MY first car was a used, but nearly-in-perfect-condition, '54 Ford. At least a couple of times a week, someone would offer to buy it. To this day, I still judge other cars by what I thought of that one. So you can imagine what I was thinking when I saw a restored '54 Ford the other day. No, I didn't make an offer, but it was tempting. I realized, however, it wasn't the car itself that was so interesting. Instead, there's something appealing about seeing anything broken and nearly abandoned, restored. Now, it might seem strange, even trivial, to connect the restoration of a car with spiritual regeneration, but regeneration is what I thought of.
We can find metaphors for spiritual experience wherever they occur -- in the mundane details of daily life or in the most sacred of happenings. While I don't think '54 Fords can serve as too strong a symbol for spiritual renewal, there are daily experiences which can become powerful symbols, opening floodgates of spiritual hunger and fulfillment.
A friend who has studied Christian Science for many years wrote recently in a letter about such an experience in her life. The passing of her husband after a long marriage, combined with assuming the responsibilities of their business, presented a bleak picture. She said there were many times when she felt ready to give up. In part her letter read: ``...several years ago...I believed what I had read and studied in Christian Science was true, but now I have proved things that formerly were just words to me -- comforting words it's true, but nevertheless rather abstract at times.
``To say that the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me is a better understanding of my oneness with God is absolutely true. Many times in the past I had a feeling of being close to God, but I am afraid it was fluctuating. When everything was fine I felt close, but there has been a change. Now I have come to feel close to God even when problems are not solved at that moment, because I am learning I can never be separated from God.
``So many lessons to be learned, and it seemed at one time as if I was having to learn them all by myself, that is until I learned I could never really be outside the presence of God, which was already guiding and guarding me.... However dire some of the problems have seemed at the time, I now understand from experience the good that has come.... How grateful I am for the opportunity to prove my oneness with God. If I tell you that I am able to stay close to God,...you will understand my cause for gratitude.''
Christ, Truth, impels such spiritual regeneration and restoration in our lives. It may appear that human life is being drained of all that is vital when events wrench away the people and things we love most and are most attached to. But one of the most enduring messages in the Bible is the affirmation of God as bringing restoration and regeneration to our lives. Throughout the Bible the promise endures as it did for Naomi, Ruth's mother-in-law: ``Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman.... And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age.''1
The life of each of us has the regenerative capacity to reveal God's infinite goodness and redemptive love. Looked at even more deeply, our genuine spiritual selfhood as God's child actually includes the spiritual ability to reflect God.
Speaking of God as the ``only generating or regenerating power,'' Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, describes the spiritual sense which lies within us and which reveals the healing power of divine Soul reflected in men and women: ``The ancient worthies caught glorious glimpses of the Messiah or Christ, and their truer sense of Christ baptized them in Spirit -- submerged them in a sense so pure it made seers of men, and Christian healers. This is the `Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,' spoken of by St. Paul.... This spirit of God is made manifest in the flesh, healing and saving men, -- it is the Christ, Comforter, `which taketh away the sin of the world'....''2
This pure, spiritual sense of life lies within our reach. Look forward to the symbols and metaphors and experiences that will waken you to its realization. We really are in the tender care of the great Shepherd. And spiritual regeneration will impel healing, spiritualize our affections, and develop genuine Christianity in our lives. This is spiritual reality.
1Ruth 4:14, 15. 2Message to The Mother Church for 1901, p. 9.
This is a condensed version of an editorial that appeared in the March 7, 1988 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel. - NO BIBLE VERSE TODAY -