us – comforting, encouraging, and sustaining us as we move forward.
One time Jesus saw a man who had been blind from his birth. I love this interpretation of that account: Jesus’ disciples asked him, “ ‘Who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?’ Jesus said, ‘You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.’ " And then Jesus healed the man (see John 9:1-7, Eugene Peterson, “The Message”).
The disciples were looking at the problem from a material perspective, trying to figure out why the man was blind. But Jesus refused; he looked at the situation spiritually, seeing that God could bring healing.
We, too, can adopt a spiritual perspective rather than be stuck in a material view of our lives – a view that doesn’t allow room for progress.
Several years ago, I felt stuck in financial challenges that made me afraid. I desperately needed a spiritual perspective in order to progress. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, described how a changed perspective brings healing: “The effect of this Science is to stir the human mind to a change of base, on which it may yield to the harmony of the divine Mind” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 162).
I turned to God, prayed, and listened for a more spiritual approach. I began to see that the issue wasn’t really about having enough money; it was about finding my true worth. And the spiritual perspective I needed was to more deeply appreciate the substance of who I was as a child of God. To me that meant I could recognize how I expressed love in big and small ways. I devoted myself even more to giving to others.
I asked God to show me how to be more useful and faithful to what He was asking me to do. I often thought of the Bible’s parable of the talents, in which the servants were asked not to focus so intently on how many talents they had but instead to focus on using the talents they had been given.
My turning point came when I stopped wanting an easier, more comfortable life; stopped comparing myself with others; and wholeheartedly loved my own life – the joy, love, care, and beauty that God was providing. That’s when the fear completely dissolved and my path to progress opened. I realized how much I loved my life, and I found a satisfaction and peace that weren’t based on material things but on spiritual substance. Soon opportunities in my work increased, and in a short time my financial situation was resolved.
To go forward, we need to be willing to let go of limiting, material views of ourselves and our situation and adopt the spiritual view of what God is giving us. As we do this, we make progress, and our hearts are satisfied.