Godís Law of Opportunity

 

Barbara B. Holiday, C.S., of Washington, D.C.

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

How many here have need for an opportunity? I once heard a friend say to another, "You wouldn't recognize opportunity if it knocked you over the head." This is true sometimes.

Most of us, however, do recognize the need for opportunity. Some may be acutely aware of the need. A recent Harvard study indicates some twenty million Americans run out of food before the end of the month and go to bed hungry.

Yet, twenty years ago a President of the United States, in his State of the Union Message, voiced his deep concern about lack of opportunity:

"Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope − some because of their poverty, some because of their color, and all too many because of both. Our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity."1

The need to displace despair with opportunity is great. For some of us here today the individual need may be for better health, a happier home life, a more satisfying career, or a means to educate our children. We all aren't Yuppies, you know!

And a lot is being said about "Yuppies" today. Even in comic strips. One recently showed Moses talking to the Israelites about what God had told him on the mountain-top. As they gathered around, one responded, "You mean we're God's chosen people! You mean we're Yuppies?"

You and I know that in daily living being a Yuppie doesn't necessarily leave us without a need for opportunity. It doesn't guarantee us peace, harmony, health, or a conscious sense of our worth. So right in the so-called "Yuppie kingdom" despair may be in desperate need of being replaced by opportunity.

So what about you? What do you consider your greatest need for an opportunity? Think about it. Don't tell your neighbor next to you. Let's individually chalk it up on our own mental blackboard. From time to time as we talk today, glance up at the need you've written down and consider it from the perspective of this talk. Okay?

 

Opportunity Is Derived from God

We're going to discuss opportunity from a new standpoint. The popular perception of opportunity is that it's dependent upon material circumstances, physical conditions − even time − all coming together for a particular action or purpose. We're going to consider opportunity in a different context than is usually thought. We're going to talk about opportunity as derived from God, something that's our divine right − as Paul said to the Romans − as "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ."2

Let me share with you my own experience. I believe it will bring opportunity into focus as something divinely right, something operating as a kind of spiritual law in our lives.

When I was about nineteen, I worked for a law firm in my home state of West Virginia. I had no idea when I took this job that I would learn to love law to the extent that I did.


Boy, I just fell in love with it. I worked weekends, in the evenings, even holidays without being asked and without extra pay. When I returned from lunch early one day, one of the senior partners asked to talk with me.

 

Opportunity: No Conditions

He said, "You know, I've been watching you and I notice how interested you are in law. You really love it, don't you?" I replied, "Yes, I do."

He continued, "Wouldn't you like to go back to college and become a lawyer?" Why, you could have heard my heart pound out in the corridor by the elevator. I was so excited.

Then came the shocker. He conditioned his offer. He propositioned me. I could have socked him! It was a case of whether I wanted the opportunity badly enough to trade my morals in for it.

I wanted the opportunity so badly I could taste it. I had grown up in poverty and really hadn't had much chance for college. My father had been killed in a coal mine explosion.

The opportunity to go to law school was sorely tempting. But the proposition wasn't. The anger, bitterness, and resentment just welled up in me. I had no intention of sacrificing my standards of morality.

The man saw my reaction, and I left the office. I thought the matter would be swept under the rug, that I could go on working for my particular boss in a job that I liked very much.

But he made the offer twice more. And each time he did, this bitterness and resentment deepened until I was really contemplating, from time to time, how I could get even with him. I was thinking in terms of revenge − how I could switch this thing around, turn it on him, and still come out of it with what I wanted: to be able to go to law school.

This very troubled state made me realize that this conflicted with everything I'd been brought up to cherish. I didn't only wish to protect my virtue but to maintain my honesty. Yet here I was planning deception and deceit. I wasn't much better than he was − we were both wrong.

So I went into the office and did what seemed the nearest thing right under the circumstances. I resigned.

I took a job with a large corporation in the area where I worked for about a year and a half. However, my health, which had always been poor, became steadily worse. So on a doctor's recommendation, I left the area and went to Washington. D.C.

