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DEEP THINK

Meekness opens the door to healing

From the January 2007 issue of The Christian Science Journal


ALTHOUGH JESUS WAS THE MOST INFLUENTIAL AND DYNAMIC MAN ever to walk the earth, he also was the most humble. He encouraged and comforted his followers with these words: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (Matt. 11:28, 29). And in another Bible passage, recognizing God as the source of all his unparalleled healing works, Jesus remarked, "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5:30).

On another occasion, a wealthy man asked Jesus, "Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" Before Jesus answered the question, he corrected this respectful greeting and made a profound theological point, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God" (Mark 10:17, 18).

Jesus so thoroughly lived meekness that when he healed the sick and the sinning, the people glorified God, not Jesus. This Christly attitude of meekness contributed to Jesus' ability to heal even the most incurable conditions and to change people's lives for the better. And today this same humility is required of his followers so that we, too, can be successful healers.

In fact, I see that meekness is an essential quality in fulfilling the Christian demand to put off the old man and put on the new man described by the Apostle Paul (see Eph. 4:22-24). And this meekness is vital to the practice of Christian Science. As Mary Baker Eddy pointed out in Science and Health, "Self-abnegation, by which we lay down all for Truth, or Christ, in our warfare against error, is a rule in Christian Science" (p. 568).

To be meek requires a radical shift in one's concept of identity—a shift that causes us to let go of personal ego and the concept of ourselves as mere mortals so we can let the Divine shine through us. The demanding requirements proclaimed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48), begins to sound doable when we recognize that we as God's image (as the Bible recounts creation in Gen. 1) coexist with God and are, in fact, the perfect, spiritual expression of our divine Parent. We must realize that God, the true Ego of the universe, is our only real source—here and now—of life, intelligence, and substance.

As we yield to the one divine Ego, we can relinquish the concept of ourselves as having an independent, personal ego. Recognizing our unity with the omnipotent, loving Ego can also enable us to drop preconceived notions about difficult situations we're facing and any doubts that we won't be able to resolve them. Perhaps most importantly, it will enable us to let go of trying to conclude exactly how a situation should turn out.

Let me tell you about a time when I learned the truth of this statement. A number of years ago, I came to a crossroads in the middle of a successful career as a Protestant chaplain in the United States Air Force. I had a young family, including a very supportive wife. Well respected in my work, I had made all my promotions and had been offered the assignment of my dreams as an instructor at a military chaplains' school. But I had also been devoting all my spare time to healing others through prayer. At one point, I felt I needed to choose whether to continue with the Air Force or get out and give my full time to the public practice of Christian Science.

Meekness not being my strong suit, I easily envisioned continuing successfully in a very secure military career. However, I knew I needed to turn away from my own limited views about what I should do and pray to follow God's direction. I opened my Bible to seek God's guidance. My eyes fell on these words:

"The Lord our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying,Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount" (Deut. 1:6). This clear direction was too blunt to miss. In meekness—which required fully trusting God—I soon resigned from the Air Force. Today when I compare the career I would have had in the Air Force to my life as a Christian Science practitioner and teacher, I feel I am rich beyond measure.

So how does one learn to yield consistently to the leading of the one divine Mind? In a message to The Mother Church in 1896, Mary Baker Eddy urged Christian Scientists to "pray daily for themselves; not verbally, nor on bended knee, but mentally, meekly, and importunately" (Miscellaneous Writings1883-1896, p. 127). What does it mean to pray mentally, meekly, and importunately?

I have found that effective prayer involves much more than reciting well-known words. It requires deep thinking, and mentally applying spiritual facts to human situations. This means having the confidence and understanding that divine Love, God, is always present and governing. The result of praying this way shifts consciousness from trust in material means and conditions to a growing trust in God's goodness and love. It includes a willingness to let go of concepts that do not express God's nature, such as inadequacy, uncertainty, confusion, pride, and indecisiveness. I might ask myself, Am I feeling willful or afraid? If so, then my consciousness needs to shift to a more spiritual perspective—one with a greater awareness of divine Love's willingness and ability to protect, care for, and guide His own children.

