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Alone? Or alone with God?

From The Christian Science Journal - December 25, 2013

When we’re by ourselves, are we really alone, or is God always with us?

Christ Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son provides a useful tool to answer this very question (see Luke 15:11-32). The story focuses on a son who felt that he was completely able to deal with life on his own terms and outside of his father’s care. Longing to be on his own, he requested his inheritance from his father, received it, and squandered it away.

The son had quite a time of it, but then subsequently made a mess of things. But the Bible tells us “he came to himself” (verse 17). This is one of my favorite lines in the story! To me it says that the son mentally woke up to realize he didn’t have to go it alone. He had a change of mind and heart that redirected the downward-spiraling course of his life. He recognized what had always been true—he was not alone. His father had never stopped being “there” for him. His father had never stopped loving and supporting him unconditionally.

His “I can and want to do it myself” attitude did not have the last word. Turning to his father in humility and repentance, the son was received with joy, compassion, and a kiss. His father gave him a robe, a ring, shoes, and a bountiful reception. And the son was restored to his rightful place in the family.

Jesus’ parable is more than just a good piece of storytelling. It illustrates a spiritual fact. We are never on our own. Our divine Parent is always present, with arms wide open, to guide, guard, help, and heal us.

Contending with the struggles of daily life, we sometimes might be tempted to feel quite solitary, and that things are bleak. But the prodigal’s story shows that thought can move beyond isolating attitudes. The self-focused “it all depends on me” or “it’s all about me” frame of thinking interferes with one’s ability to feel God’s presence. To find progress, healing, and peace, thought must move beyond a false sense of self to an understanding of the all-present and dependable God, our Father-Mother, who is divine Love. This understanding necessarily includes an appreciation of our unbreakable and coexistent relationship with our divine Parent, as His essential expression.

The Scriptures tell us that man is known by God as His image and likeness (see Genesis 1:26, 27). And in Christian Science we learn that man is the idea of divine Mind. We can trust in our inseparable and inviolate oneness with Him. Our understanding of this spiritual truth serves not as a last resort, but as a first recourse when we might feel alone.

Mary Baker Eddy, a devout student of the Bible, discovered the Science of Christ Jesus’ teachings. For instance,  she writes this about Jesus’ statement from John 10:30: “ ‘I and my Father are one,’—that is, one in quality, not in quantity. As a drop of water is one with the ocean, a ray of light one with the sun, even so God and man, Father and son, are one in being” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 361). And the book of Acts says, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (17:28).

By divine design, we are each created with the spiritual capacity to turn to the waiting arms of Love.

To understand our direct relationship with divine Love, to be “alone with God,” is to know that His love never lets us down. By divine design, we are each created with the spiritual capacity to turn to the waiting arms of Love. Divine Love is ever present and all-powerful. When we seek out Love, God—purely, humbly, honestly—it is normal to feel Love’s welcome and comfort. It is normal to feel loved and satisfied.

Just before the crucifixion, Jesus faced this question of aloneness in the garden of Gethsemane (see Matthew 26:36-45, New King James Version). About to face the greatest challenge of his life, Jesus asked his disciples to watch with him—to pray with him—while he went off on his own to pray. When he came back, he found them sleeping. Again, he asked them to watch in prayer. And again, they were discovered in a deep sleep. His cry, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?” (verse 40), to me points to the isolation and lack of human support he must have felt.

Yet even though those he loved were unable to stand watch with him, Jesus recognized that we can never truly be alone. He let his disciples sleep , then went to pray again (verses 43, 44), taking up his conversation alone with God, his loving Father-Mother, who would not abandon him in his hour of need.

A hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal sheds light on the support, guidance, and care that we can find in God’s perpetual presence:

God is with me, and His presence
 Shall my perfect guidance be,
Till my heart that peace inherit
 God alone can give to me.
His all-power
 Helps and heals, and sets me free.
(Theodore C. Williams, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 81, Adapt. © CSBD)

Within that forever relationship with God we are all secure and are never alone.

Diane Marrapodi is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher living in Forest Hill, Maryland.

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