You may have heard the story about the traveler who drove into a gas station to ask for directions. The attendant thought a minute, scratched his head, and replied, ''Sorry. You can't get there from here.''
A few years ago a friend of mine felt that her life was an irreparable disaster. She saw others living harmonious and productive lives and couldn't even imagine how to get there from where she was. She feared that there was no path open to her for happiness. Promiscuousness had been dominating her life. One unhappy thing followed another. Her marriage failed, she lost her job, and in her own words, ''My life lay in ruins. I felt I hated myself.''
But even in this despair she began to remember some Bible promises. She remembered Christ Jesus' parable of the prodigal son, who found, after wasting his inheritance and losing his self-respect, that there was a way home. In the parable, the father rejoices at his son's return. Though the son was coming home in repentance with apparently nothing, his status as a beloved son was intact. n 1
n1 See Luke 15:11-12.
Jesus could not have been indicating that the son's selfish behavior was all right. He taught the need to abide by the highest moral standards. But couldn't we say that he was pointing out to us, by this parable, that our heavenly Father beholds the true, unfallen, spiritual nature of His creation - beholds man as He has actually created him? There may be many meanings in the parable, but this and other ideas that my friend began to glean from the Bible started to awaken her out of the self-hate and feeling of futility. The Bible, together with Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, n2 became her companions.
n2 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
These books told her that she was made in the image of God, and that her true identity was not a miserable sinner. She also awoke to the need and desire to live up to her genuine, spiritual nature. Gradually, the craving for unwholesome physical relationships began to leave her. And she realized she had to leave it. To make progress she had to part company with the self-indulgence, self-will, and self-pity that had so hypnotized her.
''We must look where we would walk, and we must act as possessing all power from Him in whom we have our being.'' n3 This statement from Science and Health inspired her to ask herself, ''Where am I looking?'' It's a good question for anyone to consider. Are we looking longingly (or fearfully) back on the past? Are we so mesmerized by a trouble that we can't unfasten our gaze to see beyond it, to what God knows of His beloved creation?
n3 Science and Helath, p. 264.
To find our way out of a dead-end situation we need directions, a way. Christ Jesus' life and teachings are this way, and they work unfailingly when we understand their spiritual significance and are willing to commit ourselves to living up to them.
My friend decided that this is what she was going to do no matter what it took. I wish I could tell you all the aspects of the transformation of this young woman's life. She has steadily come into a sure sense of her identity as the loved offspring of God. She has learned to cherish her spiritual identity and to be faithful to her worth.
Now a well-loved and respected member of her community and church, she's able to help others. A marriage developed with someone who shares her values and aspirations, and they have a bright, happy youngster.
These changes didn't come about overnight or with the wave of a magic wand. The effort this woman made to see through the fog and follow Jesus' teachings was quite a struggle at times. But she recognized that there truly existed a way to get to a higher sense of things from where she was, and she didn't give up finding and following it.
Turning to God and listening to Him with our hearts, we'll know what Isaiah meant when he said of God's guidance, ''Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee , saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.'' n4
n4 Isaiah 30:21.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE Enter ye in at the strait gate. . .: because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life Matthew 7:13, 14