Provision at hand

HOUSEHOLD repairs. Unexpected family expenses.

Our daughter's tuition.

It was one bill after another until all our usual sources of money were exhausted. We were short of meeting our financial obligations by four hundred fifty dollars. This was disheartening news for our two-income family. Quite fearful and with seemingly nowhere else to turn, I realized that what was most needed was the immediate comfort and help that prayer -- turning one's whole heart unreservedly to God, Spirit--could provide.

As I began to seek God's help, the question occurred to me, Where did this idea of lack come from? ``The checkbook balance'' would seem to be the logical answer. But what came to me had nothing to do with checkbook balances, bills, or money. I realized that in a very profound sense I couldn't have an idea of lack! Could I lack Spirit, God, and His limitless good? Is there any time, place, or circumstance where we can lack the substance of God? In the Christian Science textbook Mary Bak er Eddy1 puts it this way: ``God being everywhere and all-inclusive, how can He be absent or suggest the absence of omnipresence and omnipotence?''

But what about that checkbook balance? Could I turn away from what appeared to be inadequate material substance and rely entirely on this God- derived idea? That night I felt completely at peace, trusting the idea of God's constant provision. Three days later my wife received a letter from her former employer. It included money that was owed to her--a check for four hundred sixty-one dollars. Neither one of us was aware that the money had been sent or that it was owed to her. And it was more than enough to meet our needs on time.

I've never seen this experience as merely a coincidence. For me it held a great lesson. I gained a clearer view of the higher nature of substance as pure Spirit. And I learned more about man's inseparability from the substance of Spirit.

Throughout the Bible there are accounts of people who, when faced with lack or limitation, turned to God for help. We read of two cases where the Master, Christ Jesus, fed thousands of people despite what his disciples saw as limited substance, an inadequate food supply. In one account the disciples asked Jesus, ``Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?'' 3 Jesus' response indicates the very different idea he had of the substance at hand. He gave thank s to God, and the thousands of people were fed. And there were leftovers!

Is there substance enough today to meet your needs? There certainly is. But the real source is not a bank, a credit line, or a paycheck. The true idea of the substance at hand is spiritual. God, Spirit, is the source of what we need, and His substance is inexhaustible.

So the demand, I learned, is not to gain more matter but to gain a better idea of the real substance that is already ours as offspring of God. We can become conscious of this through prayer and through an increasing purification of thought, which enable us to discern God's presence better, to feel the reality of His care. Clearly, our primary purpose is to seek ``the kingdom of God, and his righteousness,'' 4 as Jesus instructed, and not to use prayer to achieve material things. Yet God does provide for our needs, and to the degree we become conscious of the substance and nature of God, good, we will experience good. 1 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 287. 3 Matthew 15:33. 4 Matthew 6:33.{et

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