THERE'S something special about spring-time, especially after a long, hard winter. The grayness and dullness of winter fade out as the vibrant green and flowery colors of spring take hold. They bring with them a promise of freshness and renewal. This promise doesn't apply only to springtime. It also speaks of an opportunity for fresh starts, for putting our lives on a sounder, happier basis at any time. Such a new beginning can come as we give up our belief that we are sin-filled mortals, separated from God. You might say that spring's annual return is a kind of symbol telling us that it is never too late to turn from the darkness and ultimate dullness of sin to the springtime of spirituality.
It doesn't particularly matter what the sin we've been struggling with is. Perhaps it is simple bad habits that build up and make us feel we will never be free of them. Or it could seem to be deeply entrenched immorality. In each case, the foundation of the wrong behavior is our willingness to believe something about ourselves that is not true.
One of the main reasons sin is so debilitating is that it constantly argues that we are material beings, seeking material, and eventually ephemeral, pleasure. To accept this view of ourselves is to deny our actual spiritual heritage from God. As Christ Jesus' teachings make abundantly clear-- and he proved them through healing both sick people and sinners--man is spiritual and inseparable from God.
Many of us have at times felt quite far from the type of spirituality that Christ Jesus taught and lived. But in a parable, the Master offered a wonderful promise for each of us. As Luke's Gospel records it, Jesus told of a young man who had taken his inheritance and wasted it on "riotous living, indulging in immorality and sin. He had been reduced from being a man of means to being in such need that he envied the pigs for the husks that they were eating.
He suddenly realized that even the servants in his father's household were better off than he was. And although he didn't feel he was worthy to be his father's son because of his immoral behavior, he decided to go back home and ask if he could at least be one of the servants.
As the Bible explains, "He arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. Notice that the Bible says his father came to him, "when he was yet a great way off. The father wasn't waiting at home for the young man to grovel at his feet. He want his son to turn toward right living and was eager to help him as soon as he was willing to change.
I always find this so encouraging because it says that even the desire to turn from sin immediately brings us closer to God, our heavenly Father. This happens because the first step in giving up sin is recognizing that we really are spiritual. This means that our true inclinations are toward good--peace, joy, love, truth. The material counterfeits such as selfishness, greed, lust, anger, can never really satisfy us.
To understand at least a bit of our spirituality begins at once to help us see through the enticements that materiality offers. We learn that the fleeting pleasures of sin--with the endless hunger for more--have little appeal when they are compared with the bliss of knowing our unity with God. Gradually genuine love, truth, and intelligence become more real than the craving for material satisfaction--whatever form it takes.
Yet anyone who has really wrestled with sin knows that sometimes the struggle to be good makes great demands on us. Indeed, the battle may seem endless. But to begin is to turn like the prodigal son from the dry husks--the winter of sin--toward the promise of renewal that runs through the Bible, and particularly through Christ Jesus' teachings. It may not be the only step we need to take, but it is at least the first step. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says in S
cience and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "Evil which obtains in the bodily senses, but which the heart condemns, has no foundation; but if evil is uncondemned, it is undenied and nurtured.
As we turn more fully to our spirituality and unity with God, with good, we are eliminating any foundation on which the sin could rest. And while the sin may appear to persist a while longer, each day gives us new opportunities to perceive more and more of the spiritual basis on which our lives really rest.
Healing through prayer is explored in more detail in a weekly magazine, the Christian Science Sentinel.
I will hear what God the Lord will speak:
for he will speak peace unto his people,
and to his saints:
but let them not turn again to folly.
Surely his salvation is nigh
them that fear him;
that glory may dwell in our land.
Mercy and truth are met together;
righteousness and peace
have kissed each other.
Truth shall spring out of the earth;
and righteousness shall look
down from heaven.
Yea, the Lord shall give
that which is good;
and our land shall yield her increase.
Righteousness shall go before him;
and shall set us in the way
of his steps.