A property we once owned in Arizona included a large arroyo – a dry riverbed. It was wide, broad, had four-foot banks, and sported plenty of sticks, logs, sagebrush, and miscellaneous other things that washed down its track when there was a large rainstorm. Standing in the arroyo, one felt a sense of wonder at the power of the water that had cut such a swath in the desert floor.
One day I visited someone who had a similar arroyo behind her place. The woman told me with glee that it was a “renewable natural resource.” She said she had taken hundreds of wheelbarrows full of sand out of the arroyo over the years, and it always renewed itself. “What a delight,” I thought. “A permanently renewable resource.”
I often think of this self-renewing nature of the arroyo as a metaphor for the boundless resources God sends our way – “boundless” being the operative word. We tend to think of things in limited quantities – limited amounts of water, oil, gas, etc. We often even think of spiritual attributes in limited terms, such as limited patience, compassion, or cooperation.
But these attributes are not limited. Infinite Spirit, God, knows and communicates the boundless availability of all these qualities, and ceaselessly conveys ideas about God’s nature and our relationship to God to each one of us. These are the day-by-day resources we need to open our hearts to in prayer. In her book “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, writes, “God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies” (p. 307).
There’s a Bible story in the book of Second Kings that illustrates this (4:1-7). A widow went to the prophet Elisha, saying that a creditor was coming to take her sons to be slaves. Elisha asked what she had in the house. The woman responded that she had just one pot of oil. Elisha instructed her to collect as many pots and pitchers as she could from her neighbors and then pour oil from her original pot into the others. When she did this, she discovered that the oil never ran out – she filled all the containers. Elisha told her to sell that oil to pay her debts, and then her family could live off the rest.
Does that sound like too much of a miracle to be practical? I like to think of the oil as another metaphor: endless inspiration, available to us in whatever form we need it, whenever we have a need, large or small. There was a time in my life when funds were scarce, and the need for a more abundant supply of income was literally met by what I had in the house. When I prayed to better understand that God, divine Love, was supplying all that my family and I needed, a business opportunity spontaneously arose.
About that time, a woman who had been giving our children piano lessons moved away. The thought came to me to continue teaching my children myself – I knew how to play and loved teaching in general. So, we started.
Pretty soon I was getting unsought calls from parents whose children had also worked with the other woman, asking if they could send their children over to our house for piano lessons. In no time I had a piano teaching business that augmented our income and blessed my several pupils. It met my family’s financial need and was a lovely experience for all.
God’s infinite ideas are supplied day by day. Prayerfully listening for those ideas, we find that all of us – God’s beloved children – are the beneficiaries of God’s boundless love. As we come to trust in God’s spiritual resources, we realize that we can never truly lack. Step by step, our human needs are met.