Have you ever watched a baseball game and seen how the pitcher intently leans in toward the catcher to pick up the signal for the next pitch? Sometimes he gives a quick little head-shake that says: "No!" Then he leans in again looking for a different signal. If it still doesn’t feel right, for sure, he will give another authoritative "No!"
Pitchers have to make immediate decisions about a catcher’s suggestions. Catchers will advise, but it’s always the pitcher’s call when it comes to deciding on which signal to act on. When a pitch finally comes that he can agree with, he will straighten up, set himself, and throw the baseball with all his might.
Sometimes thoughts are presented to us a bit like those pitch recommendations. But how quick are we to shake off the bad ones and ready ourselves for a better idea? I've seen time and again in my practice of Christian Science that folks worry about why negative, unhealthy thoughts have come to them, instead of just simply dismissing them and moving on to a better thought. We do have a choice about the signals we respond to and the ones we simply shake off with a quick and definitive "No!"
I don’t imagine a pitcher scratches his head and asks, “Is it my fault you are calling for this pitch?” Neither does he stand up and take a moment to ruminate, “Why, that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.” No. Pitchers know that not every signal is worth acting on, and it is a waste of time to engage with them in any way.
Have you ever suddenly felt despondent, irritated, confused or sad? “No!” can be a powerful prayer. When saying “No!” to fear, to mulling, to owning negative feelings and behaviors, we can do more than simply go into a state of denial. Every “No!” opposing a negative suggestion can be a big, welcoming “Yes!” to the next better thought. A progressive “No!” includes expectancy that a right idea - a God-authored good idea – is available to be acted upon right away.
This little scene of the catcher and pitcher came to me one afternoon when I was just about to let a silent, mental tirade get launched. I was irritated with someone who was interfering with a project, and I was getting all kinds of signals to react negatively. But instead of being clogged, stymied and sidelined by negative mental chatter, I realized I could say “No!” to the roiling thoughts, and listen for a better idea. And healing ideas came. Of course they did! And as they did, all the irritation and frustration stopped hounding me. The project was soon back on track and we were able to complete our work together with no further complications.
Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, says, “Truth is affirmative, and confers harmony.” (418) The Truth referred to here is God. A strong and clear “No!” to wrong can include the affirmation of the present and available good ideas that God gives us. This is the kind of All-Star thinking that brings harmony to any aspect of our lives.
No matter what the negative suggestions may be, you have the power to say “No!” God's ever-available help, love and care, are right there with you leading you to the best pitch, which is never any further than the next thought away.
Our new guest blogger, Lois Herr, CSB, is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher in Virginia, USA. Feel free to give her your feedback in your comment below. You can also be in touch with her directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
I love long flights. They give me time to think and pray... and nap! On one trip, high above the Atlantic, things rocked and rolled with heavy turbulence. I was shaken from sleep, not only by the movement but, by the murmurs of fellow passengers. For a few moments, fear seemed to be drawing all oxygen from the plane, taking my breath with it.
But, instead of succumbing, I fought back with the only tool I had to defeat it. I prayed. I thought about God as my Life - That I am always safe in Life, never powerless or alone. That I am safely hid with Christ in God, the divine Life of all, where no evil or terror can reach me. Within seconds the crazy shaking stopped and calm returned.
Was it luck? Chance? I can't tell you how many times I have observed this phenomenon of sudden peace resulting from prayer on airplanes and in other situations where big shake ups have threatened to take me out. Once the fear is faced and dismantled by an understanding of God and my relation to Him, turbulence in whatever form just stops cold.
Just today, I was on my way to the airport when one problem after another seemed to shake me up. A bus driver was driving erratically while yelling at someone on his cellphone, making several people on the bus, including me, sick from the motion; a suspected bomb at the airport blocked the path between the train station and my terminal; several technical problems in my hotel room required four different maintenance workers to spend a long time fixing things.
"I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?" NEHEMIAH 6:3
In the middle of the latest hoopla in my room, I opened the Bible to the story of Nehemiah and his team rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. He was confronted by one problem after another that attempted to derail his project. The book of Nehemiah recounts that two opponents of the building plan sent a message to Nehemiah saying, "Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono." But Nehemiah recognized that the invitation was a trap. Four times they tried to get him to go to Ono, and each time Nehemiah refused. Then the fifth time, they tried an extra convincing argument, one they were certain he would fall for, and Nehemiah stood firm, knowing that God was strengthening him for his work and protecting the fulfillment of his good purpose. That was the last he heard from the troublemakers. The project was finished and the wall was built with success. (Nehemiah, Chapter 6)
When I read the account, I had to chuckle at the play on words between Nehemiah's Ono and my "Oh, no!" - a place where I had been tempted to go several times today. As I read the account of how Nehemiah stood firm against the turbulence and upset of interruption, I realized that I, too, could turn from "Oh no!" to prayer.