Praying meekly includes setting aside not only a mortal concept of ourselves—including insistent discordant conditions in the body—but also rising above the human estimate of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We can certainly expect that the answers to our prayers will be found through the healing, restoration, correction, or adjustment of whatever is not right in our experience. However, to envision humanly how that resolution should come about is ultimately limiting because we have little idea of the magnitude and possibilities included in infinite Love. Limited thinking can interfere with the healing process and so needs to be relinquished.

And what about Mrs. Eddy's directive that we should pray importunately? The word importunate means "urgent or persistent in asking or demanding; insistent; refusing to be denied." Deep, consistent prayer produces a change in consciousness and ultimately a change in the evidence before the physical senses—in other words we need to continue praying until healing results.

One example of importunity appears in the classic movie The Wizard of Oz from the novel by L. Frank Baum. In the movie version, the young girl, Dorothy, and her friends, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and the Cowardly Lion, arrive at the mythical Kingdom of Oz. Each of the characters wants something specific from the wizard, the ruler of the kingdom. However, they are sent away on what looks like an impossible mission. They must capture the broom that belongs to the Wicked Witch of the West. Despite every obstacle, Dorothy and her friends persist and do secure the broom, and return to Oz—only to be rejected again. But they will not be put off, and eventually, through their unyielding persistence, they do finally get just what each of them wants—although in ways they had not expected.

So taking a cue from Dorothy and her friends' willingness to persist no matter what, we, too, need to persist in our prayers, even if they do not immediately result in healing. We must remain diligent in praying until we become aware of divine Love's presence—aware that we are "in the kingdom of God." And when we reach this level of consciousness, healing will result, perhaps in unexpected ways.

A number of years ago, a friend and I shared an experience that taught us something about persistence and meekness. Unemployed and struggling to find a satisfying career in the television industry, my friend asked me to pray with him about finding a job. Though sincere in his desire to grow spiritually and to listen for divine direction in his search for a job, he also had a pretty specific vision of the solution he expected.

As we prayed, job opportunities came along, but if they weren't in television he pursued them only half-heartedly. He didn't have much training or experience in mass media, but he was enamored with the field. He finally took a job selling subscriptions for a local cable station. Though this was not the best job offer he'd had, he at least had his foot in the door and felt that new opportunities would likely open up as this cable television company grew. Continuing to pray about more satisfying employment, we also discussed his motives, and he agreed that he needed to pray more humbly for God's direction.

My friend also had a deep desire to have a wife and family, but his relationships with women didn't last. He feared that the opportunity for a family might pass him by. He felt he couldn't make relationships work because he was shy and didn't know how to relate to women. We discussed the qualities of divine Love and divine Mind, such as compassion, unselfishness, wisdom, and perception. We acknowledged that these qualities were natural to him because he is the expression of God, created in God's very image. We prayed daily to see more evidence of these qualities in his character.

As I continued to pray with him, I began to see that some radical meekness was essential in my own estimate of the situation. I needed to correct the impressions I had that my friend was immature, somewhat obsessed with the television industry, and lacked social skills around women. I prayerfully reasoned that because each of us is the reflection of God, I could recognize that my friend already included the maturity, flexibility, gratitude, and social skills needed to solve all of these problems. I also affirmed that whatever is untrue about God could be no part of my friend's nature, because he reflects the one infinite God, and nothing else.

This kind of prayer sets aside limiting, human convictions so we can hear and follow divine Mind's clear messages. Quiet listening helps adjust our human perspective. As I diligently prayed this way, my view of my friend changed, and then my friend's view of himself changed. His outlook shifted from being focused only on seeking employment to a deeper desire to serve others. He began responding to ads for positions that required the education, qualities, and skills he already had.

He also became friends with a single mother with two young children. This was a totally different relationship for him, because he felt the need to be just a friend to her, helping her in various ways. He loved the children, and they enjoyed being with him. The relationship blossomed. After several months, they became engaged, and then married.

During those months, even though my friend received a promotion at the cable station, he soon found a much better position in another field, which was tailor-made for him—a place where he could use his talents. Meekness on both our parts had opened the way for him to find satisfying employment and a loving relationship.

As I found in this situation (and in so many others since then), the humble willingness to yield up human views of our own identity and the identity of others, and to replace those views with what God knows us to be—His pure and perfect reflection—gives us the needed element of meekness, which will always help us heal ourselves and others.

♦

As I continued to pray, I began to see that some radical meekness was essential in my own estimate of the situation.

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