Realizing our potential
As the 2022 Commonwealth Games begin, a former participant explores how getting to know our relation to God empowers us to overcome limitations – wherever life may take us.
The Commonwealth Games, a multi-sport festival that takes place every four years and currently involves athletes from 72 nations, opened today in Birmingham, United Kingdom. The Commonwealth Games Federation describes one of its aims as to “help Commonwealth athletes, citizens and communities realise their aspirations and ambitions” (thecgf.com).
My own athletic endeavors, including representing England in the Commonwealth Games some years ago, have helped me see how fully realizing our potential occurs more on a spiritual than a physical basis. Progress comes from turning to God as an ever-present source of infinite power – not to set records or win medals, but to let God’s goodness shine through us in unique ways.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah assured the Israelites, “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength” (Isaiah 40:29). This divine help is available to all, equally. Man (which includes all of us) – made in the image and likeness of God, as the Bible describes him – is not a limited mortal struggling to squeeze more out of matter. We are spiritual ideas, freely reflecting the unlimited abilities God has given us.
A sentence in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, points to how spiritual potential can be realized today by better understanding the relation between God and man. It says: “God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis” (p. 258).
As a long jumper, I particularly liked that image of “broadening and rising higher.” Here’s some of the inspiration that has come to me in praying with this sentence.
Getting to know God helps us better realize our potential, because then we more fully demonstrate that as God’s man we are not separated from His boundless goodness, and that God’s very nature is expressed in us. As God’s image, we are not waiting for God to bring us spiritual strength or wisdom. These are qualities of God that are always active within us.
Hence spiritual potential is perpetually present – as available as a radio station when we tune in a receiver. We can take a first step to realizing potential by recognizing – and rejoicing – that God is right with us and that we are each His unique expression.
What God, as infinite Mind, gives us is not materially based, but ideas. There is more potential in divine thoughts than in mortal things. Moreover, the two don’t interact with each other. God, infinite Spirit, doesn’t even know matter. So God’s ideas, by their very nature, can’t be wiped out or hindered by material conditions.
Sometimes we may find ourselves in a situation that seems to demand more than we can give. But the infinite idea develops itself. It doesn’t depend on personal effort. Our role is to be receptive to these spiritual facts and strive to put them into practice in our lives.
Another difference between thoughts and things is that thoughts can’t be overused and break down. The infinite idea develops itself forever. That rules out any deterioration.
On various occasions I experienced how a growing understanding of these ideas can remove limitations. For instance, at one point a back injury made my jumping painful for some weeks. The realization that I was a spiritual idea of God was a turning point that led to complete healing, and within a month I was jumping my best distance on my first international team.
Many years after I stopped jumping, my hip became painful. As I prayed with the loved passage mentioned above, fresh inspiration came. The hip pain quickly disappeared and has never returned.
What these experiences have taught me is that there is more potential in Spirit than in matter, in thoughts than in things, and in metaphysics than in physics. Science and Health states, “Metaphysics resolves things into thoughts, and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul” (p. 269).
Wherever life may take us, the greatest potential is found by lifting thought above restrictive physical conditions and turning Spiritward to realize the unlimited goodness expressed in us by the one infinite Mind, God.