Perceiving God's Father-Love
'THESE are the people from the London train, but I don't see Daddy," said a mother plaintively to her little girl. I caught this snippet of conversation on my return from work, as I got off that train. My heart went out to them, moved by how deeply they desired to meet up with the child's father. They obviously loved him dearly.
The mother's words also set me thinking about what it means spiritually for each and every one of us to look for and find "Daddy." The term abba, which the Bible records Christ Jesus as using to address God, was the familiar form of Father in the Aramaic language that he spoke, much as daddy is today in English. As I continued to walk away from the station, I realized how the quality of our lives really depends on satisfying the need to feel a familiarity, a closeness, with God's Father-love. "Not seeing Daddy," not consciously knowing God's invariable love and guidance for us as His cherished children, is indeed cause for a plaintive, even anguished, cry. On the other hand, becoming conscious of God's love deepens our experience of harmony, peace, and justice; this results in health and freedom.
God, of course, is not like a human parent or spouse, who may or may not be present. God, infinite Spirit, is ever present. God, in reality, is the only presence. So not perceiving or discerning God is not a problem of His proximity, but of our perception. To the degree we ignorantly or willfully absorb ourselves in materialism, we fail to discern God's closeness and care. To gain renewed awareness of the love of God that in reality surrounds us and that we each truly express requires the exercise of our spiritual sense, or divine faculties. This takes prayerful yielding to the Christ through the recognition that our true, God-given thinking is full of qualities such as unselfed love, purity, spiritual strength, and compassion.
In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, writes: "Spiritual sense is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God" (p. 209). Even to glimpse that we have such a capacity for understanding God is very freeing. Actively exercising this ability to comprehend God-which we all do inherently have-is the most deeply satisfying of experiences. And to do so consistently blesses others as well as us. What spiritual sense perceives and proves of God's law, as it applies to any one of us, is ultimately true for every one of us, since we are all God's equally favored offspring.
What if in our prayers we just don't seem to recognize God's presence? One of the most poignant moments recorded in the Bible is in Matthew's Gospel, when Christ Jesus, being crucified on the cross, cries, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (27:46). Jesus had already proved the ever-presence of God countless times, through physical healing, safety when threatened, and through proofs of abundant provision. Yet still he cried out. What was going on? Mrs. Eddy explains in Science and Health, "The appeal of Jesus was made both to his divine Principle, the God who is Love, and to himself, Love's pure idea. Had Life, Truth, and Love forsaken him, in his highest demonstration? This was a startling question. No! They must abide in him and he in them, or that hour would be shorn of its mighty blessing for the human race" (p. 50). God did abide in the Saviour's prayerful thinking, and proved His power in Jesus' ensuing resurrection. Through this evidence that God hadn't deserted him, the human race was blessed, and continues to be blessed to this day.
This is a hint for us. Our darkest times of struggle can be seen as opportunities to demonstrate the true powerlessness of that which would deny good. As we do this we feel the presence of our divine Parent, God, in our lives and in the lives of loved ones. We discern God's "Daddy"-love right where we are, embracing us, our families, our neighbors, and the world, providing guidance and protection unconditionally for all.