There are lots of good reasons people don’t like being told that they’re wrong. One of the hardest times to hear correction is when the one correcting you is simply mistaken or, worse, even a bit malicious. That’s not always the case, of course, but if it happens often enough, who wouldn’t start to feel a reluctance to be corrected!
With God, though, it’s different. God is Love. Not just loving, but ever-present, all-powerful Love. A God who is divine Love assuredly wouldn’t ever dish out destructive criticism or harsh correction. God’s kind of correction would have to be constructive, even healing. This statement in the first chapter of Mary Baker Eddy’s extraordinary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” has always been reassuring to the book’s readers: “Divine Love corrects and governs man” (p. 6). When we’re blessed by Love’s divine correction, we actually gain a new view and new direction of thought. It’s a new birth, a new start.
A nice compliment for anyone is to be told that he or she is coachable. An athlete, for instance, who is willing to be coached and corrected has the potential to make some solid gains. What holds true for those athletes applies to you and me, too. When we’re praying, having a tractable and teachable attitude is a valuable asset. God’s correction of us is a truly prodigious demonstration of love. One feels so cared for and cherished when corrected by God. With correction, there always comes a new view, a new perspective, revealing something fresh about God’s goodness and creation.
The fourth verse of the 23rd Psalm says, “[T]hou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” This rod is a shepherd’s crook (it’s shaped like a very large candy cane!); it’s what the shepherd uses to guide and move the sheep. When the shepherd adjusts a sheep’s direction, the sheep ends up in a better place – a comfortable place of green pastures and cool waters.
When our Shepherd, divine Love, corrects our direction of thought, we, too, end up comforted and in better places. Mrs. Eddy observes: “Those ‘whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth.’ His rod brings to view His love, and interprets to mortals the gospel of healing” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 208).
On our own, without immediately accepting divine correction, we’ll eventually be shepherded toward solutions for which we hunger so much. Yet it is much like wandering in an unknown land without a map – both the direction and destination are unknown. By our welcoming divine Love’s correction, however, the trip, though demanding sometimes, is purposeful. With confidence, we move forward, willing to have our thoughts and perspectives improved by God’s loving adjustment. It is a joy to trust the Shepherd’s direction and show our gratitude for it by our willingness to change course.
How do you invite in Love’s correction? Most of the time, God’s guiding message to you appears as an idea or feeling from within your heart. You can identify that it is God communicating by how it makes you feel. Along with whatever message you’re given, you’ll feel loved. You’ll also feel close to God – even “at one” with God. By that feeling of God’s love and peace, you’ll know you can trust the guidance and run with it.
With all of this in mind, an important question to ask oneself is, Am I willing to have my thought adjusted and cleansed by God’s power today? If so, your prayer is in harmony with the Psalmist’s in the Bible: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalms 51:10).
Just as a sheep may yield easily to the shepherd’s guiding rod, we can be glad to be coachable and tractable. A good way to demonstrate gratitude for correction is to make your change of thought and perspective permanent. Divine Love’s stirring correction, whether gentle or firm, has the effect of bringing about healing transformation. From that moment forward, nothing is the same. It’s so much better.
From an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.