 

"to-day is big with blessings"

On my arrival I had very little money, no job, and was in poor health, and then I came face to face with Christian Science. I met a lady who gave me a book called Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by the Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. I loved books, so I opened it and read the first line of the Preface: "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings."3

It was a bit confusing − no job, no health, no money, not even a place really to hang my hat for long. Yet this book said that if I would lean "on the sustaining infinite" − today would be "big with blessings."

What is the sustaining infinite, anyway? I read a little further to see if I could find out. After several pages I came across a paragraph where the author talked about physical healing, which was of much interest to me.

"The physical healing in Christian Science results now," she said, "as in Jesus' time, from the operation of divine Principle," in human consciousness.

I kept reading: "Now, as then." she wrote, "these mighty works are not supernatural, but supremely natural." Then these words just jumped out at me; "They are the sign of Immanuel, or 'God with us,' " − here are the words that just popped out to me − "a divine influence ever present in human consciousness and repeating itself, coming now as was promised aforetime,

To preach deliverance to the captives (of sense),

And recovering of sight to the blind,

To set at liberty them that are bruised."4

My thought slipped back to my law-firm experience. I had felt impelled to walk away from it to have all that was wrong in that situation eliminated from my life. I'd gotten a job that paid more money. I hadn't done too badly.

I realized that impulsion must have been a divine influence and reasoned if it was, then it must have been the very Christ active in my consciousness. And if it was the Christ and if it was ever present, and repeating itself, what could hinder me from responding to it now?

And if I did respond to it, what would be the result now?

I pondered this until it became a prayerful reaching out to God as I knew Him, a deep yearning to know more about this "sustaining infinite." I wanted to be shown something about my relationship to God, how He cared for me and took gentle care of me.

 

Opportunity Never Lost

Well, this continued for two or three days. I received a call from a New York Congressman who had gotten hold of my resume. He wanted me on his staff to do his news releases. And I found I could − for I was healed!

And here's the interesting part: this was the beginning of a wonderful law career. I went from that office to the offices of other Congressmen and finally a United States Senator. Over a period of twelve years, I worked as press assistant and legislative assistant. I was reading, researching, and writing about law. I was thinking about law. I was living in a world of law as it was being formed.

Isn't this proof that opportunity is not lost when our moral courage is sustained by divine wisdom? As I learned to lean on the sustaining infinite, it became increasingly apparent that opportunity is God-bestowed not man-made and is always available.

 

Praying Includes Listening óand Responding

Listening and responding to that divine influence is effective praying. The Christ activity in consciousness − ever present and repeating itself − progressively reveals something about the operation of God's law. I learned that right where a human need appeared to be, coinciding with it are laws of God, a law of opportunity, a law of right, present and operating on our behalf.

I learned something new about praying. I'd prayed since childhood. I can recall when I was little, sliding down under the cover, pulling it up to about here and whispering my prayers. I didn't want anyone to hear but God. It dawned on me that God might not hear since I was only whispering. After that I went up on the hillside and prayed out loud, telling God everything.

From my experience in Washington, I learned prayer is something more than just talking to God − saying our piece and leaving. It's listening to what He has to say to me, listening for that divine influence in consciousness and then responding to it. In effective prayer this Christly influence operates to free us from fear and discouragement − barriers to our view of avenues of opportunity. It dispels the confusion, lifts weariness and dispels hopelessness. It ushers in a gratitude before the evidence of healing is seen.

A gratitude that is really a new kind of faith. I like to call it a "new substantive faith". Isn't that what the writer to the Hebrews meant when he wrote "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."5

It proved substantive in my case: physical and financial healing.

 

Christ Presents God's Law of Opportunity

Opportunity is never lost. It's as present as the Christ is in our daily living. Wasn't it the same Hebrew writer who stated "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow"6?

Knowing of God's law of opportunity leads us naturally to ask. "How do I apply it?" Jesus gave us the finest example of applying God's law of opportunity to human need. He was so attuned to the Christly influence that he could never be deceived or misled that anyone was condemned to the "outskirts of hope".

