Step by step

From the Christian Science Sentinel – January 19, 2015

“First steps,” whether we are children or adults, are natural, yet for some of us, venturing forward on a new path might sometimes be accompanied by fear. But whether we’re leaving home for the first time, starting a new job or a new family, we can all go forward in the confidence that God’s ever-present love, guidance, and care are with us every step of the way.

I learned to rely on this care at a very young age. I clearly remember when I was in fifth grade and was afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle the next step of sixth grade! My mother calmed my fears by reminding me: “It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect” (Psalm 18:32). This Psalm, in line with the teachings of Christ Jesus, supported me all the way through college graduation, and it didn’t stop there.

After pursuing my education and becoming a school teacher, I felt lost and needed to find the natural next step in my life. At this point of confusion I dug deep and prayed, listening for what my path should be. I thought I had finalized my education, but realized my true education was not complete. Following the promptings of prayer, I was led to what Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says about education: “… it is not so much academic education, as a moral and spiritual culture, which lifts one higher” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 235). I wanted to gain a better understanding of my inseparable relationship to God, the source of all health and contentment, and so it became clear to me that my next step was to pursue class instruction in Christian Science. I was directed to a Christian Science teacher who I called, and after submitting an application and having an interview I was accepted. The next step was getting myself there.

As sometimes occurs in new endeavors, in my case all kinds of fearful suggestions arose about why I could not go. After all, it would be my first time away from my husband and children, my first time on an airplane, and in addition, I was pregnant! Then my mother’s words, quoting that Scripture, came back to me. I knew that, just as it was in the fifth grade, God, my Father-Mother, was giving me strength and providing His tender care every step of the way in this new adventure. I trusted that both my family and I would have all our human needs met.

As it turned out, one of the challenges to be met included literally taking the next step. The morning of travel to class, I stepped on a bee, which stung me, and my foot became swollen, which made it hard to wear my shoe. Pregnant and with suitcases in hand, I defended my divine right to be free to take these next steps in my spiritual education. This brought a spiritually inspired resolve as the bee sting lost its hold in my thought, and I continued forward. On the airplane, I sat next to a helpful, new friend. Then I was welcomed at the airport by a driver who happily transported me to my class residence. I was met there by a fellow classmate who assisted me with my luggage up the stairs to the dorm room I would occupy during class. I gratefully acknowledged God’s loving care was right with me, helping me every step of the way.

As is possible for each of us when we act on divine intuitions gained from heartfelt prayer, this path led me to a fulfilling and fruitful experience. Class instruction provided exactly what I was looking for. In completing this “higher” education, I gained a clearer, deeper understanding of God as Love and instruction about how to heal as Jesus did all those centuries ago. This teaching had practical results. Because I learned in class the immensity of the statement that “God is Love” (Science and Health, p. 2), I was able to correct the suggestion that I could be homesick. I trusted that infinite divine Love, God, held me, this new child, and all in His powerful governance of good. His protection and care were eternally present with each of us. In proportion that I had this calm, Christlike thought, in that proportion, I experienced God’s harmonious action.

This teaching also showed me the importance of destroying false material sense testimony with the power of divine Spirit. Later that year, as our baby daughter, Joy, was being delivered at home, there were concerns about the baby’s safety. But through my study of Christian Science, I knew that “step by step will those who trust Him find that ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’ ” (Science and Health, p. 444). I realized that it was important for me to know that our Father-Mother had created our daughter perfectly and that, like a blossom blooms, nothing could hinder the unfoldment, or appearing, of her spiritual perfection. This opened the way for our daughter’s harmonious birth; she was born perfect in every way. I attributed her immediate alertness and responsiveness to the truths I had learned in class and had applied in handling fear and false suggestions about my child’s safety. My confidence in God’s perfect love as our deliverer was found an effective truth in this harmonious birth.

Since having class instruction, each next step in my spiritual education has continued. As Mrs. Eddy teaches: “When we wait patiently on God and seek Truth righteously, He directs our path” (Science and Health, p. 254). We can all trust in God’s ever-present guidance and care for all right “next steps.” I am very grateful for our divine Parent’s eternal, continuing care, which gives us courage that rebukes discouragement, understanding that replaces ignorance, and confidence that dispels fear. Natural next steps taken prepare us for upcoming opportunities. Always providing for us, the Mind of Christ correctly guides us, helping us realize that we can rely on God, who is Life, Truth, and Love.