The outbreak of bush fires where I live in the land Down Under moved me to think more deeply about the concept of renewal. Interestingly enough, though thousands of acres of parkland were blackened and ravaged, in many cases the flora began regenerating almost immediately. Park rangers on television pointed out brand new undergrowth just days after the fires.
Mother Nature affords numerous, wonderful examples of renewal and restoration.
Many of us long to experience that kind of renewal in our lives. But how? The Bible assures: "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning" (Lam. 3:22, 23).
I've found that the presence of Christ in my consciousness renews my thought any time, any place. And a change of thought brings a change in life. One way the Bible says it is to "put off the old man with his deeds" and to "put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Col. 3:9, 10).
We can turn to our compassionate Father-Mother God in prayer, reaching out for thoughts to inspire, refresh, sustain, and lead us in the right direction.
For example, for many years my stepdaughter considered herself to be painfully shy. Some time ago she decided to spend a year with her father and me - several thousand miles from her home in the United States - and take a job. She liked her work, but making friends was a struggle. She said she found it difficult even to strike up a conversation with someone, so acute was her shyness.
We were pleased when she agreed (haltingly, at first) to take a communications class at the local evening college, to do some public speaking and learn to interact more with others. But when she was told to prepare a five-minute speech to be delivered on camera, the party was over!
Her father and I assured her that as God's child, His image and likeness and the apple of His eye, she had dominion over her fears. We prayed to see her as God sees her - perfect, complete, loved, and happy - and we encouraged her to accept this view of herself and to challenge the perceived limitations that were threatening her happiness.
This statement by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science and this newspaper, encapsulates what we tried to understand about my stepdaughter's nature and put into practice in order to help her: "In divine Science, man is the true image of God. The divine nature was best expressed in Christ Jesus, who threw upon mortals the truer reflection of God and lifted their lives higher than their poor thought-models would allow, - thoughts which presented man as fallen, sick, sinning, and dying." She continues: "The Christlike understanding of scientific being and divine healing includes a perfect Principle and idea, - perfect God and perfect man, - as the basis of thought and demonstration" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 259).
My stepdaughter gave her speech (and several more before the end of the course) and was pleased with the result. Today, she speaks at public meetings as part of her job. And she has a nice circle of friends.
Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Being reborn, to me, means changing our thought of life from a material to a spiritual basis. What could be more liberating? We are not dealing with things but with ideas.
Renewal, as natural and unlabored as the crocus popping its head through the snow, is synonymous with the action of Life.
O Life that maketh all things new,
The blooming earth, the thoughts of men ....
The freer step, the fuller breath,
The wide horizon's grander view;
The sense of Life that knows no death, -
The Life that maketh all things new.
Christian Science Hymnal