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Deciding on God's side

A Christian Science perspective.

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“Better one safe way than a hundred on which you cannot reckon.” So ends one of Aesop’s fables comparing the survival instincts of a fox and a cat. The moral is that too much consideration of our options can be unproductive, even dangerous.

With today’s constant barrage of information from media outlets and online news feeds, the struggle to choose and decide wisely is on the increase. There’s even a name for it: analysis paralysis. Simply put, when people and businesses overthink a situation (like the fox in that fable), things run the risk of becoming needlessly complicated. Productivity and forward motion can grind to a halt. Instead of at some point starting to do something with the information, resources, time, at hand, they may spin their wheels, and in the process forfeit potential gains and opportunities.

“With too much information, people’s decisions make less and less sense,” says Prof. Angelika Dimoka, a neuroscientist at Temple University in Philadelphia. Newsweek tells how she and her colleagues have studied brain activity in the attempt to explain what’s going on. There is even a branch of study known as “survival psychology,” which examines what makes some people able to steer clear of paralyzing indecision during emergencies and crises.

It’s good that people are making efforts to identify what’s limiting as well as helping our sound decisions, and that some have devoted their careers to finding paths forward. But we maintain that the only sure means of determining that “one safe way” of progress involves reliance on God’s direction – input from the one infinite intelligence, which is always more enlightened than even the best of human choices. Seeking the answers in the structure of the brain or patterns of human behavior will never ultimately set us free. We need to get beyond ourselves.

This is one of the Bible’s major messages; it chronicles many ways in which humanity has been pressing toward the singlemindedness of thought and purpose that stems from knowing, honoring, hearing, one supreme and loving God. From the depiction in Genesis 11 of the city of Babel, scattered because its people became confused, to the enlightening day of Pentecost, when the early Christians “were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1), we can see an unstoppable progression of human thought toward realizing our potential for productivity and safety. Whether you are looking for guidance to complete a project, jump-start a flagging career or company, break free of bewilderment, or pray in fresh ways for physical healing, the Scriptures teach lessons in yielding to the healing power of God’s wisdom, available to all.

Based on the Bible, Christian Science explains that God has established supreme laws of good, and that prayer to understand and follow them constitutes the highest Science. Cultivating the understanding of what Jesus taught is adequate to steer each individual clear of paralyzing confusion, fear, danger, misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and the host of other pitfalls we might encounter as we try to make the best choices for the family or the workplace.

“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation,” Jesus warned: “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). Even – especially – in the hours of doubt and struggle, Jesus turned away from the scene before his eyes and toward God, the divine Mind, for reliable guidance and inspiration. His perception was clear and confident and certain, and in his presence people found freedom and healing. The spiritual understanding that supported Jesus’ ministry on earth is available to us today in the healing Science of Mind that Mary Baker Eddy discovered. It operates exclusively in the precincts of thought, bringing us under Mind’s guiding and saving intelligence. While this inspiration expresses itself in human actions that are practical and beneficial and appropriate to the need of the moment, its source is spiritual, unconfined by circumstance. This is why it is consistently reliable. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart,” says Proverbs, “and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (3:5, 6).

So often the hindrance to accomplishing our greatest good results from preoccupying material thoughts, which lead to burdensome rumination and evaluation. That’s why it’s so important to pray by shutting down these thoughts, which aren’t from God, seeking instead the clarity that is His alone. “Mind is the source of all movement,” Mrs. Eddy wrote, “and there is no inertia to retard or check its perpetual and harmonious action” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 283). Our individual efforts to be informed by this infallible divine Mind reveal the one safe way in all circumstances. Prayer can unblock paths in this very hour and bring us forward together.

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From an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.

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