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7000 Reasons

June 23, 2017

Elijah was suicidal.  He’d just had a big showdown with a group that opposed the God of Israel.  Even though he’d been the victor in that event, he felt tired, overwhelmed, and alone.  Especially alone.  He saw no reason to go on living if he was the only one who believed in God.

But that very God of Israel had other plans.  He did several wonderful things to get Elijah’s attention.  But none of them worked until God said, “You are not the only one.  There are 7000 more just like you, who are totally devoted to Me.”  (see 1 Kings chapters 18 and 19)  Elijah was roused from his fear and went on to do more great things to honor the God who had saved him.

How often do we feel like we’re the only one; that we’re alone in accomplishing some great thing – or even a small thing: that everyone else has abandoned us – or the ideals we used to share?

The same God that delivered Elijah from his despondence, that saved Moses from the Egyptians, that resurrected Jesus from the tomb, that promised a Comforter: that same God of love and goodness will give you as many reasons as you need – even 7000 – to keep going.

The fact is, it’s always better than circumstances would seem to suggest.  Our own small viewpoint sees barely to the horizon of our limited experience. God – our dear heavenly Father – has the big picture, along with infinite resources with which to bless mankind, at His command.  There is nothing too hard for God (Jer. 32: 17).  So not only can He bring to bear all of the help that you need right where you are, He can also make you aware of it.  You need not fear that you will miss God’s great provision.

Jesus proved the abundance of God’s fullness of supply by feeding the multitude, healing the sick, and raising the dead.  Even when it seemed that those options were not only not available, but not even possible.  Yet he reassured his followers that “with God all things are possible.”  (Matt. 19: 26)

That same reassurance is here for you too, as many times as you need to be reminded – tenderly and persistently – that you are not alone, you are valuable, you have what you need.

And it’s enough.

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.

Invisible light

June 17, 2017

Scientists tell us that only a small spectrum of light is visible to the human eye – what we know as the colors of the rainbow.  Although that seems infinite to us, there are many other kinds of light, like microwaves, and radio waves, and ultra violet, that are not visible but are very present and very active. (click here for an explanation)

The Bible says that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1st John 1:5)  When we’re struggling with things like sin or sickness, it may seem that God’s light is invisible, that it’s not reaching the darkness of our problems. Yet, just like those unseen waves mentioned above, the light of Love is ever active bringing comfort and healing.  The Apostle James explains it this way, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (Chapter 1, verse 17)  Those good and perfect gifts are freely given to all, and bring to light whatever needs to be resolved, along with the ability to do it.

Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health that “as mortals gain more correct views of God and man, multitudinous objects of creation, which before were invisible, will become visible.” (Page 264)  Getting to know God better, learning more about His perfect nature, is the light that reveals the perfect nature of His creation, including man.

Speaking to his followers, Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)  He knew that generosity, kindness, and honesty – and many other noble acts – were the reflected light of God’s own goodness.  Although his Heavenly Father may have been invisible, the effect of His love was – and is – always present in many visible ways.

The Psalmist summed it up this way: “In thy light shall we see light.”  (Psalm 36:9)

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.

Do you think Jesus did what he did just for those who believed in him? At the time of the crucifixion, he had a very small group of followers.  Doesn’t it seem more likely that he taught and healed and rose from the dead for all mankind?  Whether they call themselves Christian or not?

The likelihood that any one of us will ever have to go through what Jesus did in the crucifixion is extremely small.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from him about humility and resolve – and tremendous affection for our fellow man.  It is practical Christianity to live in keeping with the powerful example he set. Yet, those qualities can be found in every corner of the globe, even in those who’ve never heard of Jesus.

Perhaps then, it’s not about the man himself, but the Christ he represented and demonstrated. Jesus was indeed unique, and there will never be another like him.  But it is the Christ, Immanuel – God with us – that is in fact universal and impartial, and is the basis of the relationship between God and His dear creation.  That relationship is as solid and enduring as the Christ is, and has nothing to do with religion.

Jesus’ prayer was so big and so inclusive that it still touches us today. (See John 17: 20,21)  It makes no boundaries as to doctrine or sect but simply yearns that we all be one, one in the biggest idea of all: the Love of God.

Jesus knew that Love intimately and shared it with anyone who would listen.  His healing work – raising the dead, transforming sinners, destroying disease – was a direct result of his understanding of the consistent and truly loving nature of God.  And he taught his followers that they could count on that same nature in their healing work.  And we can count on it in our healing work.

Neither God nor Christ has changed since that time, although the man Jesus has left the scene.  And we certainly can use Jesus as a model for Christian behavior.  But the power of the Christ touches lives everywhere now as before, instilling goodness, lifting from despair, overcoming tragedy, and healing simply as an expression of God’s love for creation – all creation.

That prayer of oneness is still valid today, regardless of any of the conditions that define us – and seem to separate us.  Let’s expect that prayer to soften our hearts, enable us to set aside our differences, find common ground, and a reason to love one another.

You don’t have to be a believer to do that!

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.

No regrets

January 8, 2017

Especially at the start of a new year, the tendency can be to look back and feel bad about something that happened – or didn’t happen; something you wished you’d said or done, or perhaps wished you hadn’t said or done.  It’s natural to review one’s decisions and circumstances for the purpose of making them better.  Dwelling on them, however, tends to impede progress.

A desire for improvement can certainly be fueled by not wanting to make the same mistakes, and an examination of “what went wrong” is useful if its purpose is to bring about a better future.  Wishful or wistful thinking and regret, however, often tend to have the opposite effect: keeping one unproductively stuck in the past.

