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Ignorance Aforethought

November 29, 2012

Those are two words you don’t normally see together.  But given their meanings, it’s an appropriate pairing to be alert to.

Ignorance is defined online as the condition of being unaware or uninformed; a lack of knowledge, information, or education.  Aforethought simply means planned or intended beforehand; premeditated.

While it’s true that one doesn’t typically plan in advance to be ignorant (and maybe planning and ignorance are mutually exclusive), ignorance is a chief cause for finding oneself in harm’s way.  And it’s equally true that one cannot humanly prepare for every possible outcome – there are just too many variables.  You’ve heard the old adage: what you don’t know CAN hurt you.

So what is the solution to preventing ignorance aforethought?  Prayer.

Not the kind of prayer that tells God how and where to keep us safe – that is, if it’s His will to do so.  I mean the kind of prayer that trusts our heavenly Father to keep His Word in maintaining the safety and security of His beloved creation.  Isaiah reports Deity as saying, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”  (see chapter 45, verse 22)  Is there anything in that statement that indicates God is kidding?  I don’t think so…

Let’s be clear in prayer then, that every moment is in the care of that powerful, divine Love (another name for God) that Isaiah made plain.  That means that our futures are not left up to chance but instead, to the unerring direction of omnipotent Spirit.  (see Science and Health 424:5 for example) It also means that even in the midst of some pretty awful circumstances – think Daniel in the lion’s den, or Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace – the realization of God’s ever presence and all-power will move us through the problem without harm to ourselves.  (see Daniel 3:1-27 and 6:1-23)

This is not wishful thinking.  This is scientific expectation: scientific because it refers to God’s consistent and provable government, and expectation because we are convinced that He really will care for us!

So, let your aforethought be only assured that all is – and ever will be – well.  And then know that you know it!

Gratitude overcomes shame

November 21, 2012

Picture this: Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden after the fateful apple-eating incident.  The Lord God is there, looking for them.  Adam comes forward in response to the question “Adam, where art thou?” and says humbly, “O Lord God, thank you for all that you have done for Eve and me.  Thank you for providing us with such abundance and beauty.  Thank you for loving us so much that you have made this heavenly garden for our home.”  What?

Okay, we all know that’s not how the story really goes.  (see Genesis 2:4 to 3:24)

Instead, we can relate to the scenario of having done something really dumb, or even downright hurtful, and then suffering the consequences which often feel as though we’ve been booted out of safety and happiness – maybe even permanently.   That story is a pretty good depiction of the vagaries of human existence.  It captures well the ultimate downward trend of mortal life.  But it is an allegory.  It is a teaching tool.  It is designed to show us that starting from dust and clay condemns us to return to dust and clay.

What if, instead, we see ourselves through the scientific version of creation made plain in the first chapter of Genesis?  Even after we’ve made a horrible or willful mistake, it’s not too late to gain a better sense of our own and others’ Godlike nature as presented there.  This is where God makes His children in His image and likeness, not from clay or rib.

Gratitude is a wonderful pathway to that redemptive understanding.  Being thankful for good already present, and even in advance of it (as Jesus exemplified) is a holy about-face that helps us to see a new view of ourselves.  That’s because in order to truly be grateful for what we have, we must know what we have.  This requires us to look closely, and then to look again, and then to look even more deeply for and at all the blessings and potential blessings.  Doing so changes us.  Wretchedness gives place to grace, shame to meekness, and fear to affection.

The Bible records that King David understood the healing power of gratitude.  He writes: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”  (see Psalm 103:2-5)

We can’t rewrite the biblical story of Adam and Eve, but we can rewrite our own “kicked out of Eden” stories.  Let your heart be filled with gratitude – real and persistent – and watch your own life be reformed as well.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Weight Loss

November 15, 2012

With all of the weight loss programs and diet food systems, the exercise regimens and surgical options, why would anyone pray about losing weight?  Isn’t prayer mental and weight loss physical?  How can there possibly be any correlation?  Good questions.

Let me frame the answer by first quoting Christ Jesus.  He said – pretty bluntly, actually – Take no thought for your life [or the body], what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink. Is not the life more than meat?  (See Matt. 6:25)  I don’t think he was suggesting that we be thoughtless, either.  On the contrary, I believe he was saying put your thought on God alone, and let Him work out the details.  (See Matt. 6:33)

Why would he say that?  Because the tendency of the human mind is to limit everything by measuring it: the size of the body (your own or someone else’s), the size of the portion (or the number of points and/or calories the portion represents), the size of the progress – or not, even the size of the commitment.  These measurements keep thought stuck in the body.  It is literally self absorption!

