Learning to Listen
(Written especially for young people)
THE summer I was twelve, my parents took all the family north to a remote lake in the Canadian woods. One day, without telling anyone, I decided to go for a walk alone into the dense brush. And what a walk it turned out to be!
I was so excited by all the wildlife I was seeing that I wasn't paying attention to where I was going. Suddenly, I realized it was getting late, and I was lost.
For a moment I was afraid. But then I remembered how often Christ Jesus had shown people that they didn't need to be afraid. I knew that God is Love and is everywhere, and that I was His beloved child. And I had seen proofs of God's all-presence and all-power. Usually I had asked my dad or mom for help through prayer when I was afraid. But this time I was on my own.
I knew that Truth, which is another name for God, is always with us and gives us the answers we need. So my next step should have been to listen to Truth, right? Well, instead of turning to God first, I tried to think of any advice I'd ever heard about what you should do when you're lost. But these ideas didn't work for me. So I went back to prayer.
Instead of pleading with God, though, I thought about what I knew to be true about Him: that He is Spirit, ever present and All. He sustains all of His creation in Love, and that included me, His perfect likeness. I knew that with God protecting me, I was safe right then. And with God leading the way, I would get safely home.
For a while I was afraid that if I didn't listen to the right thoughts, I would get more lost! But I remembered a story in the Bible about the prophet Elijah, who heard God speak to him in ``a still small voice'' (I Kings 19:12). It must be true that God speaks to us in thought and we can hear and trust Him, I reasoned. That's true because God is infinite Mind, and man, God's idea, can't be separated from Mind.
I remembered a Bible passage from Proverbs. It 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). I started walking. I kept walking for what seemed a very long time. Then I saw through the woods ahead, against the darkening sky, a tall pine tree. Near its top was a branch like a bent finger. I knew that tree. I had seen it before from our log-cabin window. And I was soon back home.
My parents had been praying, too. They knew that God, Love, was my ever-present guardian. Our family members have had a lot of healings through prayer, and this was one more we wouldn't forget. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Christian Science Church, wrote a poem called `` `Feed My Sheep' '' (Poems, p. 14). Now it had a special meaning for me. Part of it says:
I will listen for Thy voice,
Lest my footsteps stray;
I will follow and rejoice
All the rugged way.
Since then, there have been other times when I have felt confused or ``lost''--not in the woods but in some situation where I didn't know what to do. And I always remember what I learned: the moment you turn to God you are no longer afraid and you know you're not lost. Trust God and listen. And you'll be led in just the right way.