Does it ever feel like God just simply doesn’t know what’s going on with us?  We pray, we plead.  And yet, we still struggle.  Maybe He’s too busy. Maybe He doesn’t care.  Maybe He can’t do anything about it anyway.  Maybe that’s just the way it is.

Or is it?

That’s not the view of God Jesus had.  When he was at the tomb of Lazarus, he said for all to hear, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.  And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.”  (John 11:41,42)

Was Jesus just speaking of his own capacity to do amazing miracles?  No, he was reassuring those gathered that God hears and responds.  In fact, not long after this he said, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”  (John 14:12)

Jesus started his prayer with gratitude that God could hear him.  And not just an acknowledgment that God was hearing in that moment, but in every moment.  This is an important point.  Remembering that God hears us and responds – every time – makes our prayers more than wishful thinking.  It empowers them with the spirit of the Christ, which Jesus promised would happen.

After all, he says, “he that believeth on me” – he that understands me, follows me, recognizes me – will accomplish what I accomplish.  “And even greater works than these…”

Jesus knew God was listening, and loving, and caring.  And his works proved it.

We must know that God is listening, and loving, and caring.  And our works will prove it.

Then we can say, “God, I’m here.  So are You.”  Amen.

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.

2014, I mean 2015

January 8, 2015

Recently, I’d made the date on several important documents January 2014 instead of January 2015.  You see, 2014 was an established habit – I didn’t have to think about it, it just flowed from my fingers through the pen or keyboard.  It was legitimate for so long, surely I could make continued use of it.  I mean, what difference would it make?

And why should I have to remember the new date anyway?  It required of me to actually pay attention to what I was doing.  But alas, using the old wrong date created too many problems.  Important information was lost, or misfiled.  Documents had to be redone – sometimes from scratch.  Holding to the incorrect date, regardless of how big a habit it had become, was painful, and rather ridiculous.

Sometimes that’s the way it is with things that need to change.  We know we really should – and frankly, we probably want to anyway.  But the old way is so ingrained, so much a part of our behavior that we just can’t seem to catch ourselves until after the fact.  Then we fuss and fret and imagine that the bad habit is simply to be endured – and suffered for.  The Apostle Paul explains it this way, “the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. O wretched man that I am.”  (Rom 7:19,24)

Just as we eventually begin to write the correct date – with a bit of conscientious care – we can also shift from repeating some other bad habit to forming a new and better one, in the same way: conscientious care.  The key is in watching our thought, because behavior stems from our thinking. Mary Baker Eddy once wrote, “Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously.”  (Science and Health p. 392)

Yes, you can actually identify a thought before you accept it as your own – you can decide whether it will bless you or harm you.  If that thought is the basis of an unwanted behavior, nip it in the bud.  Don’t think it, then you won’t be compelled to act upon it.

Following the Apostle Paul’s painful confession, quoted above, he asked how to be delivered from repeating the problem.  The answer? “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”   Paul knew that the Christ is that quality of thought which acknowledges that “with God all things are possible” as Jesus himself said and proved.  (Matt 19:26)

That means that watching thought  – choosing the better ones and rejecting the worse – is not simply an activity of human will.  It is a spiritual ability animated by God.  Jesus put it this way: “I can of mine own self do nothing…because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”  (John 5:30)

While exchanging 2014 for 2015 is not terribly dramatic, it is indicative of one’s capacity to improve.  And knowing you can – especially when you must – makes the transition more hopeful.  And isn’t that the best part of the Christ?  To instill hope?

Welcome to 2015!

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.

I’m (not) good at math

January 1, 2015

Here’s a parable about Lulu: Every morning before Lulu gets out of bed she goes over her times tables carefully, starting at zero and going all the way to twelve. 0 x 0 = 0, 0 x 1 = 0, up to 12 x 12 = 144.  She’s very careful and conscientious and doesn’t miss one.  And then Lulu gets out of bed and spends a little time studying her math book.  She reviews a few addition and subtraction problems, even contemplates some division.  Again, Lulu is very thorough and careful, and makes sure her answers are correct before she puts her math book away.

Then Lulu goes out.

Her first stop is to get gas for her car.  Lulu has only $10 in her wallet, and gas is $2.50 per gallon so she wants to be sure she doesn’t go over that amount.  She tells the attendant to give her 5 gallons.  When the gas has been pumped the attendant comes to be paid.  Lulu gives him the $10 and closes her window, preparing to drive away.  There’s a knock on the glass.  The attendant wants more money.  Lulu’s puzzled, but the attendant explains that 5 gallons at $2.50 each is $12.50. Chagrined, Lulu hands him her debit card which he charges $2.50 and then returns.  Lulu writes $2.50 on a scrap of paper and drives to her next stop, the grocery store.

Lulu needs 36 eggs for a project at work.  She runs in, grabs two cartons of a dozen each, pays for them with her debit card and returns to her car.  She writes $4.30 on her scrap of paper.

Lulu makes one more stop at the drive-thru of an espresso stand.  She sees that her favorite hot drink is $3.75.  She writes that onto her scrap of paper and quickly adds them up: $9.55.  Perfect, she says.  Because she only has $10 in her checking account.  Lulu orders the drink.

Lulu heads to work.  She drops the eggs off with a co-worker who asks, “where’s the other dozen?  This is only 24.”  Lulu stops to count them, and sure enough, there are only 24 eggs.  Going on to her desk, she slumps into her own chair just as she gets a text from her bank that she’s overdrawn 55 cents.  What??!  Another co-worker comes by with some scraps of paper and says, “Lulu, I need your help.  I can’t add these up.”  Lulu sighs and says, “I’m not good at math.”

Thus ends the parable.

Do you ever feel that way about prayer?  Even before you get out of bed, you carefully repeat your favorite spiritual ideas.  Then you spend some time with your favorite spiritual texts.  But once you get out the door, you don’t remember a thing.  And by the end of the day you believe that you don’t know how to pray for yourself, let alone anyone else who may need some help.

Our prayers are like math: they’re actually applicable and useful throughout the day.  And when relied on consistently, our outcomes are predictably harmonious.  They’re not just words but statements of divine fact, and we have a right to believe and understand them.  We have a right to draw on them at any moment under any circumstance.

Just as Lulu truly was good at math, we too, know what we’re doing when we pray.  We know that we can reliably trust God and lean on Him, so that, at the end of the day when someone says, “can you help?” we can say, “yes.  I’m good at prayer.”

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.