Life is more than a statistic

Sometimes it can seem our identity is confined to a vulnerable, mortal body. But as an airplane passenger experienced when the pilot lost control, considering existence from an unlimited, spiritual perspective brings comfort and safety.

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I’d landed at O’Hare Airport and hopped in a taxi to go to another Chicago airport, where I’d be taking a small plane to my final destination. Along the way, we passed Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs play baseball. I paid the driver after asking him to stop and let me out right in front. There was no game that day, but a staff member offered to let me in so I could experience this very famous stadium.

There, surrounded by 41,649 empty seats, I had this incredible place completely to myself. As I walked onto the infield, it was so quiet, and I took a moment to commune with God. In my prayers I asked if God had anything to tell me.

An answer quickly came in my heart. It was a line from “Retrospection and Introspection” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science: “Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity” (p. 70).

It dawned on me all of a sudden that this niche we each have is much more than a physical one, like a particular job. It’s our tremendous spiritual identity as the child of God, Spirit, here and now. And it’s eternal! I felt so inspired and encouraged by this.

Of the way God creates and safeguards us all, Jesus said, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). Divine Life is beautiful and, like the night sky, encompasses infinitely more than we see.

And as God is pure and perfect Spirit, to reside perpetually in God’s hand isn’t to be held in any sort of physical grasp. As material as we appear to be, Christian Science teaches that our fundamental existence is actually entirely spiritual. “Science reveals nothing in Spirit out of which to create matter,” Mrs. Eddy explains in her primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” (p. 278).

The true nature of each of us, then, as Spirit’s eternal offspring, isn’t bound up in material statistics about life or death. Our true Life is God; it is not in matter. And more than just a hopeful philosophy, this spiritual reality is provable as we learn more about it.

Later that day, an hour or so into my next flight, the pilot lost control of the plane. As we arched over, heading straight down, I could hear the engines getting louder and louder. At first, it crossed my mind that we were about to end up as statistics and that I wouldn’t get to see my children grow up. But then, that most relieving idea that had come to me earlier flooded back into my thought: “Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity.”

We can never be plucked from the love and care of God, Life itself. God’s goodness is unchanging, and so is our true identity as the spiritual expression of that goodness – now and eternally.

My fear lifted, and very soon after that the co-pilot was able to regain control somehow. An hour later we landed. My overall perspective of existence was never the same after that. The realization that Life is Spirit, and that all of God’s children express this never-ending Life, has helped me overcome fear, grief, and other difficulties since.

The Bible talks about God’s people, which includes all of us – “a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted” (I Kings 3:8). Yes, as God’s offspring, we each remain safely, eternally, in the hand of Spirit. Our home is here in Spirit, and this is where we will forever thrive. In our prayers, we can include the whole world in the comfort and assurance of God’s words: “I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to reside in forever” (II Chronicles 6:2, New Revised Standard Version).

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About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

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The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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