A good example is of Christ Jesus following the resurrection.  He appropriately chastised his disciples for being afraid and doubting what he had told them. But he didn’t rebuke them for not saving his life.  Instead, he encouraged them to come out from hiding and share the good news of life eternal – news he had equipped them to tell. (See Mark 16)

While our own missed opportunities may not be so dramatic, they certainly can be as consuming as they were for the disciples before Jesus opened their eyes to the wonderful possibilities the future held.  And it’s likely that we may have some wrongs to right somewhere in our past.  But the best way to do it is to look forward and upward.

The author of Hebrews writes “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…”  (12:1)  In other words, we all have things that would distract or even waylay us, but instead of giving in to them, let us be ready to tackle what lies ahead, knowing that we are capable and willing.  This certainly doesn’t mean we should ignore unresolved difficulties.  But it does mean that we should face them with the expectancy of healing, and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Jesus never told any of his followers, “sorry, you’re just stuck with it until you get to heaven.”  What he did say was, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2).  We can expect that our regrets and sorrows, our shames and unfinished business can be made right, right here because the remedy is at hand.  That holier viewpoint of our past is a guarantee that whatever appears to hold us back or down will dissolve as it comes in contact with the light of Christ.

This sweet and tender assurance of hope and health and harmony is the natural consequence of knowing that “all things work together for good to them that love God…”  (Rom 8:28)  And though it seems that loving God may be a caveat for this progressive outcome, the fact is, loving God is what you and I are designed to do.  Acknowledging it, giving it more attention than our unhappy past, simply reveals the goodness of the kingdom of heaven that’s already at work on our behalf.

And that’s a pretty good reason for no regrets.

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.

Life goes on.

December 17, 2016

Even though the temperature is 26 degrees, the hummingbirds are coming in twos and threes to the feeder outside my window.  Even though the pond is covered in ice, the red wing blackbirds are eating the cattails that ring its edge. Even though there are 4 inches of snow on the ground, the deer are pawing through it and finding tender shoots beneath.  On the surface, it appears that life has stopped, frozen in its tracks.  But a closer look reveals that life goes on.

Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)  This is not just some future reality; a closer look reveals that this is now and here.

Even though the days are short and darkness dominates, even though the cold brings everything to a standstill, this really is the season of life and of light. The advent of the eternal Christ, made plain in the birth of Jesus, is the assurance of eternal life.  A closer look is required, but it reveals that the promise of light and life is kept.  The yearned for renewal is tenderly revealed, even in the dark and cold.

In a much loved poem, author and theologian Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Life is light, and wisdom might, and God is All.”  (Poems, pg.79)  That Life-light reveals how close, how present are hope and happiness.

Look around.  Look closely.  Don’t let circumstances dictate what you know. Let the light of Life tell you.  It will reveal, Life goes on.

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.

Love alone is Life

December 7, 2016

That’s a phrase from a poem by Mary Baker Eddy.  (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 387) It’s not only a powerful statement about God, who is both Love and Life, but about existence – life itself – that is most effective and useful when it’s powered by love.

Love makes the best relationships.  It satisfies the most needs.  It redeems even the most awful conditions.  And it lifts its giver and receiver high above fear and hate and loss.  Not just when the sun shines, but in all kinds of weather.

The life that is filled with love is happy and safe and progressive.  And it is also the most necessary kind of life.

Live in love.  Let every moment of your life be love expressed.

The final phrase of that poem mentioned above says that life most sweet, as heart to heart speaks kindly when we meet and part.

That’s the kind of love worth living.  That’s the kind of life worth loving.

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.

That is my prayer every day.  It’s not to find more reasons to love, but more occasions to love.  And without condition. I’ll admit I’m not always successful. Still, making the effort keeps me pointed in the right direction.

Jesus said that anyone can love those that love them – that’s easy.  (Luke 6:32) But he asked us to love everyone.  And that would be how others would know we were his followers – because of our willingness and followthrough on loving all.  (John 13:35)

The Master saw his fellow man as beloved and necessary parts of God’s creation.  They weren’t good and bad, deserving and unworthy, keepers and tossers.  Instead, Jesus understood that all, every man, woman, and child, were created in his heavenly Father’s image and likeness, in the likeness of divine Love.  It was this understanding that enabled him to heal the sick, cast out sin, and raise the dead.

Looking for more opportunities to love – especially those who are different than us, or who disagree with us – ultimately opens the door to finding things that we have in common.  And there are so many when we take the time to look for them.  And that’s the point.

Is it easy?  No.  My prayer often includes asking for help in doing it: help to be willing, help to be consistent, help to be sincere, and to be effective.  Because love at its most effective is selfless.  That kind of love blesses all without regard to circumstances or participants.

Mary Baker Eddy wrote a wonderful treatise on love (Miscellaneous Writings, page 249).  I’ve excerpted a part here: “Love is not something put upon a shelf, to be taken down on rare occasions with sugar-tongs and laid on a rose-leaf. I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results. Unless these appear, I cast aside the word as a sham and counterfeit, having no ring of the true metal. Love cannot be a mere abstraction, or goodness without activity and power. As a human quality, the glorious significance of affection is more than words: it is the tender, unselfish deed done in secret; the silent, ceaseless prayer; the self-forgetful heart that overflows; the veiled form stealing on an errand of mercy, out of a side door; the little feet tripping along the sidewalk; the gentle hand opening the door that turns toward want and woe, sickness and sorrow, and thus lighting the dark places of earth.”

May your day be filled with giving – and receiving – love in all directions.

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.