My favorite football team was playing in the ''big game.'' The opposition had possession of the ball just three yards from our goal line. On first down our defense stopped the running back at the line of scrimmage for no gain. I thought to myself, ''There's a big difference between stopping the opposition once and stopping them for four downs!''
Soon it was fourth down with one yard to go for a touchdown. Our defense dug in. The quarterback was tackled just inches from the goal line. The defense had stood, and our team took over possession of the ball.
The Bible provides many accounts of individuals who took a faithful, persistent stand. Nehemiah, for one, refused to be deterred from His God-inspired mission of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. His enemies came after him several times with messages of deceit and intimidation. Each time he repelled these offensives by standing with what he knew had been given him by God. Concerning one of the messengers he said, ''I perceived that God had not sent him.'' n1
n1 Nehemiah 6:12.
The idea of a ''goal line stand'' can be useful to us in resolving daily challenges. If sickness, for example, is threatening to ''score,'' it can be turned away as we take a strong stand for God, good.
The teachings of Christian Science show how we can defend ourselves by vigorously affirming what is true of God and His creation. One defends himself by understanding that sickness is not authored by God. As God, good, possesses all power, evil and sickness are actually impotent, even unreal, despite the contrary reports of the physical senses. Since freedom, harmony, and strength are always imparted by God to man, we are not, in truth, vulnerable to any illness. Standing with the omnipotent good that God provides, and with an understanding of our actual nature as His unflawed spiritual image, we see the offending evil turned back and defeated.
We can learn, as Nehemiah did, to ''perceive'' what God has not sent. Certainly disease is not from God, so we need not be a home for it. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ''If God causes man to be sick, sickness must be good, and its opposite, health, must be evil, for all that He makes is good and will stand forever.'' n2
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 229.
I have seen this to be true. Last year, while vacuuming a swimming pool, I slipped and fell sharply on my spine. I landed on the edge of the pool with my head and shoulders underneath the water. I was able to pull myself from the water, but stiffness and shock seemed to overwhelm me as I lay on the decking.
My wife soon came to the scene. As a fellow Christian Scientist she immediately began to pray. I too turned to God. With deep conviction the truth came to me, ''I am not fallen from God's care.'' I contemplated this idea for several minutes, concluding that if I had not fallen from God's care, I could get up and finish my job without pain, because there can't be any effect that is not from the one creator.
So, I tried to get up. At first, movement was slow, but soon I was standing. I thanked my wife and assured her that all was well. I felt healed.
But then I had to make a goal line stand. Several times during the day stiffening pain appeared to come over me. Each time I battled back with the understanding that God was caring for me without interruption and without pain. I perceived that this sensation was not from God and therefore didn't need to be experienced. By the next day I was completely healed and thanking God for His saving presence.
Whatever God has not sent to us - whatever is not entirely good - can be prevented from scoring against us. We can stand persistently and courageously in defense of our God-given health and harmony. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins Girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; . . . above all, taking the shield of faith. Ephesians 6:13, 14, 16