Wherever he went, he met the challenge − the human need − and the obstruction to sound health, harmony, or normal prosperity was removed. It was just as though he brought the very kingdom of God right where on earth the human situation seemed to be so bad. In fact, listen to what he said to those who questioned him about the kingdom of God:

"And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said. The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say. Lo here! Or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."7

Jesus said "the kingdom of God is within." Within what? Isn't it within consciousness? If it's within consciousness, then isn't it indeed at hand? Isn't the "divine influence ever present in human consciousness" revealing to us the kingdom of God right here? We have the ever-present opportunity to explore the kingdom of God today right while we go about our daily business.

Jesus didn't say it was a physical location. He indicated it's a state of consciousness within us.

As my experience shows, lives can improve as we seek to listen more to that divine influence, respond to it, let it govern our actions. We can gain a sense of the kingdom of God on earth. As it did for Jesus, this Christly influence can abolish every belief that opportunity for us is out of reach. Right now we can be healed, gain financial security, maintain our morals, love and be loved.

Let's look at our blackboard now. Consider your need. Is it possible that the need is really a misconception of opportunity? Quietly listen for that divine influence. Let it impel you.

I like to think of that divine influence as the Christ just kind of nudging us toward the door of opportunity to explore the kingdom of God, to find out what it's about, to learn how God's law of opportunity operates on our behalf.

The prophet Isaiah certainly knew what this activity of the Christ in human consciousness could bring about. Let me read his prophecy. It's one of those wonderful parts so beautifully rendered in Handel's Messiah. If you know it, sing along silently. "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."8 The Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, had a keen sense of closeness with the Christ and of the kingdom of heaven within that it reveals. She listened ever so intently to this Christly influence as she pursued her Christian mission. In fact, she states in Science and Health − speaking about Jesus representing the Christ: "Christ illustrates that blending with God, his divine Principle, which gives man dominion over all the earth."9

Who illustrated that dominion better than Jesus, as he represented the Christ, listened, responded to that divine influence?

 

Blessings from Listening and Responding

I love the story a friend told me. It illustrates so clearly the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy.

My friend, now in her eighties, told me about her childhood in rural North Carolina where her family worked a little farm. They were good Southern churchgoers. As she grew up she managed to become a medical nurse and then made her way to New York.

She became a fine medical nurse − conscientious − with the respect of her peers. However, she became quite ill. Being in the medical field, she went to the best doctors seeking their help in being cured. But she was told, "You're going to have to learn to live with this pain because, you see, we don't have a cure for it." We can give you drugs to alleviate it a little but it would be better if you learned to live with it.

She had become a professional nurse because she wanted to see people healed. When the last doctor told her there was no hope for relief from her suffering, she answered, "Well, I'm just going to go home and throw out all my medicine. I don't want anything to do with it anymore." He asked what she was going to do. She said. "I'm going to pray." He said. "Well you're going to have to pray pretty hard."

She did just that: threw out her medicine, and started praying. One day she went to see a seamstress friend who asked about her health. She told her sad story. The friend offered her a book given to her by one of her patrons. Well, my friend said she'd try anything and began reading Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

She called a Christian Science reading room and found out also that she could ask for prayerful treatment from a Christian Science practitioner. She was absolutely healed across the board in a short time.

She was so excited, she started reading the Bible Lesson − from the King James Bible and Science and Health − (read by Christian Scientists) − a lesson that's read and studied everyday by Christian Scientists and is read again on Sunday in the churches.

Later she and her husband visited her elderly mother in North Carolina. When they got to the little farm, her mother, in her eighties, was in severe pain, unable to work in her garden.

My friend rushed out to the car to get the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, and the Christian Science Quarterly. She asked, "Would you like to read something about how Jesus healed?" Her mother said yes, she would.

They read the Lesson out loud. A number of passages contained difficult words. My friend wanted to leave these books so her mother could read the Bible Lesson, but she was concerned about the big words involved. She wondered, "How will she understand these when I leave?"

A couple of months later she and her husband went to visit her mother again. They found her out in the garden weeding, hoeing, and digging, apron strings flying in the breeze − just as limber as could be and happy as a lark. "What happened?" they asked.

The mother replied, "I read me books and prayed, and I'm healed."

Later my friend asked. "What did you do when you came to those tough passages? Those things that were hard to understand? What did you do?"

