Going to the grocery store is not generally considered a challenging adventure. But it can be when you are accompanied by two very small children! One recent visit to the store had been without major incident until we left. I placed my purse on the front of our car while loading the children and groceries. At the same time I saw a man leaving the store who I thought looked rather suspicious and dishonest. En route to my next errand I discovered that my wallet was missing from my purse.
Immediately I began to pray. As a Christian Scientist I have learned to turn to God for guidance and healing under every circumstance. And I have repeatedly found that God is truly present and always ready to restore any lost sense of harmony.
I decided to return to the grocery store. The manager had not seen my wallet, nor had any of his staff. So I went home, put the children down for a nap, and continued praying. The temptation was to believe that this situation was beyond God's help. I could see that God governed every aspect of my own being, but what about some dishonest person who had never really listened to God?
Gradually the truth dawned on me that God's loving protection and guidance cannot be limited or overthrown by sinfulness. I realized that the person who had taken my wallet could express integrity because no one is ever really cut off from God's control. I saw man's true selfhood as the very child of God, never lacking in righteousness or goodness.
As Mary Baker Eddy1 writes in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Man is the offspring, not of the lowest, but of the highest qualities of Mind. Man understands spiritual existence in proportion as his treasures of Truth and Love are enlarged.'' 2
Through heartfelt and persistent prayer I was finding my treasure -- a deep love for God and for my fellow beings. I no longer felt governed by chance, vulnerability, or criminality.
In the course of praying I had been impelled to see how Mrs. Eddy defines the word ``purse.'' (A chapter of Science and Health is devoted to spiritual definitions of various Biblical terms.) The definition reads: ``Laying up treasures in matter; error.'' 3
This definition spoke directly to a related problem I had been wrestling with. I had been concerned more and more about our family's excessive attention to financial matters. But this definition clearly reminded me that true wealth is an understanding of God.
I was coming into harmony with these timeless words of the great Teacher, Christ Jesus: ``Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.'' 4
The thought came to call the bank and ask what to to about my credit cards. The man who answered said in amazement, ``Someone called just a few minutes ago and said that he would drop off your wallet in front of the bank.'' Soon my wallet, with the credit cards, driver's license, and identification was back where it belonged. Only some cash was missing.
Later that evening, while relating the day's events to my husband, I suddenly became sick to my stomach and was in considerable discomfort. In hopes of finding healing, I turned to my Bible, opening it at random. My eyes fell on several verses in Psalms that helped me realize I was still seeing God's children as including irredeemable thieves and helpless victims. This was a ``sick'' point of view. So I refused to consent to any sense that God's loving government could be absent. Love and forgivene ss filled my heart. The illness, which only a few minutes before had seemed so intimidating, quickly vanished.
For the second time in one day I had found a treasure! My treasure is an understanding that neither sin nor sickness has ultimate authority over me or anyone. God governs man. 1 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 2 Science and Health, p. 265. 3 Ibid., p. 593. 4 Matthew 6:19-21.