Grace to go forward

Even when the way is difficult, God’s empowering, healing grace is ever-active and present to impel progress.

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Recently I was spectating at a running race, cheering on everyone who went by. At one point, a participant who was walking and trailing behind most of the others said dejectedly, “I’m just so tired.” He had about two miles to go, and it came to me to offer to walk with him for a bit. His face lit up, and for the next 15 minutes, we walked side by side (at a distance consistent with public health guidelines).

Neither of us said much, but I was so struck by this man’s quiet persistence, his dedication to keeping going, step by step. When the time came for me to head back, he thanked me so sincerely and smiled ear to ear at my assurances that he had what it took to make it to the finish line. It was a moment of grace, in that the strength to finish wasn’t coming from increased human effort. Rather, it felt like it was being given, a result of the joy we were sharing.

Where can we turn to help us keep moving forward (literally or figuratively), even when the way is difficult? We may find motivation from friendly encouragement, or the anticipation of achieving a certain goal, or – less happily – the fear of remaining “stuck” where we are. I’ve certainly experienced all of that at various times. But when push comes to shove, I’ve found that the most empowering motivator is God and the good God is always giving us through grace.

A verse in the “Christian Science Hymnal” refers to asking God for “grace to go forward,” even in the midst of trials (P.M., No. 278). I love that idea. It doesn’t mean we need to beg and plead for God to maybe, hopefully, bestow us with grace. Christ Jesus’ lifework was all about showing that God’s strengthening, healing grace is not confined to a select few, but the birthright of all of God’s children.

In fact, it’s not even that God offers mortals a healthy dose of whatever we need to get through some difficulty. God’s grace is so much more than that! It is reflected in the very fabric of our being, in the spiritual fact that God created each of us – not as a mortal destined to flail through life, but as the expression of the flawless peace, joy, purity, integrity, wisdom, and love of the Divine. We can never truly be without these qualities; they’re forever sustained by God.

Christian Science elucidates these ideas, and the discoverer of this Science, Mary Baker Eddy, describes it as “a law of divine Mind, a persuasive animus, an unerring impetus, an ever-present help” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 3). Could there be a more powerful or reliable force to propel forward action than the promise of God’s goodness, encompassing and expressed throughout all of creation, unfailingly? Honestly striving to live our true, spiritual selfhood – to actively nurture the qualities God expresses in us, to let God, good, animate our thoughts and actions – inevitably moves us forward.

That’s the gift – and the demand – of God’s universal grace. Time and again I’ve found that recognizing and accepting this gift opens the door to healing and improvement in character. It frees us from the pull of frustration, willfulness, or fear that would hamper progress, impelling compassion, patience, and joy instead. And it empowers us to reflect God’s healing love toward others, too.

Each of us can let God’s grace lead us forward, and experience the blessings that ripple out.

Looking for more timely inspiration like this? Check out the “Related stories” below; explore other recent content from the Monitor’s daily Christian Science Perspective column; or sign up for the free weekly newsletters for this column or the Christian Science Sentinel, a sister publication of the Monitor.

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