It was one of those autumn days when it's just too nice not to be outside. The winter firewood was in, but I'd spotted a tree that had been dead for a while, so I decided to take it out while the wood was still hard.
I'm usually more than careful not to be on the downhill side of a tree when cutting it up. But this time I was in the wrong place when the fifty-foot log broke loose. A piece of branch snagged me and pulled me under as the log began to roll. I clearly remember vigorously denying what appeared to be happening. A statement in Science and Health flooded my thought. It follows shortly after the marginal heading "Remedy for accidents." "Declare that you are not hurt and understand the reason why . . .," it says. Science and Health, p. 397.
God's creation is good; it doesn't include vulnerability.
For about a half hour, I lay there and actively thought about "the reason why" part of that statement. I prayed to see more clearly that God's creation is good, free of distress, perfect and whole. It's not vulnerable. I knew that this truth, the spiritual reality of existence, was practical.
Though the injury appeared severe, I was finally able to get back to my Jeep and drive down the hill to our home. I held fast to a growing inner conviction of why I was "not hurt"—because the perfection of God and His creation was the fact, and I could let that fact be true in my heart. This conviction, together with good care from my wife, led to such progress that it looked as though the healing was going to be rapid. With hindsight, I think I can see why it took months instead of days.
The pain receded and I began to walk again. I was recovering quickly those first few days. But then the emphasis in my thought shifted from understanding why I was not hurt to praying mainly for a speedy recovery! The rapid progress substantially slowed. I was, of course, very grateful after a few months to be completely healed. An outside observer might even have thought of it as a miracle. Yet I don't believe the healing had to take even those few months. In fact, I don't think such an incident needs to occur at all if we discern enough of what is implied in rejecting the very concept of hurt and understanding the reason why we can reject it.
Countless people over the last century have been healed through the explanation Science and Health gives of God's omnipotent goodness and ever-present, loving care. They have understood to some extent the truth that pain and sickness are awful illusions of the human mind, not facts of divine reality. Many healings based on this understanding have defied medical predictions. Thousands of testimonies of healing have been published in the Christian Science periodicals. The testifiers have, of course, been very grateful for their healings. Yet those who are healed in Christian Science are more likely to see these cures not simply in terms of a physical change but as a wonderful outcome of freshly discovering God's reality—the spiritual and only reality. Theirs is a growing perception of God that lasts.
A case might be made that these thousands of healings are a modest accomplishment compared to all the problems that, through this perception of spiritual reality, simply have not developed or have been nipped in the bud so quickly that no healing, in the usual sense, was needed. One gentleman stood and apologized at a Wednesday evening testimony meeting at church, saying that because he had been so free of difficulties lately, he didn't have a healing to share!
Many people have benefited enormously from daily study of the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's writings, along with specific prayer to shelter their homes and families. It's understandable, then, that Christian Scientist parents feel they are providing for their children not only the best method of treating illness, but the best method of protecting them from illness and other kinds of difficulties. It's natural for these parents to care daily for their children's well-being through prayer. And why is this prayer such a valuable protection? It has to do with what prayer shows us, and enables us to prove, about reality.
God is Love—nurturing, sheltering Her children.
When Science and Health urges its readers to understand "why" they are not hurt, it's certainly pointing them toward looking deeper than outward appearances. Even if everything is fine and all appears well, we can still look deeper. We can understand that the reason all is well is not because material circumstances seem OK. It's because God is All. The one, infinite God is Love, cherishing Her children, nurturing Her creation. Can you imagine a more profound description of God's motherly, tender preservation of our well-being than this one from the book of Isaiah? "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands." Isa. 49:16. God's care provides a true sheltering from vulnerability to harmful material conditions.
Human events don't have the last word; God does. That's why discords can be dissolved. An understanding of God is curative. God has the final say, and it's always good. In fact, God not only has the last word, but He has the first. The Bible puts it this way: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." Rev. 1:8.
This is why perceiving God's allness is not only curative but preventive. God is All, truly All. And His allness has uninterrupted continuity—from beginning to end. A developing discernment of this truth strengthens us to prevent the hurts of mortality.
But wait a minute. Is the purpose of discovering spiritual reality to cure matter? Or to prevent its discomforts? Those questions deserve some sorting out. They take us right back to the "why" issue. To understand "why" we can never be hurt is to understand that in absolute fact there is no matter to harm us. But it also means realizing that there is no matter to help us. Spirit, God, is the only true substance. Any help or harm we receive from what we call matter rests on mistaken belief, not Truth. Understanding the deceptive nature of matter, we'll do more than deny it when it appears to hurt us. We'll do more than relax in it when it appears to make us happy. We'll start thinking more seriously about what it means to waken out of the belief in matter, out of the false conviction that it's our substance, that it can help or hurt us. This is really what I should have been doing more of when the pain abated and I began to feel some relief. Don't get me wrong. I'm extremely grateful for the healing. It's just that so much more was at stake.
We need to start with Spirit. And we need to finish with Spirit. God, Spirit, is All, the beginning and the end, the only substance of the universe. Spirit is the Father and Mother of all true action, the source and essence of all genuine power, the only real presence. Spirit, which is the divine Mind, outlines existence without restrictions, without mortality. Matter is the opposite. It is the human mind's flawed and limited outline of reality. It is a portrayal of the human mind's fear that there is something less, something more, something other than God's universal perfection and our expression of this perfection. But the human mind is wrong. Matter is nothing. No thing at all.
This is what we outgrow. Not truth or reality, but the outlines of fear, ignorance, uncertainty, doubts. As these are outgrown, a limited and limiting sense of existence recedes. The confining nature of matter loses its appearance of reality. Spirituality, with all its freedom and purity, is seen as substance, as Truth.
Take seriously the possibility of living in spiritual reality now.
We can be deeply grateful that when we understand we are not hurt, distressing mortal conditions can give way. We can be thankful that our lives can be lived increasingly free from hurt. But most important, we can begin to understand the deepest significance of the Bible's promise ". . . nothing shall by any means hurt you." Luke 10:19.
In God's ever-presence there is no hurt. If we're willing to admit that Spirit is All and matter is nothing, we'll take more seriously the possibility of here and now living in spiritual reality rather than in a material dream—even a dream where hurts can be fixed or prevented. We can do better than being free of hurt. We can do better than preventing hurts. We can progressively break free of the belief in mortal existence and see that we always live in God's perfection. Then the cures will be quicker, the preventions will be fuller, the reality will grow clearer.
And how far away is this reality? Science and Health comments on St. John's revelation of "a new heaven and a new earth." He saw this pure existence as here, not somewhere else. He saw it as now, not later. Science and Health points to the certain appearing of this reality: "There will be no more pain, and all tears will be wiped away. When you read this, remember Jesus' words, 'The kingdom of God is within you.' This spiritual consciousness is therefore a present possibility." Science and Health, pp. 573-574.
Thou art my hiding place;
thou shalt preserve me from trouble.
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