Obedience is a blessing

A Christian Science perspective: Following God’s direction keeps us safe.

Several months ago, my husband and I were navigating through downtown Boston in two large vehicles. I was in front with our van towing a large trailer, and he was following in a 24-foot truck. I was relying on our navigation system to lead this parade, and everything was going smoothly until I made a left turn and saw a sign that said “Cars Only.” Cars were whizzing by all around us, but I managed to get over several lanes to an exit ramp in an attempt to stop and consider a new route.

Once I exited, I could find no room to pull over so I kept slowly moving ahead. Within a block I found I was being funneled right back on to the “Cars Only” route. Cars were beeping, and traffic was rushing. It felt as if the only thing I could do was go with the flow.

But in that moment I reached out in prayer to God and heard, “Don’t go there.” I managed to pull over, and just as I was getting out of the car to consult with my husband, a policeman came walking toward me. “I am so glad you didn’t go there,” he said. “It would have snarled up traffic for hours and potentially damaged your vehicle. I’ll help you find an alternative route.” With his help, we made it safely through the city.

I’ve been thinking about how I can be more obedient to God. So often in life we feel the rush of mortal thought around us – the material sense of life with its pressures and trends, pushing and pulling us to do what others are doing, or suggesting that we feel too busy or too afraid to listen in prayer for God’s guidance. 

But the Bible assures us, “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21).

What is that voice or that “word behind” us, and what if we don’t think we can hear it? The voice is God’s, and He is constantly speaking to us through the Christ, the true idea of being. We may feel the Christ as a definite power or goodness. We may hear the Christ as a spiritual intuition or right idea, as I did during my drive in Boston. Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of Christian Science, states: “Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness. The Christ is incorporeal, spiritual, – yea, the divine image and likeness, dispelling the illusions of the senses; the Way, the Truth, and the Life, healing the sick and casting out evils, destroying sin, disease, and death” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 332).

Sometimes we hear the Christ in a loud and commanding way; sometimes as insistent thoughts that keep coming to us until we yield to them. Either way, the deep desire to hear God, manifested in unceasing prayer and obedience to God’s leading, will bring us safely through challenging situations.

A hymn from the “Christian Science Hymnal” urges us:

In simple trust, like theirs who heard, 
 Beside the Syrian sea, 
 The gracious calling of the Lord, 
 Let us, like them, without a word 
 Rise up and follow thee." (John Greenleaf Whittier, No. 49)

The Christ is perpetually calling to each one of us. No matter what difficulties and entanglements we face, we can rise up in prayer and follow this voice of Truth as simply and immediately as the disciples first responded to Christ Jesus’ call to follow him. This is doing our part, and omnipotence will not fail to lead, comfort, and deliver us as we follow.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.