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The resolve of Love

From the November 2012 issue of The Christian Science Journal

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There is a great deal of power in spiritual resolve. This precious quality of thought courageously affirms that God is all good, and sticks to it! Spiritual resolve is harvested from the soil of humility, which surrenders what we think we see and know, for what God is and does. Unlike zealousness, resolve comes from a steady, sturdy, and meek confidence in God as all-powerful, and as always operating on our behalf. 

The Bible has an abundance of stories and verses that illustrate this spiritual single-mindedness. For instance, the Psalmist said, “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalms 119:89). Praying with that verse quiets any objection of the material senses to God’s healing power and makes room in thought for the spiritual truths that are absolute and final.

Other examples in the Bible include the prophet Elisha, who resolved to see the widow in plenty rather than in want (see II Kings 4:1–7). Jacob at Peniel resolutely argued for his spiritual status as a child of God, rather than as a flawed mortal under the yoke of material burdens he had endured (see Genesis 32:24–30). On the road to Damascus, Paul discovered his true self and purpose as he relinquished “the old man”—misled and off-course—and resolved to be led by the Christ (see Acts 9:1–20). In the lives of each of these men, their spiritual sense predominated over what the material senses were presenting. 

Mary Baker Eddy, a devout follower of Christ Jesus, and the discoverer of Christian Science, wrote about how powerful spiritual resolve is. She affirmed, “There is divine authority for believing in the superiority of spiritual power over material resistance” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 134). This “divine authority” is the immutable law of God, the unopposable influence of the Christ, Truth. With great courage, one can resolve to recognize only this divine authority when praying to eradicate sin, sickness, and death from one’s experience.

There is a further important point about resolve. In the scriptural accounts of healing by the Master, Christ Jesus, two things often go hand in hand: his spiritual determination, or resolve, and his compassionate care and love. He embodied spiritual power, which included the tenderest, ministering love. Remembering that resolve has its basis in God as divine Principle, and that compassion is also based in God as divine Love, we see their inseparability. So, it is well for the practitioner of Christian Science to remember to balance the boldness of spiritual resolve with the tenderness of compassion.

I once had a case that brought the need to balance these important elements. It was a case in which I was both the patient and the practitioner. 

There is a great deal of power in spiritual resolve. This precious quality of thought courageously affirms that God is all good, and sticks to it!

A very painful growth appeared on my back. From my experience in practicing Christian Science, I’ve noticed that when a physical condition appears, mortal mind can try to leap in and offer reasons for it. We may be tempted to try to find a connection between some sin and the bodily disorder. But I have found there is a more direct route to eradicating evil, and that is to go right to spiritual truth. If a sin is uncovered as Christian Science treatment is given, we have the opportunity to deny and destroy it, but giving erroneous evidence support by assigning a cause to it, can often make more work of the case than is necessary. The transformation that is inevitable in every healing is some shift from matter to Spirit as reality. Mrs. Eddy directs, “Treat a belief in sickness as you would sin, with sudden dismissal” (Science and Health, p. 218).

For instance, a man called me not too long ago, very upset. He said he’d discovered a small pool of blood in his kitchen, where his beloved dog takes a nap. He then told me that on a walk the night before, the dog had eaten something foreign to him, and this man was sure the problem had developed because of what his dog had eaten. I assured him that God was caring for him, quieting his fears, as well as caring for his dear pet. I began to pray. 

A little while later, the man called back, and tearfully, but joyfully, told me that he calmed down after our chat and later went into the kitchen and found another small pool of blood, but in a place so narrow his dog could not possibly have fit. To his surprise, as he was cleaning it up, he realized that it was not blood at all, but juice from a package of cranberries that had been thawing in the door of his fridge! We both had a good laugh at the trickery of mortal mind and its so-called “evidence.”

In my case, the thought rushed in that perhaps this bump on my back was the result of a beach vacation I’d been on a few weeks previously. I dismissed it, however, since I knew this was an attempt of mortal mind to prop up a lie. The belief that sunshine causes skin problems and damage is widely believed to be law. But the truth is that the sun, a symbol of Soul, could never cause misery or harm to what it shines on. The Bible says, “The Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory” (Psalms 84:11). 

There was so much discomfort involved that I had to be somewhat of a nurse as well—tenderly, compassionately, and gently bathing and dressing myself. Yet at the same time I had to firmly insist that I could not be forced to “baby” error or accommodate it. 

One day in the bath, a wonderful sense of resolve welled up in my thought, and along with it came that well-known rebuke to Satan that Jesus used when he was tempted in the wilderness: “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Luke 4:8). I recognized the nature of the rebuke in the command, but for the first time I noticed also the love expressed in it as a desire to worship God and serve Him only.

I noted that this belief was indeed “behind me,” and that I could not be tempted to notice it, monitor it, feel for it, or, in fact, feel it. I knew the love of God is all there is to feel and notice. 

Around this time, my husband and I were planning to take two of our grandchildren on a trip for several days. I momentarily considered packing band-aids to cover the spot, but then thought differently. I wasn’t planning to bring an incorrect concept of myself with me, so I knew I wouldn’t need the band-aids. The thought came to me from Genesis that I did not need “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). And, in fact, sometime over the holiday week, I became aware that there was no more discomfort. I refrained, though, from touching the area or inspecting it. I knew I had already left it behind. Months later, I was aware that there was simply no trace of the condition.

I later came across a lovely passage in the chapter of Fruitage in Science and Health, which is filled with accounts of people healed by reading the book. One writer makes an important point: “For a long time I was always looking back to see if the error had gone, until one day when I realized that to catch a glimpse of what spiritual sense means I must put corporeal sense behind me. I then set to work in earnest to find the true way” (pp. 668–669).

That “true way” is to lean on one’s spiritual resolve—to practice the compassionate authority that is in Christ, always looking to divine Principle for every strong truth, while at the same time to divine Love for tender assurance.

Rebecca Odegaard is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher who lives in western Massachusetts and teaches in New York City.

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