We hear these phrases so often: “In this post-9/11 world … .” “In the nuclear age … .” “In the digital age … .”
When I hear phrases like those, it feels as if they’re usually meant to explain why things are the way they are today, and what we can therefore expect “today” to look like. Similarly, I hear people say things such as: “Ever since I had that accident, I’ve had trouble thinking clearly.” “Since I got older, I can’t remember things as I used to.” “After I quit working out, I gained a lot of weight.”
My study of Christian Science makes it clear to me that those phrases have nothing to do with the reality of Life, God, and God’s idea, man. Since man is “the outcome of God” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 250), man is therefore not the product of time, accident, or lifestyle.
But what hit me recently was this: If I am so sure of that divinely scientific fact with regard to individual health and capabilities, why am I not so sure of it with regard to the world, or society at large? After all, those statements I started off with are not very different in substance from those that followed about individual mental and physical health scenarios. Do I really believe I live in a world where today is governed by yesterday? When I phrased the question like that, the answer was emphatically “No!”
Mary Baker Eddy was insistent about the importance of not allowing the suggestion of a power other than God to take root in thought. In Science and Health she writes, “The despotic tendencies, inherent in mortal mind and always germinating in new forms of tyranny, must be rooted out through the action of the divine Mind” (p. 225). If, as the Bible says, the kingdom of heaven is within us (see Luke 17:21), then that government naturally overrules those “despotic tendencies” that suggest we are subject to terrorism or tyranny of any sort.
I love that. It tells me that rather than its being my personal mission to eradicate a real power called “evil,” I can simply dive deeper into my true nature as “the outcome of God” and place total reliance on the power of God’s government—all-knowing, divine Mind. This clearer, nearer, and more loving trust in divine Mind naturally eradicates any sense of our lives being the product of both good and evil.
I had an opportunity to experience a sense of this several years ago—and with a newfound sense of the immensity of God’s government, I revel daily in this healing.
I was traveling around the world and had stopped off in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for three days before heading out to New Zealand. When I arrived, the taxi drivers just outside the arrivals gate at the airport promised to take passengers anywhere they wanted to go—for much cheaper than the certified taxi service. Taking one of the drivers up on this reduced rate, I soon settled into the taxi—and saw the actual rate displayed on the meter. It became clear I’d been fooled. This was a very expensive taxi, and the driver didn’t even seem to know the address of my destination.
If God's government really is supreme, then it cannot be set aside by physical symptoms, or social constructs, personal mind sets, interactions—or anything else.
Eventually we did make it to the hostel after a pretty harrowing ride, and I was dismayed to have dishonesty (and foolishness on my part) be my “welcome” to this country. I chalked it up to whatever social history and personal lifestyles these people must have, that would make them behave in this unwelcoming manner. I vowed to watch carefully to make sure none of “these people” took advantage of me again.
As my stay went on, I enjoyed the vast diversity of sights and activities, but one afternoon I was having a hard time when, feeling weak and hungry, I went from one food stand to another, not finding anything I could eat. I was also feeling suspicious of the people around me because of my previous taxi adventure. I went back to the youth hostel and collapsed on my bunk bed. A little later, I took a shower and suddenly woke up lying on the shower floor—I guess I fainted. I don’t know how long I was there, but as soon as I was conscious I knew I needed to get right to work with prayerful Christian Science treatment for myself.
I was able to make it back to bed and was initially tempted to feel even worse and more alone, since I wasn’t confident I could make it down to the lobby to call a practitioner. Interestingly, that temptation to feel worse actually impelled me to realize just how false this sickness was. If I knew a Christian Science practitioner could pray for me effectively, the same power and knowledge that informed that prayer was also immediately present with me in that hostel.
Right away the angel message came, “You are not a product of history.” This was so illuminating! You see, I had struggled in the past with bouts of weakness, and those struggles would sometimes go on for days. I was afraid I was going to repeat those lengthy episodes again—that my present was ruled by my past.
But there in my room, I realized that my present state was not determined by the past. In fact, my whole personal history was actually irrelevant. The only story that mattered was “His story”—God’s story. So it was the presence of God, Life, that determined my health and my capabilities right then. And that was that. I was immediately completely free of that debilitating weakness, got out of bed, and was able to join some of my hostel-mates as they headed out to a beautiful aviary and then to dinner.
I am very grateful for the physical healing, resulting from a clearer sense of the immediacy of God’s government. But now, seeing more clearly the overall nature of the presence of good, I remember an even more meaningful aspect of my journey. Any thought of suspicion, distrust, or even a sense of my own foolishness, simply vanished. After all, if God’s government really is supreme, then that is that! It could not be set aside by physical symptoms, or social constructs, personal mind-sets, interactions, or anything else. If God’s government is supreme, there is no other power to which I could be a victim.
The rest of my stay in Kuala Lumpur was glorious, and I left with a completely redeemed sense of the culture and the people. With this renewed and healed thought, I was now open to seeing the true generosity and kindness of everyone I met, from the food vendors who helped me choose some very gratifying meals, to the taxi driver who took me back to the airport.
This awareness of God’s government lasted as I headed to New Zealand for some hitchhiking adventures, and even upon returning home to new jobs and environments.
When I am willing to love and honor the government of God alone, rather than turning to personal or societal history to define my day, there is no room for “despotic tendencies” to hold sway.
As the outcome of God, the very effect of Mind’s all-good nature as “I AM,” there is no other power that can truly govern us. We were made to know just how free we are, and nothing can keep us from it.
John Biggs is a Christian Science practitioner in Bend, Oregon.
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