REMEMBER THE TRUST, security, and peace many of us felt as children? Our parents looked out for us, guided us, and kept us safe. At times we may feel a desire to go back and be a child again or to know that someone is caring for us. While we, of course, can't go back in time, we can never lose the childlike qualities—the child-heart, as a hymn puts it—that are our spiritual inheritance from our divine parent.
A verse from the hymn says:
Trust the Eternal, and repent in meekness
Of that heart's pride which frowns and will not
Then to thy child-heart shall come strength in
And thine immortal life shall be revealed.
(William P. McKenzie, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 359)
But what exactly is a child-heart? To me it means the ability to recognize the presence and power of God's goodness. To have that childlike state of thought that urges us to "trust all to God, the Father,/Confide thou in none other," as another hymn says (Paul Gerhardt, Hymnal, No. 361).
What are a few of these qualities that constitute our child-heart? We know them: anticipation, expectation, joy, confidence, courage, trust, hope, innocence, and receptivity. Children seem to trust innately from the earliest moments. They naturally respond to love, care, and nurturing, and they rely on it. Joy, or the expectation of good, is another important childlike quality. A children's CD sold in Christian Science Reading Rooms features a fun song entitled "3 Steps and a Bounce." Some of the Iyrics are about jumping for joy. When I talk with my four-year-old grand-daughter on the phone, I always ask her if she is jumping for joy, and of course she answers, "Yes." This is a silly question—since a child's walking often appears as jumping—but one may wonder how we get that spring in our step that children have so naturally. Doesn't it come from the expectation of good, from claiming the allness of God's goodness and looking for that good even when it doesn't seem to be in our experience?
As adults, we may yearn to have a big lap to crawl into where we can let go of our problems. Sometimes, we may fall into the trap of thinking "another day, another dollar." There may even be a temptation to feel as if we've lost those childlike qualities that are a part of our spiritual heritage. But the truth is that we can never lose these qualities because they are forever ours as God's children.
In the book of Romans, Paul says, "The gift of God is eternal life" (6:23). Since man is the reflection of God, His idea must be ageless, expressing eternal life. We are always experiencing newness, freshness, and joy because we reflect God. The suggestion that we are worn out, or that we have lost our childlike qualities would never enter the thought of God, Life, so it can't enter our thought, or belong to us as Mind's ideas. That suggestion can no more be a part of our thought than a mirage can become part of the road. It needs to be challenged as a lie—an illusion—and replaced with the freshness and vitality of Life that is naturally ours as God's creation.
MEETING YOUR ADVERSARY
The suggestion that we are on a time continuum and will eventually lose our vitality is an adversary—a thought that is an enemy to the truth that life is eternal. Jesus tells us to meet our adversary quickly. And he met this adversary unequivocally with the words, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). This statement totally removes man from the limits of time, and places him in eternal Life, where he has always been. Eternal life is our divine right, and we claim this right by listening, with vigilance, to what God is telling us about His creation. The recognition that His goodness fills every moment, and that life is ageless and eternal, is the truth that meets the adversary of time quickly. And it makes it impossible to have a dour outlook on life.
When my granddaughter started to talk, she began with two words: "Yeah" and "Yuck." Everything was quickly categorized with one of those words. Spilled milk was "yuck" and going to the park was "yeah." I learned, with her help, to meet my adversary quickly and classify it as "yuck" and then move on to what was the "yeah" in that situation. If we begin to feel the symptoms of a cold, we can classify it as "yuck" instead of ruminating, or wondering where it came from, and focus on the "yeah," or the way God sees us as His image and likeness.
Having a child-heart—or childlike qualities—means we don't have to ruminate about evil once it's brought to light, whether in the form of pessimism, discouragement, inflexibility, or even ill health. Goodness, and all that word implies, doesn't come and go. It is not variable; it is constant. A passage in the book of James explains it this way, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (1:17).
When my children were little, they would quickly move on from an argument. Often after one, I would sulk when they would be off happily playing, having put the argument behind them. Instead of ruminating, we, too, can move on from any trial and turn with joy and childlike expectancy to the good at hand.
EVERY DAY IS NEW
As we grow up, we may not feel like jumping for joy about another new day, but flexibility and energy come to us as our thought of "daily" changes from uninspired routine to the expectancy of new blessings. Nehemiah said it succinctly: "The God of heaven, he will prosper us" (Neh. 2:20). Mrs. Eddy also assured, "Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness" (Science and Health, p. 246). In the same passage she explained that we are "always beautiful and grand." This is true because our Father is always beautiful and grand, and He is constantly expressing in us His wisdom, beauty, and holiness.
I remember when my children were small, they would open a Christmas present, play with it, and not focus on the other presents under the tree. They took great joy in the present good; not in the accumulation of good, but in the single evidence of good they had right then. They had not yet allowed fear of the future, or doubt of the continuity of good to mar or diminish the good at hand. Like a cat lying in the warm sun, they would contentedly soak up the warmth of divine Love that is always present.
Mrs. Eddy began her book Science and Health with the sentence, "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings" (p. vii). It's natural to lean on the sustaining infinite since, as His image, His emanation, we have no choice. An image in a mirror cannot lean on or depend on anything other than the object in front of the mirror for its identity. Because we are the expression of God, His blessings are waiting for us and we can claim them each day.
PERMANENT RESIDENTS OF HEAVEN
Each time we pray, "Our Father which art in heaven," we are claiming we have a child-heart—those childlike qualities from God. And since our Father is Spirit, it is clear His child must be spiritual. Children wake up knowing their needs are met. They know they're loved and cared for; that their parents are there to help them. We, too, have our divine Parent to help us to turn each task into a blessing.
When children are learning how to walk, they may fall down many times, but they always pick themselves up. There's no discouragement, no weariness, no despair, just excitement about the new skill they are learning and a willingness to work on that skill. Claiming, understanding, and practicing our childlike qualities include being receptive to good, quickly dismissing anything unlike good, and finding joy in the present good. It means putting dedicated energy into pursuing our spiritual heritage and understanding our inseparable relationship with our divine Father. We can do this with confidence because God has made us for Himself, as His witness, the Bible tells us. Jesus said, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father" (John 16:28). Though it may appear as if we are crossing a bridge to claim our spiritual heritage, we innately understand that we have never left heaven. Childlike qualities are ours as our natural way of thinking and acting.
The phrase "Our Father" means we are His children; that can never be taken away from us. The qualities that constitute our child-heart help us to eagerly look for the good in our lives each day and claim our inseparable relationship with God. We can jump for joy knowing that these qualities are our spiritual inheritance from our divine Parent—forever.
Elizabeth Crecelius Schwartz is a Christian Science practitioner. She lives in Menlo Park, California.
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