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Angel Guidance
EDITH M. SHANK


         "Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared." This verse from the twenty-third chapter of the book of Exodus should bring joyous confidence to every student of Christian Science, because of the assurance of unerring guidance which it contains. The desire for and the need of guidance may appear to be twofold, special guidance in the working out of single problems, and entire guidance in the journey from the seeming material sense of existence to the full realization that Life is God. But as the latter includes the former, it is readily agreed that if one can be guided to take each human footstep correctly, hearing and obeying the "still small voice," there must result satisfactory progress in putting off the false sense of life in matter and proving, in an ever increasing degree, the truth of being that man is now the son of God.

         The multifarious problems presenting themselves daily for solution in the experience of all mankind call for wisdom, discernment, perception, understanding; and these attributes of divine Mind are God's guiding angels. In considering the promise of divine guidance which came to Moses during that period of his life when he was leading the children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt to the promised land, we note the word "behold." After the Ten Commandments had been given to the children of Israel there followed, according to the Biblical record, divers laws and ordinances for their government. Then, lest their thought should become engrossed in detailed methods of applying the Commandments to daily living, there came the admonition to behold the angel. There was the call to realize the eternal fact that because God is ever present there is also the manifestation of His impartial love and guidance.

         So, today, one may need to be awakened from seeming absorption in human ways and means of finding an answer to questions difficult of solution or settlement, to realize that "the angel of his presence" is ever at hand to lead in the paths of righteousness. Through the inspired teachings of Mary Baker Eddy we learn that "the angels of His presence the spiritual intuitions that tell us when 'the night is far spent, the day is at hand' are our guardians in the gloom," as she tells us on page 174 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." As thought is lifted out of the mesmeric fear and suggestions of so-called mortal mind to contemplate the one infinite power, divine Mind, we become conscious of God-given intelligence and direction. Then, in the proportion that we continue to behold the angel, and obediently conform our mode of action or course of life as Spirit thus designates, there will be found unvarying right government and guidance, and a correspondingly right working out of the answer to each question confronting us.

         There is definite certainty and encouragement expressed in the words, "to keep thee in the way;" for this positive assurance of the Father's continued guidance includes the thought of protection and care. Indeed, one cannot be separated from the other. The constancy of divine leading was recognized by the prophet Isaiah when he wrote, "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." Being kept in the way surely means that each step is clearly defined, though often the first step must be taken before the next one is revealed. When the children of Israel stood before the river Jordan, the waters were not divided until those who were leading the people moved forward into the water, so that the soles of their feet were wet.

         Glorious lessons of faith and trust are learned by all who steadfastly follow in the way which God appoints; and besides the solving of one's own problems, there necessarily must be opportunities to serve others as well. What a beautiful example of obedient following of angel guidance is the story of Philip, as found in the eighth chapter of the book of Acts! No questioning or wondering why he was sent into the desert; for the record says, "He arose and went," as the angel commanded! Through his unselfed service to the "eunuch of great authority," he planted the first seeds of the gospel of Jesus Christ in Ethiopia.

         The verses in Exodus following the one quoted are also worthy of study, for they elaborate the thought and show that "the way," whether in Moses' time or in ours, is much the same, and involves a constant overcoming of different phases of evil which would hinder or obstruct progress. But the assurance is that with obedience and true service to the one God, there comes the blessing of mastering false beliefs and realizing freedom from their suggestions of power. It is significant that the record says, "If thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak," there will follow subjugation of the evil which arises to boast itself as something. How true it is that dominion over any self-asserted power apart from God is accomplished by obedience to our highest sense of right! And real obedience must be complete, whole-hearted; that is, there must be unity of thought and action.

         Need we be dismayed if in following the leadings of Truth we are seemingly brought into contact with heathen nations, opposing conditions of thought? We may be confident that if we keep close to the angel, the angel will not forsake us, or fail in completely shielding us from aggression and attempted oppression. In the story of Joseph it is stated, "And the Lord was with Joseph." Judging by the overcoming of all trying and discouraging conditions which he encountered, we know that of a surety Joseph was with the Lord; that is, he was ever conscious of God's loving guidance and care. His never-failing obedience and readiness to serve, whenever the opportunity was afforded, finally brought him into a large realization of a good place, where he continued to prove that "the Lord was with him." In the verse quoted at the beginning of this article, "the place" may at first seem most important, and for some time "the way" may be quite overlooked. But is not "the way" just a succession of God-prepared places, including always the thought of progress? Looking into the derivation of the word "place," as used specifically in this verse of Scripture, we find that while in the original Hebrew it meant spot or locality, a "condition of body or mind," it was taken from a word which embodies the sense of to rise, accomplish, succeed, establish; and each of these in turn implies activity. So, while one lives in a certain place, or holds certain positions here in this human experience, if there is earnest, unselfed endeavor to listen for and follow Truth's directing, every such place or position is but the objectified result of right mental activity, his understanding of and reliance on divine Mind.

         There are, however, also joy and comfort in contemplating the promise that the angel will bring one into the place prepared. Let us ask ourselves if we really desire only the place which God prepares. If so, there must be the putting aside of human plans, human outlining, and all selfish desires, and there must be humble trust in the unerring guidance of Him who doeth all things well. When one thus purifies his thought of personal wishes regarding a course of action or the result to be obtained, he the more readily hears the voice of Truth, and his pathway is illumined.

         Every sincere student of Christian Science desires to go forward in the attainment of spiritual understanding and accompanying demonstration of the truth it teaches; and this desired progress can be achieved only by unselfed striving to hear the Word of the Lord, yield submission thereto, and faithfully comply with every order or command as it unfolds to consciousness. Let us be grateful that this spiritual guidance is ever at hand, and joyfully learn to be patient when progress seems slow and the accomplishment of dominion is "by little and little." Then, as Peter was led out of prison by the angel, every obstruction to his freedom becoming as naught, so shall we find that freedom from bondage to material sense beliefs of sickness, limitation, discord of any nature is gained as we learn the lesson of obedience to angel guidance.

         We know that our beloved Leader, Mrs. Eddy, early heard the voice of the Lord, and that as years went by she faithfully obeyed the "spiritual intuitions," going ever forward in the understanding of spiritual things until the discovery of this new-old truth was made. Then, with continued consecration and undeviating following of divine directing, she founded the great movement known throughout the world today as the Christian Science movement. Doubtless these words on page 254 of Science and Health were the fruit of her own experience: "When we wait patiently on God and seek Truth righteously, He directs our path."

 

"Angel Guidance" by Edith M. Shank
The Christian Science Journal, August, 1925
 

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