On the other hand, turning to God in prayer expands and lifts thought.  As the author of Hebrews says, “he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”  That (believing in and diligently seeking God) is the solution.  Isn’t that what Jesus did every moment?  And didn’t he resolve every situation as a result?  And didn’t he say we would do the same things as he did?  (See John 14:12)

Following Jesus’ command to take no thought either for the body or the food we put into it tends to both normalize the function and appearance of the body.  Really?  Yes!  Because it leaves both to God’s control – the same God who so loved the world He sent His only begotten son (See John 3:16).  That much love, that big a gift surely indicates God’s ability and willingness to care for you and me in a healthy and healing way.

Consider these options: If you’re willing to put the effort into counting calories, how about counting your thoughts of God instead?  If you’re willing to take the time to watch what you eat, how about watching what you think instead?  If you’re willing to exercise your body, how about exercising your spiritual authority instead?  Isn’t a prayer-filled regimen much more satisfying and all-inclusive than an exercise or diet plan?  And more permanent too – just like God’s love!

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  (Matt 6:33)

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Rewriting the past

November 8, 2012

I’m not talking about pretending that something didn’t happen while still suffering the effects or consequences of it, or as a means for not dealing with it.  And I’m also not talking about what sometimes happens during a regime change when the national history is rewritten to better reflect the views of the new government.  I am suggesting revising our views of the past and the influence they have on the present as a means of healing them.

In her autobiography, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “The human history needs to be revised, and the material record expunged.”  (See Ret. page 21)  She recognized that if she allowed her past as an always ill, divorced, and helpless woman to determine her future, she would never rise beyond those limitations.  Instead, she looked to the Bible’s God-inspired view of a holy creation untouched by human conditions (see Genesis 1:1-31 for example) as her basis for a future free from the condemnation of the past.  As a result, she overcame every illness (her own and others), had a very happy and prosperous new marriage, and went on to found a church and movement, not only unthinkable to other women of her time, but beyond even what men were able to accomplish.

These remarkable effects were also found in Jesus’ ministry.  Wasn’t every healing an undoing of some awful event of the past?  Whether the improvement was of a sinful or diseased condition, Jesus always indicated that the individual was now free to go about his or her life in a normal and natural manner.  In fact it was these works of Jesus – along with his word – that showed Mary Baker Eddy that this kind of thorough and redemptive healing was still possible today.

That’s right.  Healings of mind and body, past and present, are possible today, here and now.  This is Christianity made practical!

The “how to” requires persistently examining thought – not to use it as a bludgeon to condemn yourself or others – but to align it with the viewpoint God Himself has of you.  The God who said “I see everything and everything is good” was looking at you when He said that.

This mental alignment may involve cleaning up some messes, but the capacity and wherewithal to do so are as much a part of your progress as correctly identifying yourself as God’s own likeness.  And often, when we humbly and persistently seek God’s solution to redeeming the past, those messes simply fade away.

Okay, so this isn’t necessarily an overnight process.  That’s not to say that healing can’t occur overnight!  But being persistently willing to give up our attachment to our own or others harmful actions, or to stop attributing cause or effect to unhappy events and circumstances really helps us to keep thought in tune with God’s outlook.

Be patient with yourself as you take this on – but do take it on.  It will lift you and all of those in your sphere of influence above the downward spiral of the past.  And that makes the now much more enjoyable.

Whether is easier?

November 2, 2012

It was so crowded, they couldn’t fit anyone else into the room.  Even the doorway was blocked.  The space was filled with the curious, the skeptics, and those hungry for the startling but healing words of this itinerant preacher.  He was telling them things that were both fresh and familiar about God and life and hope.

All of a sudden there was a great crashing noise as the roof was torn off.  Four men began to lower the cot of their friend who was terribly ill with palsy.  The preacher didn’t chastise them or cringe or even flee.  He gently but firmly said to the sick man, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”  There was an audible gasp from the group gathered there.  Some even imagined the comment to be blasphemous.  Others were simply waiting to see how this unusual man would explain his comment.

Jesus, for that’s who the preacher was, discerned at once the discomfort his bold statement stirred in the hearts of his listeners.  How would he justify such audacity?  He began by asking a question: whether is easier?  No one said anything.

So he gave them two options.  Is it easier to say “your sins are forgiven” or is it easier to say “stand up and walk.”  By now, everyone in the room was on the edge of his seat wondering how this would play out.  They knew that the one option of forgiving sins was God’s realm alone.  They also knew that the other option of expecting a sick man to get up was absolutely ridiculous.  Was this preacher crazy, or worse?

Then Jesus explained that both options were easy for the Son of Man.  He asked the man to rise, pick up his cot, and go home.  And he did so, easily.  The Bible reports that ALL were amazed.  Even the skeptics.  (see Mark 2:1-12)

Let us not forget the lesson of this story.  Healing sin and sickness is equally easy to the Christ.  Freedom from sin and sickness is equally easy to mankind.  Both are possible here and now.  Easily.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.