In the book of Acts, we read that “a certain man lame from his mother’s womb” was placed at the temple gate every day so he could spend the day begging worshipers for small gifts (see 3:1–11). Jesus’ disciples Peter and John were on their way for an hour of prayer when he asked them for a donation. Peter asked the lame man to look at them, and he did, with expectation. “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” Peter lifted up the lame man, who immediately received strength in his feet and ankles and walked. He then went with Peter and John into the temple (previously forbidden to him because of his deformity), leaping and praising God. You can picture his sheer delight.
There was a time when I needed a new place to live, but I was struggling with a lack of finances. In studying this story, I asked myself, “Am I believing that I have become ‘lame,’ so to speak, unable to be adequately productive so I can care for myself and my children? Am I laid at the gate of the temple, feeling helpless and asking for handouts? Do I feel unworthy to enter into the temple?”
I knew the answer to each of these questions should be “No.” But I decided to think through each one to understand better why the answer is “No.”
Am I believing that I have become “lame,” unable to be productive? Was I once unfettered and able to accomplish what I needed to, and now I couldn’t? In Christian Science, we look at the true record of creation as spiritual. This verse from Genesis 1 has become a helpful guide for me: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (verse 27). According to this account, then, I am created whole, complete, and spiritual, since God is whole, complete, and spiritual. This truth cannot change. It is God-given and permanent.
Am I unable to adequately take care of my children? God is my Father-Mother and my children’s Father-Mother. My ability to care for my children comes from Him. While this includes meeting physical needs, such as shelter, I saw that we all are sheltered spiritually. This shelter is infinite and everlasting because God’s care for us is infinite and everlasting.
Am I laid at the gate of the temple feeling helpless and asking for handouts? This can’t be. As God’s beloved child, I cannot be helpless. Psalm 121 puts it this way: “My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (verse 2). Since my help comes from God, it must be abundant, plentiful. Therefore, as His child, I am capable, able to help myself and others. I am receiving help all the time from my heavenly Father.
Do I feel unworthy to enter into the temple? Sometimes I feel as though I’m not as good or worthy as someone else. But this cannot be true. Each of us is His child, worthy of His love. The Apostle Paul says, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16, 17). This is a permanent heritage. It doesn’t fluctuate. It doesn’t come and go. So, each of us is worthy to enter into the “temple,” the holy consciousness where we worship God.
Peter made it clear that healing the lame man was not a personal gift from himself, but it came about in the name of Christ Jesus. The Christ message still says to us, “I am not giving you silver and gold, but I am giving you healing.” I needed to “look up”—to be receptive to Christ’s healing spirit. Peter took the man by the hand and lifted him up, and immediately he was strong in his feet and ankles. No recuperative period was necessary. The account states, “And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.” Everyone around saw this healing. Peter makes it clear to the observers that it was God who brought about the healing, as Christ Jesus illustrated so often with his healings. This healing became a teachable moment for the lame man and the observers.
By understanding better that the Christ is always present to show me the way, I knew I could turn earnestly to the Christ for healing. Then, every time a belief of limitation presented itself, or the thought that I was helpless reared its head, I could confidently say “No.” I stopped the defeatist thinking and became conscious of the unlimited goodness of God, our Father, with Christ showing me how to move forward.
This was not easy. My financial circumstances indicated that what I was hoping to do would be impossible for me. But whenever the situation seemed hopeless, I thought of that dear lame man. What he needed actually wasn’t silver and gold; it was the confident awareness of the Christ-healing that meets every one of our needs.
When Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” (p. 494), this isn’t a qualified statement. It isn’t saying most human needs, or a few human needs, or the human needs of people two thousand years ago. It is saying every human need, and it is saying that the need is always met.
My daughter, who was a single parent of three teenagers, was praying with me. As we increasingly relied on our Father’s guidance and as I increasingly felt the Christ showing me how I should go, the way did open for me to help myself, my precious family, and others. I was able to secure a mortgage on a small house in a nice area with a nearby school that would be suitable for teenagers, and my daughter and her children were able to move in with me. The way was unexpected and didn’t come when I thought it should come. The way that opened up was even better than I had anticipated and brought even more blessings than I had imagined. I no longer felt lame. I no longer felt helpless or unworthy. I was able to stand up and go forward.
From this experience, I learned to keep looking up—keep raising my thought to accept the Christ-healing. Then, I can go forward, joyously leaping and praising God.
South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, US