IN one sense, the Bible is the story of individuals who discovered their own ability when they glimpsed something of God's true nature and when they persisted in worshiping Him spiritually. Their perception that God, infinite Spirit, governs all His creation enabled them to see that they already possessed the God-given ability to control their own lives in obedience to Him, to build (and rebuild!) their homes and communities, to maintain health, to provide for their families, to live peacefully with thei r neighbors.
The inspiring story of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem illustrates the effects of this spiritually grounded ability. Nehemiah was a servant of the king of Persia when he heard from a relative that the walls of Jerusalem lay in disrepair. Nehemiah was strongly self-reliant. But he also showed a deep inclination to pray-- always--before moving forward. He was humble and a real doer--a prayerful doer. In fact, as the result of his prayer, Nehemiah was allowed to travel to Jerusalem an d was given permission to rebuild its walls. Once there, he discreetly sized up the task. Then he convinced the inhabitants that, with God's unfailing support, they could rebuild the walls. And the great task went forward.
It wasn't easy. Enemies at first ridiculed them and then plotted various ways to prevent the rebuilding from continuing. "Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, the book of Nehemiah records. Each obstacle was overcome, and they finished the wall that nearly everyone had despaired of ever seeing whole again.
God, man's creator, gives power to His creation. It's only logical that this be so. Christ Jesus must have felt this deep within him as he looked upon those gathered to hear him--many of whom were ill or injured. Illness and injury-- any manifestations of disempowerment or helplessness--are destroyed, however, by God's power and willingness to keep His creation well and whole.
When Jesus healed physical ailments, he often spoke of God as the healing power. And in his use of such clear commands as "Sin no more and "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk, he was recognizing--and employing--the ability that God gives each one to govern completely his or her own experience.
That really strips away any thought of inability from man. Since man is God's, Spirit's, offspring, man is spiritual. And man is filled with the strength and perfection of God's creation. This means that man can do the work that God asks him to do. Man's ability is not dependent on physical size, strength, or any other material quality. The ability always comes from God and is manifested in man.
Christian Science shows how a heartfelt acceptance of spiritual truths like these can show us things about ourselves, as the man of God's creating, that we weren't aware of. Then, little by little, we find that we are able to do things that weren't previously within our scope. Christian Science helps us drop the limitations inherent in depending on personal strengths and weaknesses and turn instead to a deep and heartfelt inquiry into the eternal truths of man made in God's image.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, points out in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, "As an active portion of one stupendous whole, goodness identifies man with universal good. And she adds: "Thus may each member of this church rise above the oft-repeated inquiry, What am I? to the scientific response: I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existing.
A friend once had dramatic proof of the effectiveness of relying on God's ability. One winter evening, he found his home with no running water. At first he simply felt overwhelmed. In the past he had attacked home maintenance tasks with energy and exuberance. Now he felt paralyzed. But he quickly found himself praying. Through his prayer, he saw that both overexuberance and paralysis can come from losing sight of God as the reason for man's self-reliance. So he put aside his worry and reached out for God 's guidance.
The thought came, "Care for your family! So, he unhurriedly went about the usual bedtime activities with his children. Then, he again turned to prayer and soon found the cause of the water problem--the drain line was broken a few feet beyond the basement wall, which was causing sewage to back up.
He would have to dig through frozen ground to reach the broken line. Yet, without much effort of his own, prayer replaced anxiety with an assurance of God's care.
In the morning he rose early, not to dig but to continue praying. A friend was able to care for his two children, and he was able to postpone his professional responsibilities. He was free to work out the plumbing problem. All that day he found that working while listening and praying was natural.
By nightfall, the line had been freed, repaired, and the dirt replaced. My friend felt the joy of "I am able! and the sureness of the ability that we find in reflecting God.
God is able
to make all grace abound toward you;
always having all sufficiency in all things,
may abound to every good work.
II Corinthians 9:8