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From the December 2006 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Due to the sensitive nature of the following testimony, the author's name has been withheld.

DESPERATE STRAITS. I had been laid off in 2000 when my employer outsourced the work I'd been doing in the computer field. As I looked for employment, I soon came to the realization that my computer skills hadn't kept up with advancements in IT (information technology). Along with that situation was a longstanding fear that I had a condition called adult ADD (attention-deficitdisorder). I was always distracted and anxious, and I was sure this lack of focus had cost me several jobs along the way. Faced with a large family, mounting bills, and a deteriorating sense of self-worth, there was no place to go but down. When I called a Christian Science practitioner, I was considering taking my own life.

With calm assurance, the practitioner told me that I only had to be like that faithful sheep in the 23rd Psalm—obeying God's command to "not want" but to trust in God's loving and shepherdlike leadings. She spoke with such conviction that I considered the possibility that God had a place for me, too; that maybe I could actually live "in the house of the Lord," as the Psalm promised. But I was still deeply concerned that I would never get out of poverty and the chaos that surrounded me. I was in a very dark mental place and still didn't know if I could live a life worth living.

Amazingly, within just a few days I had two jobs. One of the technology jobs came and went because I was unable to stay focused. My anxiety increased, and responsibility for my family's well-being loomed. But I knew that staying in contact with the practitioner was crucial. The idea from the 23rd Psalm that I live "in the house of the Lord" continued to be meaningful and helped keep me going. Out of the seeming blue, just a week before Christmas, I was called by a computer company 3,000 miles from home to work on a temporary basis. This was not appealing prospect—leaving my family and going to the other side of the country, but the practitioner helped me listen to God. Was this the right way to go? The answer was, Yes. I believed that God had set me on His spiritual path, and now I simply had to continue to walk in it.

I borrowed money from my mother to pay for the gas to drive cross-country. When I arrived at this contract job, I wasn't prepared for what awaited me. What this employer had neglected to tell me was that his project was almost six months behind and that I'd have to do the work of an entire team of consultants—and I had only 10 percent of the knowledge necessary. The only way I can describe the situation is this way: Suppose someone gave you a pile of technical manuals 12 feet high to a nuclear power plant and said, "OK, you're the chief engineer. Make sure nothing blows up. Have a great day."

Besides being in over my head professionally, I still had to deal with the ADD symptoms—but I kept listening to what the practitioner was telling me about my true worth. She explained to me that any sense of constant distraction was annulled by God's of divine obedience, whereby, as His children, we are naturally obedient to God, our Father-Mother. And there was one more challenge—since I was a freelance contractor, I found out that I wouldn't even get my first check for many weeks. I wondered how I would survive on site long enough to send money back to my family—and to make the mortgage payments that were now long overdue.

The practitioner supported me in prayer on a regular basis, giving me spiritual ideas that helped me realize more fully that I was dwelling inside the Lord's house—not outside. Challenged with doing seven jobs for which I had only a fragment of the training needed, I sometimes walked out of the shipping center where I was working, off into the woods and called the practitioner. "I just can't go back into that building" I would tell her. "I just do not know what to do next. I don't know where to start." Then she would remind me of where I needed to start—with the knowledge that there is only one Mind, and as an expression of this Mind, I had all the intelligence and focus I needed. Every useful idea was mine because the divine Mind is my only source.

Despite the picture of complexity that defied any sort of human analysis, I kept working with the practitioner, being reminded that divine Love was right there in every crisis. And it was. Day to day, thought by thought. Sometimes I'd find myself standing in the pouring rain in the woods on the phone with her, begging just to call it quits, to admit I was a pathetic failure, to once again borrow gas money and drive 3,000 miles home to move my family out of a foreclosed house and onto the street, homeless. But at the same time, I kept being given my daily bread of ideas—ideas as practical as a plumber's pipe wrench, but "sharper than any two-edged sword" (Heb. 4:12), cutting to the exact points I was required to see and understand spiritually. Practical solutions came, and several times, spontaneous ideas flooded into thought. (One of these ideas actually saved the company's computer system from unrecoverable loss.)

About five months later, I was hired permanently. Slowly but surely, I took one small step after another from ignorance to competence. Now, after six years, I have literally "written the book" on some technology topics that I couldn't even describe, much less understand, when I started on this journey.

Divine Love has been my guiding, guarding Shepherd as I have advanced out of thoughts about suicide, beyond depression, past identifying with day-to-day subsistence living. I was able to catch up on our mortgage payments, sell our old house, and buy a much bigger home for our growing family. But what I most appreciate is the remodeled dwelling of my own consciousness. I find that I am largely freed from fear when I recognize that my divine Shepherd is here. As the practitioner communicated to me on that first desperate night, God knows me and I know Him, and I am His, and daily "he leadeth me beside the still waters" of confidence in His love, and gives me His ideas and His supply. They are mine forever.

The individual above has given full permission to include the practitioner's account of the healing (see below), in the hopes that by illuminating the way in which the practitioner prayed for and supported the patient, others will understand more clearly the role of the practitioner in Christian Science healing.

