One summer a number of years ago, a couple of friends invited me to spend a week with them at their vacation condo in Portugal. I was delighted to go, but by the time we arrived, I was feeling very ill with widespread pain and extreme fatigue. I was not up to doing any of the fun activities they had planned; all I wanted was to rest and pray. Rather than being disappointed, my friends (who are Christian Scientists) were very supportive. I was grateful that they welcomed quiet time themselves, too.
I spent the next few days praying earnestly with help from a Christian Science practitioner, but the illness worsened. To encourage me, my friends shared a book with me—The Ultimate Freedom, by John H. Wyndham. It’s the story of a Christian Scientist who was captured in Asia during World War II and imprisoned. In solitary confinement with no hope of rescue, this young man reached out to God for help and was given a clear direction from God: “Control thought.” He understood the message as a command to shut the door of his consciousness against every evil thought—every suggestion of fear, resentment, hate—and focus entirely on God, good. He carved the initials “C.T.” on the wall of his cell as a reminder.
As he struggled to discipline his thinking moment by moment, a more spiritual sense of life began to dawn on him. He saw that the battle was not with people or circumstances, but with his own mentality. His imprisonment became an adventure in demonstrating real, spiritual freedom. After a few months, he was released from solitary confinement in a cell and moved to a prison camp with much more freedom and better conditions. He remained a prisoner of war for three years. After the war, he went on to live a fruitful life, eventually becoming a Christian Science practitioner, lecturer, and teacher.