IN Genesis, chapter 11, there is a story that describes what happened when the people decided to build a city and a tower to reach up to heaven. The result of this self-serving endeavor was that their speech was confused, so they couldn't understand one another, and they were dispersed to different parts of the earth. The story itself may originally have been meant to explain why people speak many different languages. But the Biblical account shows what happens when human beings try to take on the role of the Almighty, substituting human devices for God's power and trusting in their own personal ability. As is so often the case with Bible stories, they can be read on several levels, and their basic value lies in the enlightenment they bring to the reader who is searching.
Recently I fell into the trap of thinking I had to assume an almighty role, and the responsibility became a great burden. I thought my motives were unselfish, but when I was forced to think more deeply, I found they were based on a very personal sense of what I felt I had to do. What made me question and eventually abandon this way of thinking was a painful, incapacitating back condition.
When I started to pray for guidance as to how to deal with the physical condition, it never occurred to me that I needed to be healed of a misguided and overwhelming feeling of responsibility both as a parent and as a daughter. I was caring for a young child and elderly parents. Then I came across the story of the building of the tower of Babel. I recognized a familiar attitude, and it dawned on me how foolish it was to think I was required to express love and care from a limited, personal source. The immediate sense of freedom was like a window opening onto a wide vista, and I saw the direction my prayers and thoughts should take.
I endeavored to see more clearly that in reality, in God's sight, I was neither the offspring of human parents nor the creator of my own child. A study of the Bible in the light of Christian Science shows that there is one Parent, one creator, our loving Father-Mother God. We are His children. The true selfhood of each of us is His complete, perfect offspring, expressing His qualities, reflecting His goodness and wholeness. The spiritual universe God created--which is the only genuine universe, discerned through prayer--does not include helplessness or deterioration, and He cares for and sustains each one of His offspring always. As God's likeness, man expresses the divine nature without limit, and this spiritual truth underlies our ability to help others. Reflecting divine Love does not involve burden, stress, resentment. These feelings stem from a misunderstanding of God's nature and our relationship to Him.
The life and teachings of Christ Jesus show with great clarity how essential it is to acknowledge God as Father, as the sole source of existence and activity. Jesus' ability to heal was the direct result of his full understanding of this fact. Jesus expressed true humility, though his persecutors misinterpreted it as self-exaltation. ``Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.'' 1 As followers of Jesus, we need to insist on our unity with our Father, God, and firmly reject the suggestion that we are limited mortals, relying on our own limited resources. Even a glimpse of the parenthood of God brings wonderful release, and as the understanding of its implications grows, we gain increasing freedom to express God's qualities, unlimited by the burden of self-pity, self-importance, or inadequacy.
I continued to think along these lines and was encouraged by a statement in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy:2 ``The divine Mind that made man maintains His own image and likeness.'' 3 Understanding Mind to be a synonym for God helped me to realize that I expressed the intelligence and wisdom to take whatever steps were necessary. I realized that Mind was guiding and caring for all of us. The enlightenment resulting from this line of thought brought release from the painful back condition. But, more important, I was able with joy and love to help my parents, and while they needed more attention, my daughter's activities were not curtailed. In fact she too loved to visit her grandmother. What had been a close, special relationship between the two of them was untouched.
I became a grateful witness to God's control and His care for every need that arose.
1 John 5:19. 2 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3 Science and Health, p. 151. DAILY BIBLE VERSE It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Phiippians 2:13