Countdown to Life

RECENTLY I saw an advertisement for a clock that displays the number of hours, minutes, and even seconds remaining in an individual's life. Using figures based on statistical life expectancy, its message is essentially ``Time is running out, so enjoy life to the fullest.''

The advertisement started me thinking about how we sometimes feel that when we reach a certain age time does start running out--the course of our life shifts from progress and growth to decline and decay. Whenever this feeling comes to me, I find it helpful to recognize, as Christian Science teaches, that God is Life, just as He is Truth and Love. This is an important point, because the Bible tells us that God made man in His likeness. So it follows that if man is God's likeness, man must be spiritual and fully expressive of God, of Life.

This means that in reality we are not living in a material physique that is grinding down toward death. Rather, we live in God, Life, as His spiritual ideas. Instead of being made up of muscles and bones, among other material ``parts,'' we include and express strength, intelligence, love, purity, goodness, and joy. These never decay, because they contain no material elements.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, explains the implications of accepting spiritual living in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She writes, ``Life is, always has been, and ever will be independent of matter; for Life is God, and man is the idea of God, not formed materially but spiritually, and not subject to decay and dust'' (p. 200).

Mrs. Eddy saw that real life, the life that comes from God, never includes limitation and decline. As a result, at an age when many people's lives were winding down, she wrote Science and Health, founded a church, and--while in her eighties--established this newspaper.

When we realize that life really is spiritual, we begin to see that we each always have new opportunities to progress, no matter what our age. It is never too late--or too early--to overcome limitations that argue that we live in matter. This spiritual fact is solidly rooted in the Bible, which speaks not only of Christ Jesus' resurrection from death but of others who were saved and healed. In fact, the Bible's early chapters tell of people who walked with God and who not only lived longer than average, but also had rich, fulfilled lives.

Moses, for example, led the children of Israel through the wilderness for forty years in what most people would consider his later years. The Bible, in Deuteronomy, says, ``Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated'' (34:7).

The fact that such individuals were still free from limitation, despite their age, can be an encouragement to us. Instead of dreading our later years, we too can recognize that God simply cannot be limited by materiality or time. And as the offspring of God, neither can we. We can fully accept as the governing rule the fact that Life, God, is ``independent of matter''--instead of accepting the beliefs of age and decay. When we do this, we bring ourselves into line with Christ Jesus' teachings, which tell us that God is a loving Father, one who gives life, not death; good, not evil. Having this expectancy of good, of progress and growth instead of decay and death, changes the whole direction of our lives.

Even if our lives have seemed less than pure and joyful up to this point, we can begin right now to affirm these spiritual elements as the crux of our being. Of course, in addition to affirming that we include these and other qualities, we need also to live them. Making efforts to be more loving, to give up bad habits, to look for good instead of evil, will all forward our progress toward a better and happier life.

Self-examination, willingness to forgive, and a desire to love and trust God more will make us better people as they bring us closer to our divine Father. This puts our experience on a spiritual footing. Then, instead of fearing we are on a downward slope heading toward decay and death, we will gain an ever-growing understanding of unlimited and joyous Life.

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