Seeking God – slow or fast

Whether we feel the fullness of God’s presence gradually or suddenly, it happens through our earnest seeking to understand more about God and ourselves as God’s children.

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When I was a child I learned a children’s prayer that was written by Mary Baker Eddy. It says:

Father-Mother good, lovingly
Thee I seek, –
Patient, meek,
In the way Thou hast, –
Be it slow or fast,
Up to Thee.
(“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 400)

I found the prayer comforting, but I wondered why God’s “way” would ever be slow. Wouldn’t God always want us to come into Her presence as quickly as possible?

My deepening study and practice of Christian Science healing over the years have taught me that I had overlooked a crucial line: “Thee I seek.” We are always in God’s presence – loved, protected, and whole – and it is our seeking to learn more about God and our likeness to Her that is important.

One of Christ Jesus’ parables helps to illustrate this point. In the parable, a landowner goes out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard, agreeing with each of them upon their wages of a penny for the day. He goes out four more times throughout the day to hire more workers. At the end of the day, when each worker receives a penny, those who have been there since early morning are disgruntled that they received the same as those who hadn’t worked as long (see Matthew 20:1-14). The landowner valued every worker’s willingness to give the work their all, so he gave them all of what he’d promised.

Similarly, each one of us gets the “all” of God’s love, always, regardless of how slowly or quickly we realize that we do.

One recent Christmas week, I had been praying to cast off a sense of darkness about holiday plans that had changed, and also to see that the world was not lost in darkness. By Christmas morning, I was able to quietly rejoice that Christ Jesus had demonstrated God’s power and love, and that Mrs. Eddy had explained the Science of Jesus’ teachings and healings. This was the Christmas I would celebrate that day.

It was a gray morning, but the rain had stopped, so I went outside to walk our two dogs. I didn’t realize the temperature was just low enough to turn the wet sidewalks into sheer ice. My feet went out from under me, and I hit the ground hard, striking my knee on the sidewalk.

The pain was startling. But because I had been so full of gratitude for the true message of Christmas, I thought, “This is not Christmas,” meaning that this was not in accord with the goodness and light that Christmas represents.

I felt an immediate assurance that a Christmas ruined by a fall was impossible, because angels – God’s loving thoughts – were all around me. Suddenly some very tangible “angels” surrounded me. The dogs stood quietly next to me, as if protecting me. My husband appeared from the house and lifted me onto my feet. My daughter came outside and took the dogs for a walk in the road where it wasn’t icy.

For much of the day, I felt pain in my knee, but I kept right on celebrating the light of Christmas that was continuously unfolding. I took a long walk in the afternoon, and by the evening the pain was gone. The next day, I noticed my knee showed no sign of any fall.

I think what contributed to the speed of this healing was the fact that I was already seeking God as I started my walk, and this seeking made possible my immediate rejection of the thought that I could fall from God’s care or be injured.

No matter how long it seems to take for a healing to be complete, what counts is the “Thee I seek” – the willingness to turn our thinking away from the clamor of the physical senses to the peace of God, which is always present, neither slow nor fast nor in any way connected with time.

As Mrs. Eddy’s poem “Mother’s Evening Prayer” says, “O gentle presence, peace and joy and power; / O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour,... (“Poems,” p. 4).

The “gentle presence” of God, Life itself, “owns each waiting hour.” God owns the hours when we feel we are struggling toward an understanding of ourselves as spiritual, as much as She owns the hours of triumph. To God, there is only ever “peace and joy and power.”

Whether our awakening to this truth seems slow or fast, our willingness to unreservedly seek God, and the joy that comes as a result, is the healing.

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