Faith Bass Darling is a fascinating main character in a recent novel that I read (Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale, Lynda Rutledge, Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, 2012). She is a very wealthy woman who becomes convinced that God has told her that "her time has come". She decides to have a huge yard sale selling everything she owns, in order to be ready. Everything! Without a single bit of regret.
Imagine emptying your house of long-cherished belongings. Recently, I did just that. Not because I believed my "time has come." I don’t share Mrs. Darling's belief that God, who is Life, has anything to do with death. But the time had definitely come to accept my daughter’s invitation to live with her.
My husband had passed. She and my other children, were eager for me to make the move. So I did. I sold my house, but I didn’t have a yard sale. Instead, I had a happy time giving away loved possessions to my children and grandchildren, without a single regret.
You might think that getting rid of absolutely everything would have been stressful. But it really wasn’t. Why? Because I wasn't trying to figure out my next steps by myself. I was convinced that I would know what to do and when to do it as I went along. I understood that God, in whom I live and move and have my being, is the divine Principle of divine good, unfolding good for me. God always knows the next step and when to take it in His revelation of good.
This was a lesson I learned from a youngster named Morrie. Unlike the fictional Faith Bass Darling, he was a real little boy who lived in Colorado in the 1890s. Morrie trusted God's perfect timing. He had lost his mother's coal shovel, and he knew she would need it the next morning. It couldn't be found anywhere. Later in the day his mother found him in his room, unusually quiet, and asked him what he was doing. He replied, "I'm praying.”
She asked: "How are you praying?"
"You said I must find that shovel so I'm praying for understanding," he replied.
"Will you pray out loud so I can hear it?" she asked.
This was his prayer: "God is my understanding. He knows all things, and whenever I quit trying to know for myself, then I will know, because God knows".
After his prayer, Morrie went outside to play. Later, his mother asked if he had found the shovel. He was surprised and said, "Why mama, you must wait till the time comes, and not try to know for yourself.”
Early the next morning he came running in to his mother, saying, "The time has come; here it is." He presented her with her the shovel. (Christian Science Journal, Jan. 1890)
I think Morrie’s story shows that he must have felt something of his life inseparable from divine Life, God. Christian Science teaches that God imparts His understanding to us at all times. Morrie expected to know what to do to find the shovel, and he waited for it to be made known. No stress or fuss or fear. And the shovel reappeared right on time for his mother to use it.
God is omniactive Life. His understanding, knowing. expressing, reflecting, manifesting, revealing of good – of all the good that God is – is present in the details of our daily lives.
The emptying of my house and sharing of its contents happened without a hitch in just a few short days. I learned in the process that ridding oneself of things and moving to another State does not imply an end of good. God's goodness continues to provide all that I need in just the right way for my present circumstances. My sense of home – and of being at home – is full and complete.
Best of all, I know that at any point as my journey continues, I can quietly pray for understanding and, like Morrie, I can "try not to know" for myself. God is a caring guide, leading us all into a fuller sense of divine Life and of all the good that life includes.
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Feeling cornered by disease? Is doubt or fear wearing away your confidence in being healthy again? Take a lesson from Isaiah's playbook. Called by Hezekiah when an enemy army was advancing with the intent to decimate his city, Isaiah prayed a prayer so significant, so powerful, that it merited two accounts in separate books of the Bible - II Kings and Isaiah - and with results so effective that they received a third mention in II Chronicles, chapter 32.
Isaiah's prayer stopped the deadly enemy cold, thundering to its finale:
"Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria,
He shall not come into this city,
nor shoot an arrow there,
nor come before it with shield,
nor cast a bank against it.
By the way that he came,
by the same shall he return,
and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord.
For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake,
and for my servant David's sake." (II Kings 19:32-34, Isaiah 37:33-35)
Let me break this down. In its spiritual signification, "the king of Assyria" represents any thought or condition that bullies or threatens to wipe us out. In his conclusion, Isaiah explains, point by point, the power of divine Love to protect us against four specific tactics of this enemy.
It shall not:
Well before any actual battle, Hezekiah faced aggressive threats from the enemy. The king of Assyria sent a messenger to announce his plans to destroy the city. The intent was, of course, to undermine Hezekiah's confidence and increase his fear. Hezekiah was afraid and felt defeated long before any actual fighting. So when Isaiah came to his side and declared that God wouldn't allow it - that evil would not, could not enter and take the city - his message was like a good rain to thirsty soil. The results were immediately evident.