ONE LATE NIGHT, I got a call from a man who wanted to take his own life. He was filled with despair and hopelessness. He told me he'd been in and out of work for almost two years and didn't know how he would put food on the table for his family. The utilities had been cut off, so he was heating the house with a portable heater. He didn't see any reason he should continue to exist, and he said, "Everyone would be better off without me." He was contemplating suicide.

Immediately, I began to recite the 23rd Psalm, and explain what this passage could mean to him—in a radically practical way—at just that moment. It went something like this:

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."

The Lord is your Shepherd, right now; you cannot be lacking any good thing.

"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters."

Sheep lie down in a pasture only if they feel safe, if they trust their shepherd. And sheep are most vulnerable at a drinking hole, where predators (fears) lie in wait. Trust your Shepherd (God) and He will provide for you.

"He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."

God fills you up with all goodness, He leads you to your right place, He protects and cares for you.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou are with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

You may think you are walking through the dark valley—but God is with you, exactly where you are! He is guiding and protecting you every step of the way.

"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."

All the fears that are your enemies are uprooted and destroyed when you trust in God. He attends to every detail in your life and family's lives—your cup runs over with all the love your Maker has for you.

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."

Surely goodness and mercy follow you all the days in your life, and you dwell, not in a cold, frightened place, but in the house of the Lord. With the Lord as the householder, that house is always in order.

The man thanked me and asked that I continue to pray for him. When he called the next day, I could tell by his voice that the feelings of suicide had passed. Although his journey out of darkness continued for many months, he never mentioned taking his life again. He had been awakened to the truth about his relationship with God that night, and this grounding from the 23rd Psalm became a rudder for him.

As I continued to offer him support through prayer, he said he was sure he had adult ADD and that this had contributed to a topsy-turvy career in the technology field. Regardless of his professional abilities, this lack of focus led to undependability—and eventually to being fired. As a Christian Science practitioner, I had experienced other claims of ADD, since it appears to be a prevalent diagnosis in our culture today. But our correct view of man reveals the lie about any kind of debilitating mental deficiency. In the Bible we learn that when we pray to God for bread, He does not give us a stone (see Matt. 7:9). I knew that only bountiful manna from heaven awaited this man—and that his "attention" could not be "disordered" by any "deficit."

Another aspect of this man's ongoing depression was that he looked at others who seemed to have it all together. They drove new cars, their homes were bigger, their lives were better. Why were these things kept from him? As we continued to discuss the "bread" and the "stone" analogy from the Bible, it became increasingly clear to him that praying for bread is not material desire, but a need to understand that he dwells "in the house of" consciousness as God's complete spiritual idea. This meant that he couldn't be seduced by thoughts of lack (stones), nor could he be shortchanged of anything—including the mental ability to function normally and to think clearly. With this God-given confidence, my friend was able to see his own spiritual worth in very tangible ways.

Within the first week of our conversations, my friend had two jobs—one during the day, and one at night. This enabled him to get the heat turned back on at home and to begin to pay his bills. But his debt was so great that he still felt overwhelmed and unworthy. Although full of compassion for him, I remained unimpressed by these fears. God had shown me the way out of many perilous situations, and I knew we could both trust in Him.

A month or so later, my patient was fired from his day job, but we continued to stay the course—to count on God, to listen to Him for our every move. One of the things that came to me in praying about this man was the necessity for him to follow rules for good employees. If he worked for divine Love, God, in His house, he would, of course, be on time, he would finish his tasks, display his many talents—and he wouldn't make personal calls during business hours. In December, he was hired to work temporarily for a large technology company across the country. He drove several days to get there. He slept in his car. He joined a health club at a minimal introductory rate, so he could have a place to shower and dress. He washed and ironed his own shirts, and pressed his one suit. And once he began the job, he had a new sense of being focused and attentive. He showed up for work before anyone else—so early that sometimes he needed to wait for someone to unlock the door to let him in—and he was the last person to leave work at night.

Several days after starting this temporary position, my patient felt depression and fear take over, and I got a desperate call. He was outside the building. "I can't do it. I'm in over my head. I can't go back in there." I assured him that he did know what to do. God had put him there, and God would show him the way. There was only one Mind, and that Mind was guiding and guarding him. He hung up, walked into the building, and completed his work successfully. And this is how it went for awhile—day by day the fears came up, and day by day the fears receded, replaced by the truth of his being.

Four months later, the company hired him permanently, telling him simply, "It's because you have worked so hard for us." There was a big celebration for him and his family just before they moved. I remember thinking that even though he obviously exhibited enormous talent, it was God's expression of him as a "good employee" that had carried him through this latest trial of insecurity. The company couldn't help but see him as perfect for them, because he was already perfect in God's eyes. My friend is now an expert in his field, and people call him from all over the country for consultations. He and his wife have been able to carry out their original plan for her to stay home with the children. A growing sense of order and stability continues to bless them.

In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy says, "... when the winds of God blow, we shall not hug our tatters close about us" (p. 201). It seems that the tatters we hold closest are our deepest fears—and God demands that we loose them and let them go. He has all good in store for us, not continual difficulties. And when we trust in Him with all our heart, He guides us, moment by moment. That, to me, is living—and working—in the house of divine Love.   ♦

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