If you are already a reader of the Bible, you may have found that it’s not just “the Good Book,” but a good book. And you may already be planning to participate in activities celebrating National Bible Week, observed during Thanksgiving week.
If you haven’t read the Bible, and are perhaps even hesitant to do so, you might want to check it out. It includes a lot of the drama in human relations that we see around us today, from adultery to deeply devoted marriage; loss and gain; political shenanigans; amazing courage and perseverance. There are battles – victories and defeats – and accounts of corruption overcome.
Most important, though, in the Bible’s inspired teachings we find the profound message of God’s love for His creation and for each of us as His sons and daughters (see, for instance, Psalms 100:3). A growing understanding of this spiritual reality brings blessings.
When I was studying for my PhD in religious education, I spent a lot of time reading the Bible, mainly from the need to understand its theology. I had always been inspired by Christ Jesus’ teachings and strove to follow them. But I had only glimpsed the power of the Bible’s teachings. I knew they could guide my life, but didn’t yet realize that they could totally transform it.
As time went on and life seemed to get more complicated, I felt a great longing to know God. Through a colleague, who became a dear friend, I learned about a companion book to the Bible: “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science. I was struck by the first sentence in the first chapter, which is on prayer: “The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, – a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love” (p. 1).
I intellectually agreed, but as I read further, I realized that this was not merely an abstract concept, but a daily reality. Every moment we can trust in and expect God’s intelligence, power, and love to be our present strength and guide.
As I read the Bible from this standpoint, I realized that in some ways, many of the people described in it were just like me. Some of them made big mistakes. And they weren’t all consistently spiritually minded. But time and again, when they truly turned to God for guidance and forgiveness, they found help – sometimes in extraordinary ways.
Through this deepening prayerful study, I began to experience such spiritual guidance in my life, too. At the time, I worked for a man who was very kind but could be temperamental and indecisive about urgent issues. It was quite frustrating and difficult for vendors and for me. I shared this problem with my Christian Scientist friend. She explained the importance of expecting good, not frustration, because good is a quality of God. Since we are His children, goodness, not recalcitrance, is inherent in us all – including the man I worked for.
As I thought about that, I realized that by understandingly expecting God’s goodness to be manifested, I was opening thought to God’s guidance. Not that I would get “my” way, but that I would have what I needed to do my job.
That’s exactly what happened, and by the time this person left the organization a bit later, we not only had a good working relationship, but I felt genuine Christly love for him.
This was a small step in my journey, but it taught me a valuable spiritual lesson. And it also changed the way I read the Bible. I began to see that it wasn’t only a book for comfort, but that its lessons provide tangible help every day.
Since then, turning to the Bible and Science and Health has brought healing of health issues – from seasonal illnesses to third-degree burns that healed without a scar – and to family situations. As my professional life went through changes – as I moved into new lines of work – these two books have been my companions and advisers every step of the way.
While there’s always more to learn, I can truly say that “the Good Book” has led me to much hope, joy, and healing. The Bible declares, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105). I’m so grateful for how that light has illumined my path for decades.