God's permanent gifts
MOST of us, at some time in our lives, have been given a special gift. Perhaps as a child it was a treasured doll or teddy bear. As we grew, we began to have a more expansive understanding of gift giving. We learned the joy of giving and receiving anything shared with love. Whether the gifts we receive are material possessions or unselfish acts of kindness, it's helpful to recognize the true source of giving and its indestructible nature. Of course, the objects themselves are not indestructible. But what is always with us is the expression of love, the generosity of spirit, that each gift expresses. We read in the Epistle of James, ``Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.'' 1 No variableness! Constant, with no hint of removal from our experience. But what if our lives appear bleak, if we are going through a period where it seems we haven't much in the way of money or friends or prospects? When our circumstances seem at a low point, often that's a good time to take a quiet moment and begin to be grateful. We might express gratitude for whatever good we see around us and in our own lives, however insignificant we may think it is. When we begin to be thankful for our blessings, we have opened the door to a fuller sense of God's provision. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``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.'' 2 We ready ourselves, we are increasingly receptive to greater good and can share it more effectively, when we are expressing gratitude to God for His infinite blessings. It is important, though, not to personalize the good--that is, not to think that specific individuals are the ultimate source of our provision or happiness. Our good comes from God. And while it is often expressed in various individuals, they do not generate the goodness. Man, as the likeness of God, is the expression of God. So we express the activity of the one Spirit; the care of divine Love; the clarity of all-knowing Mind. The divine nature is the source of all good, of all we could possibly want . And as we're grateful for divine blessings, we're ready for more. I had an experience not long ago that helped me see the results of being grateful in the face of dearth. While both working and doing graduate study at a university, I was having a hard time making ends meet. Furthermore, to complete my studies I needed to travel around the country for six weeks collecting data. I tried several funding agencies, but no one could help. Then I realized that I could turn to God in prayer. I prayed to see that I couldn't be guided in this project and then be left empty-handed before its completion. I began to be grateful for every step I had taken in the last few years. I tried to fill my thought not with depressing notions of lack or of anger about why my project wasn't funded when others were, but with gratitude for all the good I had received. Gratitude for each little thing along the way, for each act of kindness from friends. In a short time a private foundation responded to my request and quickly funded the trip. Christ Jesus, the master Christian and Way-shower, never doubted the gifts bestowed by God. When he fed the multitude from the five loaves and two fishes, the first thing he did was to look up to heaven and bless them. He knew that every need would be met. Not only was the multitude fed but there was much food remaining.3 Man does not swing like a pendulum between abundance and dearth. He is not the recipient of blessings that can fade or be taken from him. Every good gift is permanent. The love, affection, joy, and grace we have in our lives are all qualities that, coming from God, can never be lost. We can learn to emulate the Master by being grateful for what we have. Then we'll more readily prove that God does care for all our needs. 1 James 1:17. 2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 3. 3 See Luke 9:11-17.