"And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses."
An undeniably effective outcome.
I learned about Isaiah's prayer when I was suffering from a case of pneumonia that was taking me down fast. I felt both invaded and pervaded by disease. The fact that I had been praying for healing for a considerable time, and yet the symptoms worsened, was eating away at my spiritual resolve. I didn't understand this resistance to healing and the persistence of my suffering.
When I came across Isaiah's prayer, it almost seemed to arrive too late. The disease had already gotten in. The enemy was well entrenched.
Or so I thought.
The following explanations from pages 426 and 427 of Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, helped me identify the real nature of the enemy. They helped me understand how to apply Isaiah's prayer to my case.
Eddy wrote, "When it is learned that disease cannot destroy life, and that mortals are not saved from sin or sickness by death, this understanding will quicken into newness of life. It will master either a desire to die or a dread of the grave, and thus destroy the great fear that besets mortal existence... [Emphasis added]
"The human concepts named matter, death, disease, sickness, and sin are all that can be destroyed...
"Death is but another phase of the dream that existence can be material. Nothing can interfere with the harmony of being nor end the existence of man in Science."
I realized that the disease symptoms were nothing more than the messages being sent ahead by the enemy, trying to intimidate me and wear down my confidence in God and my spiritual resolve. Neither my body, nor pneumonia were the enemy. Even death wasn't the actual enemy because it would eventually be proved that man doesn't live or die in matter.
No. The enemy bearing down on me was the fear of death. And I could do something about that. It wasn't too late to work with Isaiah's prayer.
Here is a look into some of my reasoning.
As Isaiah saw regarding Hezekiah's enemy, so it was for mine. "By the way that he came" (from the nowhere of fear) "by the same shall he return" (to the nothingness of fear).
The pneumonia was stopped dead in its tracks. The black cloud of fear that had threatened me with aggressive symptoms dissipated completely. I was well.
Don't be fooled into fighting an unreal enemy. The culprit is not disease. Your body doesn't hate you.The great enemy is always fear. It's never too late - NEVER TOO LATE - to stop fear and disease cold.
This is an edited repost of an article that originally appeared on this blog on February 20, 2012.
I am just back from a short trip to Boston. I love long flights. They give me time to think. And to pray. And to sleep.
This time, high above the Atlantic, things rocked and rolled with heavy turbulence of the head banging sort. I was shaken from a nap, not only by the movement but, by the murmurs of fear from my fellow passengers. For a few moments, a growing terror seemed to be drawing all oxygen from the plane and was threatening to take my breath with it.
But, instead of just succumbing to the fear, I fought back with the only tool I had to defeat it. I prayed. And as I prayed, I thought, "We are safe because we are not alone. We are safely hid with Christ in God where no evil or terror can reach."
Within seconds the crazy shaking stopped and calm returned. I can't tell you how many times I have observed this on airplanes and in other situations where big shake ups have threatened to take me out. Once fear is faced and handled in prayer, turbulence in any form stops cold.
Here are a few posts that take on the question of fear and how to handle it when things get tough. Also, find a link to a 17 minute podcast, entitled, "Hid with Christ in God" that was put together at the time of the 10th Anniversary of the World Trade Center bombing by the Christian Science Board of Directors. It is a real treat, offering their personal insights into handling intense fear.
"And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.”
But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well."
(Matthew 9:20-22 NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)
Feeling cornered? Is the enemy advancing? Is doubt or fear niggling at you, wearing away your confidence in being healthy again?
Take a lesson from Isaiah's playbook. Called by Hezekiah when an enemy army was advancing with intent to decimate a city, Isaiah prayed a prayer so significant, so powerful, that it merited two accounts in separate books of the Bible - II Kings and Isaiah - and with results so effective that they received a third mention in II Chronicles, chapter 32. Prayer stopped the deadly enemy cold.
At the crescendo of Isaiah's prayer was this thundering finale:
"Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria,
He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there,
nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.
By the way that he came, by the same shall he return,
and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord. For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake."
(II Kings 19:32-34, Isaiah 37:33-35)
"Don't panic. I am here. I will see you out." That was the message that came to me when I found myself on the floor of my room curled up in a ball, panicking, crying, feeling like I had reached my wit's end over a problem that had persisted for three years and seemed suddenly worse than ever. I was at a total loss of how to go forward. The mental dialogue went like this:
"I (sob) can't (sob) do this (sob, sob) anymore. (Exhausted sob)"
"You don't have to."
