One summer our house was completely overrun with fleas. I struggled for months trying different approaches to eliminate the problem, only to have the situation worsen. Then it occurred to me that I had tried everything except prayer to solve this problem. So I turned to the Bible to guide my prayer and came across a curious story of snake infestation.
After fleeing Egypt, Moses and the children of Israel were confronted with an invasion of poisonous snakes in their camp. Many people were bitten and died as a result. Moses prayed and received instruction from God, "Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live." Moses followed that instruction by making a brass serpent and putting it on a pole in the middle of the camp. Those who were bitten, when they looked at the brass serpent, were healed of the poison. (See Numbers 21:4-9)
I wondered what to make of this story. What was it teaching us? My experience has shown that Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy’s writings in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures often clarify mystifying Bible stories. So I did a little research in Science and Health and found this:
"All of God's creatures, moving in the harmony of Science, are harmless, useful, indestructible. A realization of this grand verity was a source of strength to the ancient worthies.” And further along, “The serpent of God's creating is neither subtle nor poisonous, but is a wise idea, charming in its adroitness, for Love's ideas are subject to the Mind which forms them, — the power which changeth the serpent into a staff." (pps.514,515)
Love and Mind are other names for God as explained by Christian Science. The brass serpent on the pole served to remind me that God, the universal divine Mind, is not the cause or creator of pain, sickness or death. But divine Love is the perfect Creator of a perfect and good creation, including all the "creeping things" referred to in Genesis 1 that are deemed to be very good also. Not one idea of Mind can stray from the original design of the creator. I knew that if I turned consistently to the true creation under God’s control, we would find our way free of the infestation problem.
As I prayed, I considered the flea, reasoning that any real flea must be God-caused, permanent and indestructible. So my desire of extermination a flea would be misguided and ineffective. However, to meet the criteria as an idea of Love, God, real fleas would also have to be harmless, useful, and sustained by Love - their true source.
Spiritual reasoning through prayer caused me to look closer at the possibility of a flea having a divine purpose. I didn’t have to know what that purpose was specifically, but I did know that all God’s ideas are good and worthy and welcome in my home. I wasn’t ignoring the general belief that fleas are parasitic pests, but rather I was allowing Mind to give me a better view of real creation under the loving control of Mind. My prayer helped me understand better what God is and does.
I thought of the fun house at a fair with its distorted hall of mirrors. A child enters and suddenly has a twisted view of himself. He may be frightened if he isn’t fully aware that what he sees is only a distorted view of what is real. By looking in a true and correct mirror, he sees a better image and knows all is well. For me, Moses brass serpent teaches that we can seek a clearer image and can reject the suffering that results from a mistaken view of God and God’s creation. This leads to healing.
So that is what I did. All that day I welcomed the divine idea – and ONLY the divine idea - of good in my home. I was willing to house any flea that God made. I rejected parasitic behavior and infestation as a part of a flea or my home. And I rejoiced in my prayer. It gave me a really cool new view of God's creation and expanded the borders of my affection to embrace all that is good and beautiful in a flea. I was treading on new and holy mental ground.
The next morning, the house was clean. No more infestation. Was the divine idea flea still somewhere in the house? All I can say for sure is that the biting, pestering illusion of fleas disappeared as soon as the true idea was held up before my thought in prayer.
Science and Health tells us, "Spirit blesses the multiplication of its own pure and perfect ideas... Their spiritual nature is discerned only through the spiritual senses. Mortal mind inverts the true likeness, and confers animal names and natures upon its own misconceptions."
I have learned that a spiritual sense of reality, revealed through prayer, can correct the mistake of a mortal mind or limited, distorted view of God and His ideas. We don’t have to put up with pests. Prayer that holds up the true idea of Love’s creating - - in which every creature and element fulfills its holy purpose and is very good – can bring the needed 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