Looking forward to … deadlines?

Deadlines can often feel like anxiety-inducing threats. But prayer can shift our perception to the idea of a deadline as a promise that we can witness God’s active goodness at every moment.

Threats. For years, that’s what deadlines felt like to me. They hung over the horizons of my work, small clouds of anxiety or larger ones of dread. Hearing others talk about due dates, I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.

Somewhere along the road, though, I came to welcome the idea of a deadline as a promise. A promise that whatever is assigned will be done by then.

When I think about this major shift in perception, I realize it grew from what the teachings of divine Science had taught me about spiritual reality. Because God is ever present, the goodness God gives us is immediate. In fact, we are the direct beneficiaries of God’s creative activity. You could say we are what He is doing every moment, and His work is complete.

These ideas give hope and assurance that whatever seems undone only needs to be viewed spiritually to see its perfect, finished state. “Eternity, not time, expresses the thought of Life,” writes spiritual pioneer Mary Baker Eddy, “and time is no part of eternity.... Time is finite; eternity is forever infinite” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 468-469).

I had occasion to put these ideas into practice one summer when I was juggling two jobs. There was just enough time for everything – except finding parking downtown for my second job.

At first, worry filled my thought as I drove every day. But I really longed to feel certainty, not anxiety. That’s when I decided to pray.

I remembered Christ Jesus’ model of accomplishment. He got things done at exactly the time and in exactly the way they needed to be done, no exceptions – and nearly always immediately!

How did Jesus explain this unparalleled ability? He credited his relation to God: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do” (John 5:19). And he counseled, “Take … no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself” (Matthew 6:34).

To me, this meant taking a stand not to stress about parking while I drove to my second job. Instead, I challenged myself to think expectantly – not just expecting to find parking, but expecting to perceive God, infinite Mind and divine Principle, as ever present and active. And affirming mentally that my status as God’s cared-for child was complete.

I felt so much spiritual confidence from this prayer that I dropped my habit of searching for parking several blocks away in case nothing was available close to work. And I found a parking space steps away from the entrance. Not just once, but every time, all summer long.

As small an illustration as this is, it gave me an expansive and joyful sense of dominion over time limitations.

In the early years of the Christian Science movement, a much larger example took place. James Rome, who served as a night watchman at The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, described what it was like to face the daunting deadline for the enormous task of building an extension to this building that would hold several thousand more people than the original edifice held:

“At first I thought that, since it seemed impossible for the building to be completed before the end of summer, the communion would likely be postponed until that time. Then came the announcement that the services would be held in the new extension on June 10.... [One night] the conviction that the work would be accomplished came to me so clearly, I said aloud, ‘Why, there is no fear; this house will be ready for the service, June 10.’ I bowed my head before the might of divine Love, and never more did I have any doubt.

“... I noticed that as soon as the workmen began to admit that the work could be done, everything seemed to move as by magic.... I have often stood under the great dome, in the dark stillness of the night, and thought, ‘What cannot God do?’ (Science and Health, p. 135.)” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 61).

When there’s a deadline looming, it’s an opportunity to witness what God is doing in us and for us right at that moment. This always includes completion, the guarantee that every good idea is already fully realized and entire. Who can dread a promise like this?

Adapted from an article published in the Aug. 5, 2019, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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