"No (sob) really. I can't pray about this anymore, I don't have any more thoughts I can think to move forward. (sob) I quit."
"Don't think any more. I am your Mind. Let me think for you. Don't panic. I am here. I will see you out."
_This year is all about W.O.W. (Walking on water) in the New Year. Carrie had it right yesterday when she wrote, "This is so exciting. I have been cooped up in limitation too long. I want to stop judging ... how long a task will take, how much it will cost to do it or to get it done ... What you're saying here is to step out in faith, but what is new for me is the sense of glorious expectation ... of possibility."
This year my New Year's resolution is a little different than in past years. No more thinking small. Sure, I would like to eat better, move more, and drop off unecessary habits that waste my time. But rather than focus on the minnows of limitation nipping at my toes, I would like to go after the big fish of fear that would tell me I can't get out of the boat and express my unlimited potential for good. And I think I can do this in four steps.
_ Step 3 - Take the stretched out hand and walk.
It's exciting to embrace new views of God (Step 1) and to let the Christ mobilize you to move and express the unlimited possibilities of good (Step 2). This is what it means to W.O.W.
Peter did. He walked on water. Why can't we? Why have a small expectation of good?!
When Peter stepped out of the boat, his fisherman's perspective on the prospects of success at water-walking tried to sink him, but Peter overcame the resistance with a helping hand.
Today's Step 3 is all about finding stability as we take each forward step.
Peter had baggage. Jesus showed him the possibilities of freedom from material limitations, but Peter's past experiences argued that waterwalking wasn't wise. He stepped out in faith, but his faith was hobbled somewhat by fear. Until the hand, that is. Matthew's gospel tells us, "But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" (14:30)
According to Newton's 3rd law of motion, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." This reaction is sometimes referred to as "resistance". To Peter, resistance to walking on water was a normal, inevitable, unavoidable phenomenon. As a fisherman, he had seen winds and waves like this before. He was afraid of a material law of motion that declared walking on water to be a risky business.
_Mary Baker Eddy explained, "Jesus... raised Lazarus from the dead, stilled the tempest, healed the sick, walked on the water. There is divine authority for believing in the superiority of spiritual power over material resistance. A miracle fulfils God's law, but does not violate that law. This fact at present seems more mysterious than the miracle itself. The Psalmist sang: "What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? Thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back? Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams, and ye little hills, like lambs? Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob." The miracle introduces no disorder, but unfolds the primal order, establishing the Science of God's unchangeable law." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 134-135)
_Fear is simply material resistance to normal progressive spiritual phenomenon. Fear is material, not spiritual, and it has no spiritual basis or real law to support it.
What saved Peter from fear was the "stretched forth hand" of Jesus. This wasn't his personal hand, but rather the same hand that was holding up Jesus. The possessive adjective "his" in the phrase "Jesus stretched forth his hand" is in italics in the King James Bible, indicating that the word was added in by translators to make sense of the passage.
The hand that caught Peter was the stretched forth hand of divine Principle, God - the spiritual Law that allowed Jesus to prove material resistance to be nothing more than a mental suggestion, and nothing to either fear or accept.
In fact, Jesus reminded Peter that his little faith - the same faith that got him to step out of the boat onto the water - was enough to stabilize his walk. "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" he asked. I don't think Jesus was knocking a small faith. To me, he was saying, "Don't you realize what you have?" Jesus knew that a tiny mustard-seed faith could move mountains. It could certainly move off fear when that faith was planted in God.
__By rooting our faith in the everpresent God-power to accomplish all things, instead of personal power or will, we can discover that nothing is impossible to us.
Mary Baker Eddy said, "Had Blondin believed it impossible to walk the rope over Niagara's abyss of waters, he could never have done it. His belief that he could do it gave his thought‐ forces, called muscles, their flexibility and power which the unscientific might attribute to a lubricating oil. His fear must have disappeared before his power of putting resolve into action could appear." (Science and Health, p. 199)
So here is my sum-up of step 3 -
_Did you enjoy this post? Did you find it helpful?
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_ I am the spot where God shines through,
For God and I are one, not two.
I need not fear, nor fret, nor plan.
He wants me where and as I am.
If I’ll but be relaxed and free,
He’ll work His plan through me.
Author Unknown (Can anyone tell me who the author is?)
Ma vie est lumineuse ce jour,
Car Dieu et moi sommes un, c’est sûr.
