ONE stormy afternoon I was struggling with finances, worrying what to do if the cost of a relative's care, which I was responsible for, rose any higher. Then the relative spoke abusively to me--part of a deteriorating behavior pattern associated with his illness. The contrast with his normally courteous nature made the words that were so unlike him hurt even more. How could I keep on dealing with this! Then I glanced out the window at the harbor. Huge waves, which we seldom have, threatened to tear our s mall boat from its mooring!
I was overwhelmed by the demands being made on me. For a moment I felt utterly helpless--anxious and sad.
In these difficult times, many people are facing much worse things than these. But no matter what we may face, the ideas that came to me as I prayed that stormy afternoon might help you, just as they did me.
Studying Christian Science has taught me that when we pray to understand better God's unceasing care for His children (you and me), we begin to feel less overwhelmed by the demands of daily life. We start gaining a more spiritual sense of existence, which in turn reveals whatever we need to know to see more of the divine reality in our lives.
In the Bible we read, "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me. And the following psalm tells us: "O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. . . . Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? On that stormy afternoon I prayed to feel this spiritual presence. I knew that in reality I was God's child, His very image and likeness, a spiritual idea. I also knew that God never makes impossible demands on His children.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, has this to say about spiritual demands in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Every day makes its demands upon us for higher proofs rather than professions of Christian power. These proofs consist solely in the destruction of sin, sickness, and death by the power of Spirit, as Jesus destroyed them. This is an element of progress, and progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil.
That phrase "certainly fulfil stood out to me. Certainly, not maybe or sometimes.
As I kept praying from the standpoint of this spiritual certainty of being God's loved and protected child, governed only by His law, I remembered the many instances in the Bible where Christ Jesus was so obviously governed by God's law. And he surely had bigger things to deal with than I had!
The Bible doesn't describe Jesus as fretting anxiously. He was always confident of his Father's unceasing love. And Jesus taught that all those who make the effort to follow him will find their burdens lightened. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, he said, Matthew's Gospel records. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
So I began that afternoon to think in a more Christly manner. I knew that it was loving to care for my relative. I was striving to fulfill, to a degree, the demand for "higher proofs rather than professions of Christian power. And I knew I couldn't be punished for doing this work. If my relative lashed out at me in ways that weren't natural to him, I could learn to see beyond this picture to man's real, God-created selfhood.
I began to see that by worrying now about possible needs for more income in the future I was distrusting God. Could there ever come a time when God would fail to care for His beloved children? I could wait for His unfoldment of ideas rather than trying to figure everything out myself today.
And I realized that I cherished our little boat as a symbol of joy and freedom. Whether the boat survived the storm or not, nothing could ever deprive me of these spiritual qualities.
The thing I find so rewarding about prayer is that it stops us worrying about what we have or haven't done humanly and brings us to Christ, which shows us our true spiritual selfhood. Then we begin to experience the deep inner peace that grows out of meekly yielding to our Father's loving care. Our theories of how things should work out fade into nothingness when we listen carefully for God's guidance. Quietly trusting this guidance, we find the spiritual solution, the right way.
Incidentally, my stormy afternoon of prayer not only set me on a path toward better fiscal planning but also helped me see my relative more clearly in his real being. The abusiveness has lessened. Gratitude is growing. The boat rode out the storm.
And when the servant of the man of God
was risen early, and gone forth,
behold, an host compassed the city
both with horses and chariots.
And his servant said unto him,
Alas, my master! how shall we do?
And he answered, Fear not:
for they that be with us
are more than they that be with them.
And Elisha prayed . . . : and, behold,
the mountain was full of horses
and chariots of fire
round about Elisha.
II Kings 6:15-17