Foundations of sapphire, windows of agate

LIVING alone in a strange town and working at a new job (my first), I had never felt farther from home. But when an earlier search for a place to live had left me feeling that appropriate housing was unavailable, a Bible passage had spoken to me of home: ``O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.''1 Of course, the Bible passage is often thought to refer to the heavenly city. While this Biblical metaphor may seem an abstraction, Christian Science affirms that God's kingdom, the spiritual reality of existence, is not remote or mythical. As Christ Jesus taught, heaven is within, available to spiritually illumined thought.

I knew that the heavenly kingdom, the realm of God, was framed by His attributes and that in reality God's realm was also mine, because my true being -- and everyone's -- is His spiritual likeness. By appreciating His strength and holiness and expressing these qualities myself, I could make myself at home wherever I was.

Soon, through unusual channels, I had learned of appealing lodgings within my means. To me this was evidence of the immediacy of the spiritual dwelling place described in the Bible. Surely the feeling of home I needed would flow from a fuller understanding of that heavenly abode.

As the junior member of an organization that was impressed by neither my ability nor my personal standards, I often felt estranged and ``not comforted.'' But what was my native habitat? The New Testament refers to Noah, Abraham, and Sara as ``strangers and pilgrims on the earth.''2 Yet the lives of these great Bible figures bore witness to the reality and availability of the heavenly kingdom precisely because they did not see earth as their ultimate home. Was I a mortal creature only able to feel at home amid pleasant earthly conditions? Or were earth's discomforts and estrangements pressing me to seek more urgently the priceless structure of spiritual reality -- the home that is heaven itself?

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, says, ``The real house in which `we live, and move, and have our being' is Spirit, God, the eternal harmony of infinite Soul.''3

My circumstances didn't immediately change. But prayer helped me focus less on the conditions in which I felt strange and more on the spiritual facts. The rich and enduring structure of spiritual qualities -- holiness, spiritual strength, joy -- fill my true dwelling place. Within these I could not really be alone; they make up the native home of all God's offspring.

Eventually I found myself engaged in more meaningful activity among congenial colleagues. And as the family to which my building belonged included me in their circle, my house truly became a home. What had seemed to be a desolate period proved to be a time in which the unshakable treasures of heaven came to light in my thought, and then in outward experience, as the home in which I truly lived.

That heaven is our dwelling place is not an abstract promise that serves to postpone happiness. In fact, the home, family feeling, and supportive community that we need are assured, not deferred, by the realization that we abide in spiritual qualities. No earthly factors can deprive us of the feeling of home because no earthly factors determine our home. We may be pilgrims on earth, but God's heaven is our present, eternal home.

1Isaiah 54:11, 12. 2See Hebrews 11:13. 3Pulpit and Press, p. 2.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Psalms 90:1

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