Standing still – and moving forward

If we’re feeling lost, whether physically or mentally, stillness and receptivity to God’s inspiration can be a powerful antidote, as one man experienced firsthand on more than one occasion.

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“Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God” (Job 37:14).

Well, I’d often found inspiration by doing just that, but at this particular moment standing still was the last thing I wanted to do. I’d spent the afternoon exploring beautiful rock faces and gullies in the Karoo, in South Africa, and now I was lost.

And yet, as I ever-more-frantically clambered up and down hills, I was suddenly struck with a feeling that I just needed to be still and stop rushing around, both physically and mentally. In that stillness, a crystal-clear thought came to me: Follow the dried-up water courses.

I understood this to be an angel message, or inspiration, from God, because it was so far from where my own thoughts were at the time. I followed the trail and safely arrived back at the house where my family was.

Fast-forward several years, and I’m hiking with friends in Arches National Park in Utah. We’d planned to meet up with some other friends on the trail, but there had been no sign of them and we were out in the wilderness with no cell reception.

Again, what came to me was a clear sense that staying still was the right thing to do. I began praying – not frantically, and not asking God for anything specific, just being receptive to and appreciative of the presence of God, good. Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, described prayer like this: “Shall we ask the divine Principle of all goodness to do His own work? His work is done, and we have only to avail ourselves of God’s rule in order to receive His blessing, which enables us to work out our own salvation” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 3). God’s kingdom is always in order, and none of His children, neither I nor anyone else, can ever be out of place.

As I prayed I felt an utter peace and presence just wash over me. I looked up, and our group leader, who had everyone’s phone number, was coming toward me. Though we hadn’t had cell reception for most of the hike, it came to me to try calling one of the individuals we were looking for.

Not only did the call go through, but she picked up! It turned out that she too was in a rare spot with cell reception. Our groups were able to meet up and had a wonderful rest of the hike together.

These memories illustrate for me the immediacy of God’s presence, peacefully appointing our activities and thoughts. We can take heart from this line of the Lord’s Prayer, given by Christ Jesus: “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Science and Health gives a spiritual interpretation of this line: “Enable us to know, – as in heaven, so on earth, – God is omnipotent, supreme” (p. 17).

Our prayers don’t need to try to make more of God be present, or to beg God for His limitless love and tender care. God is always present, and His love and care are forever at hand. Our job is to be receptive to divine inspiration that helps us see more clearly that God’s will is indeed good and is already done, eternally expressed throughout His creation.

Whether you are literally lost, as I was, or feeling lost in life, the tender assurance of God’s beneficent presence is a true light that guides us. God doesn’t present us with mazes to get out of, or stand by expecting us to prove that we deserve His care. As the spiritual image, or offspring, of God, divine Love, we can be nothing but loved! God delights in each of us.

It’s a joy to approach each day from this standpoint. Instead of trying to get up to God, and feeling lost the whole way there, we have the right to affirm that Love is already holding us safe in our perfect place. In this way our eyes are opened more and more to see how good Love really is.

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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.

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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.

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