My prayer was a heartfelt protest: "Oh, no I will not be stopped from the peaceful period of preparation that I need for my lecture tonight. Oh, no I will not accept disruption and turmoil as acceptable or normal today. This is God's perfect day and both I and my lecture are safe and protected in it."
Not five seconds after that prayer, the room full of maintenance men emptied. Everything works. Peace and order reigns.
Mary Baker Eddy explained, "Evil has no power, no intelligence, for God is good, and therefore good is infinite, is All." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 398) Prayer that stands up to fear and fuss draws its authority from the fact that disturbances don't have real substance or power.
Really, you gotta love what prayer can do.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee... LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us. ISAIAH 26:3,12
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Grace is a long-ago friend who pushed me forward on my spiritual journey. At a mental lowpoint, with my life-prospects feeling awfully narrow, Grace insisted that I pray for myself for an hour each morning. Even better, she had me write down my prayer so that I could prove to her and to myself that I did it.
Life-changing. Life-saving. That discipline of daily, thorough prayer for myself, established through her encouragement, has served me well.
Shortly after, I lost track of Grace. I always wished we would meet up again so I could tell her what her help meant to me. As the decades passed, I contented myself to thank God for His grace and for His Grace. Then a week ago, thirty-one years later, we were at the same place at the same time. I finally got to thank Grace!
Is there someone who has made a contribution to your life that you long to thank?
The links in today's post will take you to other Thanksgiving blog messages around the web. I hope you will click on them and meet more inspired bloggers. Happy Thanksgiving to you!
Pure humanity, friendship, home, the interchange of love,
A blog reader (and patient) who will remain anonymous has been encouraging me to write a post on the importance of loving oneself. A couple of days ago, she wrote me an email explaining how important this concept has been to her in recent days. I asked if she was willing for her thoughts to be shared on the blog. Her reply? "Of course." So here you go!
From an email dated Saturday, October 20, 2012:
The injunction "Love thy neighbor as thyself" has been popping into my mind for the last few days, and I’ve been giving it a lot of thought.
I think most of us would find it not too hard - at least in most cases—to maybe not love, but at least like our neighbor. But us? Love ourselves? Even like ourselves? No way!
Once I asked a dear friend if she loved herself and she looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t even know what that means.” And she was love itself, a church-goer, generous to a fault, devoting all her time to helping others. How could she not know what that meant? I think lots of people would throw up their hands in horror if asked the same question. Yet all through the Bible, the subject is God’s great love for us.
So I was asking myself, what's wrong?
In the Bible there is a lot of talk about self-abnegation, self-sacrifice, and selfless love. Also, original sin. And to me, it’s this notion that we are basically sinners and worthless, therefore unworthy of love, that seems to have gotten the upper hand.
So the idea of loving oneself has become twisted into being irrelevant or into seeming like an ego trip of self-absorption or self-indulgence, to be rejected entirely by anyone seeking salvation. And then appears the natural extension of this neglecting to love oneself - self-hatred.
I think we have the wrong idea of love and of Love. And it is a better understanding of Love, of God as an unchanging Principle, teaching us to love even ourselves, that makes Christian Science revolutionary.
In Retrospection and Introspection, Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Art thou unacquainted with thyself? Then be introduced to this self. Know thyself!”
Over these past several days when you have been working for me, I have begun to understand that knowing myself has to do with loving myself. That is, to know myself, and love my real self, I must see myself as Love sees me. And “love is patent, love is kind.”
So a healing has come. I can see that because God says I am loved and loveable, it’s being said and done and can’t be contradicted. I can yield, accept. Understanding this has overturned all the bad I’d been told about myself ever since I was little. And the baseless anger that had been eating at me for several months has just dissolved. I have become more patient and kind. I have totally quit bashing myself for anything and everything. And I have decided to love no matter what. Me. Others. Often expressed in just a smile, or even merely a pleasant expression. And in return I’ve had such blessings.
