Use Your Spiritual Power
Barbara Dix Henderson
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Have you ever been caught out by the persistent questions of a child? And have you sometimes wondered why you never thought of asking those questions yourself? I certainly have - I remember standing on a bridge one day with a small boy, looking down at a steam-engine. "What makes it go?" he asked. "Steam," I replied. There was a pause. "What makes the steam?" he continued. I thought quickly. "The fire in the engine," I said hopefully. A long pause - then, "What makes the wheels go round?" This was too much for me - so I rather weakly said I was sure his daddy would tell him all about it later!
I'm always amazed at the logic behind children's questions. They really want to know. And they like to follow through to a logical conclusion. And why not? This wondering and asking is the open door for a child to enter a new area of thought and so widen his experience. Each day is a new adventure, an expanding horizon. Why do we have to lose this child-like curiosity? If only we can let this searching process carry on into later life, it can help cut through the hardened shell of unshifting opinion and prejudice and lead us to the real solution of our problems.
Everywhere we go, almost every day, we meet people who speak of some sort of problem - unhappy relationships, poor health, failure in business, indecision over a career, pressure of work - all taking up a large part of their thought and conversation. Most of us are too easily caught in a vortex of accepting a particular situation as "our lot in life" and become resigned to it; we even quite enjoy mulling it over and feeling martyred.
I was told that a well known English politician found it difficult to remember names. In order not to give offense he evolved the never-failing question, "My dear fellow, how nice to see you! How's the old complaint?" This always produced the necessary reaction which usually gave him the identity clue he needed! How awful to be identified by our complaints!
I used to get fed up with people who were always moaning and groaning, and sometimes with myself for doing the same thing. Then I began to see that behind what we're complaining about is often a real urge to get past the problem and travel forward. But we don't know where to start.
Well, how can we help ourselves and others to get out of these binding limitations and gain a sense that we're really going somewhere?
What can we change in order to improve our situation? Surely we can change our thinking - break new ground - leave the old thought-patterns behind and, like the child, stretch out for something new - something that can bring fresh hope and purpose into our lives. But those old thought-patterns can be very tenacious. They seem to close in on us until we feel caught in a trap. It's then, when we reach an impasse, that we cry out for something that will really help us.
A Reaching Out to God Brings Results
Knowing Our Need for God Opens Our Thought
This can be the very moment when
we will admit how much we want God, a God who really means something - this
wanting God is a vital point in anyone's life. It is, in fact, the basis of the
first Beatitude in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, known to most of us as
"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"
(Matt. 5:3). But in the New English Bible the translation is, "How blest
are those who know their need of God; the
Jesus obviously thought this moment of knowing our need of God was a pretty important one. It's the beginning of a stretching out of thought, a longing for some higher power, an acknowledgement that there is something unseen but surely available that's worth finding.
So never mind if we've only got this far. The recognition of our need to know God can lead us to a breakthrough out of the old thought-patterns into a new area of thought, into new possibilities.
We Learn the True Nature of God as Omni-active Good
How do we get a clearer concept of this God that we need so much? Asking some young children what they thought about God was fairly revealing. One boy thought He was the "guard" at the railway station; and another triumphantly said He was up the chimney, obviously confusing God with Father Christmas. I personally thought He was an old man in the sky who looked suspiciously like my white-bearded grandfather!
Some adults are just as hazy about God as these children. The very word "God" has been so overused and misused that it has lost its meaning for many people. So one can hardly blame those who find it more honest to contend that God doesn't exist or that He's dead than to accept a vague concept of some Supreme Being to whom they've never been properly introduced! Yet it's surprising that the very people who like to follow human reason through to a logical conclusion are prepared to leave the all-important question of God in mid-air!
But this anti-God complex is only part of the hard crust of opinion formed by incorrect information. If we can only find a definition of God that really means something to us, then the true value of the Bible will be recognized. It too has been misunderstood and distorted by reading it literally. It's only when the Bible is read with inspiration that its inner meaning comes to light. You can't read spiritual truths with a material eye.
