Needed: Less “I” and more God

It occurred to me not to place so much reliance upon what I regarded as “my” expertise or preparation.

Originally published for the Christian Science Sentinel online on December 1, 2022

Sometimes it’s tempting to make a distinction between things we need God’s help for, and things we’re good at and can handle on our own. But I’ve seen how that distinction is completely false. Whatever abilities or knowledge we appear to possess can’t compare to the infinite capacities possessed by God, omniscient Mind, who created all and knows all. The point is made very succinctly by Mary Baker Eddy in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, where she writes, “Attempt nothing without God’s help” (p. 197).

I learned this lesson in an interesting way some years ago, when I was asked to participate in a two-day conference which would be attended by quite a large number of people. Each afternoon, the conference was to break up into smaller groups focused on specific topics. My task was to give a short talk to one of those smaller groups and then lead a discussion. I was familiar with the topic and felt well prepared. But when the time came to break into smaller groups, I was surrounded by a dozen empty chairs. The other groups each had at least a few people, but mine had no one. 

When the day ended, I slunk away, feeling defeated. I hadn’t even had the chance to be boring—no one had come in the first place! The same format was planned for the next day, and I dreaded another humiliation. As a student of Christian Science, I’ve found that prayer is the most effective approach to any challenge, so it was natural to turn to God for guidance. 

God was responsible for conveying the needed information in a clear and useful way.

First, I asked myself whether I honestly thought I had anything worth sharing. The answer was yes; I had experience and expertise that I’d acquired over the years, and I felt I could communicate the relevant concepts reasonably well. That’s when the lightbulb clicked on; as you may have noticed, the previous two sentences contain no less than seven “I’s”! The metaphysical course correction was pretty clear: less “I” and more God was needed. 

A good starting point for prayer was in Mrs. Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which says: “The intercommunication is always from God to His idea, man” (p. 284). I was familiar with this statement, but, frankly, had always found it puzzling. It didn’t seem to leave much room for God’s children to communicate with each other! But a little more thought clarified things; God, divine Mind, is the only Mind, and therefore the source of all ideas and the ability to communicate them. God was responsible for conveying the needed information in a clear and useful way, to whoever needed it. All of us, as God’s reflection, can and do participate fully in intercommunication, but God alone is the source. I had no personal responsibility at all in the matter.

It also occurred to me not to place so much reliance upon what I regarded as “my” expertise or preparation. There’s nothing wrong with planning, but human footsteps, while often necessary, are rarely sufficient. There are two especially striking illustrations of this in the Bible. When God tasked Moses with leading the Israelites out of Egypt, the prophet balked, claiming he was too “slow of speech” to be persuasive. God answered, “Who makes a person’s mouth? . . . Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say” (Exodus 4:11, 12, New Living Translation). Centuries later, Christ Jesus gave similar instructions to his followers: “And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said” (Luke 12:11, 12, New Living Translation). My situation was hardly as momentous as the ones described in the Bible, but the same rule applied: God was the source of both the substance and style of the message. 

I prayed until I felt at peace, confident that God was truly in control.

That was definitely progress. But what if the second day was a repeat of the first? This concern, too, was dealt with by removing “I” from the equation. God was in control not only of me, but of everyone at the conference, and God would guide everyone to where they needed to be in order to hear the ideas they needed to hear. If no one showed up, well, maybe no one needed those particular ideas at that particular time. Either way, the divine Mind, not mortal minds, was in charge. Again, my only responsibility was to be open to Mind’s direction. I prayed until I felt at peace, confident that God was truly in control.

The next afternoon, when I approached my area at the conference, I was surprised to see that all the chairs were already taken, and a similar number of people were standing behind those chairs. I spoke for 15 or 20 minutes, using some ideas I’d prepared beforehand, and some that came spontaneously. People seemed to be listening attentively; nobody wandered off. 

I paused and asked if there were any questions. After a moment of silence, someone said, “You’ve answered our questions before we asked them!” There were nods and murmurs of agreement. It was very clear that the intercommunication had indeed been from Mind, God, and had included everyone.

A beautiful passage on page 89 of Science and Health says: “Mind is not necessarily dependent upon educational processes. It possesses of itself all beauty and poetry, and the power of expressing them. Spirit, God, is heard when the senses are silent. We are all capable of more than we do. The influence or action of Soul confers a freedom, which explains the phenomena of improvisation and the fervor of untutored lips.” That’s the truest approach to communication, and one we can always rely on.

February 27, 2023

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