If only . . .

The words that complete this phrase are seldom happy ones. ''If only I had more money . . . . If only I had more time . . . . If only I had a friend . . . .''

The ''if only'' approach to life always puts off contentment and peace of mind to some distant date or circumstance. Yet our Way-shower, Christ Jesus, said: ''Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.'' n1 And St. Paul later wrote, ''Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.'' n2

n1 John 4:35.

n2 II Corinthians 6:2.

God is giving us an abundant and useful ''now.'' We must learn to ''lift up (our) eyes'' to behold His perfect provision. Since God is not truly absent from any of us, goodness, beauty, and satisfaction must be at hand.

You may not believe this. You may feel overwhelmingly burdened by evidences of lack, sickness, or loneliness. Many people with such feelings came to Jesus, the master Christian. Sometimes he met them with an ''if only'' type of statement of a different kind, one that pointed to the need for a change of consciousness. For example, he once said, ''If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.'' n3

n3 Mark 9:23.

For Jesus, the improvement of one's condition wasn't dependent on time or certain circumstances; it was a matter of believing in God's power and nearness. Even if the individual had seen very little of God's goodness in the course of his lifetime, he was challenged and called to ''believe.''

The teachings of Christian Science, as presented in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, n4 explain how one can come to believe in, even understand, the saving goodness and reality of God. Christian Science shows one that God is not hidden or unreachable, but ever present and knowable.

n4 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.

You don't have to be a saint with a spotless record in order to turn to God for guidance, strength, and healing. God loves you now. There are no prerequisites or ''if onlys'' when one is honestly hungering to know Him better.

Receiving God's love does not call for a certain level of education, a prescribed amount of income, or a certain national heritage. Science and Health states: ''In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail themselves of God as 'a very present help in trouble.' Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals. It is the open fount which cries, 'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.' '' n5

n5 Science and Health, pp. 12-13.

It is truly fulfilling to love God, whereas many people have found that having their ''if only'' answered has not proved totally satisfying. In my college days I spent some months thinking, ''If only I could make the school baseball team.'' When I finally joined the team, I discovered (again) that my ''if only'' was rather shortsighted. The experience prompted me to look at the other ''if onlys'' in my thinking, and it was at this time that I determined to have an understanding of God as the central objective of my life.

As one places his relationship to God at the center of his days, the ''if onlys'' start to fade. Instead of yearning for more money, time, friends, fame, one comes to see that God is abundantly supplying His creation with whatever is truly needed. Gratitude replaces complaint. One's attitude is gradually transformed, and this leads to visible progress in his daily endeavors. And one comes to the joyous, peaceful assurance that God meets our every need. DAILY BIBLE VERSE O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. . . . Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with godness. Psalms 107:1, 8, 9

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