IT had been three very wet days that my son and I had been sloshing along the Appalachian Trail. But we were enjoying each other's company and the joy that comes with an unusual adventure, so we persisted. Late the third day, we climbed a particularly taxing mountain in the dripping rain and mist. As we reached the top of this mountain, however, we broke out of the mist into clearing sky with a most beautiful sunset. As we paused to enjoy the sunset, the mist below us began to vanish. Better yet, the remaining three days of our trip were in clear weather.
That enjoyable experience has come to mind many times, often as a parallel to a spiritual experience where persistence in climbing spiritually has resulted in a clearer view of God and man that has had specific, tangible benefits.
Over the years I have had a number of challenges to my physical well-being. I must say I didn't always feel about them as Paul did when he said, ``For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.''1 In fact, on occasion, the affliction didn't seem very light at all and the prospects for glory seemed slim!
But I've found that as I persist in learning more about God and my relationship to Him, the afflictions are overcome. The experience of climbing through the clouds helps me focus on the desired result when the going gets a bit rough. Two important points always come back to me: as the sun is always shining above the clouds, so God's power and love are ever present; and, persistence in climbing to a more spiritual idea of God and man brings new light and healing to our lives.
What is the truest view of God and man? How does it affect our lives? The Bible is a source of information about God, ourselves, and how we relate to God. In Psalm 1 we are told that we are blessed by delighting and meditating in God's law. Certainly the Ten Commandments and Christ Jesus' Sermon on the Mount are important statements of that law. As we study these, we get a clearer grasp of what God is and how we should relate to Him and to each other. God is good -- all-powerful, all-present, all-knowing. And man is His likeness -- a spiritual idea, pure and perfect, not a physical structure that is subject to discomfort, dishonesty, impurity.
As we study the Bible and learn more about God's law, we become better able to distinguish the real man, God's man, from the false concept of man that seems to dominate our life. We come to the conclusion that it is possible to follow Jesus' command ``Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.''2 And our efforts to do so can result in our bringing to light the true concept of ourselves and all mankind, which in turn blesses us in practical ways.
We don't need to become humanly perfect overnight to experience harmony in our lives. But what is required is that we start on the way -- that we make an honest effort to follow Biblical precepts. Such Christian living makes demands on us, but in proportion as we are persistent in following Jesus' teachings, we bring their promise into our lives. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, points out both the demands and the promise when she writes: ``Whoever would demonstrate the healing of Christian Science must abide strictly by its rules, heed every statement, and advance from the rudiments laid down. There is nothing difficult nor toilsome in this task, when the way is pointed out; but self-denial, sincerity, Christianity, and persistence alone win the prize, as they usually do in every department of life.''3
A few years after graduating from college, I played in a recreational league. In one game, I landed off balance and injured my back severely enough that I had to leave the game. I prayed to see more clearly my true being as a spiritually perfect idea of God, not limited by a physical structure, as I had learned from the Bible. But the difficulty stayed with me for several years, and it was not until I began a more thorough and earnest study of the Bible and of Christian Science that I made real progress.
Even then, healing didn't come as quickly as it sometimes had, but it was sure and complete. I now am completely free of the back pain, and have been for over fifteen years. Backpacking, bicycling, sports, and heavy lifting are commonplace in my life. The healing came about because I continued to climb through the mist until I realized the need to make my desire to learn more about God and my relationship to him a serious part of my daily life.
So -- if the mist of pain or disharmony seems gathered around you, remember that the sun of God's healing power is always shining and that increasing our understanding of God's love and care for us as His child, carries us into the light of healing and harmony.
1II Corinthians 4:17. 2Matthew 5:48. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 462.
BIBLE VERSE: He shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.
II Samuel 23:4