Beyond Self-Sufficiency

ONE of the tasks I was responsible for in a video editing firm for which I worked was to find editors to fill short-term vacancies. These last-minute vacancies would sometimes occur only toward the end of the day and needed to be filled first thing the next morning.

At times, all I could manage to contact was a whole string of answering machines, and I would feel frustrated and fear failure. Recognizing that I wasn't achieving the desired result, I would then (finally) pause and pray. My prayer would vary, but it was always spiritually affirmative-perhaps acknowledging God's government of all or yielding in thought to the recognition of harmony as the spiritual fact.

The result of such prayer was tangible. Without exception a suitable person was found to fill the post, whether anyone responded to my messages or not. On at least one occasion an editor was passing our editing suite on other business and spontaneously dropped in to say ''hi'' at just the opportune moment for us both.

Through such experiences I learned that the ability to carry out a task need not be at the mercy of chance or personal capacity. It is subject only to the certainty of divine law. And to the degree that we are willing to realize that whatever needs to be done can be done, because God can ''handle it,'' our ability is sufficient for the tasks at hand.

In reality, sufficiency is a permanent facet of infinite Spirit, an eternal fact of the very nature of God. The Bible says God is All-in-all. Clearly, then, He is sufficient in and of Himself since there is nothing He needs to, or is able to, find outside of His own infinite selfhood. Man, therefore, the image and likeness of God as the Bible says, always expresses His self-completeness.

In truth spiritual sufficiency is not a quality of some and not of others. It is a divine quality of being, included equally within the individual reflection of God that constitutes the true nature of each of us. This true nature is spiritual, independent of matter. Therefore material circumstances don't define our sufficiency. Paul states in his second letter to the Corinthians, ''Our sufficiency is of God'' (3:5), and such sufficiency is as invariable as God is invariable.

This is the ideal of sufficiency that Christ Jesus proved, demonstrating the spiritual basis for successful thought and action. Jesus' exemplary healing life expressed a spirituality that placed him way beyond mere self-sufficiency. It would never have been enough for the Master to have only his own immediate needs met. His feeding of over five thousand people with a handful of loaves and fishes showed that his understanding of sufficiency was an all-embracing one. It included everyone around him.

When we try to be self-sufficient, we fail to find sufficiency because our efforts, to some degree, are grounded on a false presumption of man's separation from the divine Mind, God. This false belief leads to the conclusion that we each have a mind better or less well equipped (accord-ing to our sex, background, education, or human experience) to cope with our needs. At its worst this belief results in resignation to helplessness and anxiety. Even at its best, though, personal self-confidence constitutes a reliance on a self that is not reliable in the long run-and often not even in the short run! As Mary Baker Eddy-the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science-writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ''A personal sense of God and of man's capabilities necessarily limits faith and hinders spiritual understanding'' (p. 312).

By contrast, faith in God and a spiritual understanding of Him can meet every circumstance with confidence. A legitimate conviction in our ability to meet all demands upon us comes through progressively God-centered thinking, acting, and living. For, as Paul experienced in his own life: ''God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work'' (II Corinthians 9:8). We don't even have to try to be self-sufficient. But we can trust the sufficiency of God's abundant grace.

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