"Oh, I just stopped and prayed for God to show me what to do, what it meant," her mother responded. By the way, her mother was later healed of cataracts in both eyes. Listening to and responding to that divine impulsion, this woman found God's law of opportunity available, the opportunity to be healed. It can happen to you just as it happened to her, and just as it happened to me. Just as there is no economic, racial, political, or educational barriers to the Christ, there are no such barriers against God-bestowed opportunity.

Remember your blackboard. You know, God doesn't just speak to a chosen few. That divine influence, the Christ, is ever-present in human consciousness, and repeating itself waiting for your response. It speaks to every man, woman, and child, universally, impartially. And wherever and whenever human consciousness listens and responds, a change for the better occurs. A transforming, redeeming process takes over, and we are delivered from prisons of pain and lack. Our Savior at hand.

 

Healing by Jesus

Jesus came upon a man with a withered hand − remember that story? Those who knew this man had probably felt for years that he was without opportunity to have a good, useful hand. What do you think Jesus thought as he looked at that man? I believe he felt deeply the opportunity was at hand through Gods divine law for the man to express his natural perfection as the very image and likeness of God. That divine influence − the Christ − just demanded of consciousness "Stretch forth thine hand.''10 And the man did. His hand was as perfect as mine.

Are you looking at your need as those did that saw the man with the withered hand? Or are you learning to look as Jesus looked, to see what he saw − the God-bestowed opportunity to express wholeness and perfection? Do you think you can come to the point where you can see as Jesus did? Think about it.

There was a Psalmist who must have felt the need for opportunity quite badly, for he prayed. "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."11

 

Mary Baker Eddy

I believe the Psalmist's prayer was akin to the way Mary Baker Eddy prayed. She recognized her own need: she recognized the needs of all suffering humanity and constantly turned in prayer for answers.

Before she discovered Christian Science, those around her may have thought her life was a string of lost opportunities. She had lost the right to bring up her son. Good health had eluded her for years. She'd lost her husband. By the late 1850's and early 1860's, she found herself dependent on her sister, Abigail.

She came from a deeply religious family. Prayer had been a natural tendency on a daily basis. Her mother frequently said, "If you'll pray, God will help you."12

She never forgot that. She continuously sought after the one divine source for relief from all human suffering. With her discovery of Christian Science she was healed. But not only was she healed, she began healing others through a new understanding of God as divine Mind. She realized that God, being Mind, helps us through His laws.

Mind with capital "M" became for her a synonym for God, another name for God. It meant to her infinite, immortal Mind, the all-knowing, the all-seeing, the all-acting, the all-loving, the all-wise. In Science and Health she gives us a new sense of God as this all-powerful Mind governing through its law every aspect of our existence. She says, "Immortal Mind, governing all, must be acknowledged as supreme in the physical realm, so-called, as well as in the spiritual."13

After she wrote Science and Health, established the Christian Science Church and its many avenues for reaching suffering humanity, she wrote an autobiography in which she makes an interesting statement about her childhood: and, really in a sense, about this divine influence she'd written about in Science and Health.

She writes, "From my very childhood I was impelled, by a hunger and thirst after divine things, − a desire for something higher and better than matter, and apart from it − to seek diligently for the knowledge of God as the one great and ever-present relief from human woe."14

What she found as "the one great and ever present relief from human woe", she shared, and individuals around the world for over a century have benefited. It has opened to mankind avenues of opportunity never before realized. For her and for everyone else who will appeal to divine Mind and its law, opportunity exists. Mrs. Eddy termed these laws of divine Mind "Science" and she called this Science "Christian," because of its application to the human needs.

 

God's Law of Opportunity Blesses Everyone

One other experience! I think this may indicate another aspect of how God's laws operate in our lives to preserve everything that's right, normal and natural but eliminate all that is evil, harmful, or useless.

God's law of opportunity is akin to another of His laws − a law of mutual benefit. We're prone to think about personal needs, personal opportunity. But opportunity is seldom isolated. It has a ripple effect. It touches others, sometimes many. When the human situation is conscientiously and deliberately brought under the jurisdiction of God's law, that law operates to mutually benefit everyone concerned. Let me show you what I mean.

