Just More Effort?
MOST of us have tackled things that seemed quite challenging. And who hasn't thought, "Now, if I just work harder at this, I'll get it. All it takes is more effort! It is true that there is no substitute for hard work and consistent effort. But sometimes, isn't a different perspective on our tasks what's really needed? A shift in how we look at what we're doing can sometimes make all the difference in our ability to do it.
There is a Bible story that helps to make this point. Just after Christ Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, some of his disciples returned to fishing--their previous trade. But, after fishing all night, they had caught nothing.
In the morning, John's Gospel tells us, Jesus appeared on the shore, asking, "Children, have ye any meat? "No, they replied. "Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find, he said. They did so, and at once their nets filled with fish.
Can't we see in Jesus' command an invitation to adopt a new perspective? They had worked all night, and caught no fish. The answer wasn't just more work but an entirely new, spiritually inspired approach.
What was so different about the right side of the ship? Wasn't it indicative of the spiritual perspective on their own lives that Christ Jesus represented and taught? His own healing work overflowed with this spiritual perspective. His actions were successful because he worked as God worked. Though his tasks did require spiritually-minded discipline and could hardly be called "easy, Christ Jesus never resorted simply to increased human effort to accomplish his mission.
The "all-I-need-is-more-effort notion--as well-meaning as it sometimes seems--can reflect the attitude that, indeed, everything is material. Christ Jesus' very birth, however, shows us that God is man's creator. Since God is divine Spirit, His creation, man, must be spiritual and not material. And this reasoning agrees with the Biblical description of man as the spiritual offspring of God. Since man is spiritual (and not divided up between matter and Spirit), all that he thinks or does has its roots in G od, Spirit. All aspects of both the task and vision of man's work are found in Spirit. In short, Spirit, God, is man's life.
There is constant vitality and originality in the life that is God-centered. Such a spiritual perspective gives us the framework within which we can discover just the approach we need that day to accomplish whatever needs to be done. It supplies a newness to our thinking about ourselves and what we're doing.
Isn't this what the disciples felt long ago? Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says of the disciples in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Convinced of the fruitlessness of their toil in the dark and wakened by their Master's voice, they changed their methods, turned away from material things, and cast their net on the right side. Discerning Christ, Truth, anew on the shore of time, they were enabled to rise somewhat from mortal sensuousness, or the burial of mind in matter, into newness of life as Spirit.
How helpful it can be to "rise somewhat from seeing ourselves as mortal beings laboring in a material world. Rising even "somewhat, though, requires our best efforts every day to keep sight of God's presence with us and of our own identity as His spiritual offspring. This can change our work, making it happier, better. It doesn't make our work easy, in the ordinary sense of that word. But because our attention is focused on the spiritual view, we do feel less drained and more rested--even after the most active of days. As someone said, it's working "smarter, not harder. The "smarter is in adopting the spiritual perspective of ourselves and our activities.