RECENTLY, I've been employed in part-time work that involves a lot of communication with the public. I strive to be helpful and patient and courteous with each person I encounter--not only because it's what I'm there for, but because it's rewarding when people appreciate the service. When I feel that I've fallen short of truly effective communication, I pray for God's guidance to do a better job. I've been so grateful for the enlightening passages about God in the Bible. And I love the way that they show His goodness and His love and care for all His creation.
Her lifelong Bible study enabled Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, to help us see more clearly what God is. In the Glossary of her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she writes: ''God. The great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence'' (p. 587). All that God is, man reflects as His image and likeness. This is God's divine purpose for us, His creation.
I especially love the comforting, nurturing messages we find in the twenty-third Psalm. From its beginning, ''The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want,'' to its end, it calls up a picture of the tender firmness of God's love, of a loving Father-Mother God patiently guiding and guarding His children.
Mrs. Eddy emphasizes the importance of patience when she writes in Science and Health, ''In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error,--self-will, self-justification, and self-love,--which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death'' (p. 242). Whenever I read this admonition, I say to myself, If God can be patient with us, we can surely reflect that patience by having patience with ourselves and with everyone with whom we come in contact!
I'm constantly having to prove what I'm learning about patience. Here's one example. Several months ago a caller seemed obsessed by evil in the Bible. He called many times, and each time confronted me with examples of the so-called power of evil, demanding that I address the issue.
I silently prayed, Father, give me Your patience to find right answers to meet this need. I reminded the caller how every account of evil in the Bible shows the triumph of God's power over evil. Throughout the Bible, the prophets and our Way-shower, Christ Jesus, prove God's power to be supreme. Evil is powerless to do anything but suggest a lie about God's spiritual creation.
On the occasion of one of these calls, I recalled the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. The Baal worshipers had called on their god all day but had gotten no answer. Then, First Kings tells us, Elijah called on God, who gave immediate and unmistakable proof of His power to all the people. They responded by recognizing, ''The Lord, he is the God'' (18:39). The caller muttered something and hung up. I continued to pray to see that we are all God's children--not imprisoned in the darkness of doubt but free to live in the light of God's all-power and love.
The young man called once more. He seemed even more aggressive in his destructive criticism of the Bible, his scorn for all believers. Caught off guard, I really had to resist the impatient urge to cut him off and be done with it. I prayed for God's patience to get me back on track.
All at once I found myself saying, ''You know, the truth is that right this moment God is seeing you, your real self, as His beloved son! And you, your real self, are rejoicing in the Father's presence, knowing no other power but His!''
There was a silence at the other end of the line. And then I heard the phone quietly being clicked off. That was the end of those phone calls. I was so grateful that I had not given way to anger or impatience. To the best of my ability I had maintained a standard of Christlike behavior, reflecting God by taking the high road of patience because I know God requires and expects it of me.