Spiritual self-reliance

ALTHOUGH I could sail our boat pretty well, I thought tying knots was impossible. (And after many fruitless attempts to teach me, my husband agreed.) So I either relied on other people or went by the adage ``If you can't tie a good knot, tie lots of them.'' Then one day I tied our dinghy to the mooring buoy with a lot of bad knots -- and when we got back the dinghy was gone. Clearly this wouldn't do. If I wanted to sail, I would have to learn knots. So I prayed. And as it turned out, the answer to my prayers went way beyond knots and changed some entrenched attitudes I had never realized needed changing.

Through my study of Christian Science I had proved many times that when we strive to be more Christlike, to bring our lives more consistently into line with the way Jesus lived, we see bright flashes of our own real selfhood. The Bible tells us that this real self was created by God in His image. Man, then, is the expressionof God, the pure likeness of divine Spirit, bearing witness to His wisdom, goodness, and love. The better acquainted we become with this true spiritual self, the more able we are to accomplish whatever is rightfully ours to do.

When I started to pray about my situation, I thought all I needed was to gain a higher sense of competence and dexterity. But as often happens in a Christian Science healing, I was soon led into a much wider area of prayer and study: a new perspective on salvation.

The particular dictionary definition of salvation that glowed with new light for me was ``liberation from ignorance or illusion.'' The more I thought about it, the more clearly I could see that believing I was incapable of anything I rightfully needed to do (and leaving the responsibility to other people) was indeed an ignorant illusion. And the longer I prayed, the more pervasive I discovered this illusion to be. I had, for example, been avoiding resolution of a difficult relationship, expecting the other person to take the first healing step. And I had also been refusing to shoulder certain responsibilities (which I just plain didn't like) on the pretext that other people were better at them than I was.

Studying the Bible to learn more about salvation and about the cheering possibility that I could at least start being liberated from the ignorance and illusion that seemed to be manipulating me, I found this: ``Wherefore, my beloved,'' Paul tells the Philippians, `` out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.''1

How reassuring it was to think that God was working in me. And I did want to do His ``good pleasure.'' Not just sometimes but consistently. I had enough faith in His great love for me to know that listening humbly for His guidance and shutting out doubts and questionings could very well be the first steps toward gaining the spiritual self-reliance I needed. (They were.)

Speaking of faith and salvation in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy2 writes: ``One kind of faith trusts one's welfare to others. Another kind of faith understands divine Love and how to work out one's `own salvation, with fear and trembling.' `Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief!' expresses the helplessness of a blind faith; whereas the injunction, `Believe...and thou shalt be saved!' demands self-reliant trustworthiness, which includes spiritual understanding and confides all to God.''3

Quietly pondering this passage, I prayed to understand more about my true spiritual being. And little by little I really began to see that self-reliant trustworthiness was inherently mine, the natural expression of the spiritual reality of my being as a child of God.

I don't remember how long I prayed like this, but one day I suddenly knew the loving, gentle step I should take to sweeten the difficult relationship I had been thinking was the other person's fault. And the responsibilities I had been passing along to other people became easier and easier for me to fulfill, joyfully! Lastly (in case you've been wondering), with the long-hidden sin of shirked responsibility fast dissolving, my mental block on knots dissolved too, and I finally learned to tie the best one in the book! We haven't lost our dinghy since.

1Philippians 2:12, 13. 2The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3Science and Health, p. 23.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.