This winter break I went walking several times with my mom’s dogs down at an open-space dog park outside of Denver. One of them, Chamois, loves to play fetch with the tennis ball. We use one of those long plastic launchers because that ball gets slimy! Chamois is a very enthusiastic fetch player, which often works to her disadvantage. She will give me the ball, and tear off straight away in one direction. But she almost never looks back to see where I am going to throw the ball.
Chamois’ expectation, of course, is that the ball will fly overhead and land right in front of her. Because she runs off in the wrong direction from where I throw the ball, she has no clue where to look once it lands. Then she whimpers and searches frantically until I walk over and pick it up for her.
So, what does this teach us about faith?
How often do we find ourselves hoping God will give us something we want the way we want it? How often do we then find ourselves running and running in the direction that we are certain is the right one, but failing to “find our tennis ball”?
Now, what if Chamois didn’t tear off in her own direction? What if she watched me as I threw the ball, and then ran after it, knowing exactly where to go to fetch it? There wouldn’t be a whimper out of her mouth. She would always get her tennis ball, and would never find herself in a panic.
Mrs. Eddy mentions faith in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, over one hundred and fifty times. She speaks to the type of faith my dog has in the first part of this description: “Faith, if it be mere belief, is a pendulum swinging between nothing and something, having no fixity. Faith, advanced to spiritual understanding, is the evidence gained from Spirit…” (S&H 23:14). What if we dropped our personal agendas? What if we stopped trying to decide what job was right for after college, or who we want to start some kind of relationship with, or how to use our time during the day? What if we stayed still just long enough to see where God was directing us?
Think about how absolutely overjoyed a dog is when it gets its tennis ball. That would be us when we follow God: tails wagging, eyes beaming, giant smiles – all of that happiness is ours!
This doesn’t mean we don’t research those job opportunities. It doesn’t mean we throw our hands up and say, “Whatever, God will take care of it.” Mrs. Eddy also says in Science and Health, “There is a cross to be taken up before we can enjoy the fruition of our hope and faith” (S&H 9:14). There is a lot of honest prayer that needs to go into having a truly God-led lifestyle. Every day we spend honestly seeing ourselves as God’s reflection is a day in which we train ourselves to watch where the ball is being thrown.
This whole faith thing is a happy thing. Faith is not some airy hope that the perfect gift is going to fall right in front of your nose as you sprint in your own direction. It’s not sitting and saying, “I must wait an eternity to receive God’s message.” Faith is like a fun game of fetch between God and us. As long as we focus our eyes on God, good, we will see his perfect plan shooting forward for us to follow.
These ideas are nicely summed up in the third verse of Hymn 85 from the Christian Science Hymnal:
“All the way that we must go
We will take at Thy direction,
Where the floods of trouble flow
Find Thy perfect, calm reflection;
On the path that has no turning,
Patience, courage, meekness learning.”