THE kids were crabby. They were nagging. They were whining. They were complaining about everything. Frankly, it was not hard to think of places that I would rather have been that particular afternoon. I was exasperated with them, with the situation, that day, and myself.
Yet even as frustrated as I felt, I knew those feelings were not the fault of the children and that I could do something about them; I could get control of my thoughts. In the midst of the chaos and the muddle of my perturbed thinking, I reached out to God for help.
I had recently taken an interest in Christian Science, and was learning how practical an understanding of God can be. Through reading Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, I was gaining a sense of just how present God is to meet the needs of my daily life. This book was helping me to understand my intrinsically spiritual nature as the man of God's creating. And I was learning how the Bible's messages can bring real healing to the challenges in our daily lives. The Preface to Science and Health begins with the unequivocal statement ``To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings'' (p. vii).
My day certainly felt as if it needed that multitude of blessings! The prayer in my heart was simple. I turned to God and trusted that ``the sustaining infinite'' was present and real to reach out to exactly where I was. I yearned for some assurance that the goodness the Bible says God gives us is real.
Right then, right there, on that most frustrating of days, I remembered the theme of Christ Jesus' ministry. He was telling us the ``good news'' of God's kingdom--the kingdom of heaven, which is our true dwelling place. And the Gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus said, ``The kingdom of heaven is at hand'' (4:17).
I began to calm down and listen for other spiritual insights. I knew that there had to be some way of correcting the very unheavenly squabbling that was going on around me. That Biblical ``at hand,'' I realized, means right here and right now. It was a startling thought. I was being reminded that the kingdom of heaven is not some far-off place or time, but is the simple and powerful presence of God, divine Love, exactly where I am. No one can ever be separated from God, the creator of all, and no one can be outside His kingdom. I felt grateful, peaceful, and in that moment I knew that I could trust those timeless words.
I stopped wishing for different company. I stopped thinking there was someplace else I'd rather be. I turned my attention, heart and soul, to really loving the people I was with right then--those children, God's children. And I found that it wasn't hard to do. Knowing that the love did not start in me but in God made all the difference. Within just a couple of minutes the atmosphere had completely changed. We were laughing. The children had ceased bickering and were playfully helping one another. And I wouldn't have been elsewhere for anything in the world.
We had a wonderful day from that point on, and the best part is that it's changed all the days since then, as well. We have certainly had difficulties since then, but that recognition that we are all God's children, all dwelling in His kingdom, has never gone away. The experience has given me a much better perspective and starting point for my prayer when those other difficulties do come up. How wonderful it is to get such a glimpse of how close God is!