The Heavy Lifting
WHEN I worked as a carpenter, one of the jobs I liked least was moving sheet goods--plywood, waferboard, drywall, and the like. They were bulky. They were heavy. And those big sheets were easily caught by gusts of wind. No doubt about it--it was heavy lifting! But it had to be done in order to complete the projects I was working on.I've grown to see that while prayer is joyful and can be effortless, sometimes it also includes its share of "heavy lifting. We can easily overlook this aspect of prayer--the need to persist even when substantial rebuilding of character may be needed. After all, prayer is communion with God. It is a face-to-face meeting with the deep, spiritual love God holds for us. Through it we can gain new views of ourselves and of our lives, which can result in things changing permanently for the better. This is all true, and prayer is the thing to do, always. But it does include facing sin in our own thought, and that requires effort. That's what I mean by "heavy lifting. Prayer enables us to see God more clearly. Facing and overcoming sin must be part of that prayer because it is difficult to see through unchallenged sin to God. Christ Jesus said, Matthew tells us, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. If we are seeing God more clearly in our prayers, we are understanding Him better and better. One of the first things we begin to realize is that His work is already perfect because He is perfect. Jesus urged, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Since God is perfect, all of what He creates is perfect and complete now. God has already created man as His own spiritual offspring. Man is free from sin as God creates him. Biblical phrases like "pure in heart really describe man's sinlessness. Understanding man's God-endowed sinlessness is a source of strength that impels the powerful prayer that heals. Since all that has its rightful home in our thought and hearts comes from God, wrong thinking does not belong to us. It can't hide once we set ourselves to doing the prayerful work of uncovering it. And since wrong thinking has no basis in what God creates, it loses any staying power once it's uncovered and challenged. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, points out in her Miscellaneous Writings: "Christian Science never healed a patient without proving with mathematical certainty that error, when found out, is two-thirds destroyed, and the remaining third kills itself. Man's genuine sinlessness acts in another way, too. Since only good, pure thinking is from God, wrong thinking has no part in His creation. Self-defeating thought does not truly belong to us, and we don't need to identify with it. It is our God-given right to be fed spiritually by pure, loving Godlike thought. The prayerful "heavy lifting we do enables us to remove whatever is not right and to replace it with our renewed understanding of spiritual reality. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy says: "In the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings, we must deny sin and plead God's allness. We must resolve to take up the cross, and go forth with honest hearts to work and watch for wisdom, Truth, and Love. We must 'pray without ceasing.' Aren't we joining the ranks of Christ Jesus' real followers when we take up the hard work of prayer? Surely, that phrase "take up the cross indicates as much. It's certainly work--but it's never debilitating because freeing ourselves from sin brings healing, renewal, and spiritual joy.