In this attention-scattering age of new gadgets, speedy social networking sites, and bewildering choices in every sphere of human activity, how does anyone make wise decisions about what to buy or watch or do—or even how to live one’s life?
How do you select from 34 varieties of bread in one supermarket, or an entire aisle in the hardware store displaying white paints ranging from Crushed Cotton to Moonlit Snow to Soft Linen?
You need turn no further than the Bible for a helpful guide. Take Joshua’s ringing challenge to the Israelites to choose whether they would follow the Lord who had proven his trustworthiness or allow the local gods to control them: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15).
And Mary Baker Eddy stressed the importance of choosing good as the reality when she explained: “Man is tributary to God, Spirit, and to nothing else. God’s being is infinity, freedom, harmony, and boundless bliss” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 481).
These qualities might be viewed as flowing naturally from the connection we have with God, which is explained by Christ Jesus in the fifteenth chapter of the book of John, using the analogy of a vine and its branches. We won’t live fruitful lives unless we readily choose to honor this connection and so receive the spiritual direction that God provides.
Our guidance in decision-making can safely be left to the divine Mind, as the Apostle Paul confirms: “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22, 23, Living Bible).
We cannot develop these qualities (or those listed by Mrs. Eddy above) on our own. If we want them to be an integral part of our daily experience, we should recognize that our lives are already at one with the Holy Spirit, under whose control fruit ripens naturally. This takes away the pressure, the anxiety, the feelings of helplessness, which so easily invade our busy lives today.
We can turn waiting moments into opportunities for healing prayer.
And we still have choices. For example, we can choose to be more loving by acknowledging our oneness with divine Love. No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness.
We can choose patience because it’s one of the ways in which we affirm the unerring government (and patience) of divine Love, its originator. We can turn waiting moments into opportunities for healing prayer.
And we can put self-control high on our list of essential goals. As philosopher and religion writer Dallas Willard once put it, we can always “[practice] the discipline of not having to have the last word.” We can make sure that divine Love has the first and last word!
In any area of life, can we do better than choose to be influenced only by God?