The handyman who comes every few months to help me with painting jobs around the house grew up in the American South. His family honored the Bible as central to everyday life. Sometimes he and I spend so much time sharing our personal insights into the Bible that our tasks take twice as long. But the time is well spent.
One morning while we painted garden furniture together, I mentioned I was a Christian Scientist. His eyes lighted up. "Good," he said. "I know about Christian Science. I've read Mrs. Eddy's Bible!"
"Wait a moment," I said. "Science and Health is not our Bible! It's what the rest of its title explains it to be-a 'key to the Scriptures.' " I added, "Nothing means more to me than the Bible." For the next hour, our paintbrushes were neglected as I shared with him the ways in which the textbook of Christian Science, written by Mary Baker Eddy, has illuminated the healing truths of the Bible for me and made them practical in my life.
I pointed out that Mrs. Eddy went to great lengths within the pages of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures to clarify the relation of the Bible to the study of Christian Science. She discovered Christian Science in 1866, after having studied the Bible all of her life. She published Science and Health in 1875. In its Preface she wrote of the Bible as her "sole teacher" (p. viii). She declared, "The Bible has been my only authority. I have had no other guide in 'the straight and narrow way' of Truth" (p. 126). She explained that the Scriptures "open the way for Christian Science to be understood, and make the Bible the chart of life, where the buoys and healing currents of Truth are pointed out" (p. 24). And she set out the tenets of Christian Science, which begin with this: "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" (p. 497).
"Mmm," grunted my co-worker thoughtfully as he picked up his paintbrush again, "I've still got a lot to learn."
We found much to do together over the next few weeks, and we discussed healings we'd experienced. He told me how through prayer alone he had recovered from a back injury caused by snow shoveling. He had reread a Bible story in Luke of a woman who had been crippled for eighteen years and was instantly "made straight" through Christ Jesus' acknowledgment of God's power to heal her: "Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity" (see chap. 13:11-13). He had also been encouraged by the way in which the Apostles Peter and John had helped a man at the temple gate called Beautiful to leap and walk and praise God (see Acts, chap. 3). My co-worker said he looked forward to reading Science and Health's explanation of the scientific laws behind those healings.
In my case, a few hours before my weekly game of tennis, I had strained my back so severely that I could scarcely stand, let alone strike a ball. I turned immediately to comforting and familiar passages from Science and Health. But at first I found no relief. It was as I began to cherish in my consciousness the Bible-based Science that lies behind those passages, and to understand my divinely assured freedom, that I was healed completely as I prayed.
Discussing our experiences, the two of us agreed that healing comes when we can say yes to some key questions: Are we ready to be loosed from our bondage to physical health laws? Do we honestly expect that, with God's help, we will be healed? Are we always prepared, like the man described in Acts, to leap and walk and praise God for His loving care and instant availability?
My association with that earnest Bible student has been a constant reminder to me of the vital link between Science and Health and the Bible, the two books that Mrs. Eddy ordained as the only pastor of the Church she founded.
Two years after we'd painted furniture together, that man attended his first testimony meeting in a Christian Science church. During the service he was one of the first people to stand and express gratitude for God's blessings in his life, and for the ways in which he'd been helped by insights into the Bible that Science and Health supplied.