I was in a fishing village on a seaweed-strewn beach, watching seagulls. The beach was vast and the gulls were few. I was mentally divvying up prime seaweed-covered beach per gull, and it was clear that each gull could have a lot of beach to itself and there would still be plenty left over.
But the gulls didn't want unoccupied beach plots. They wanted the other gulls' plots. A gull would circle overhead until it spotted another gull dozing on a patch of seaweed. Then it would crash-land on that gull and bite that gull's tail until the victim flew off. The gulls were cutthroat competitors, not for a scarce resource, but for an abundant resource.
Lately, business news makes us sound like gulls scrabbling over seaweed patches on the beach - armed with résumés, lawsuits, ballots, schemes for beating the market, schemes for beating the tax man, and advice on beating the other guy and getting one of the few jobs left.
But the good things in life we want so badly - are they really scarce?
Painful experience insists yes. But I don't think that's the final word. Again and again the Bible describes God's creation as abundant, overflowing, plentiful, bountiful, prosperous, blessed. And it describes us not as rivals in Darwinian competition for what is necessary and good, but as God's sons and daughters, heirs to His riches. As St. Paul wrote, "We are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God" (Rom. 8:16, 17). Paul also assured us, "God shall supply all your need according to his riches" (Phil. 4:19).
Does it seem too good to be true? It did to me, too. But I learned better.
As I was growing up, my parents' roller-coaster relationship made uncertainty the one sure thing. When I was 9 years old, I took money I'd received as a gift and started an emergency fund. Then I mapped out how I could make it 200 miles to my grandmother's house - just in case.
In college I got rid of the emergency fund, but not the insecurity. After graduation, I thought that the right job at the right salary with the right company would guarantee security. But it didn't. My job paid well, but I wanted to do something else - something that didn't promise any salary for some time. The economy was in a recession. Some thought I was lucky to have a job. As an adult, I felt life was as uncertain as it had been when I was growing up.
But by that time, I was studying Christian Science, and it occurred to me that what I really needed was to understand better what God gives to each one of His children.
Mary Baker Eddy, who established this newspaper, described God as "infinite good" and as "the Giver of all good," and she wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "... to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good" (page 494). So goodness is not scarce, and we don't have to scrabble for it like gulls.
But Mrs. Eddy also asked an important question: "Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more" (page 3). I certainly didn't feel especially blessed, so why should I feel especially grateful? But I took her advice seriously and counted my blessings - literally. As I paid bills or handed money to a cashier, I gave gratitude to God for the goodness that purchase represented. I was grateful for the food I ate, for lamplight, for heat, for my tiny apartment, for the comfort of hot baths, for cozy sweaters, for inspirational services at church, for my education (I was paying off student loans at the time), for a good haircut, for having family and friends to call long distance, and so on.
As I did this day after day, bill after bill, things changed. I discovered: "Our gratitude is riches,/ Complaint is poverty" ("Christian Science Hymnal," No. 249). I resigned my job and began the work I really wanted to do. Although I had no salary, for the first time I had security. I knew that God would supply every need - regardless of my job or the roller-coaster economy. And He has - every day of the 14 years since. God will supply your need, too.