Obeying God with all our heart

By Alexandra Hawley

From the August 27, 2018 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Christ Jesus provided holy guidelines for anyone who endeavors to follow him in day-to-day discipleship. Key among these are the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew, chaps. 5–7) and two commandments—to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37, 39). These treasured teachings, when followed sincerely and wholeheartedly, lead to healing solutions for situations we come across in our lives, and supply perfect guidance for making decisions. 

When we need to make a decision, for example, the fourth line in the Lord’s Prayer—“Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10)—can be a powerful guide to the best course. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, gives the spiritual sense of this passage. It reads, “Enable us to know,—as in heaven, so on earth,—God is omnipotent, supreme” (p. 17). To follow God’s will involves acknowledging and yielding to His supreme power, which brings a wonderful sense of freedom from material ways of thinking and related limitations. 

We can trust God’s will and guidance totally because of the nature of God. The Bible tells us that God is Love (see I John 4:8), and we can be assured that because divine Love is invariable and all-inclusive, Love’s will for each of us is always good, perfect, harmonious. Since God is the source of all intelligence, He provides for every detail of His creation. And as we yield to divine intelligence and acknowledge that we reflect it as God’s spiritual creation, we are inspired to take appropriate actions in our lives. In order to obey God and do His will, we open our thought to God’s ideas as well as to expressing His qualities—such as love, unselfishness, thoughtfulness, and patience—and attributing all power to Him. As we do this, we’re led to actions that bless. 

In Deuteronomy we learn that “[God] is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” (32:4). As we trust this “God of truth,” we can be spared from making mistakes, for we are basing our decisions on the foundation of His perfection. As we are humble and listen to God with the desire to be obedient, our thoughts and actions flow from that standpoint. As we come to know Him better, we realize that His will is truly the only will because we are His very image, as explained in the first chapter of Genesis.

We can trust God’s will and guidance totally because of the nature of God.

Science and Health mentions several biblically based names or synonyms for God, such as Love, Mind, Spirit, and Principle. Principle is often linked with Love, and for me this means that doing what is truly right is doing what is loving; in turn, a truly loving action is always a principled one. When we are following this guideline, our actions follow the Father, which shows our innate unity with Him. As Mrs. Eddy so beautifully states in her article “Obedience” in Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, “Obedience is the offspring of Love; and Love is the Principle of unity, the basis of all right thinking and acting; it fulfils the law” (p. 117). 

In my own experience, I have found that praying for God’s will to be done has often enabled me to make quick decisions that are accompanied by a sense of peace and joyfulness in being obedient. There have been times when I have had no idea of what path to follow, and times when I have come to prayer with a plan of action already in thought. Though these latter instances have involved more of a struggle in order to let go of any willfulness, they have been wonderful learning times for me in striving to obey God with all my heart. 

I am so grateful for the following two experiences. What I learned from them is often helpful to me as I pray about following God’s will.

In the first situation, I had been drinking about a liter a day of a caffeinated soft drink. After a while it came to me that I might be more dependent on this than I realized, and as that didn’t seem right, I cut back significantly on the amount I drank. Then when I had class instruction in Christian Science (a glorious period of about two weeks when students learn about practicing Christian Science from an authorized teacher), the subject of caffeine was brought up—along with the fact that being dependent on it was not consistent with practicing Christian Science. Energy and strength are spiritual qualities that come from God, not from caffeine, sugar, or any other material substance. Immediately there welled up in me such a love for God that being obedient by attributing all power to Him was much more important than any soft drink, and I no longer consumed that or any other caffeinated drink from that point on. I felt so free, because I knew that I was genuinely yielding to God’s all-power and recognizing that God actually governs my life. 

How grateful I was to realize that to truly strive to follow God’s guidance, we must obey Him with all our heart. 

At another time, the decision to follow God’s guidance and will took a little more effort. My husband was planning a business trip to the opposite coast of our country and, as the wives had been invited, asked if I would like to join him. Initially I was somewhat reluctant to go, because if we were going to take a trip without our children, I preferred that my husband and I spend the time together rather than it being a business trip. Spending a morning in our local Christian Science Reading Room, I prayed for God’s guidance, and the thought kept coming to me so strongly that I should go. I felt that this was confirmed by a sense of inner calm as I opened my thought to inspiration from the Father, God. So I went on the trip, and the first day started off joyfully. That night, though, I suddenly felt quite ill, and prayed for myself the best I knew how with the truths I had learned in my recent class on Christian Science. Once we got back to our room, I realized that because God is Love itself, the love of God was right there with me in the hotel room. 

Science and Health gives us this guideline for prayer: “Always begin your treatment by allaying the fear of patients” (p. 411). The sense of God’s powerful, ever-present love calmed my fear, and I felt comforted and had a restful night. In the morning I was grateful for much improvement and planned to spend the time in study and prayer instead of going on a walk planned for the spouses. But very quietly, as I was praying, the thought came to me that the loving thing would be to join the women on the walk. At that point I realized that although I felt I had followed divine inspiration by going on the trip, my heart had not been totally in it. How grateful I was to realize that to truly strive to follow God’s guidance and will, we must obey Him with all our heart; we must be genuinely loving, and know that His love for us is so great that His will includes goodness in every detail of our lives. 

As my thought changed, and I was willing to accept more wholeheartedly Love’s guidance and express more of the spirit of Love, I was completely free of the illness. I went on to enjoy a lovely walk with the group, and still had ample time for prayer as well as renewed energy to play a tennis match in the afternoon.

From this experience, I learned how valuable it is when praying for God’s will to be done to surrender completely to His guidance. In this way, we are following Jesus’ great commandment to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” which always helps us experience more of God’s care and healing love. Now when I pray, “Thy will be done,” it is with all my heart.