In her garden chat with a sneaky snake, Eve learned how worldly blandishments beguile us into doing what we shouldn’t (see Genesis 3:1-6). That famous talk got the Bible’s first couple evicted from the Garden of Eden.
The moral of the story is something we should all learn: that human logic and its faulty conclusions are not a substitute for the discernment of God, divine Truth. A well-loved proverb puts it simply: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (3:5, 6). As we come to know this freeing fact, we see omnipotence trump impotence, and human misconceptions cease to bedevil us.
My first snake-talker appeared on my fourth birthday, when I was staying with an aunt and uncle. An older neighbor made fun of the birthday kite my uncle had given me. “It’s so dinky,” he said, comparing it with his own large kite.
I looked wide-eyed at his kite as he asked if I wanted to trade. “No, your kite is ripped!” I said. “Well, my kite is bigger and better than yours, so that makes us even. Besides, your uncle can fix it,” he replied.
We swapped kites. Proud of myself, I ran home to show off my new kite to my uncle and ask him to fix it. But he said it had been a mistake to trade because the larger kite could not be repaired. Duped by the allure of owning a big kite, I had foolishly given away my uncle’s prized birthday gift for a kite that wasn’t any good.
To me, the kite swap shows how we can end up making unwise decisions through faulty logic, whether it comes from a crafty neighbor or a common belief in sickness or limitation. To ward off mortality’s misleading claims – especially the belief that we are material beings – we need to understand how to bar them from our thinking. The belief of mind in matter is fundamentally false, and when we recognize that God is our only Mind, our experience changes to one of greater peace, harmony, and stability. Error of any stripe is neither scary nor powerful.
The Bible has many stories telling how right thinking corrects wrong believing. Elisha had it right in two skirmishes with the Syrians. First, when Naaman, the leader of the Syrian army, asked Elisha to heal his leprosy, he expected the prophet to come to him and perform a grand act. Instead, Elisha sent a messenger to tell Naaman to go wash himself in the river Jordan. Insulted by the impersonal response, the mighty Naaman stormed off in a rage. But his servants urged him to do as Elisha said, and Naaman humbly waded into the muddy river and was healed (II Kings 5:1-14).
Later, after Elisha repeatedly saved Israeli forces from Syrian ambush, the king of Syria sent his army to Dothan to capture the wary prophet. Early in the morning as the huge Syrian army was about to strike, Elisha’s servant saw the danger and woke the prophet. Elisha told the young man, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.... And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (II Kings 6:16, 17).
Elisha knew that safety was already at hand, because as it’s often said, “One on God’s side is a majority.” We can prove in our own lives, perhaps in more modest ways, the truth of that statement. Since God alone is real, we don’t need to be tempted to assign reality to any whispering thoughts that try to pull us away from the right side.