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.
Hey, hey! Today's Your Daily Lift (a two minute podcast by Christian Science lecturers, airing five days a week) tells the story of something amazing that happened on a road trip in the north of England.
You can click one the sheep below to find it in English or in French. Also available is an expanded text of the lift in this blog post.
What makes the healing prayer taught in Christian Science distinct from other types of prayer for healing? Mary Baker Eddy devotes an entire book - Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures - to this question. Specifically, page 12 clears up some of the fog and mystery surrounding Christian Science prayer. Interestingly, the discussion begins with a statement of what it is not. The healing prayer practiced in Christian Science is not a human “mind over matter” blind faith-cure method.
Mrs. Eddy writes, “‘The prayer of faith shall save the sick,’ says the Scripture. What is this healing prayer? A mere request that God will heal the sick has no power to gain more of the divine presence than is already at hand.”
If we use prayer something like a balloon or emergency flare we send up, - “Hey, I could really use some help over here on my problem,” - where is God in this prayer? Circling around somewhere outside the problem, needing our help through prayer to find it and fix it?
Holding sickness at the center of a case and bringing God to it indicates a misunderstanding of the Everpresent One. Spiritual healing involves correcting misperceptions of the who and what and where of God. God is the infinite All – the one reality, power, presence. If we are holding onto a problem, or a disease, to be one fixed reality, which we hope another reality, our God, will come to heal – this is a human “mind over matter" blind faith-cure attempt.
Sometimes faith-cures have positive physical results and sometimes very negative. It all depends on the strength of the human will of the healer acting through his blind belief. But whether the results are good are not, there is no guarantee they will be permanent. And if one’s spiritual understanding of the one reality as God, or Good, isn’t growing, the case can be left in a worse state than before, vulnerable to any new belief – regardless of the appearance of a physical improvement.
As Mrs. Eddy says, "The common custom of praying for the recovery of the sick finds help in blind belief, whereas help should come from enlightened understanding. Changes in belief may go on indefinitely, but they are the merchandise of human thought and not the outgrowth of divine Science."
When it comes to the healing prayer taught in Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy makes an important distinction between a blind belief - holding limited human thoughts about God - and the total yielding to divine Principle, to the Science of God and man, in the human understanding. Mrs. Eddy puts blind belief completely outside of the practice of Christian Science when she explains, “It is neither Science nor Truth which acts through blind belief, nor is it the human understanding of the divine healing Principle as manifested in Jesus, whose humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth, - of man’s likeness to God and of man’s unity with Truth and Love.”
There we have Mary Baker Eddy’s statement of what constitutes the Christian Science practice of healing prayer, “the human understanding of the divine healing Principle as manifested in Jesus, whose humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth, - of man’s likeness to God and of man’s unity with Truth and Love.”
Jesus’ theology of the perfection and spirituality of man as the likeness to perfect Spirit who is God, and of man as inseparable from Truth and Love, heals. When one protests for, affirms with well-reasoned understanding, the truth of God and man, healing is the natural outcome. Health is the outward evidence of an inner truth. Prayer doesn’t change reality, or exchange one form of reality for another. It is the confirmation of Truth’s, God’s presence and the permanence of health in God’s creation. Healing prayer affirms what is real and true, and physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing confirms the truth.
Jesus said, “To this end was I born… that I should bear witness unto the Truth.” (John 18:37)The same goes for each one of us. Healing is normal to the Christ. It is not a special talent or unique dispensation given to some and denied to others. Christian healing – Christian Science healing - is the natural confirmation of God’s presence and power – His Christ - here and now reflected in us.
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I was standing in the grocery store one day feeling pushed by the clock. And grumpy. And the person in front of me was being rude to the checkout clerk. The clerk was trying to keep his cool, but was starting to lose it, too. My thought? "Well I would pray about this, but I don't really have time. I will do it later when I get home."
The thing was, I had been saying that all day. Not only had I neglected praying for myself for lack of time, but I was pushing off all kinds of things. "I would do this, or I should do that, but I don't have time. I will get to it later." And the time kept passing, and the pressure kept building, and my mood - along with the attitude of all those around me - was deteriorating.
As things continued heating up in front of me, I starting looking around the store for an escape route to a shorter, less volatile line. A sign over head caught my eye: Self Checkout. Without budging an inch, I chuckled, thinking, "That is probably what is needed more than anything else - a moment of self-examination!"
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