The following is an edited transcript of a recent Sentinel Watch podcast on JSH-Online.com. Our guest, Marc Schwartz, spoke with the Sentinel’s Rita Polatin about how his business was badly affected by the 2008 recession, and his debt was overwhelming. But even in this dark place, he knew there was a way out because of God’s law of abundance. By turning to God in prayer, Marc was guided out of debt and back to a business that was financially sound and thriving. Here, Marc shares how to develop and cultivate God-given spiritual resources that never run dry.
Marc, I know your business went through some very hard times, but your understanding of God’s law of abundance really got you through those times. Can you tell us a little bit about your business and what happened?
I own a small computer service business that offers project-based and ongoing support for medium to small businesses. In the economic crisis of 2008–2009 my business suffered some setbacks that by 2012 had snowballed into some monstrous debt for me, including falling badly behind on paying payroll taxes to the IRS. The debt was over a million dollars. The situation was very dark for me. However, what I’ll be sharing today is not only a testimony of complete healing of that situation, but also a transformation of character and outlook, which in many respects was even more important.
Take us back to the beginning and tell us when you discovered how much debt you were in. What did you do?
I’d been praying about the business but decided to call a Christian Science practitioner for help. I recall her saying very clearly that my supply, from God, was like water over Niagara—overwhelmingly abundant. And I remember thinking that perhaps I hadn’t really explained my situation. I definitely couldn’t relate at that time to the notion that there was anything like abundance such as water over Niagara. Nevertheless, the effect of the practitioner’s treatment was immediate, and the business stopped losing money. We were able to start making our payroll deposits in a timely fashion. And since that day, the business never lost money again.
You’re saying that this turnaround was due to the practitioner’s prayers? What was it that she knew that enabled you to have such a turnaround in the business?
That immediacy of stopping the loss definitely came from her prayer and her understanding that supply comes to man directly from God. We receive all good from God in the form of spiritual ideas that meet our needs. There’s nothing lacking in that good. It’s an abundant and ever-flowing source from God.
And being God’s spiritual image and likeness—being like God—we have everything God gives.
Yes. And as Mary Baker Eddy says, “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 494).
How did things go from there?
I was grateful for the progress, but it needed to mature into a greater sense of completeness, and I became aware of two primary points I could work on. I needed to be humble and honest and not pretend that the circumstances were falsely stated by creditors. And I needed to be grateful for all the good that I was seeing. What I especially learned about gratitude is that it really helps amplify the good that is going on.
So, it really keeps you away from looking just at the problem, and instead has you really looking to God, the source of all good. Tell us some of these milestones and some of these lessons you were learning along the way.
I came to find that there were always poignant phrases from the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s writings that would stand out and lead the way. I came to see many of these as “angel messages.” Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health that angels are “God’s thoughts passing to man; …” (p. 581). One of these thoughts that came to me was from Science and Health, and it says, “… no good is, but the good God bestows” (p. 275). The full statement reads, “No wisdom is wise but His wisdom; no truth is true, no love is lovely, no life is Life but the divine; no good is, but the good God bestows.”
We receive all good from God in the form of spiritual ideas that meet our needs.
When I came to work one day, I needed tens of thousands of dollars to make payroll and to pay some other bills, and I knew that I had less than a thousand in the bank. This apparent lack was reminiscent to me of the loaves and fishes story in the Bible, when Jesus has only two fish and five loaves of bread, but feeds the multitudes. I remember very distinctly I stopped all activity that I was accustomed to doing, like making collection calls for money that was owed to us; I just stopped and prayed, and I remembered that phrase, “no good is, but the good God bestows.” So I thought about that for a bit.
I realized we had a customer who needed help upgrading their company’s accounting system. My company had never done that kind of work before. But I remembered that I’d gotten a name about a month before about someone who did know how to do this upgrade. So I made another phone call, and in 15 minutes I had the information I needed to make a proposal to our customer. When I called the customer back, he was so glad to hear from me. He said that just that morning he had realized that they couldn’t do payroll next month if they didn’t do this upgrade. He offered to have a check ready for me by noon. The check together with what I still had in the bank was exactly the amount that I needed to pay the bills that day, and a few “fragments” left over. I paid all the pending bills on time. And I thanked God profusely.
Wow. That was clearly God’s love, abundance, and operation. What were some of the other truths that you were learning that had really practical results like this?
I felt like, “OK, you cleared that emergency. Now back to business as usual.” And I decided if I could sell the business for whatever I could get for it, then the IRS would feel like they had no choice but to settle the balance, and then I would qualify for bankruptcy. That was my plan. And it was certainly the wrong way to go about it. Nevertheless, I took a deposit a couple months later for the sale of the business. Not so surprisingly, that deal fell apart within a few weeks.
But, as it was falling apart, I was recognizing what I had learned. I had made progress. And while this may have seemed pretty discouraging, I stuck with “no good is, but the good God bestows.” At that same time the Christian Science Board of Directors of The Mother Church had invited members to study the message from Mary Baker Eddy called “ ‘Choose Ye’ ” in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany. Similar to “no good is, but the good God bestows,” there’s a sentence in this message that says, “Wholly apart from this mortal dream, this illusion and delusion of sense, Christian Science comes to reveal man as God’s image, His idea, coexistent with Him—God giving all and man having all that God gives” (p. 5). I especially appreciated the idea of “God giving all and man having all that God gives.”
I was getting much better at recognizing that it’s not about what I want—it’s about listening to God’s direction.
