"Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity" (Retrospection and Introspection by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 70). Whoever you are, wherever you are, this remarkable idea applies to you. You have a temporal and an eternal niche to fill-a present, practical role to play in God's plan of good; a timeless invaluableness.
If you're anything like me, that's not always the way you feel about yourself when you wake up in the morning. The niche may seem to be something reserved exclusively for others. Great leaders, maybe. Artists. Innovative business people. Celebrities. Sometimes we might feel we belong to a category of people who exist without any calling, destined forever to admire the movers and shakers from the sidelines of life. Even if others look up to us for some reason, that doesn't mean we always feel clear ourselves about our self-worth.
But we can find our niche "in time and eternity." To do so takes some understanding of the true worth of all women, children, and men. God created each one of us perfect-in His spiritual likeness. Based on this spiritual premise, our self-worth becomes clearer, seen as wholly dependent on our individual relationship to God. Independent of professional status, family ties, age, or any other social factors, each of us is His child.
On this basis, all are equally important. In fact, we are vital to God, and play a vital role in relation to one another. Every one of us always has a crucial part to play, a unique purpose. If human experience says otherwise-that we're playing second (or third) fiddle to more important members of the family, to more prominent people in the neighborhood, to higher-flying co-workers, or to anyone else-we can refuse to go along with this view of ourselves. In point of fact, God created one standard of good that we can all live up to. Actually, we're each essential to His complete expression of Himself.
It's possible to discern scientifically and accept humbly the identity God gives us and others. Our lives will increasingly confirm what we hold in thought. It's not that we will ever become carbon copies of those we look up to. Rather, we will discover and manifest more of our own perfect individuality, which is spiritual and practical.
This certainly happened for me as I began to understand some of the Bible. Beneficial service to humanity is seen in the actions and lives of so many Bible characters, and particularly in the healing words and works of Jesus Christ. We can find our part and play it by emulating them. For a long time I had aspired to use professionally a skill I had been developing for several years. But I hadn't made any headway in doing so. I felt very much sidelined. So I turned to God, praying more with desire to use this talent to bless others than to gain personal success. And how to do so became clear to me. Since then, the ways in which I have been able to use this talent have continued to increase, year by year.
It's an all-too-common view that we can become insignificant because of age. This assumption is shown to be invalid in the experience of a man in the Bible called Caleb (see Numbers, chaps. 13-14 and Joshua, chap. 14). Moses sent him and others on a reconnaissance mission to Canaan. Caleb was convinced the children of Israel could gain this land, which God had promised them, but the fears of those less enlightened than Caleb prevented it. Forty-five years later, however, when the people finally had seen fulfillment of the promise, Caleb's strength and worth were undiminished. According to the Bible, at the age of eighty-five Caleb was able to say, "As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in" (Joshua 14:11). And Caleb received a portion of land, Hebron, as his inheritance. Evidently what he had known of his spiritual identity, his individual "niche in time and eternity," had had wonderful effects in his life.
No threatening factor can leave any one of us outside of God. Our identity is the expression of God's good qualities. Understanding these qualities as ours brings to light our good purpose.