Nulles peur, inutile hâte, ni plans,
Je suis libre dans Son dessein.
Si je reste ferme et confiant,
Son œuvre en moi est pure, vivante.
Auteur inconnu (Traduction libre)
A Christian Science visiting nurse responded to a call for help late at night in what would be considered a high-risk neighborhood. She was nervous and afraid, so she began to pray. Her prayer helped her to understand that she always worked and moved in God, Mind - the divine Principle, Love - and thus was always safe. She saw that she was in what Christ Jesus called "the kingdom of God."
After the home visit, she returned to her car and found a large man sitting on the hood. She could approach the car without fear, because she understood that if she was in the kingdom of Love, than anyone she saw was in the kingdom, too.
He explained, "I knew that a car like that would not be here at this time of night unless the owner was doing good. I sat on your car to protect it."
Jerry Seinfeld got a big laugh when he joked about a survey that found that the fear of public speaking ranks higher in most people's minds than the fear of death. "In other words," he deadpanned, "at a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy."
According to surveys, fear of public speaking ranks among Americans' top dreads, surpassing fear of illness, fear of flying, fear of terrorism, and often the fear of death itself.
All I know is when I was first appointed to an international lecture board, I was absolutely paralyzed with fear. I, who ALWAYS have something to say, was struck dumb - and I had writer's block to boot.
A woman had lost her job and, being unable thus far to find another one, was in desperate financial straits. She received notices indicating that her utilities would be shut down, one-by-one, if she didn't pay her bills. Moments before the phone company was to cut off her telephone service, she called a Christian Science practitioner and asked for prayer. The practitioner just had time to tell her, "If what you need is an oil well in your front yard, it is already there. Love never leaves you without what you need." Then the line went dead...
What she said to the woman was inspired by something found in Mary Baker Eddy's book on Biblical law and its application to daily living, "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 494)
The practitioner then began to pray.
Her prayers couldn't change the law of God or produce something that wasn't already there. Prayer doesn't change what is, but it can help one to see what is really going on in the light of Christ - the perpetual message of spiritual and divine Good flowing from Love, God, to Her creation.
Love is like a mother who always has what you need in her purse before you know you need it. Prayer reminds us that Mother, Love is on the scene, and gives us a peek at the treasures in Her bag.
These treasures aren't material things. Love's treasures are abundant spiritual ideas that are liberally distributed to everyone in the form that meets the human need. Whether what is most essential is love, patience, hope, inspiration, strength, opportunity, grace, gratitude or any other quality - Mother's purse, the consciousness of divine Love, is full and overflowing with good.
Some hours passed.
During the day, the Christian Science practitioner prayed until she was completely certain that there was no cause for fear. Her prayer showed her that God's law of Love was operational in this woman's case. Then she heard back from the woman, who had a remarkable story to tell.
A short time after her phone service was cut, she thought about what the practitioner had told her - "Love never leaves you without what you need." She understood that she needed to stop focusing on what she didn't have and couldn't see (ie. money in her account). She needed to focus on what she did have and could see. She loved her home and was grateful to still have it. She started appreciating the good around her and expressing gratitude for it.
Then there was a knock at the door.
A truck was in her driveway and the driver, a local landscaper, said that he drove past her home every day on his way to and from a job. He explained that he had been searching for some weeks for a tree of a certain type and size to complete a project for a new home in the neighborhood, and he had been unable to find it in all the area nurseries.
Only today, on his way home from the work-site, he noticed that the perfect tree was sitting in her front yard! He asked if she would be willing to sell it to him. She agreed, and he gave her a check in an amount that would restore her phone service and pay another large bill.
She did have an oil well, right there, in her front yard. Prayer opens our eyes - and those of others, too - to an unrestricted supply of good that is always at hand.
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A blog reader asked why some healings through prayer take longer than others. I will respond from the heart and from my own experience, which is the only way I can see to answer such a sensitive, and often angst-filled, question. A few months back someone asked if I thought healing through prayer is going on as readily and rapidly as it did in Christ Jesus' day or even a hundred years ago. This prompted me to list for myself, on paper, every major healing I have had. In the end I had quite a number - from walking pneumonia to broken bones to a growth in one breast. In all, there were 53 major healing events listed. I left off the small stuff - the bouts of flu, or colds, or family arguments - that evaporated quickly after prayer. Although I suppose a healing of a bad cold in five minutes, for example, could rank as a fairly influential healing...
I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no