Turn! Turn! Turn!
A Christian Science perspective: What does it mean to “turn” to God?
The lyrics of Pete Seeger’s song “To Everything There Is a Season” were taken word for word from the Bible (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). The only words Seeger added were “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and “I swear it’s not too late.”
While I can’t claim to know what Seeger’s intended meaning was, for me, the simple word “turn” has always reminded me of the importance of turning to God. The great figures of the Bible showed that turning to God – when they had important decisions to make, faced desperate situations, or needed healing for themselves or others – got them results.
When Moses led the Hebrew people out of Egypt after 400 years of slavery (see Acts 7:6), the Egyptian army pursued them to the Red Sea. In this crisis, when escape looked impossible, Moses turned to God for help, and a strong east wind opened a path through the sea (see Exodus, Chaps. 13, 14).
The prophet Elisha turned to God for guidance continually. Through his communion with God he was able to warn the king of Israel numerous times of ambushes and surprise attacks planned by the Syrians against the army of Israel (see II Kings, Chap. 6).
In another instance, Peter was imprisoned by King Herod, chained in his cell, and guarded by 16 soldiers the night before he was to be executed. Yet the Christians of the budding Antioch church prayed for Peter without ceasing, and that very night Peter walked out of the prison to freedom (see Acts, Chap. 12).
Turning to God in tough, seemingly impossible situations was very natural for these biblical worthies. They knew that God was with them and that He was all powerful. They understood that God heard their prayers and that He answered prayer in ways that brought freedom and healing.
Christ Jesus turned to God continually in prayer and acknowledged Him as the power behind the healings he brought about. Expressing unsurpassed humility, even in light of what were deemed miraculous healing works, Jesus always gave God, the Father, the entire credit for what he did. He said, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19). Jesus understood so clearly that the man and woman of God’s creation are perfect, that his healings were instantaneous. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, states: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 476-477).
When Jesus healed the man with the withered hand, for example, he was so conscious of God’s supreme goodness, justice, and love, and of the perfection of that man’s true identity, that his understanding overruled the deformity. The man was healed immediately (see Mark 3:1-5). Christ Jesus said that his followers would emulate his healings, as they understood the truth he taught. The healing that results from turning to God and understanding Him to be our source of life can be practiced today.
In one case, a man with a medically diagnosed case of shingles contacted a Christian Science practitioner for help through prayer. The practitioner did not dwell upon the diagnosis or what may have caused the problem. Rather, he immediately turned his thought to God and prayed to understand this man as made in the image and likeness of God, as brought out in Genesis 1:26, 27. The patient reported that the pain dissipated almost immediately, and within four days all bodily evidence of the diagnosed condition was gone.
Turning to God in prayer and beginning to understand our own relationship to the Father reveals our true being as the perfect man of God’s creating. This kind of turning transforms our thinking and brings practical – healing – results.
A version of this article ran in the Jan. 30 issue of The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.).