An Understanding Heart

WHILE my mom was cleaning out some books, she came across a copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. There are many copies in my parents' house of this book by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, but this one was a particularly supple and well-worn leather volume that fitted pleasingly in my hands. It had belonged to my mother's grandmother. As I leafed through its pages, the notations and marks, the underlinings and cross-references, all in my great-grandmother's humble, unsophisticated penmanship, revealed unmistakably that she had spent much time reading and considering Mrs. Eddy's words. My great-grandmother was not what you would call an educated woman. But it was clear that she was an inspired reader and a practicing student of Christian Science. I was reminded of a statement in Science and Health about spiritual understanding: ''This understanding is not intellectual, is not the result of scholarly attainments; it is the reality of all things brought to light'' (p. 505). The study of Christian Science, which leads one to live a more God-centered life, to help others, and to heal physically and morally, is not an exercise in gathering up fact upon fact until some sufficient number of facts is counted. ''The reality of all things brought to light'' expresses God's power and God's action. God reveals Himself to man, His full representation, His child, whom He loves and never leaves alone. In other words, man-each of us-expresses God's being. Man is, in fact, God's reflection of His own goodness. The Saviour, Christ Jesus, showed us what it means to rely on God, divine Mind, as the source of healing intelligence. John's Gospel tells us Jesus said, ''The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works'' (14:10). It is Jesus' example of healing and salvation that Christians strive to follow. The Bible, in First Kings, tells how one individual did turn to God for the ability he needed to accomplish a task that seemed too large for him. Solomon found himself king, in charge of a nation. He must have not felt up to the task when he said to God, ''I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. . . . Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?'' (3:7, 9). Doesn't the question indicate that Solomon realized his need for divine guidance and action? And Solomon, by his humble reliance on God, blessed his nation and ruled with wisdom and equity. Not quite two years ago I was also in a situation in which I asked God for ''an understanding heart.'' I was on the verge of committing myself to an extended financial obligation. But the night before I was to go through with the plans, I could not sleep. There was a great deal of turmoil in my thoughts. I felt alone, without hope, pressed by a deadline. It was as though I were missing a crucial piece of information that would enable me to avoid making a mistake I would have to live with. I had discussed this situation with a friend who is a Christian Scientist. Together we had declared in prayer that I could and would do the will of God. Now, in the middle of the night, I stopped trying to marshal an intellectual comprehension of spiritual concepts. Instead I was led to pray in a simple, direct way that put my actions in God's hands. I said to God, quite earnestly, that I wanted to do whatever I should do. And in a moment the answer came, in this case, to cancel. This was not a decision from human reasoning. It was, however, attended by assurance and a deep-down certainty that this was the right thing. Whereas I'd been worried and upset moments before, I was suddenly at peace. I went back to bed and slept well. Within just a few weeks, an alternative course of action came to me that was better-sounder and more beneficial-than I could have planned. The way I turned to God in making this decision has continued to help me. I remember it often, for it showed me more clearly than I had seen before that His intelligence, and not human ability, is what saves and heals.

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