WE live now. We don't live in the past or the future. We live in the present. ``Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,'' we're told by Paul the Apostle in his second letter to the Corinthians (6:2).
In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Christian Science Church, refers to this Biblical passage. She writes: `` `Now,' cried the apostle, `is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,meaning, not that now men must prepare for a future-world salvation, or safety, but that now is the time in which to experience that salvation in spirit and in life'' (p. 39).
For many people, the present seems hardly worth considering. They get through their daily activities well enough, but their thoughts are on the past--on happy memories, or memories that are often bitter.
When unhappy memories dominate our thoughts, life can seem dreary and pointless. I had this problem for a time. I'm grateful to say I found a remedy. It came to me in the opening words of a sermon I read. The sermon is entitled Christian Healing. It was delivered in Boston, in the United States, by Mrs. Eddy. The words that stood out to me were these: ``to-morrow grows out of to-day.'' The full opening sentence reads, ``History repeats itself; to-morrow grows out of to-day'' (p. 1).
I had heard before that history repeats itself, but I usually thought of this as the past repeating itself. Tomorrow growing out of today was a new concept. I decided to accept this new concept. I resolved to change my attitude. Instead of seeing each new day as an outgrowth of the past--and my own personal past as the base from which my present and future were inevitably evolving--I started to see the new day as a new beginning. With the present moment as my baseline, I could break free of past mistakes and embrace each new opportunity for spiritual progress.
I recalled a verse from Psalms that says, ``This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it'' (118:24). With this verse as my guideline, I disciplined myself to think every morning as I woke, ``This is the day which the Lord hath made; I will rejoice and be glad in it''--and then to do it.
I stopped checking to see how the weather was, or how I was feeling, what yesterday had been like, or whether people were being nice to me or not, before deciding if it was going to be a good day for me or not. My attitude for the day was not dependent on any of these things; it was God's day, a good day, and my responsibility for the day was to be Godlike.
The value of doing this became clear, some time later, when I was tidying some family papers. Among them was a medical report of mine from several years previous. It had a detailed description of wounds, scars, and other blemishes on my body at the time of the report. But when I looked at myself in a mirror, every mark recorded in the report was gone. I realized then that as a result of my spiritual endeavors, some of the unpleasant memories from the past had faded in importance from my thinking--and the scars associated with the events had gone also.
The Bible explains that we are all spiritual, not material-- children of God, created by God, made in His likeness. Because God is Spirit, our true identity is spiritual. The clearest illustration of this was given by Christ Jesus. Through the power of God, he healed multitudes of people. He even restored people to life. He told us that with God everything is possible.
Jesus is our example. He is our model for living and thinking. In what is known as the Sermon on the Mount (found in the Gospel of Matthew in the Bible) Jesus explains the spiritual rules for God-governed living. By acknowledging God as Spirit and as Love in the way Jesus did, and by disciplining ourselves to live and think in accord with God's laws, we bring our thinking into line with the divine Principle of harmony and find a better sense of life.
This spiritual practice, with its focus on obeying God now, doesn't result in the wiping away of human history. Rather, it transforms all of our experience, including the past. Our individual human experience has valuable lessons. When we learn the lessons that help us progress Spiritward, the events that have impelled the lessons no longer need to occupy our thinking. They become of less importance. Better still, as we learn to turn ever more immediately to God in prayer, we don't have to keep learning our lessons the hard way! But, whether we pray because we're in trouble or we pray before trouble arises, the spiritual lessons we learn stay with us and help us. The good they bring us is present and permanent.
A hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal points out: ``For all of good the past hath had / Remains to make our own time glad..'' (No. 238).
Because God is absolute good, God's creation is absolutely good. Good is the reality of being. We can look for the goodness of God in everyone and everything now. We can start afresh today.
And I heard a loud voice
saying in heaven,
Now is come salvation,
and the kingdom
of our God,
and the powere of his Christ.
Revelation 12: 10