Your purpose can't be thwarted!
Lately, I have been thinking about the challenges people can face in finding secure, satisfying employment. I’m reminded of a time, years ago, when Christian Science helped me make a radical change of careers. By trusting God to guide me and open the way, I left a job that wasn’t a good fit for my talents or aspirations and found a new career that was more satisfying than anything I could have imagined. In particular, I’ve been remembering a small Christian Science Reading Room with a message in the window that changed my life.
After attending law school, I began practicing real estate law because that was where I found a well-paying job. Looking back, I can see that I let myself be pulled into this job without any clear sense of direction. The money was a big incentive. For about six years, I did legal work for the planning stages of two large, multi-use development projects in Southern California. Bit by bit, I evolved into the project manager, coordinating a large team of land-use planners, engineers, and other consultants.
Eventually the time came when my work on those projects was complete, and I faced being out of a job. There were openings at other real-estate law firms in the area, but I felt strongly that I didn’t want to take that path. The work I’d done had been interesting and challenging, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Plus, I felt conflicted about the trade-off between the benefits of development and the many environmental impacts.
I wanted to do something that would clearly benefit humanity.
I had been praying and studying metaphysically for months. I knew I needed to put first things first. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus told his followers, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). For me, this was a promise that everything I seemed to lack—direction, security, and a fulfilling career—would be “added unto me” if I put God first. I also found inspiration in a statement by Mary Baker Eddy. In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she says, “Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action” (p. 454).
I gave deep thought to my motives. Of course, I wanted a job that would meet my financial needs. And I wanted to draw on skills and experience I wasn’t putting to use; I had a background in theater and a keen interest in world affairs, both of which seemed to be going to waste. But what I really cared about was finding an opportunity to give. Most of all, I wanted to do something that would clearly benefit humanity, something with no downside. In retrospect, I can see that I was looking for work that would serve “to injure no man, but [to] bless all mankind,” much like the mission of The Christian Science Monitor newspaper (Mary Baker Eddy, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 353). Yet I had no idea what that work might be, and no idea how to find it.
There was no quick breakthrough. However, in the same paragraph about motives on page 454 of Science and Health, Eddy adds: “Wait patiently for divine Love to move upon the waters of mortal mind, and form the perfect concept. Patience must ‘have her perfect work.’ ” So I kept praying and waited patiently for God to show me the way.
One day I went to a meeting, feeling very anxious about “what’s to become of me?” I was running late, and as I dashed through a small courtyard in an office complex, I noticed a tiny Christian Science Reading Room. It had only one small window, which was dominated by a poster that stopped me in my tracks. It showed a big expanse of bare pavement. I think it was a city street, but it reminded me of a place I loved—a granite slope in the high Sierras, up above the tree line. In one corner of the picture there was a little crack in the slab, with a tiny flower growing out of it. The caption read, “Nothing can thwart God’s purpose for you!”
For me, that poster was the answer I’d been searching for. I grabbed hold of its promise and held to it. Through the following days, I kept repeating those words to myself and praying with them, accepting their truth. And even though nothing about my circumstances had changed, I knew that everything was going to be OK. The feeling of being trapped just fell away.
A week or so later, I learned that my local Christian Science branch church was holding a special meeting where we could see a video from The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. It turned out to be about The Christian Science Monitor. Sitting at my branch church and watching the video, I knew immediately that I wanted to help people in countries around the world receive the benefits of Monitor journalism. I felt a clear sense that this was the work I should be doing—“God’s purpose” for me.
I decided to fly to Boston and offer to help out in any way I could. I didn’t know anyone there and had no contacts at all. Nevertheless, I was interviewed and within a few weeks I was hired. The whole outcome was really an amazing demonstration of the message displayed in that little Reading Room’s window.
I’ll always be grateful for the spiritual guidance I received at that time, the message of God’s rock-solid love, and the assurance that God has a purpose for each of us that nothing can thwart!