ALL of us have probably gone through periods when we have longed for a greater ability to deal with our problems-for more light in our lives. Sometimes we may feel this need during the long, dark days of winter; other times, we may feel ''in the dark'' about where our family lives or careers are going.
While it might seem that our problems require material solutions-more sunlight, a better job, or happier relationships-the Bible shows us that what we actually need is more spiritual illumination within our hearts and minds. Christ Jesus gave us the way to discover this light within ourselves when he said, ''I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life'' (John 8:12). To Jesus, God wasn't a distant deity who was sometimes good and sometimes uncaring. Rather, he knew God to be ever-present Love, whose purpose for man is always a joyful one. Jesus' whole life was geared to introducing humanity to the Christ, the true idea of God, which heals and redeems every one of us.
Instead of seeing man as a mortal being, bred to be a sinner, Jesus knew man's genuine spiritual nature as the child of Love. This was the basis on which he brought about physical healings and regenerated the lives of those who came to him. Like those whom Jesus helped, we, too, are beloved children of God. Love is the natural essence of our being. To express love, then, is to let our light shine within us. It is to know the presence of Christ, the true idea of who and what we are. And when the lights go on within, we find that joy, intelligence, and other spiritual qualities shine forth in every aspect of our lives.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains what happens in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She writes: ''Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way. Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action'' (p. 454).
This inspiration of Love can come in many forms. Gratitude-even over small things-certainly creates an atmosphere conducive to receiving inspired thoughts from God. A recognition that joy and goodness come from what we are, not from what we have, also opens our thoughts to inspired ideas. Genuine inspiration is always spiritual, and it brings us fresh insights about ourselves and about God. It lifts us above the daily material round, and so opens us to new approaches and effective solutions to difficulties.
I had been struggling with a painful physical problem, as well as other troubles. I would find occasional relief, but I needed a lasting solution. I knew prayer would show me the way, but I couldn't seem to get any quiet time to pray in depth. Then as I took a moment to pray one morning, I felt inspired to go on a half-day whale-watching cruise. I didn't really expect that a boat full of people would be a good place for prayer, but I was wrong.
For the next few hours, I was able to open my heart to God in prayer, and to feel the kind of joy I hadn't felt for quite a while. Despite the crowd, I had found a refuge, a place where I could experience my closeness to God and His presence in my life. I began to perceive more of God's infinite love, expressed in big ways as well as small ones. The grace and beauty of the gigantic whales I was watching reminded me that God's creation is spiritual and perfect, and that I was included in that perfection.
When we turned shoreward, I knew the spiritual light I had gained would help me face my problems. Instead of struggling alone, I now felt God's presence guiding me, illuminating the path I had to take. Within a short time, I was healed of the physical problem. And the other difficulties were also quickly solved.
As God's offspring, we each can let His light illuminate our way. When we do this, we find that our path leads us to joy, peace, and health.
Ye are the light of the world.