Just before Congress was to adjourn, my boss, a new Senator, came rushing in and said that an amendment his predecessor had successfully secured was about to expire. If it was not extended before Congress adjourned, the people back home told him it would be seen as political failure. My job was to find a solution.

Boy, did I pray! I prayed with an honest intent to listen for the divine guidance.

The Senate, for all practical purposes, had finished its work. The House was shortly to do the same. No opportunity was in sight − just need.

As I prayed about this from the standpoint of God's law of opportunity being present and operating, I realized any development must bless everyone concerned. God's law must operate intelligently. It would not be indifferent to others' need. I felt convinced I would know the right thing to do as I conscientiously brought the situation under the jurisdiction of divine law. I sought prayerfully divine Mind's wisdom.

A lawyer from the Senate committee that had considered the main bill in which this item would have been included stopped by to chat. After he left, I realized I could discuss the problem with him. Normally this wouldn't have been a practical thing. He was under the patronage of a very influential Senator from the opposite party, the chairman of that committee.

But impelled to speak with him, I did. He saw the extension had more far-ranging benefits than I realized: that it crossed two industries: affected the housing prospects of the nation: and, therefore, the economy.

Later he reported that, while he and his boss felt nothing could be accomplished on the Senate side, a friend of theirs on the House side might help, since the main bill was due to come to the House floor in the next day or two for debate. Their friend was an important congressman, again not of our Party persuasion.

Later, I sat in the House gallery and watched that Congressman attach our amendment for extension to the bill; watched it pass, watched the bill pass. My lawyer friend nudged me. "You know, we're only halfway there. These bills are now submitted to a House/Senate Conference Committee to iron out the differences. It can be thrown out."

My boss was told that if the Conference Committee threw it out now, he would be criticized for taking such an unorthodox route in the first place.

He was not a member of the Conference Committee and felt he would have little influence. I continued to turn to God as an ever-present help. I realized that while the eventual outcome might not be as my boss or I had hoped it would be, it would be satisfying to all concerned and all would be benefited.

I was invited to sit in on that Conference Committee as an observer. Some seventy to eighty items were to be considered. Ours was third from the bottom.

Listening to hours of debate, I got a little white-knuckled. Not one item escaped the battle of political wills and opinions. Some were thrown out.

I asked for prayerful support from a Christian Science practitioner in not wavering in my understanding of divine Mind's supremacy in this matter. As the Committee reached the item before ours, a peaceful sense came over me, and I knew that one God, one Mind, governed all intelligently.

I knew that Mind was expressing its own infinite intelligence here, and that every individual involved knew the right thing to do. And because they knew the right thing to do, and because Mind is omnipotent and they're inseparable from it, nothing on earth can keep them from doing the right thing.

Suddenly a Senator from the opposite party stood up and with great authority said, "We don't have any problems with this item. That's Senator so-and-so's amendment." That was all there was to it. The extension was obtained and the bill signed into law.

Later we realized just how God's law had operated to benefit all.

 

Conclusion

Doesn't the operation of divine law at this level illustrate something for us? We can find our own opportunity through appealing to Mind and its unerring, irrevocable and irresistible law. God's law is available and can be appealed to for help anytime, anywhere.

We can help bring about proper solutions to any discordant situation if our unselfish prayer includes listening to and responding to that Christly influence in our consciousness. For the Christ's mission is always to deliver and save us. We can pray effectively for the needs of the world − learn to live for all mankind.

Right now, we are at the standpoint of opportunity.

 

††† 1. State of the Union Address, Lyndon Baines Johnson. 1965.

††† 2. Romans 8:17.

††† 3. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. vii.

††† 4. Ibid., p. xi.

††† 5. Hebrews 11:1.

††† 6. See Hebrews 13:8.

††† 7. Luke 17:20,21.

††† 8. Isaiah 40:4,5.

††† 9. Science and Health, p. 316.

10. Matthew 12:13.

11. Psalm 119:18.

12. See Retrospection and Introspection, p. 13.

13. Science and Health, p. 427.

14. Retrospection and Introspection, p. 31.

 

 

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