Dwelling in God’s presence

A Christian Science perspective: An understanding of our sonship with God brings blessings to our lives.

The Psalmist tells us that God is man’s continuous home because we live in God. In Psalm 91 we read these comforting words: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (verse 1). And in Psalm 90, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (verse 2).

Today, when jet planes can whisk us thousands of miles in a few hours, it is good to realize that although our address may change, we can feel at home and rest in God and the ever-presence of His all-encompassing love. An understanding of our sonship with God gives us this assurance.

We do not know if Christ Jesus had a fixed home while he was teaching and healing throughout Galilee and Judea, but we do know from the gospel narratives that he understood his enduring relationship to God as that of Son to Father. He spoke of himself on many occasions as the Son of God (see, for instance, John 16:28).

Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, elaborates on man’s constant relationship to God when she writes: “The relations of God and man, divine Principle and idea, are indestructible in Science; and Science knows no lapse from nor return to harmony, but holds the divine order or spiritual law, in which God and all that He creates are perfect and eternal, to have remained unchanged in its eternal history” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 470-471).

One of the most poignant stories Jesus tells is the story of the “prodigal son” (see Luke 15:11-32). It pictures a young man who leaves his father’s house with his inheritance to “journey into a far country” to seek his own destiny. Having wasted his inheritance with “riotous living,” the son finds himself destitute and alone. At this low point he decides to return to his father’s house, humbled and penitent. When he arrives home, his father greets him with a kiss. He puts the best robe on him and puts a ring on his hand – a symbol of sonship – and there is much rejoicing!

This parable helped me many years ago, when I was hired to teach at a school in Hawaii. One day I swam out over the coral reef at Waikiki Beach, where I stayed until dusk. To my dismay, when I got out of the water, I realized that the signet ring my father had given me before I left England had slipped off my finger.

With this loss, the thought of being thousands of miles away from my family gripped me. At this low point I called a local Christian Science practitioner and asked if she would pray for me. She obviously understood my anguish, but she helped me understand that the ring, given to me by my father, was a symbol of his love, much like the prodigal son’s ring symbolized his father’s love.

I saw that I wasn’t separated from my father’s love, even if I no longer had the ring. I also began to understand that the source of all real love was God, divine Love. The nature of God’s love for His creation man is unbreakable, permanent, and can never be lost.

As we grasp this fact, we see evidences of this truth in our human experience. Because I understood this, the practitioner assured me it would be possible to find the ring. I stayed up half the night going over Jesus’ story again until I felt comforted and at peace.

The next morning, as soon as it was light, I swam back out over the coral reef. This time I prayed out loud, “Well, Father, show me where my ring is.” And there right under my nose on a piece of coral was my ring glinting in the sunlight. I picked it up and put it back on my finger, thanking my heavenly Father for this expression of His ever-present love. My joy was boundless.

I often look at my ring and recall this event. It is a constant reminder to me of God’s tender presence in our lives. As we understand more clearly, day by day, our sonship with our Father, God, we experience His love enveloping our lives.

This article was adapted from an article in the Sept. 12, 2016, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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