I'm convinced everyone is reaching out for a reliable source of good. But this is exactly what God is! As a child it was such a relief to me to learn this from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, where the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, defines good as "God; Spirit; omnipotence; omniscience; omnipresence; omni-action" (Science and Health, p. 587). Nothing passive or faraway about that! No old man in the sky, no great mystery. Just think - God, Spirit - all power, all-Science, all presence, all action. And how much we all need active good.
But we must understand the nature of that good. It's not material; it's spiritual and it has a spiritual source, the divine Principle from which all good stems.
Jesus recognized the God-Principle from which only good can come. He said, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God" (Matt. ). Once we understand that all good is the law of divine Principle in action and not something limited by circumstance, then we begin to feel the benefits of active good at work in us. A continual refinement of our sense of good brings us closer to this law.
Just to work at the human level of good is a chancy process. It's like pushing pawns around on a chess board without learning the rules. Even if we're only at the beginning of our search, when we accept the fact that there is a divine law which can steer our lives in a new direction - always towards more good - then we break through the impasse. I know a young woman whose first glimpse of God in this new light - as omni-active good, brought a whole new perspective into her life.
Glimpse of God as Omni-active Good Breaks Impasse
My telephone rang one day and a
I knew him to be a straightforward character and so I invited him to bring his wife to stay with me while they sorted themselves out. I saw their constant talk about bad luck would have to be dealt with. My opportunity came when his wife read some of my Christian Science literature and began to ask me how God could help them.
I explained that God isn't some faraway potentate dealing out thunder and lightning and an occasional pat on the back; He's an unfailing source of infinite good whose law governs our lives harmoniously. I told her there's no fluctuation in God's law; it isn't here today and gone tomorrow. It isn't chancy. The law of good is ever-present, so it displaces any belief in a contrary law. I assured her that right at this very moment, when things looked black, something good was just waiting to show itself in their experience.
She began to pray on new lines, affirming constantly the presence of God, good, even though the human situation was as yet unsolved. And she started to read Science and Health. Soon she became better physically, and began to answer advertisements on behalf of her husband. He too became active in job-hunting, passed his pilot's test, and got a job at a small airport. When they left, I handed the wife a pamphlet entitled "God's Law of Adjustment," with some articles reprinted from the Christian Science Sentinel.
A few months later she phoned with yet another tale of woe! Her husband had found certain unethical practices were carried on by the company he'd joined, and he had the moral courage to quit the job. He preferred no job to a dishonest one.
Meanwhile she had completely regained her health and had taken a job in a mill. She wasn't discouraged. She told me that little pamphlet had helped her through this time with the full faith that God was able to adjust their situation. I agreed with her, and pointed out that her husband's qualities of honesty, reliability, precision and hard work were God-given qualities - that they must find appreciation with a firm that needed exactly what he had to offer. This was God's law in operation.
She shared these ideas with her husband and two days later she rather bravely persuaded him to turn down a job which didn't do justice to his qualities. Five days later he was offered a job with a top-ranking airline at an excellent salary complete with living accommodation. Not only did the young wife give full credit to this new view of God she'd gained from Christian Science, but she said that others in the mill wanted copies of her pamphlet and where could she get some more!
This young woman's thirst for God's guidance was the power-point within her, which linked her to the right ideas needed, to bring comfort and assurance during the waiting period. Her husband's response to the power of God came through the moral qualities which he valued more highly than money.
Here we see that even the beginnings of a new and more correct view of God as omni-active good brought healing - not only physical healing, but healing of the belief of chance, of failure, of unemployment and of homelessness. These were all overcome within five months.
It's quite thrilling to see how
wonderfully God links the searching thought to the truth. Who was to know, when
I first met that young man in the
The apostle Paul, said, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Rom. ). And aren't we all called according to His purpose?
