'Lesson from a 5/16-inch ball bearing'

I struggled for some two hours to replace the drive belt on our washing machine. Finally everything seemed in order and it was time to reassemble the numerous pieces of the machine.

Then, without warning, a tiny ball bearing dropped from an area of the gearbox. I had no idea where to put it or what function it served. After studying a washing machine diagram and consulting my wife, I chose a probable location for the 5/16 inch ball bearing.

Some reassembling was done, and it was time for the trial run. The machine sounded like an aging tank and refused to spin. I became rather agitated and decided to try again the next day.

Before resuming my project, I talked to a repairman. I listed the various major parts I had reassembled and added as an afterthought, ''There was this tiny ball bearing that fell out . . . .'' To my surprise he stated that this was the problem. The malfunctioning of the whole machine was due to my misplacement of this tiny ball of steel. When the bearing was correctly placed, the machine ran perfectly.

Often the way to correct a major malfunction in our relationships is to begin with apparently insignificant details. The Bible speaks of ''the little foxes, that spoil the vines.'' n1 As correct placement of the tiny ball bearing was indispensable to the smooth operation of the washing machine, so some minor character correction can lead to harmony in one's marriage, neighborhood, or business.

n1 Song of Solomon 2:15.

We might find that the first step in resolving a communication breakdown is to humbly admit the necessity and value of each person. Discordant relationships have often been healed when an individual could first identify one tiny spark of good in the other person. Our efforts are supported by the realization that God has not created an unlovable man or a relationship problem. Man's actual selfhood is spiritual, expressing the divine nature. We may not see this truth instantaneously; but each day we can take steps toward the recognition that God is the only creator and that all He has made is good. We can increase our perception that good is more powerful than evil, that love conquers hate, and that Spirit is master over the flesh.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''If the disciple is advancing spiritually, he is striving to enter in. He constantly turns away from material sense, and looks towards the imperishable things of Spirit. If honest, he will be in earnest from the start, and gain a little each day in the right direction, till at last he finishes his course with joy.'' n2

n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 21.

Christian Science shows the modern disciple that malfunctioning relationships , or bodies, whether they present a petty or overwhelming challenge, need not be tolerated. We can prayerfully oppose and defeat every notion that God is sharing with evil His role as creator. As faithful disciples, we can strive toward the destruction of nominal inharmonies, as well as so-called massive evils.

Christ Jesus gave us a parable illustrating the rewards of faithful discipleship. In the parable a man states to his servant, ''Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.'' n3 Apparently Jesus was recommending a conscientious approach to daily affairs as a preparation to demonstrating our God-given dominion in all things.

n3 Matthew 25:21.

Impatience or laziness might tempt one to overlook and undervalue the 5/16 -inch ball bearings in life. But clearly every activity and relationship is filled with opportunity to be specifically faithful to God. One's faithfulness may manifest itself as patience, constancy, or intelligent attention to detail. God has not created any meaningless moments or activities.

Each day can be used as a workshop for fixing the character flaws and malfunctions that would obstruct our larger progress Spiritward. By gaining ''a little each day in the right direction'' we find ourselves entering into ''the joy of (our) lord.'' DAILY BIBLE VERSE Watch thou in all theings. II Timothy 4:5

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