Today, March 6, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is gracefully slipping into dwarf planet Ceres’ orbit. This is its final destination on its two-stop mission, which has so far taken eight years to accomplish. The Dawn spaceship is special because it runs on an ion propulsion engine. This engine is very efficient, but doesn’t have much force; it only thrusts at the same force as a piece of paper resting on your fingertips. Let’s just say that if Dawn were one of the characters in “The Tortoise and the Hare,” it would be more like Tortoise—starting off slow, but steadily gaining ground. It’s very different from a speedy hare-like rocket, which starts out with a fiery bang and zooms along with lightning speed.
Back in July of 2011, the Dawn spacecraft had just reached Phase One of its mission after four years of puffing its way to the asteroid Vesta. At the time, Marc Rayman, Dawn Chief Engineer and Mission Director said, “Gradually, over time, the effect of this whisper-like thrust can build up and produce fantastically high velocity. So this is what I like to call acceleration with patience.”
When I heard him say “acceleration with patience,” it occurred to me that this steady whisper-thrusting ion engine is a lot like prayer sometimes. We’ve all experienced the kind of prayer where the answer or inspiration hits us like a rocket flash. But sometimes, we do a lot of determined seeking, deep thinking, and quiet listening before we reach the ultimate answer. That seeking, thinking, and listening to God is the whisper-thrusting that inevitably takes us to our final destination: complete realization of our present perfection as part of God’s spiritual creation. It may seem like we’re going nowhere, but those puffs of prayer help us stay the course; they push us along and steer us in the right direction.
Patience and persistence in prayer are nothing new; Jesus also taught this approach. He instructed his followers using a parable: “that man ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). He told them about a disagreeable judge who doesn’t honor God, nor does he care much about helping the people. In the story, a widow begs the judge to grant her justice against her adversary. At first, he refuses. But she continues asking that justice be served. Finally, because the judge doesn’t want to hear her ask one more time, he grants her what she’s seeking. Then Jesus brings home the point that even a cranky judge will give in when asked continuously. Think how much more willing God, divine Love, is to help His beloved children when they ask.
God’s tender care, and His salvation from whatever would harm us, concern us, or even irritate us, are always immediate. Our help is as omnipresent as God is. We’re never waiting to be His complete and loved spiritual child. But sometimes it does take persistent prayer for the facts of God’s infinite creation to be glimpsed. Like the ion engine, it may seem like our progress is imperceptible at first, but our prayers always bring progress—whether slowly or quickly. There’s nothing like a rocket-like flash of inspiration to zoom us forward, but there’s also something to be said for a Dawn-like whisper-thrusting prayer, accelerating forward with patience.
If you'd like to learn more about the technical aspects of the Dawn mission, rocket your way over to mountaintop moments and watch an official video put out by NASA.
Here are more ideas about persistence:
Another parable from Jesus
Writings by Mary Baker Eddy
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:
The other day I spotted a narrow dirt path that ended on the sidewalk where I was walking. My eyes followed it diagonally across an empty lot to where it began—a bike shop. That made sense! I could picture riders buying bikes or accessories there, then riding across the lot on their way home. Clearly, the bike trail was there because the bike shop was there. They were connected; one existed because of the other.
It’s a simple example, but it reminded me of a phrase that I have thought about many times on page 276 of Mary Baker Eddy’s book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Man and his Maker are correlated in divine Science…”
Correlate isn’t one of those words we hear every day. It basically means that two things are so connected that one of them implies the other. Unlike bike trails, which can exist without bike shops, man cannot exist without God. And unlike bike shops, which can easily be successful without nearby bike trails, God absolutely needs man to express His infinite nature and magnificence.
Since every individual and God are correlated, our connection with Him is permanent. The existence of man, creation, implies the existence of God, Creator. One would never exist without the other.
Here’s another way I like to look at this fact. Mind is one of the synonyms used in the study of Christian Science. (See Science and Health, p. 591.) Since God is Mind, He must have ideas. After all, a Mind without an idea couldn’t be considered Mind at all. Likewise, an idea, or thought, can’t exist by itself; it has to have Mind to bring it forth. Without idea, Mind would have no proof of existence. Without Mind, idea would have no source. It’s a necessary and unbreakable relation.
This powerful information will help you in your day-to-day life. It gives you authority to deny, and declare impossible, things in your life that are unlike God—Good itself.
As the expression of God, eternal Life, you are forever connected to health, vibrancy, and energy. As the expression of God, the one and only Soul, your identity can never be lost. The attributes of Soul--joy, humor, and creativity--will always be part of who you are. As the expression of God, unchanging Principle, security and freedom underlie everything in your life.
Each one of us is uniquely qualified to express Him in just the way He has designed. Even on your darkest day when you just can’t see what your purpose might be, divine Love knows you. You are priceless to Him. He can’t be fully expressed without you! And how long will the omnipotent creator of the universe and everything in it need you? For eternity! Yes, every moment for eternity you’ll be connected to Mind as His idea.
You are important, priceless, and indispensable. Realizing your correlation with God can change and enrich your life. It can help you ride off on your daily adventures with confidence--and purpose!
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Other thoughts on being at one with God:
1 Corinthians 8:6
How Jesus saw it:
Science and Health:
I hope these insights will inspire readers to think more spiritually about themselves and the world around them!