Neither time nor space can separate us from the same healing resources which Jesus drew upon. Apathy and skepticism and misconception would close the door on limitless possibilities. As we push past these thought-barriers to a higher understanding of what God really is, then the door begins to open on a new horizon.
A Growing Concept of God Awakens Spiritual Sense and Reveals the Healing Process
Mary Baker Eddy Searched for and Discovered the Christ, Truth
In the middle of the last century many great thinkers and reformers were launching into new areas of thought exploration. Dissatisfaction with existing modes of thought brought a new urge to get past them. Among these thinkers was Mary Baker Eddy.
At that time Mrs. Eddy felt deeply the inadequacy of human ways and means to do more than alleviate distress and disease. She saw that the churches had ceased to accept the probability of Christian healing. Her searching thought couldn't understand why. She began to investigate some of the new theories which were being advanced at that time, but none of them fully satisfied her.
After some years of invalidism she began a deeper research for a reliable source of good. She was a great questioner and a great challenger. She felt sure the Bible contained the answer. She observed that almost every word and act of Christ Jesus cut right across conventional opinions of his day. Yet his challenge was never destructive of anything good. It was always constructive, always bringing more of divine law and purpose into view.
Mrs. Eddy's sudden recovery from a serious internal injury during this time strengthened her conviction that her search was rightly directed. She must have opened the right door to receive the God-power which corrected her mental and physical experience in this way. But this wasn't enough. She wanted to know the Principle which lay behind the healing.
After years of prayer and Bible research, her study of Jesus' healings bore fruit. Mrs. Eddy's own concept of God rose to such heights that she actually touched the divine source, the absolute Truth, the all-intelligent Mind. An awareness of spiritual perfection flowed into her consciousness, forming the perfect concept of God as active divine Love, and of man as Love's perfect spiritual idea.
She accepted Jesus' words, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). She realized that a perfect Father could only create a perfect son. Jesus indicated that others had the same relationship with the Father that he had. So Jesus must have seen them as perfect too.
Jesus applied these spiritual facts with such total confidence that the infinite resources of the God-power were brought into action. They pushed out the gripping slavery of man seen as the helpless victim of fear and frustration, of trouble and tension.
The false concept was banished. So Mrs. Eddy saw there was in fact only one true concept of man - the perfect one - and anything less than perfection was untrue. It became clear to her that unless thought started from perfection, it always had a false base.
This was a new and startling discovery. Unless thought started from perfection it always had a false basis. As she worked from this premise, she found that healings became a natural part of her daily life.
With her thought now wide open to inspiration, Mrs. Eddy wrote the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. When this key unlocks the Bible, it opens the flood-gates of spiritual power.
Nuclear and atomic energy seem to most people the greatest force in the world. Yet what final good can they accomplish in comparison with the direct healing force which Jesus brought into action by exploding every human theory regarding life in matter?
This is what Christian Science is doing. It's exploding age-old beliefs formed by material misconception, and it's bringing to mankind the simple but potent message of man as the perfect spiritual conception of perfect Mind.
How Does This Healing Process Work For Us?
How can we achieve this state of spiritual receptivity which is indispensable to the work of healing and reformation?
Well of course, in order to receive we have to open a door in our thought as Mrs. Eddy did. Looking and listening are the key to this; looking beyond the obvious and listening for something we may not have heard before. Our view is clouded by the material picture of people seen as limited mortals. So we have to begin by clearing away this smoke-screen.
One can think of this smoke-screen as the outcome of mass negative, woolly thinking which clouds the real facts of health and identity. Then remember that every intelligent, love-promoted thought which we act upon helps to clear the atmosphere.
We need a clear atmosphere to find new resources. Jesus said, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Matt. 7:7). Something good must be waiting for us. Why then haven't we found it? What is it that seems to tie us down and stop us from tapping those infinite resources? Or even from believing they exist? It's the false evidence produced by the five unreliable physical senses. It's this information coming from what we see, hear, taste, touch or smell that deludes us.
