IN our garden we have a pieris tree that in late winter is covered with bright scarlet leaves. Last February it was particularly beautiful, but early one morning there was a sharp frost, and not one vestige of color was left, only blackened, shriveled leaves. We were sorry to lose such a bright beauty. To our delight, however, a week or two later tiny sprigs of scarlet appeared, and soon the tree was once again full of color. Blight was blotted out and beauty restored. Do we sometimes feel as if our lives were blighted, perhaps by past failures, mistakes, disappointments, a history of illness? Do we feel unequal to the challenge of daily living? Perhaps like Jeremiah we say, ``The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.''1
Yet we can outlive blight, and blossom again. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``Let us feel the divine energy of Spirit, bringing us into newness of life and recognizing no mortal nor material power as able to destroy.''2
From the Bible we can learn that God is the source of all good--in fact, good itself--and that our true being is His image. The need is to open our eyes to this truth through prayer. Fundamentally, it's a materialistic way of looking at life that prevents us from being aware of God's constant good. To understand that we can leave the past behind, with its disappointments or illness or sin, is not a matter of positive thinking or a kind of Pollyanna outlook; it's a practical standpoint, provable through healing.
The story of Paul in the New Testament is encouraging. He had been single-minded in his persecution of Christians. When, on the road to Damascus, he suddenly saw the light, it became evident to him that he must follow Christ. He did not hesitate or look back. How easily he could have sunk down, feeling that his previous wrong course precluded him from taking any part in the promotion of Christianity. But he went forward under divine direction, and still his words and example inspire Christians. He wrote, ``Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.''3
Because Jesus was always conscious of his unity with his Father, God, he was able to act with dominion--to reform the sinner, heal the sick, walk on the water. We, too, through Jesus' teachings, can learn of our relationship to God, and as we maintain a sense of this relationship through prayer and purity of thought, we can demonstrate its healing, transforming effect in our lives.
We must not allow any sense of hurt or injustice to linger or grow in our thought; such a false sense must be replaced with the realization that in the truest, deepest sense, evil has never been real because it has never been created by God. At the very time we believed we were being unjustly treated or missing some great opportunity, our true being, God's likeness, was at peace under His government. Whatever it is that may seem to dog our footsteps, whatever specter of the past arises, we can, like Paul, through moral and spiritual regeneration, forget ``those things which are behind.'' We can live in the present, in the now of God's omnipotent love. Profiting by the lessons learned, by sin destroyed, we can go forward and blossom again.
1Jeremiah 8:20. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 249. 3Philippians 3:13, 14. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away. Isaiah 51:11