TODAY is practically the last day of the year. At midnight on Sunday, it will be 1996. Toward the end of the year, I have sometimes found myself wanting to do one of two things-maybe you've felt this way, too.
Either I will look back over the past months, or I will look ahead into the new year. I've been learning that there's a right way and a wrong way to think along these lines. What has come clearer to me, as a Christian Scientist, is that I've got to remember, when I look over my shoulder, that God was there. And that when I look out on the horizon, so to speak, God will be there also.
This is all because of the basic fact that God is always here, which of course means now. Last year and next year are really made up of a bunch of "nows," all strung together in a line. God made you and me. And God is never separated from what He created for a single moment. He is omnipotent and He is good. The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, said quite simply, "God, Spirit, alone created all, and called it good." This is from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook of Christian Science (p. 339). Thinking about it this way, I can't get around the fact that every moment was, is, and will be God's. Can you?
The implications of this are very freeing. If looking back over the year (or the years) brings memories that are unpleasant or full of anguish or even just a little less than perfect, then praying to God can help. Something from the Bible that St. Paul said to the people of Philippi gets at this: "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13, 14). At least part of what Paul was saying, I think, was that from any perspective there's no point in ruminating on, or carrying over, painful thoughts of the past. He was really discussing a mental activity that is a prayer. And Christian Science has taught me there's a spiritual law behind prayer, to legitimize it with actual healing. Anything evil-any problem in the world-can be healed through prayer, no matter how long it has been around or how severe it has become.
You don't need to carry the pain of the past into the new year. But what about the fears that can come up as you peer into the future? These might be the concerns that there won't be enough money or food, or that there might be a time of sickness, or maybe that someone will die. Or that the world is falling apart. Well, Paul's prayer helps with the future as well. He said that he pressed toward "the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." This is an approach that welcomes the future, because it sees it as full of promise. If God's "high calling" for us is a "prize," this prize is something quite the opposite of illness or death. So our part is to press, not so much with physical activity as with the mental activity of loving God, our fellow men and women, and the world.
With prayer for the new year, it's a case of considering what is the truth and isn't at each moment. So what is true just now? Beyond physical appearances, we are not, and never were, sick and deteriorating; we are and will be whole, because God and all He created is perfect. We are not poor and stricken; we are and will be "rich in spirit," because God is rich, and He is Spirit, and He is All. No man, woman, or child is doomed to a life of uncertainty, because God is, here and now, blessing us all. Sins of the past are what are doomed. More than happy thinking, this recognition of spiritual truth is the mental activity of loving God, and His power girds it with strength. This is the truth for now and all time.
It's possible to wipe the slate clean of past pain and future fear-to lay aside all that is not of God right now, and press ahead with freedom. 1996 is God's year.
Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
Psalms 90:1, 2