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What does God ‘require’ of me?

From the February 19, 2018 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Several years ago, I got to do some volunteer work in another country. It was an incredible experience. When I returned home, I needed to begin thinking about what to do next. I had a short-term, seasonal job lined up, but after that, I would need to find something else.

Each time I thought about my next steps, the thought of returning to the same country came to me. There was no doubt that I would like to go back, but I also wondered, Would it be the right thing to do? This was a question I couldn’t answer myself, so I turned to God for guidance—and I searched the Bible, Mary Baker Eddy’s writings, and the Christian Science Hymnal. I wondered what kind of direction these books could give for making decisions.

I found many helpful passages, but the main message I came away with can be summed up by the following two thoughts. First, from the book of Micah in the Bible, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (6:8) and then from a hymn, “Take my hands, and let them move / At the impulse of Thy love” (Frances R. Havergal, Hymnal, No. 324). These were familiar ideas, but in the context of my very real need for proper direction, they put my job search in a different light. For one thing, I loved the simplicity of these messages. Despite the uncertainty I’d felt about the “what” and “where” of my next steps, this guidance felt authoritative and straight from God, even though it didn’t get into specific details. I began to feel more confident that keeping my thoughts on God was enough to lay the right foundation for my search and that the logistics would fall into place.

My fears were put to rest.

I was also struck by what kind of advice is not contained in these books—for example, they don’t say, “Blessed are they only if they decide to live within twenty miles of their parents’ house,” or, “Thou shalt only work in an office.” Those thoughts may sound funny, but it was truly helpful to realize that when it comes to all those details about our activities, the right thing to do may be presented in very different packages according to our specific circumstances.

Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way. Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action” (p. 454). With this in mind, the focus of my prayers and of my job search came down to getting to know my motives better. As I thought about going abroad again, it became clear that what was motivating me to return was love: a love of good and a desire to do good. This helped put my fears to rest that it was somehow selfish or wrong to go back simply because it was another country or far away; if going abroad was the right thing to do, all the details would be worked out.

When the seasonal job ended, I moved back to my parents’ house. I explained to them all that I’d been praying about and the answers that had come to me thus far. I have to admit that my one other hesitation about going abroad was the fear that my parents would oppose the idea, but instead, they offered words of encouragement. What a relief!

The day after I talked with my parents, the director of the organization I had volunteered for abroad unexpectedly contacted me and offered me a job. I accepted! Everything about it was a good fit, and what’s amazing to me is that this particular opportunity was one I hadn’t even gone looking for, as I’d never known the organization was looking to hire anyone. Within a few weeks I started work, grateful for the straightforward yet profound divine guidance and in awe of God’s great care.

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