Have you ever felt inadequate to meet a situation through prayer alone, perhaps thinking that your knowledge of Christian Science is too limited to demonstrate the power of Truth to heal? I know I have at times.
However, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, opens the Preface to her seminal work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, with these encouraging words: “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings” (p. vii). Whenever we feel our prayers are not being answered, it helps to put our whole trust in God, divine Love. As the Bible shares in various ways, divine Love never lets us down, and we can lean—totally depend—on it to solve our problems. We need never entertain a limited sense of our ability to know the next right thing to do.
When one of our grandsons was very small, he loved for me to draw pictures with him, and we had happy times together. Later, when he was around five or six years old, the joy was sometimes interrupted because he would get upset and impatient with himself if something had not turned out quite the way he wanted it. And he would cry, “Oh, I’ve done it wrong; I’m no good—I can’t do it!”
On these occasions, I was firm in the knowledge that we can always depend upon divine Love, the infinite Mind—the source of all right ideas—which is always there to help. So, in silent prayer, I would affirm that since God has no limitations, we, His loved ideas, don’t either. With these thoughts in mind, I gently encouraged this little one to see that the “problem,” which loomed so large to him, could easily be resolved.
The Bible tells us: “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). I knew my grandson’s capabilities were expressions of infinite Mind, and that, in truth, he expressed confidence, not frustration, and so I would gently persuade him to calm down and tell him, “Look, love—never say ‘I can’t’ when something goes wrong, because you are good at drawing and you really can do it right—and you know that too, really. A person who thinks they can’t do anything right often just gives up and misses a lot of fun. You’re not a ‘can’t do’ person, are you?” He would agree with a shake of his head, and I’d continue, “So when something seems to go wrong, keep calm and remind yourself that you are a ‘can do’ boy; quietly think about your drawing for a minute, and you will soon see what you can do to alter it.” And so, after he had calmed down and thought about it, he would erase any offending mistakes and joyfully produce a drawing he was satisfied with.
Other ups and downs came along at times, but seeing his creativity as a God-given gift, I continued to encourage him, always reminding him that he was well able to draw the horse or dinosaur he visualized. When he was eight years old, my grandson entered a town competition inviting children to paint a flower for the “Britain in Bloom” annual contest. He chose an iris as his subject—not the easiest of flowers to portray—and he was thrilled to receive second prize in his age group, and to prove to himself that his drawing ability was not limited. At thirteen, he was placed in an art class for “gifted and talented” students, and by the time he was fifteen he was a seriously good artist.
I was reminded of this a few years ago while contemplating joining a Christian Science branch church that I had been attending for about two years. Prior to that, as one of the last few members of a disbanding Christian Science Society with an elderly membership, I had felt overburdened with all that was expected of me, and church duties had ceased to be a joy. For some years I had enjoyed being First Reader, alternating bimonthly as Sunday School teacher, but now, in addition, I found myself chairing all the meetings necessary for the closure of the church and the selling of the building, and was acting clerk as well. When the church building was finally sold, I felt that I would not be too hasty to join another branch.
However, I felt very much at home in this loving and lively church, where the members made me so welcome and kindly included me in various after-church activities. One morning, sitting in the congregation, I suddenly felt such an overwhelming love for the dear members there that tears of happiness welled up in my eyes, and I knew in that moment that I could not go any longer without giving something back. After the service I asked for a membership application form, and those who heard this expressed their delight.
Don’t put limits on your God-given talents and capabilities, but appreciate and enjoy them.
Well, I can’t believe it now, but that’s when a sneaky, serpent-like suggestion wriggled in, presenting itself as my own thought—a doubtful thought: “Are you sure about this? What are you letting yourself in for?” Yes, it sounds ridiculous! What could there possibly be but opportunities for good and for spiritual growth? However, mortal mind argued that I was not so young now and it was a long drive to the city center, especially difficult on Wednesday evenings in the winter, and other such negative thinking along the lines of “I can’t do this,” and “I would find that difficult.”
Then I suddenly realized that I was thinking like a “can’t do” person! Here I was, applying for membership because I wanted to give something back, to be an active part of this church, but clearly I had allowed limited mortal arguments to take over my thoughts, instead of listening to what God, divine Mind, was telling me of the loving opportunities for growth that Mind had in store for me.
Science and Health makes this observation: “Do you not hear from all mankind of the imperfect model? The world is holding it before your gaze continually. The result is that you are liable to follow those lower patterns, limit your life-work, and adopt into your experience the angular outline and deformity of matter models” (p. 248).
I was glad that I had seen where that false reasoning was taking me in time!
Occasionally, when using a computer, one is required to disable or enable some function, to turn it off or on. It seemed as though I had pushed some mental “disable” button and was leaning on it.
Some serious prayer work was needed, and I began by praying the Lord’s Prayer with its spiritual interpretation, as given in Science and Health on pages 16 and 17. When I reached “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,” and its spiritual interpretation, “Enable us to know,—as in heaven, so on earth,—God is omnipotent, supreme,” the thought came clearly: God has enabled His idea, man (including me), to both know and express His all-power and supremacy.
This reminded me of something else Mrs. Eddy wrote: “As an active portion of one stupendous whole, goodness identifies man with universal good. Thus may each member of this church rise above the oft-repeated inquiry, What am I? to the scientific response: I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existing” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 165).
I realized that man is always enabled, never disabled—never switched off, turned down, disconnected, or put out of action. Omnipotent divine Mind empowers us, motivates us, and mobilizes us; we can never be unplugged from our power source, but are inseparable from all-powerful Spirit, fully functioning, and free of the belief of time, which is defined in Science and Health as “mortal measurements; limits …” (p. 595).
The sneaky mental suggestion that age was a deterrent to starting a new church career needed firm handling, and I remembered something my eldest daughter had once shared with me. She said she had realized that life is not sequential, and quoted from the Bible, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2), and from Science and Health: “The astronomer will no longer look up to the stars,—he will look out from them upon the universe; and the florist will find his flower before its seed” (p. 125). The implications being that there is no time, no birth or death, no pattern, no process, and no limitations—for example, the young deemed to be energetic and supple but having little wisdom, and vice versa for the elderly.
Thinking of this, I had the thought come to me that God, infinite good, is I am, now and always. And so man, as God’s image and likeness, cannot say I was, I used to be, or I am going to be one day; not I think I am, I hope to be, or I wish I were! There is nothing that can be added nor removed in order to bring one nearer to God.
After that, all doubts disappeared and I happily took up church membership, and before long I was actively—and joyfully—serving my church as First Reader. Two years later, at the annual election meeting, I was given the opportunity to serve in this position for a third year, and I responded, “Yes, please!” much to the delighted amusement of the members.
In Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Mind is not confined to limits; and nothing but our own false admissions prevent us from demonstrating this great fact” (pp. 42–43).
So the lesson is clear: Don’t put limits on your God-given talents and capabilities, but appreciate and enjoy them, knowing from whence they come.
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