Goals, progress, and God’s promise of good

Today’s column explores the idea that as we listen for God’s guidance and follow obediently, good unfolds in ways we could not possibly have outlined.

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Setting goals was an important way for me to monitor my progress in early adulthood. Many of my goals reflected a deep desire to achieve specific career milestones, so I’d identify exactly what I wanted to achieve within a given time frame and then work diligently toward the desired outcome. This approach worked well for me, and it helped me stay focused and organized.

A little later, though, I learned to look at things from a more spiritual perspective and my concept of how to monitor progress shifted. My life became less about working within a tight time frame to achieve specific objectives and more focused on how to better express divine Spirit, God, as our infinitely good Father-Mother, which is one of the ways I came to understand God from studying Christian Science.

With this, my efforts to progress now began with a deep trust that, because God created each of us in His image, as His spiritual reflection, His promise of good would naturally be manifested in my life. I didn’t have to know in advance exactly how this would come about, but this new perspective was undergirded by a Bible verse – one of Christ Jesus’ teachings: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6, New King James Version).

A related promise that I dearly love is this one from “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science: “Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds” (p. 1). It’s an idea I enjoy pondering whenever I am facing a challenge and seeking God’s loving guidance and direction.

“Science and Health” further includes this: “Are we benefited by praying? Yes, the desire which goes forth hungering after righteousness is blessed of our Father, and it does not return unto us void” (p. 2). So, when the impetus to improve our lives, and the lives of others, springs from the desire to understand God, divine Love, as the inexhaustible source of good, and each of us as Love’s reflection, we can be assured that divine goodness will become apparent to us in timely ways. As we listen to Love’s leadings, and are willing and eager to humbly follow, good unfolds in ways we could not possibly have outlined.

At one point, I was living on a small island in the Caribbean, where I enjoyed my work as a teacher. But when my own children went away to university, I felt free to embark on a new adventure.

I considered the possibility of going to graduate school to further my education, although there weren’t any resources to pay for it. So I began by thinking about my motive for wanting to make this change. I knew from experience that if my motives were impelled by my desire to follow God’s guidance, then I could trust divine Love to give me the wisdom and intuition to know what steps to take.

I made a list of qualities that I loved to express in my work and another list of qualities associated with being in graduate school. I then acknowledged that all these qualities – such as joy, intelligence, selflessness, and creativity – are inherent in each of us as the spiritual reflection of God, divine Mind.

I prayed this way for many months, and as I did, my conviction of God’s goodness and care for all His children, including me, deepened.

During this time an acquaintance gave me a brochure of a summer program for adults on a college campus in the United States. I registered to attend, and when I was there, I met some of the professors in the education department. Our collegial conversations blossomed into friendships, and through my connections with these friends I learned about opportunities to work in the institution’s kindergarten through grade 12 program. I applied and was successful. One of the benefits of working there was that the school contributed generously to the cost of my graduate education, and in return, I joyfully contributed to its educational program.

We don’t need to outline specific dates, times, or places in order to see progress in our lives. In the Old Testament of the Bible there’s a wonderful promise from God we can all trust: “I will make all My goodness pass before you” (Exodus 33:19, NKJV).

Adapted from an article in the Jan. 1, 2018, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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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.”

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