During the past decade my wife and I have lived below what I suppose the government would define as the poverty level. And we've lived substantially above it. In all honesty we can say that our lives have been just as happy in one instance as in the other.
It has become clear that our attitudes have not been dependent on how much money was coming in, but on our view of God. Now, that may seem like an extremely chilly thought to someone constantly scratching for every extra penny, barely keeping ahead of the bill collectors. And yet we're convinced there's a logical and inevitable relationship between one's concept of God and adequate income.
If we think of God as anthropomorphic, as a person somewhere ''out there,'' we're more likely to find ourselves feeling lack - and with this view, we may find ourselves regularly pleading with God to push back financial ills. The more we discover that God is Spirit and that Spirit is the true substance of all creation - even the substance of our being - the freer we'll be from lack and inadequacy.
Limitation and restriction are essentially the suggestion that God, divine substance, is absent, or at least not complete. And if we accept this suggestion , we're stuck with the concept that He has failed, or at least refused, to care for His beloved child, man. But this is a fallacy, a lie about God. Actually, the problem of lack is a theological problem.
Prayer may lead us in just the opposite direction from the materialist who is clinging to, and seeking more of, materiality. Effective prayer isn't really asking for increased income. In fact, unusual as it may seem, prayer may lead one to a moderating of his strong feeling of the need for more and more money. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ''Meekness, moderating human desire, inspires wisdom and procures divine power.'' n1
n1 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 360
I've found a great deal of spiritual insight in that statement - and found that true abundance does come from ''wisdom'' and ''divine power.'' I remember once - and this must have been about the time we were hovering around the so-called poverty level - when an increase in salary was offered to me. I was especially impressed with this offer because my employer really wasn't in a position to pay it. After praying, however, I decided to decline. It seemed so unrealistic not to accept, given the rapidly increasing inflation; and yet I felt this was the wisest answer.
The Bible says, ''Be content with your wages.'' n2 Of course, this teaching didn't anticipate the economic conditions of the twentieth century. But now I see that it didn't have to. The Bible reveals something that transcends time and human economy. It shows that God is Spirit, the infinite source of all good. And Bible figures who lived this truth found adequate care time and time again for their human needs.
n2 Luke 3:14
As we look back, it's evident to my wife and me that our needs have steadily been cared for. But some may wonder about days when there's no income at all - no job, no prospects for work on the horizon. I suppose that's a different article, yet the theme would remain unchanged. When I've pounded the pavement looking for work, I've tried to keep before me the fact that God is my provider and that man is God's perfect expression. I'll never forget the unusual way a truck-driving job opened up as I crowded out discouragement by praying about God's abundant presence. There's no doubt in my mind. One's view of God is the key to adequacy.
Well, given the scramble nowadays to keep up with the Joneses, and inflation - and many do feel they are hardly keeping above water - this message may seem a little unrealistic. On the other hand, if you've tried everything else and still seem to be getting more behind than ahead, you might want to consider a spiritually original approach. Moderate those human desires. Simplify your life style - at least your way of viewing materiality. And most important of all, grow in a love of the fact that God, Spirit, is your substance, and He will increasingly reveal Himself to you. You are His child. He cares for you. He sustains you. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee. Psalms 55:22