WHEN I relax, I enjoy reading mystery novels. Every vari- ety of mystery from classic Sherlock Holmes tales through whodunits in which even the butler may be suspect. And as a professional novelist I've written and published a few myself.
Recently, my familiarity with mystery novels gave me an important reminder when I was looking for a "villain" in quite a different situation. I'd been working on a new plot for a mystery novel when a troublesome physical difficulty reappeared. It wasn't life-threatening, but was inconvenient and discouraging because it was a recurring situation that I wanted to see permanently healed.
I had for many years turned exclusively to prayer for healing. And except for this one problem the healings had been permanent. I prayed now, but days passed and I didn't see any progress.
One morning I thought wryly that my prayerful efforts to heal this particular physical problem had eerily resembled my efforts to decide who was the villain in my fictional plot. I was trying to find a cause for disease-trying to solve a whodunit-instead of praying to see how God cares for His precious children. I had several suspects, all with dark motives.
The comparison between praying and plotting was, of course, ridiculous, but it brought me up short. I certainly wasn't a character in a made-up story. I was a child of God, created by Him, as are all His children, in His own image. The full and renewed realization of this fact had been the basis for every healing I had ever had over the years.
A statement in the Bible, from First John, came to mind. "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" (I John 3:9). I saw that it was completely logical that the child of God-me-with the seed of perfection and all goodness in him, could not possibly be making mistakes, thinking wrongly, missing the mark, or repeatedly defacing his own purity and "causing" his own illness.
The full understanding of the spotless purity of God's entire creation all but overwhelmed me. It was almost as if someone had said, "Here, Beloved Child, is the answer."
My consciousness was flooded with the blessing of that divine purity and wholeness we all share. I had a new understanding of the words Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures in loving and profound explanation of the healings of Christ Jesus: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy" (pp. 476-477).
A minute or so earlier I'd been searching not only for the villain in a fictional story, but for error and guilt in myself, for the mistake or wrong thought that was mysteriously preventing my healing. I'd been impatient, frustrated with myself for being so dense.
In the whodunit plot I did have to seek out guilt and error in my characters. But in my own life my need was not to discover errors, mistakes, faults, but to understand the qualities of purity and light in my own spiritual being, derived from God.
I set about realizing that truth, knowing it, being grateful for it. With the healing of the physical difficulty came the blessed assurance that healing occurs not as we judge, condemn, and seek out error in ourselves like fictional detectives, but as we seek and awake to the spiritual facts of our eternal, spiritual nature as the children of God. Understanding these truths, making them the basis of our thinking, we are healed, and our lives show them forth in wholeness and strength.
I also soon finished the framework of my fictional plot and realized whodunit. (It wasn't the butler.) I'm working on another plot now, looking for another culprit. But in real life I'm more grateful than ever to remember that the man God created is free of the darkness of any sin or illness.