Looking back on those first few days of Christian Science class instruction, perhaps none of us could have known where our footsteps would lead us, what the road ahead would look like, what would be asked of us. We brought our hopes, earnest longings, willing hearts: all of us, simply by showing up, answering God’s call to learn, grow, love, help, and heal.
That calling is as sure today as it was then.
Yet sometimes the terrain is rough; we may feel stymied by roadblocks, mountains in our paths; we may even think that we’ve forgotten everything we learned in class. “Where are You, God?” we may ask. And God, who does not change, changes us—moves us to turn our gaze from repetitious, dormant darkness and despair, and answers, “Right here. I am right here.” And we remember, and we see that we have never been—the world has never been—anything but what God has made it to be.
There is much in this world that would demean, distract, undermine, and divert us from a clear assessment of who we are in God’s universe. But none of it ever exists outside the arena of thought, and in thought—and prayer—is where we can and must address and dismiss it.
I love Eugene Peterson’s distinctive perspective on the prophet Jeremiah in his book Run with the Horses: “Jeremiah did not resolve to stick it out for twenty-three years, no matter what; he got up every morning with the sun. The day was God’s day, not the people’s. He didn’t get up to face rejection; he got up to meet with God. He didn’t rise to put up with another round of mockery, he rose to be with his Lord. That is the secret of his persevering pilgrimage—not thinking with dread about the long road ahead but greeting the present moment, every present moment, with obedient delight, with expectant hope: ‘My heart is ready.’ ”
And Mary Baker Eddy, in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, opens the chapter “Footsteps of Truth” with this passage from Psalms: “Remember, Lord, the reproach of Thy servants; how I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the mighty people; wherewith Thine enemies have reproached, O Lord; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of Thine anointed” (p. 201).
One dictionary defines reproach as “to attribute blame to; to allege something disgraceful against; to charge with a fault; to censure severely or contemptuously; to upbraid.”
How often do we participate in suggestions of reproach toward ourselves or others? We walk an ever-entangling labyrinth of false assertions; wonder who we are, where we’re going; despair over what we have not accomplished. Round and round we go until we stop, cast our gaze fervently on God, and walk straight forward. Then the way opens, right where we thought there was no way.
Whatever it is that we feel we’re carrying, or weighed down by, the Christ is saying, “Give it to me, turn it to me; I can take it, I will bear it.” When we unload our burdens on God, and turn our whole hearts to the light of Love, the Christ lifts us out of darkness, and reminds us of who we are, with an ever-present assurance, singing, “Your spiritual center is sure; I have equipped you for life.”