Rita's basketball team was losing the game. The coach had told them to be aggressive, but she just felt clumsy. She was fouling all over the place. Other players were yelling at her, accusing her of knocking into them on purpose. She felt "stupid," she said, and worse, because her teammates were misjudging her. Finally, Rita couldn't take it anymore. She walked to the bench, sat down, and cried.
Those of us listening to her story in the Sunday School class a few days later empathized. Failing is bad enough in itself, but losing it in public is high on most people's list of worst fears. This applies to lots of things besides sports. You try hard to do a good job, and somehow miss. People whose respect matters to you are disappointed or critical. In one way or another, most of us know how it feels to want to walk out of the game and cry.
The Bible text we were studying in class that week was about the disciples of Jesus. They went back to their fishing boats during the days following his crucifixion and resurrection (see John, chap. 21). They couldn't have felt good about themselves. They hadn't lived up to their promises to him. They were supposed to carry on his work, and instead, it looked very much like they were giving up. "Gone fishing."
But once someone has glimpsed better possibilities, reverting to old ways of thinking and living isn't a satisfying option. Nursing self-pity and self-condemnation becomes increasingly uncomfortable. At the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus called the disciples to a new life. And now, even as he'd had to do on other occasions, he called them to come back to spiritual purposes and to live consistently by those purposes.
The spirit of pure Truth and Love that resounded through Jesus' call to his disciples is a perpetual presence and influence. This compelling, transforming power calls all of us to come back from a cramped view of ourselves as personal achievers (or non-achievers) to the realization of what it means to be the sons and daughters of God.
Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote of this time of the disciples' reawakening: "Through all the disciples experienced, they became more spiritual and understood better what the Master had taught. His resurrection was also their resurrection. It helped them to raise themselves and others from spiritual dulness and blind belief in God into the perception of infinite possibilities" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 34).
Jesus' resurrection from the grave was the ultimate proof that individual life is indivisible from God, the eternal Life. It opened infinite possibilities. Along with the promise of final victory over death, his resurrection actually relates to our lives in many other ways. Every time we come back from the mistake of believing we're self-made and liable to failure, to the truth that God made us and has given us all we need to succeed at a good purpose, that's a step of resurrection.
This kind of comeback is so much more than just stifling our disappointments and steeling ourselves to go on. It's responding, as the disciples did, to the irresistibly wonderful truth that God is the source of all ability - of all intelligence, strength, grace. God is Life that cannot fail, and that perfect Life is our Life.
Rita said later that in her next game, she realized that her teammates needed to respect each other more. She wants to do better at loving them and herself, and she's finding that this starts with seeing everyone as God's expression. Recently, her coach said her playing has really improved, too.
Create in me a clean heart,
O God; and renew a right
spirit within me. Restore
unto me the joy of thy
salvation; and uphold me
with thy free spirit.
Psalms 51:10, 12
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society