Wasn't this the smoke-screen Jesus broke through with his thought focused on man as the Son of God? He never spoke of symptoms, never asked for a case-history, never recoiled from the ghastliness of leprosy, he just calmly and compassionately addressed himself to the searching thought of those who came to him, "knowing their need of God." He drew on these unlimited spiritual resources because he was not tied down to the limitations of the five senses. Jesus looked beyond the physical for his source of power. So must we.
Spiritual Sense Reveals True Selfhood
There is another dimension, another sense, within each one of us. This intuitive sense is what Christian Science calls spiritual sense. It is in fact the only point of total awareness, or full consciousness, that we possess. This direct spiritual link with the one Mind does away with the need for any intermediary or medium and gives us the all-important faculty of spiritual discernment. With it we can detect where information comes from. Is it from the divine Mind or from a supposed mind apart from God? Is it true or false?
We have to be wary of the lying suggestions of a material mentality which seems to set itself up in opposition to the one omnipotent power - God. Like a pretender to the throne, it would simulate alternative laws in order to undermine real authority. This counter-influence which comes from ignorance, this lie, with its deviating capacity to draw thought into suffering, sinning or frightened channels, fades out in the presence of Truth. Truth can only know what is true; the lie never exists - it only suggests itself until its lying falsity is detected and removed. Didn't Jesus speak of the devil as "a liar, and father of it?" (John 8:44).
What happens to any lie when the truth is told about it? Does it have a place? Does it go on existing? There's only one truth about anything. There's only one true you - not one true and the other false, one well and the other sick, one honest and the other dishonest, one forgiving and the other revengeful.
As the false sense, the material limited sense, is seen for what it is - an unfounded misconcept - then the true selfhood is revealed and health is manifested.
As a child, I had terribly swollen glands on my neck every winter for about four years. This was painful and unsightly; and I was laughed at at school which was almost worse. Walking home from Sunday School one day feeling rather discouraged, I thought, "I wonder what a doctor would say if he saw my swollen neck!" That didn't comfort me much - but immediately the question came, "I wonder what God would say if He saw my neck!" Suddenly I burst out laughing at the idea. As though God could possibly see such a thing! Hadn't I just been learning that He is "of purer eyes than to behold evil?" (Hab. ). I went home satisfied. In a couple of days my neck was back to normal and that condition never returned. A glimpse of my true selfhood had healed me.
As we reach out from hope to faith and from faith to spiritual perception, we allow all the qualities of intelligent good to enter our ready thought. Once this spiritual sense moves into conscious action it takes over and supersedes the mistaken views of the material senses. We all have this spiritual sense. As we develop and use it, we have access to great spiritual power.
Moses Discovers Spiritual Identity and Purpose
Nearly all the Bible characters went through the same process of spiritual awakening. Let's take a new look at Moses in this light.
Here was a Hebrew infant whose
mother feared for his life. This was at a time when the Israelite settlers in
As a young man he became involved in a fight, killed an Egyptian, and then ran away into the desert. At this point like many people, he apparently didn't want to face the challenges of the life he'd left behind.
He married and settled down in a strange country. But something still stirred within him, because one day his attention was arrested by a continuously burning bush. Then as the Bible puts it, "Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I" (Ex. 3:3,4).
This was his breakthrough - his
recognition and acknowledgment of his need for God. He was hearing something
he'd never heard before. He began to receive various directives which made
demands on him that astounded him. He was actually told to rescue his people
With this new found spiritual communication - which Christian Science would describe as his own awakened spiritual sense - he received that momentous revelation of God as I AM. Instead of reaching up to an unknown God, a new concept of God as a living presence began to emerge in Moses' thought.
He had come to the moment which each one of us must arrive at in our search - the finding of our individual, spiritual identity, emanating from the I AM, the source of all identity.
Moses' sudden consciousness of who he really was showed him his true value, and that he had a permanent means of communication with an all-knowing intelligent God. Now he could accept the challenge of leadership. From then on he communed closely with God throughout his life - and what a life!
