Without forward thrust, an airplane has no lift. But with sufficient forward thrust, the plane – which can weigh hundreds of tons – moves gracefully aloft. The same is true with us. Thought must continue to move forward, to be progressive, to meet and master the challenges confronting us, and to be borne aloft in the process.
Hiking along a stream one day, a friend and I came upon a park ranger leading a horse over a low, narrow bridge. The ranger crossed, but the horse lost its footing and jumped into the rushing water. Finding itself standing in the silt, the horse wouldn’t move despite the efforts of the ranger to pull and coax it to shore. My friend dropped his backpack, walked into the waist-deep water, and stepped under the horse’s neck. Reaching down with his hands, he pulled the horse’s front legs out of the water one at a time. Within a few seconds, the horse moved forward and leaped out of the stream. My friend told me later that horses occasionally come to believe that they can’t move, even when they can. He hadn’t moved the horse; he simply demonstrated to the animal its own freedom.
This incident illustrates the fact that it’s thought that needs to move. And when a right idea dawns in thought, actions follow freely and naturally and almost without effort. This is why forward, progressive thinking—inspired vision–is so important in leadership. A God-sourced, shared vision can inspire an organization or a country to marshal its resources to great advancement. And this is why such expansive thinking is necessary in healing.
So what might limit thought from progressing, from moving forward? I recently read a brief definition of the word Pharisee. These Hebrew scholars concentrated on strict obedience to written and unwritten religious law. That doesn’t sound so bad. What’s wrong with a life of purity and obedience, I wondered? So why did Jesus often challenge these scholars?
Perhaps Jesus saw their mental inflexibility, their unwillingness to think freshly or to depart from the strict letter of their lawbooks long enough to recognize and embrace a new concept of a higher law—the law of Spirit. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus characterized these Pharisees as having “…omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith” (23:23).
The Pharisees argued from the safety of the sidelines, but their attempts to thwart progress were futile. Progress was then, and remains, irresistible. We operate in a dynamic, progressive spiritual framework. Intelligence is not static. It is constantly being expressed in new forms of useful invention. Ideas are discovered, applied, improved, and reapplied in ever-changing combinations. Yesterday’s applications lead to today’s enhancements and to tomorrow’s cutting edge innovations. We can choose to resist progress as a threat to the status quo, or we can embrace progress and move with it.
Mary Baker Eddy saw the power of thought to advance or retard, and on one occasion she spoke on the importance of getting thought to move. “In teaching a class I tell some joke to start the thought moving; God tells me to. There must be action; I get the thought started…I speak sharply sometimes, but the thought must move” (The Notebooks Lida Fitzpatrick, The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity, pp.3-4).
Qualities such as humility, flexibility, and expectancy of good help us stay ready for progress and to recognize it when it comes. However, complacency, resistance, and routine thinking tend in the opposite direction. Christian Science ensures the safety of our moving prayerfully forward with what seems most right in each situation rather than leaving us to spin in uncertainty. It reveals that progress rests on a fixed Principle. Progress is impelled by God; it’s the natural result of our reflection of Him.
By remaining alert and open we can be immediately responsive to divine Mind’s direction, without hesitation or delay. This mental state keeps us prepared to welcome the unfolding present rather than to fear the future, doubt our decisions, resist change, or cling to the past. And the results of letting thought move in harmony with Mind’s direction include effective accomplishments, unexpected efficiencies, clarity and confidence in our assessment of situations, and harmonious, rewarding relationships. Our willingness to let Mind continuously guide us forward helps us make ever more valuable and meaningful contributions to healing the world.
Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Journal, February 2008.
Republished with permission of The Christian Science Publishing Society.