There have been times in my life when I thought I needed to change and then there have been times when life just shoved me out of the plane. Regardless, to make a progressive move, I’ve had to quiet fear and trust in something I believe at a deep level–that there’s a divine Love that is always going before me.
This week, Oprah Winfrey’s landmark television event called “Belief,” encourages us to explore how our beliefs shape our experience. Wednesday’s episode, “A Change is Gonna Come,” illustrates the importance of getting beyond fearing some ominous unknown, and embracing the opportunity for spiritual growth that comes with the inevitability of change. I’ve found (most recently in a major career change,) that changing means more than complying with society’s norms and expectations. It’s an opportunity to better understand my relationship with an all-loving spiritual God. From this standpoint, I approach changes with the expectation of palpable goodness.
St. Paul promised the Romans, “… all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
In his earlier life, Paul (then Saul) was on a fast track in his career–gaining favor with the local authorities by going after the early Christians. Enter God’s plan! Totally unexpected to Saul, it promised huge blessings for humanity. Like it or not, a change was “gonna happen”.
“Still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord,” (Acts 9) Saul was literally knocked to the ground and blinded by the bright light that accompanied a “voice from heaven” (Jesus Christ). While still blind, Saul obeyed the divine orders and experienced not only forgiveness and a healing of his blindness, but a total reformation of character, resulting in his new name, Paul.
Leaving worldly aims and trusts behind and embracing spiritual values, means and practices required courage, deep commitment, and sacrifice. What enabled Paul to do this was a new concept of God — a loving God that has revealed our actual likeness to God, an understanding that provided him inner peace and perfect harmony. With his new, unflappable trust in God’s loving purpose and direction for us to live in accord with the unselfish standard set in Christ Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Paul repeatedly escaped persecution and overcame physical hardships while ministering to the infant Christian churches.
When asked if she believed in “change of heart,” the renowned Christian Science healer Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “ . . . there must be a change from human affections, desires, and aims, to the divine standard, ‘Be ye therefore perfect.’ … The human affections need to be changed from self to benevolence and love for God and man; changed to having but one God and loving Him supremely, and helping our brother man.” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896)
In my own experience, trusting the rule of perfect harmony has meant the difference between ignoring the “call to change” and embracing it with gusto, bringing myself into alignment with God’s plan.
A few years ago, a tumultuous work environment left me paranoid, anxious and desperate for a change. When I came down with the chicken pox and was quarantined, I prayed a lot. The experience deepened me spiritually and healing came with it. In fact, a couple of weeks after my return to work, I felt led to resign and begin a healing ministry through which I could help others as I’d been helped.
But as our retirement account dwindled, I was downright scared. My dream of helping others gain health through prayer now seemed like financial suicide. The years of work to secure a sound retirement appeared to be for nothing, and I resented that. But in the same way I’d prayed through the sickness, I made a conscious effort to quiet fear and see my life from God’s perspective. Soon, I started feeling more hopeful and glimpsed our future framed in unlimited opportunity.
Beginning with a friend’s surprise delivery of my favorite chocolates, things turned around. My newfound expectation of universal goodness found me encouraging my husband to go “estate saling”. He ended up becoming a helpful resource for one couple holding a sale. Out of gratitude, they gave him a car and when sold, it made our mortgage payment. Next, he came home with audiophile equipment that paid for two more months. God’s standard of perfection lifted my love and helped me appreciate my husband’s unselfishness. My character transformed from resentment to gratitude and from emotional instability to a settled peace. Today, the retirement account is intact, and my healing practice for others is a reality.
Like Paul, we are offered opportunities to change (oftentimes unexpectedly). It helps me to know that we, too, can humbly yield to God’s purpose for us; that spiritual growth inevitably brings positive change to our lives; and that the intended effect of those changes will certainly ripple out to our world and bless us all.