Every step of the way he was
breaking new ground, both literally and spiritually. With the courage of his
new dimension of thought Moses gained confidence. God showed him when to encourage,
when to reprimand, when to delegate. The Ten Commandments provided the necessary discipline when permissiveness
had brought progress to a standstill. He persisted in helping his companions to
let go of their miseries and "go forward." Finally he led his people
Here we see the Promised Land isn't just a particular piece of ground; it's a spiritual awareness of true identity. This is what we're looking for. Once Moses had discovered his true origin, he was on the right road to his destination. He found his freedom from his own sense of inadequacy.
So you see, even if we don't know our need of God, He certainly knows our need of Him. He won't allow us to stagnate in a backwater! God had a purpose for Moses - as He has for each one of us. But it's only when we "turn aside to see" that we find out what needs to be accomplished in our own experience. Instead of thinking of our own inadequacies, why not remember that if God is preparing a place for you, he is certainly preparing you for that place.
In the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes.
A Full Concept of God as Love Transforms and Deepens Human Experience
Transforming Influence of Love
Up until now we've been considering together our need to emerge from the cage of limited material thinking to find a new concept of God.
We've discovered that spiritual sense is the means by which our contact with God is established.
We've seen something of the transforming power which this contact brings to human experience. To a young pilot and his wife, to Mary Baker Eddy - to a little girl, and to Moses.
Now - what's the greatest transforming influence in the world? Isn't it Love - divine Love? Isn't this what we all need most? Isn't this the highest definition of God we can find?
One thing is certain - we all want to love, and we all want to be loved. When people look for this in ways which are only partially satisfactory, or pitifully transient, or sadly unattainable, don't they suspect they're looking in the wrong direction? As we raise our standards of Love we come nearer to the kind of love we can never lose.
Mrs. Eddy writes: "Who hath found finite life or love sufficient to meet the demands of human want and woe, - to still the desires, to satisfy the aspirations? Infinite Mind cannot be limited to a finite form, or Mind would lose its infinite character as inexhaustible Love, eternal Life, omnipotent Truth" (Science and Health, p. 257).
What a thought! Nothing transient about this: nothing unattainable about it either. Once you realize that you are being loved, infinitely, preciously, tenderly, always in the way you need most, then you can expect to see an outward expression of health, fulfillment, companionship and happiness. Now you're in a position of utter security from which you can mirror forth divine Love's healing and renewing power. Now you can overspill and share your findings with others.
Very often if you give something away you have to do without it - but it's not that way with love, is it? Love shared is love doubled or trebled. We must let it multiply, so that each day more people are aware of its presence. It's not a rationed commodity. We can find outlets for it in a hundred ways. We can notice its evidence in places we haven't looked before. What's the use of an inexhaustible source if you don't tap it?
There are little pools of love all the world over. I've seen it in the eyes of an African woman in the jungle proudly showing me her little howling infant. I've seen it among the hard-bitten members of an Operetta chorus who took care of a young newcomer to their company more thoroughly than any chaperone in a finishing school. I've seen it in an elderly refugee friend who never speaks of the past but who manages on a minimum income to give little gifts and services out of her own capable use of ideas. When we begin to look around, aren't there thousands of such evidences of Love, all the world over?
This sort of love brings all those who use it into silent communication. It encourages those who lack it to look for it. One day the pools will become an ocean.
To pursue the greatest art in the world - the art of loving - based on the wonderful assurance of being loved - is surely the highest purpose anyone can fulfill. John saw this when he said of God, "We love him, because he first loved us" (I John ).
If these little human gestures alone can bring so much inspiration, great things can happen if the very depths of divine Love's resources are tapped.
The Operation of Divine Love Brings Healing
Here I should like to tell you of a young Christian Science practitioner who so understood the operative power of Love that she was able to prove its healing principle in a case where all human methods had failed.
