Peace and a singing heart
I RECALL feeling despair at a time of war, with its aftermath of joblessness and homelessness. Many were left stranded in a hopeless sense that peace would never be attainable on earth. I faintly remember searching for a glimpse of hope when I read in the Bible of the Prince of Peace, of the arrival of the one who would teach the true basis of peace and brotherhood. Shepherds heard the angelic message telling of the coming of the promised Messiah and proceeded to Bethlehem with joy. Is the Biblical promise of peace of any consequence today? Many people pray for peace in the world, yet there is still so much conflict. It would seem that persistent prayer is needed -- deep, daily prayer, affirming that the divine order must come to light in the meeting of human needs.
I couldn't always see the value of prayer, but I often thought about it as perhaps a way to listen to God and to help bring peace to mankind. That message to the shepherds so long ago, ``Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,''1 was a promise from God that He will keep. Certainly one way of praying is to trust that God keeps His promise as a loving parent does.
The more I thought about the deep joy the shepherds must have felt that night of Jesus' birth, the more I saw that my joy comes from searching for the deeper things of existence as found in the Holy Scriptures, especially in the life and works of Christ Jesus.
About that time a dear friend handed me a magazine called The Herald of Christian Science. This marked the beginning of a journey into a land of peace that began with me. I discovered that the vital message of peace which Jesus brought to the world was that God's kingdom is at hand. Jesus said, ``Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.''2
I was to seek first the understanding of man's indestructible relationship to his Maker, God, and to express the divine nature more fully in my own life if I was to contribute my share of ``on earth peace, good will toward men.'' This realization made my heart sing, because I no longer felt helpless. I could teach with my life as I was meek, merciful, pure of heart, and forgiving. Living that spirit of the Christ, conforming more closely to man's true nature as the image of God, enables one to become a better world-citizen, a more deeply praying one.
Since then, years of studying the Bible along with Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy3 have enlarged my concept of my role in the world as a peacemaker and strengthened my understanding of man's true selfhood. Mrs. Eddy writes, ``The conceptions of mortal, erring thought must give way to the ideal of all that is perfect and eternal.''4
Many years in the business world have furnished ample opportunities to demonstrate what I have learned of man's real nature in God -- and to do so with a singing heart. At one point a manager made things very difficult for the department in which I worked. He was irritable, short-tempered, unreasonably demanding, and this made working conditions horrible. It seemed to crowd out prayer and peaceful spiritual listening. ``How can I constantly think about God under such tensions,'' I thought. My first response was ``It's impossible.'' Then I concluded that I could hardly afford such an attitude if I was to be a peacemaker. Who or what could disturb my communion with God, divine Spirit, deeply felt within me? That's where the kingdom was and must be sought.
I saw that instead of reacting to situations indignantly, impatiently, critically, I could keep my thought filled with peace, joy, gentleness, mercifulness, love -- with divine qualities. I could realize that the true identity of everyone, including this manager, was totally spiritual, perfect, holy, the image of the one perfect creator, no matter how impressive the evidence to the contrary. I could set a standard by practicing the Golden Rule, by working and praying to see only good as reality, as the very substance of all that God creates. When we are sincere in our love for God and man and turn solely to God for help, healing comes about. In this instance there was a total turnabout in the manager's disposition.
Exercising patience is not weakness but strength. It leads to the calm perception of God's allness. Our receptivity to God, good, through meekness, purity, and love, will enable us to hear the Christly message of peace and to see it expressed in our lives. We are never really helpless when we pray with a singing heart.
1Luke 2:14. 2Matthew 6:33. 3The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 4Science and Health, p. 260. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. Colossians 3:15