In 1936, Charles Laughton starred in the film “Rembrandt,” about the life of the 17th-century Dutch painter. In one memorable scene he is reassuring a shy servant girl, Hendrickje, that she need not be concerned about posing for him. He tells her, “Painters have a different way of looking at things. You must imagine I am looking at you like the water with which you wash yourself or the air you move in … or the light that shines on you.”
Rembrandt took the fear out of the unfamiliar with elements that Hendrickje understood: water refreshes, air sustains, and light keeps safe. These things were dependable. They were familiar. She might not have understood the subtleties of his metaphors, but she responded to the sincerity of his appeal. It touched her receptive heart and calmed her concerns.
Perhaps this appeal hints at the way in which God, divine intelligence and infinite Love, nurtures innocent thought. Christian Science also teaches us a different way of looking at things. There may be times when we feel unloved or unlovely, even ashamed of unholy thoughts and actions, fragmented moments of good intentions when desperation longs for peace. But we can turn from these often chaotic and disturbing scenarios. We have control. God has created each of us with the sovereignty of divine Mind, and at no time can this control be abridged or nullified. This is our divine heritage of wholeness and completeness. These new, inspired ideas become our guides, and spiritual intuition leads the way.
We see this kind of spiritual leading written throughout the Bible. The words of the prophets and apostles were touched by the eternal, which inspired their speech and proved their oneness with the divine. Prophetic words animated purpose and inspired revelations. Think of the prophet Isaiah, who wrote, “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (40:3). Isaiah, and other inspired seers in the Bible, were to make plain what confounded the worldly wise.
One biblical account makes this kind of inspiration crystal clear. Naaman was superior (see II Kings 5:1-15). Everything in his experience pointed to it: his rank, his servants, and the men he commanded. So when Elisha had his servant deliver instructions to Naaman rather than meeting him in person, it confused and angered the commander. Couldn’t this man see that Naaman was important because of the retinue with which he traveled? But through a struggle with his pride, Naaman was healed not only of leprosy, but also of arrogance and spiritual blindness – confirmed when he recognized the God of Israel and referred to himself as a “servant” (II Kings 5:15). These are the kinds of prophetic encounters that transformed individuals and nations.
It’s comforting to know that no matter what circumstances we are facing, God, divine Life, Truth, and Love, gently and patiently leads us. In the words of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, this leading happens “[i]n the way Thou [God] hast, – Be it slow or fast, Up to Thee” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 400). And as we realize more of God’s love for His creation, including each of us, fear and doubt fade and we discover healing and comfort. We become acquainted with Life, Truth, and Love – you might call it “trinity in unity” – which brings us find rest and regeneration.
Inspired thoughts lead the way. They are a welling up from within, a form of manna that feeds the hungry heart, fresh water to satisfy thirst, and an assurance that all is well. These messages from God are our “spiritual stewards,” and they lead and inspire in a valley of shadows at close of day or on a mountaintop in the morning light. Rembrandt’s reminder that light signifies safety points to a spiritual message to all of us: “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations” (Psalms 90:1).