MY wife and I traveled to a country where we'd never been before. While we'd read a great deal about the country, we were completely unfamiliar with everyday details. Simple, ordinary customs were new. There was a pervasive disorientation; this wasn't like being back in the familiar setting of our home community. And yet we knew the experience was good for us; it brought needed broadening and education to our lives. Well, we persevered. And we're grateful that we did. In the end our visit brought great enrichment and a number of changes for the better.
A similar experience may take place as we grow in spirituality. As our lives are drawn closer to God and to the infinite nature of His love and reality, the broadening of our experience may at first seem unsettling. But we soon learn to rejoice in new freedom.
I think of many of those who were healed by Christ Jesus, especially people who had suffered for many years -- sometimes all their lives. Suddenly to be well must have profoundly changed their lives. Habitual patterns of dependency, limited views of their own abilities, and so forth were abruptly shattered; the familiar could no longer be relied upon. Many must have had to learn anew many things, like children. This was what my wife and I learned on our trip. We had to be humble enough to realize that w e were like children in a new land. As a result we discovered that we could learn quite rapidly without constantly reacting to differences or being afraid of the new.
Entering into a knowledge of God's government of our lives is like entering a new land. Familiar trusts in our own opinions, beliefs, anxieties, and prejudices are challenged by the dawning realization that God is, as Christian Science teaches, man's true Life. The truth that the very law that upholds and sustains all of man's life is wholly spiritual and good is radical. If we've been accustomed to believing that our familiar, but limited, material knowledge and resources are what is essent ial, our dawning spirituality and our efforts to trust in God who is man's true Life and Mind may make us feel temporarily disoriented. But this ``land'' of spirituality is not truly foreign to anyone. This is what the Master, Christ Jesus, revealed to humanity. He called it the kingdom of God. And he explained, Luke's Gospel records, ``The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:...for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.''
Writing about first encounters with dawning spirituality, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``When first spoken in any age, Truth, like the light, `shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.''' She goes on to explain a few paragraphs later: ``The purpose and motive to live aright can be gained now.... Working and praying with true motives, your Father will open the way.''
Spiritually, man is God's expression, His image and likeness, as the Bible affirms. This is our true selfhood. And the materialism, fear, limitation, and error that seem to constitute much of everyday life tell nothing of our true, unbreakable relationship to divine Truth and Love, God. As we are drawn near to this understanding, we'll gain in our confident reliance on God for all that is good and life-sustaining. Discovering our true identity as God's child is much like becoming a citizen in a new land . But it is our own land, and our heavenly Father will open the way for successful citizenship.