OFTEN in my childhood my brothers, sister, and I and a roundup of the neighborhood children would gather around my father and listen to him weave fanciful stories that almost always began with ``Once upon a time.'' He captured our imagination, and we would be transported to far-off places and far-away kingdoms. Recalling those storytelling times, I began to think of other ``once upon a time'' concepts. ``Once upon a time'' people thought that canoes, or sailing vessels, or steamship lines were the only possible means of transportation on water and that horse-drawn vehicles and trains were the only possible means on land. ``Once upon a time'' no one knew of telephones or satellites, planes and spaceships, computers, freezers, VCR's. Years from now people will be saying ``once upon a time'' about our day.
Reminiscing can sometimes be pleasant, but we must remember that we live now, not a minute ago or a minute from now, but at this present moment. We must use the present moment to advantage. And the best way to do this is by bringing our thoughts and lives more into line with who we really are as offspring of God, our Father-Mother. The Bible states, ``Now are we the sons of God.''1
``Once upon a time'' I thought of myself only as a mortal, made up wholly of brain, blood, bones, flesh. However, Christian Science is teaching me, in accord with the Bible, that despite appearances man is not a mortal, not material, but spiritual, made in the image of God, therefore perfect, free. Clearly, we all seem to be mere mortals -- physical, destructible. And there's no question that we all must overcome sinful tendencies. But our actual selfhood as created by God is spiritual, Godlike.
The knowledge of this absolute eternal fact can give us increasing dominion over material conditions. God is actually in control of our lives and His purpose for us is good and perfect now. Outgrown views held in the past can't prevent the appearing now of the good God is always imparting to His creation.
Centuries ago the most Godlike man the world has known walked along the shores of the Galilean Sea, in the hills and gardens around Jerusalem, and along surrounding highways and byways. As he wended his way through the towns and villages, he healed the blind, the lame, lepers, the deaf and the dumb, and he raised some from the dead. His name was Christ Jesus. To Jesus it didn't matter how long a person had had a physical trouble. He remained unimpressed with the time element and healed a man who had been crippled for thirty-eight years, a woman who had been bowed for over eighteen years, and raised from the dead his friend Lazarus, who had lain in his grave four days.
The Master was concerned with now, this moment. He demonstrated man's immediate perfection. He said that we could follow him and do the works that he did.2
We can trust God -- not blindly but through the understanding that He is Love and that He loves and cares for His creation without fail. There is no need to look back in remorse over what may have been failures or mistakes, and we do not have to indulge in ``if only'' thinking. ``Time past and time present, both, may pain us, but time improved is eloquent in God's praise,''3 writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
We would do well, then, to stop indulging in ``once upon a time'' thinking that claims we were once younger, more agile, more happily employed, perhaps better off financially. Our true being was never a mortal passing through various phases, good or bad. Man is spiritual, eternally cared for by God, ageless. We have now and will forever have the opportunity to be about the Father's business, fruitfully employed expressing His nature. Our reward, as His spiritual offspring, is always abundant, because the supply of right ideas from our creator is endless.
We need not bemoan the past or fear the future. Mrs. Eddy says, ``Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment.''4
1I John 3:2. 2See John 14:12. 3Pulpit and Press, p. 1. 4Miscellaneous Writings, p. 307. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. II Corinthians 6:2