As a boy, my elder brother was knocked down and run over by a large car - a wheel passing right over his body. He was carried unconscious and hardly breathing into a nearby hospital where the doctors said they could do nothing. They told my mother he couldn't possibly live more than twelve hours.
In her distress my mother telephoned a friend to come and be with her. The friend asked if she could bring a Christian Science practitioner with her. The offer was gratefully accepted. The young practitioner was most kindly received by the doctors and was given a room at the hospital next door to my brother. But my mother was somewhat astonished to see a young woman in her twenties, and wondered just how she could help her in this crisis - but the practitioner must have sensed my mother's thought, because she immediately allayed her fear and assured her that God was capable of maintaining the life of His child. She then began to pray for the boy. He didn't die after twelve hours but remained semi-conscious for several days. During all this time that young practitioner never swerved from her clear perception of God as Life, and my brother as the uninjured expression of Life. This young woman knew about that all-knowing Mind which maintained infallible health laws, a Mind which was forever alive, undeviatingly true, infinitely loving.
She was aware that the boy's perfectly conceived identity could never be touched by the false concept of life dependent on matter. She explained to my mother that Love required every one of its ideas as a living witness to the truth of being.
As my mother let go of her fear my brother gradually regained consciousness and then asked for a drink. The diagnosis was that the bile-duct was severed from the bowel and that no food could pass through his body. He received kindly nursing care - the wounds were dressed and some drainage took place. But no medication was given. Soon his functions became normal, and in time he was able to return home, take his place in school, play games and lead a normal life.
This case was in the British medical journal The Lancet. The doctors described it as the "miracle of the year," and lovingly acknowledged that only God could have healed this condition.
I was very young at the time, but I know that for my mother this was the moment in her life when she knew what Love really was, and what its power could really do.
Love's Active Presence Can Be Felt
Love is a vital life-force. It fills all space. What at first appears to be a reaching out to something outside ourselves is really the spiritual energy already within us making itself felt. When our human concept of Love yields to Love's concept of us, we feel this force.
The yielding process often involves taking a long, cool look at ourselves and asking, "Have I challenged some of my most cherished opinions to ask what they are based on? Is there some habit of thought I should be better without?"
In the second volume of Robert Peel's biography of Mrs. Eddy, called The Years of Trial, he says of her, "Some of Mrs. Eddy's severest struggles came from the necessity of surrendering deeply entrenched personal inclinations to the logic of truth as it confronted her" (Robert Peel, The Years of Trial, p. 226).
This letting go is hard and it often hurts - but in the end it heals. It heals because it is the action of Truth within us, like a plough breaking up the hard surface of encrusted soil to create orderly and yielding furrows to receive new seed.
With a new, true concept of God, we know that good is present, powerful, understood, active. Now we can begin to enjoy the full cycle of spiritual motivation - the asking and receiving, the seeking and the finding, the promise and fulfillment, and don't let's forget the gratitude. Now we feel Love in continuous circulation. So we have confidence, ability, fulfillment to carry forward with us.
This is a new age when even the exploration of the moon and stars isn't enough. It's an age when spiritual pioneering is desperately needed. The brave astronauts who read from the first chapter of Genesis out in space caught something of this need.
Spiritual pioneering needs courage and determination and insight. It requires the same dauntless qualities used by every great explorer. Add to these qualities an awareness of the love God has for all of us - a real deep conviction that God is Love - then nations and people can be led out of limited material values to spiritual wealth and divine energy.
Nothing can devalue or deplete this inexhaustible source of power. Let's take it and use it! This is what Christian Science is all about! It's a launching-base to undiscovered heights. Certainly the destination is desirable, and much nearer than we may think. Remember, the power behind us is always greater than the task ahead of us.
So, whatever our situation is, whatever our age, nationality, color or creed, we can all join in this great Exodus, which, changes emergency into emergence, and aimlessness into purpose.
A good journey to you all - and Godspeed!
[The Tulsa County (Oklahoma) News, March 13, 1975.]