By Tony Lobl with contributions from Kylie Sisson, Peter Sisson
From the Christian Science Sentinel - June 10, 2019
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Life seems full of them, from daily demands upon each of us to choices others make that have an impact on our experience.
For instance, political leaders wrestle with decisions that can have a far-reaching effect on many lives. This tempts us to feel that factors beyond our control can adversely influence things dear to our hearts. But do we have to just stand idly by, or can we play a part in positively influencing the decision-making process?
I recently asked Christian Science practitioner Kylie Sisson from London, England, how she prays about key decisions that others are making.
A friend asked me recently if I prayed about Brexit (the process of the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union). “Sure,” I said.
But what does that really mean? Whenever I’ve been faced with uncertain and difficult choices, turning to God has always brought me peace beyond that of relying on my own or others’ opinions and provided the answer I needed. So in thinking about Brexit, it’s natural for me to pray in a similar way.
In Proverbs, the Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (3:5–6). This kind of prayerful trust isn’t fatalistic. It’s based on a conviction in the practicality of divine goodness that lifts us above relying on politicians or others to personally discern and do the right thing. Recognizing God as infinite Mind, as “the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 587) and the source of all good, turns our thought from conflicting human opinions to the unerring and clear direction of the Divine. Trusting God to direct each step in infinitely wise and loving ways silences fear, quiets uncertainty with Love, and brings a gentle reassurance that God, good, governs all, as Christian Science reveals.
When trust goes beyond personal opinion to acknowledging God, ways open up for progress.
The peace I’ve found from praying this way in my own life has led to answers to home and employment issues, healed relationships, and solved financial problems in ways I couldn’t have planned or predicted. Witnessing the impact such prayer has in my own experience shows me what is possible. And we can reach this same peace when praying for the world. We don’t need to be drawn into speculating about what might happen. We can know and trust that God’s government of all can have a healing impact on whatever situation we are praying about.
I don’t know how the important current national and international issues will be resolved. But my own experience tells me that when we understandingly trust God rather than leaning on personal opinion and knowledge—or “thine own understanding”—ways open up for progress to happen.
Kylie’s husband, Peter, who spent many years as a lawyer and currently deals directly with civil servants and politicians in his work for the Church of Christ, Scientist, has been around while many important decisions have been discussed and, at times, disputed. He shared the following experience.
The meeting hadn’t gone as planned. The expectation had been that a long-awaited decision would finally be made. It was not. And the atmosphere of the meeting had become increasingly uncomfortable. When I woke up the following morning, I found myself thinking, “That was a difficult meeting.” Then immediately I saw things in a much more uplifting way: “Wait, and love more for every hate, and fear / No ill ...”—which is part of a verse from Mary Baker Eddy’s poem “Mother’s Evening Prayer” (Poems, p. 4). I thought, “That’s just fine. If a further period of time is needed to work out a solution, I can use that additional time to ‘love more.’ ”
As I prayed further about the meeting, I realized that when major decisions are required, they can evoke strong feelings, antipathy, and, at times, even hatred. However, Christian Science has helped me understand that in any given situation we do have the ability to face down a personal sense of what needs to be done; there is an infinite intelligence governing us all.
This was brought out powerfully for me last year. I was at home doing some routine housework and reflecting on a particularly happy time in my life when, with no effort on my part and like a warm summer breeze wafting across a beach or into a room, my thinking was transformed. It’s not easy to put into words, but I felt that I was not thinking my own thoughts but was being guided and led by an infinite intelligence that pervaded all space. The thoughts that came to me were calm, loving, and gentle. I felt a wonderful sense of being “myself”—my true spiritual self—in a way where I felt deeply at peace within myself, having an identity that I had always known and loved. This glimpse of my spiritual identity as a child of God was accompanied by a real dominion over my thinking—and a deep, deep tenderness. This gentle, intelligent outlook remained with me all day, even when I was spoken to harshly later in the day. I just couldn’t react.
God’s gentle, but clear, guidance is always with us to tenderly lead us forward.
The follow-up to the uncomfortable and inconclusive meeting was markedly different, with a great degree of respect being shown by all participants for others’ views, even a deep and very real caring for each other. It felt like a significant shift—and, to a large extent, a letting go of personal views—to trusting that the right decision would become apparent as each next step was taken.
There’s a hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal: Hymns 430–603 that speaks to this peace and guidance. The first verse reads:
Let there be peace on earth,
and let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth,
the peace that was meant to be.
With God our creator, we are family.
Let us walk with each other
in perfect harmony.
(Jill Jackson, alt., No. 521)
Even at times when we may least be expecting it, God’s gentle, but clear, guidance is always with us to tenderly lead us forward in ways we can feel, understand, and tangibly experience.
As Kylie and Peter have indicated, important decisions have to be made, but they don’t have to be made in a spiritual vacuum. In fact, they can’t be! Christian Science teaches that Spirit, God, is All, and that we are each made in God’s likeness, reflecting all the attributes of the divine nature, such as wisdom, insightfulness, compassion, and caring. As we feel the peace that comes from a clear confidence in God’s influence over all, we better perceive our own and our neighbors’ true relation to God. And we support better decisions being made that more widely bless those affected.