So the next step was to meet with the IRS. But my attorney wanted thousands of dollars to join me for the meeting, and I didn’t have it. So I had to go it alone, and the thought of this was intimidating. The agent I met with was pretty upset with me about the situation and a letter my attorney had written a year before, and she flung some tax code in my direction, which I vaguely understood. But then, still in that same irritated tone of voice, she said, “I have no idea what the point would be of assessing this other tax, because we’re not going to collect it anyway.” Basically, it meant my debt was being cut in half. I was startled, and several tax advisors have said that kind of stuff doesn’t happen with the IRS. That passage from “Choose Ye” really sustained me through the meeting, and I came out with a much stronger sense of liberty and freedom.
And that’s really progress for you and the business. At that point, did you start to think that maybe selling the business wasn’t the way to go—that it wasn’t what God had planned for you?
Because of this progress, I was getting much better at recognizing that it’s not about what I want—it’s about listening to what God’s direction has to say about this. One thing I was exceedingly clear on by this point was that it wasn’t going to be my plan. I wasn’t going to pick up the phone and make more phone calls to try and drum up business or use my own human creativity for what new sales opportunities I might find.
Very soon after, the phone rang, and it was a former customer I hadn’t spoken to in seven years. He said, “I don’t know if you remember me, but you helped us years ago.” The opportunity he presented turned into fresh business for us. The phone then rang every week for the rest of the year with new opportunities, none of which I had sought out.
So as you were stopping your own kind of outlining and planning and working toward really listening to God, opportunities came to you.
Right. I remember sitting at my desk and thinking, “These opportunities are not only substantial, but they have also come with the ability to do them.” I didn’t have to grow the business. I didn’t have to hire employees. This was work that I could readily do myself with some contractors I’d been working with. But I also wondered how to reconcile the way the business normally operates—having budgets, and sales, pipelines—with this new sense of business being rather different, where the phone just rings and there are opportunities. That’s when the phrase “entirely separate” came to me.
As gratitude was expressed, even more business would immediately come along.
The phrase comes from this passage in Science and Health: “Entirely separate from the belief and dream of material living, is the Life divine, revealing spiritual understanding and the consciousness of man’s dominion over the whole earth” (p. 14). That’s what was speaking to me—that it’s totally different to operate a business from the spiritual sense of what is coming to you rather than going out and seeking business from a material point of view. And what was coming to me and my business was from God.
So you’re really talking about spiritual reality, not the mortal, material view of life that has all these limits and ups and downs. It’s the life that Jesus came to show us existed.
Absolutely. The phone was ringing, and there was some good new business coming to us, and it expanded to the point where I was able to go and pay back old debts. It was no surprise that this activity made me think of the phrase, “Whatever blesses one blesses all.”
Tell us more about that.
Mrs. Eddy writes, “In the scientific relation of God to man, we find that whatever blesses one blesses all, as Jesus showed with the loaves and the fishes,—Spirit, not matter, being the source of supply” (Science and Health, p. 206).
That’s what you were seeing.
That’s what I was seeing. As I said earlier, I had less than a thousand dollars, and I needed tens of thousands. I was seeing that it is Spirit, not matter, that is the source of supply.
I like the first part of that quote, too, about “In the scientific relation of God to man.” This isn’t happenstance. It’s scientific and therefore something that everyone can avail themselves of. Tell us more about the Science referred to there.
In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy gives us a definition of God, and she includes synonyms for God, one of which is Mind. Divine Mind was showing me the way. Each step of the way, I was discovering things about tax laws that neither my very experienced and qualified tax attorney nor the CPA had noticed.
It’s a little too complex to go into here, but the gist of it was that there was room for some fear, initially, that all of this good that was coming forth could create a storm with the IRS, because now there would be new income to pay taxes on and fresh attention on the old debt. But there are tax laws in place that protected me from that. It’s far more complex than simply saying, “Well, sure, you had past losses that you could apply.” That’s true. But it was much deeper than that. God was giving me answers, and I was able to speak with the attorney and demonstrate an understanding of these tax laws. So, these fresh ideas that were coming to me were leading the way. And that was very poignant to me.
They were being revealed to you.
Yes. And it’s really important to identify that it was God, not me. God was showing me what needed to be done.
If you could wrap up the lessons that you’ve been learning, what would they be?
Mrs. Eddy says, “Let us feel the divine energy of Spirit, bringing us into newness of life …” (Science and Health, p. 249). And that has to be genuine. We do turn to Spirit instead of matter to lift us up and out of difficult circumstances. I’ve also seen a need to deepen my understanding of gratitude. “Our gratitude is riches,” says Hymn 249 from the Christian Science Hymnal (Vivian Burnett), and it’s hard to overstate the importance of gratitude. Being grateful helped to show me the enormity or abundance of supply, as we’ve been talking about today. I think Hymn 342 gives us a good sense of the importance of gratitude. The first verse says:
This is the day the Lord hath made;
Be glad, give thanks, rejoice;
Stand in His presence, unafraid,
In praise lift up your voice.
All perfect gifts are from above,
And all our blessings show
The amplitude of God’s dear love
Which every heart may know.
(Laura Lee Randall, © CSBD)
Now that’s certainly reminiscent of what we’re just saying. It makes a tremendous difference to be grateful each step of the way. So taking that a step further, what is this gratitude impelling us to do? Gratitude has to be expressed.
As a closing point, I want to mention I was paying not only the other vendors, but also the practitioner. And I paid well beyond what was invoiced out of the amplitude of gratitude that was coming more and more. As gratitude was expressed, even more business would immediately come along.
I also started receiving calls for prayerful help in Christian Science. And it so happened these cases were financially related as well. To me, this is proof of the completeness of abundance.