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Pray with what you do know!

From the November 2017 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Many realize that we can’t demonstrate, or prove, what we don’t understand, neither do we understand what we don’t demonstrate. Understanding and demonstration go hand in hand and are essential to each other. Not only do they go together, but they grow together. 

Take our understanding of God. As we apply and prove what we know of God, that understanding naturally grows, as do our proofs of His almighty goodness. Like a tree whose roots spread further as the tree grows taller, we find our understanding of God going deeper as our demonstrations go higher.

No one I know of has ever been helped by bemoaning how little they know of God. But thousands have been healed by utilizing what they do know of Him—even if it’s just one thing! 

When I was five years old, I got lost in an unfamiliar town on a family trip. Taking what I’d learned of God—that He is a loving Shepherd—and sticking with what I remembered of the twenty-third Psalm, I reasoned, “God is beside me, so I can’t be afraid. He’ll lead me.” And He did. I turned left, though it didn’t seem logical, and saw my parents coming down the sidewalk. We found each other.

What that early incident proved to me was that it’s not how much we know of God that counts, but what we do with what we know of Him! You’d think I’d have remembered that lesson well, but as time went on, it faded from memory. But it came back to me and awakened me when, grown up, married, and with children, I was becoming an earnest student of Christian Science. I loved learning more of God in my study each day, learning of His ever-presence, almightiness, goodness, constancy, consistency, invariableness. Yet, instead of demonstrating more each day, I just kept waiting. And waiting. Waiting for something “just my size”—big enough to bother praying about, but not “too big” for me. Looking back on it, I refer to that period as my “Goldilocks” phase (as if there is such a thing!)—waiting for a problem “just right” to come along, a problem I could handle. You probably guessed it: No such problem came along. 

I clung to that promise and what I did know of Truth, God.

But God woke me up! In fact, I remember the very day. Faced with a number of severe challenges, each one seeming way too big for me, I was studying like one cramming for a test—trying to get enough understanding to be able to tackle them, but feeling that day was far off. Then my thoughts were illumined by this promise Mary Baker Eddy makes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “If the student adheres strictly to the teachings of Christian Science and ventures not to break its rules, he cannot fail of success in healing” (p. 448). I loved that! It didn’t say “the better, brighter, or more experienced student,” it just said “the student.” That meant any and every student, so it included me. Then it mentioned only two things: 1) “adheres strictly to the teachings of Christian Science” (nothing at all about knowing everything there is to know; this said to me to just stick to what you do know), and 2) “ventures not to break its rules” (“ventures not” to me spoke of motive—wanting to do it God’s way, not your own, and giving careful attention to God’s rules as you learn them).

Both those seemed doable. And the promise was that the student “cannot fail of success in healing.” I clung to that promise and what I did know of Truth, God.

The next day I began swimming lessons at the YMCA. The first words out of the instructor’s mouth had to do with the law of flotation and buoyancy. Then she jumped in the water and demonstrated this for us. From that moment on, I wasn’t afraid of the water. That evening my husband asked how swimming went. When I shared the content of my lesson with him, he (a physics major in college) answered, “Oh, yes, that’s Archimedes’ law of buoyancy,” then quoted that law word for word. 

Before bed that night I read this: “Let Christian Science, instead of corporeal sense, support your understanding of being, and this understanding will supplant error with Truth, replace mortality with immortality, and silence discord with harmony” (Science and Health, p. 495). Now (thanks in part to my swimming lesson) that came alive for me! 

Here’s what it said to me: Christian Science is God’s law of His own allness, and it will uphold me (I’d been thinking I had to hold it up). And, just as I didn’t have to know everything there was to know about Archimedes’ law of buoyancy, or be able to quote it verbatim, in order to be safe in the water, neither did I have to know everything there is to know in Christian Science to be upheld by it. I just had to know that it is law—divine law, invariable, based on Principle—and I could trust it to uphold me when I obeyed its rules. Suddenly, I felt buoyant. 

Starting right then, I took what I did know of God, especially that He is Love—unceasing, unstoppable Love—and strove to reason from that great fact with every thought and apply it in every detail of my life and to every situation. The thoughts in my reasoning went something like this: “Because God is Love and always present, I couldn’t possibly ever find myself in any circumstance too hard for me. Being a loving Father-Mother, He’s always giving us everything we need (including every single thought needed). And, since Love is infinite—filling all space—I could never be outside of God’s constant loving care.” Soon healings on all fronts came. And my spiritual growth continued.

I thought back to my algebra days in high school. Each day the teacher would explain a new concept, then assign us problems to work out. The answers were in the back of the book, but we had to do the actual work—apply what we’d just learned. Had we not demonstrated that concept, we would not have truly understood it. By demonstrating it, we made it our own. Ever since then, this has helped me face problems that have come along in my life, knowing God is right there with me, well-equipping me to work them out and grow spiritually.

Also, I gave much thought to Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered the law of Christian Science. Much as Archimedes couldn’t at first verbalize the law he’d glimpsed, but had to study to understand it, so Mrs. Eddy, when healed of serious injuries, came to realize there were divine laws behind Jesus’ healings—laws that could be proved. They were scientific, based on Principle, and demonstrable. All she knew at the time of her healing was that after reading one of Jesus’ healings from the Bible, she’d glimpsed that “Life in and of Spirit” was “the sole reality of existence” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 24).

Her doctor was incredulous at seeing her up and walking. This healing was instrumental in her discovery of “the Christ Science or divine laws of Life, Truth, and Love” (see Science and Health, pp. 107–110). And for three years after, she “sought the solution of this problem of Mind-healing, searched the Scriptures and read little else, kept aloof from society, and devoted time and energies to discovering a positive rule.” 

During this time, she healed a woman named Mary Gale, who was gravely ill (see Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer, Amplified Edition, pp. 77–78). After the woman was restored to health, one of the doctors asked Mrs. Eddy how she did it. She replied, “I can’t tell you, it was God.” The doctor said, “Why don’t you write it in a book, publish it, and give it to the world?” Later at home, Mrs. Eddy came upon the following passage from the Bible: “Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book” (Jeremiah 30:2).

She did give Christian Science to the world in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The rest of her life was devoted to healing and teaching others to heal by this divine Principle, divine Love, and to founding and nurturing The First Church of Christ, Scientist.

Thanks to Mrs. Eddy giving Christian Science to the world, I’m discovering for myself this divine law of God’s own allness; and since my experience related above, I’ve committed my life to understanding that law better and better, and to demonstrating it, every step along the way. It’s a joyful journey. I invite you to join me in praying with, and proving, what you do already know.

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