WHEN an airplane flying over the ocean reaches the place where there is not enough fuel to return to the takeoff site, the flight has reached the so-called point of no return.
You may have felt that you were at such a point-without the energy to continue, not knowing how to go on, or too deeply involved in some situation to get out of it.
I recall the time when I decided to swim from one small island in a lake to another. No boat or land was near. After I'd swum for what felt like miles, the island appeared to be no closer than when I had started. And when I looked back, the island I had left appeared to be just as far away. I had passed the point of no return. What to do? At first I panicked.
But I had studied Christian Science most of my life. And many times I had seen proof of the practical help that comes from understanding its rules and relating them to human problems.
I'd learned there is a law of God always at hand, which always takes precedence over any supposed physical law. The Founder of the Christian Science Church, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote a book that calls our present life a "preparatory school.'' This book, which is based on the premise that the Bible contains actual answers to problems we face every day, is Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. It says, "Earth's preparatory school must be improved to the utmost" (p. 486).
By whatever term used, that which is unchanging in its nature and unlimited in its operation-that which is absolute and supreme-must be God. Isn't it logical, then, that a universal law must be divine? And is it so strange to think of the Bible-a book of God-as a book of divine law?
Once one is committed to the understanding and practice of divine law, it becomes necessary to examine the basis of people's conclusions about everyday life. Old thought patterns are like outgrown garments; they are ill-fitted to meet new demands. People come to believe that they can be personally capable and strong one minute, helpless and overwhelmed in the next. But the Bible presents an overarching message that God's power is always available to bring salvation in times of trouble. This is strikingly true in the Biblical record of Jesus, who healed the sick and raised the dead.
But Christ Jesus said he could do nothing of himself; that God was the power behind his ability. The bottom line of any successful endeavor is always determined mentally.
Evidently, it was what Jesus understood that lay behind the healings he did. Ultimately all activity is initiated mentally; knowing is the first necessary action. The common reaction is to do something physically. But the Bible reminds us "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalms 46:10). Cultivating faith based on an understanding of God is what allows anyone, today, to solve human problems through the action of prayer.
Science and Health is the textbook for practicing Christian Science. In my predicament in the lake, I remembered it says this about halfway positions: "It is not wise to take a halting and half-way position or to expect to work equally with Spirit and matter, Truth and error" (p. 167).
It was decision time. As I took stock of the situation, the ideas just mentioned filled my thought. Meanwhile, I continued swimming. While treading water for a moment, I put down a searching toe and found a rock. There-where I appeared to be so far from help-was support right underneath me. As I rested there on the rock, I felt joy and relief. As it turned out, I found more rocks along the distance I had to go, which made it easy to reach the land.
When someone faces a problem, and it appears to be beyond his or her capability, learning to rely on God instead of personal ability is needed. It actually brings expanded human capability-accompanied by practical evidence of God's support all along the way. We can improve our lives as we learn of God's law.
Sometimes the study and contemplation of this law is called prayer. Daily prayer can develop the abilities of all who turn to it, and it can bring them closer to God.