Duty, joy, and protection

When we’re letting love for God and for our neighbors motivate us, blessings ensue – even when circumstances seem less than ideal, as a woman experienced when unexpectedly faced with a 3.5-mile walk home on an unusually hot day.

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A modest experience in my own life recently helped me see that God does indeed give us the strength to do whatever we need to do on any given day, even in less than ideal circumstances – and to do it with joy and protection.

Christ Jesus gave us a two-pronged duty to govern our thoughts and actions under all circumstances. He said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39, New King James Version).

God is Love – invariably beneficial Love. And this divine Love embraces, loves, and holds each one of us, at all times, in our true identity as God’s pure and perfect spiritual image. Living out from this basis – which includes obeying our duty to love God with all our heart, and to love everyone as God’s spiritual, flawless reflection – brings joy and protection.

I experienced this one day earlier this year when it was atypically hot for where I live. I had taken a cab for an early afternoon appointment 3.5 miles from my apartment. After my appointment, however, there was such an unusually high demand for cabs because of the heat that I was told it would be at least two or three hours before a cab could come to take me home.

The Bible assures us, “He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (I John 4:16). And “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy – the discoverer, demonstrator, and teacher of the healing spiritual laws of God Jesus practiced and taught – explains, “Whatever it is your duty to do, you can do without harm to yourself” (p. 385).

My first duty was to love God and my neighbor. As I prayed quietly for guidance, it came to me that I could fulfill this duty with joy, and experience God’s care while I walked the 3.5 miles home.

While I walked, I silently affirmed that divine Love was right with each individual who crossed my path or came to my thought. Divine Love embraces and cares for all, and everyone is capable of feeling and experiencing God’s loving care. It was a joy to mentally greet each individual as God’s loved and cared-for spiritual reflection. The beginning of Hymn 139 in the “Christian Science Hymnal” expresses what I felt as I walked and prayed: “I walk with Love along the way, / And O, it is a holy day” (Minny M. H. Ayers).

When we are fulfilling our duty to love God and our neighbor, God meets our every need. As Jesus affirmed, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). Despite my status as a senior citizen and the heat, I didn’t feel one bit weary or thirsty during that walk. When I reached my apartment building, I felt refreshed and energized by my prayers.

Indeed, it had been a holy walk!

We can all experience the joy and protection to be found in genuinely loving God and our neighbors, which opens the door to feeling God’s loving care. Thank you, God!

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