No, You’re Not Trapped!

 

Edwin G. Leever, C.S., of Winter Park, Florida

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

Not one of you has to go through life like Charlie Brown, that lovable bald-headed little boy in the Peanuts comic strip.  Charlie gets locked into one bad situation after another and stays there.

Probably one of the biggest messes he gets himself in is in his managing his baseball team, which ended up last season ten games out of last place.  They've even been known to lose 184 to nothing in one game!  And you think you have problems!  What if you were the manager of such a team and also its star pitcher?

One day, after one of these crushing defeats, Charlie Brown collapsed on the pitcher's mound and cried out. "Just cover the whole baseball field with asphalt.  I'll just be a lump in the blacktop." 1

Isn't that how you have felt many times when you seemed trapped and boxed in?  I know I have.  But I've discovered I don't have to give up.  I don't have to become a lump in the blacktop.  And neither do you, regardless of what it is that's gotten you feeling locked in to a bad situation.

Maybe you're frustrated at work in the job in which you earn your living.  Or in your job as homemaker.  Or in your new career as a retired person.  Perhaps it just doesn't measure up to what you thought it should.  And quiet desperation sets in.  Or maybe you're troubled by self-condemnation because of something you did a long time ago, or didn't do.  And it gnaws away at you.  It won't go away.  Maybe you're ill, and you're not getting any better.  Or maybe you're having to daily face a difficult situation at home. Family friction, perhaps, is making your home life miserable.  What can you do?

You can find your freedom.  That's what you can do.  And for those of you in this audience, who feel you've already found it, you can rediscover it today and reestablish it on a sounder basis.  God maintains it for you and for everyone.  Each one of us has the right — the God-given right — to be free of any bondage and to stay free.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, tell us, "Citizens of the world, 'accept the glorious liberty of the children of God,' and be free!  This is your divine right."2  Think of it — "your divine right."

The Bible reassures us that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,"3 and that many "cried unto [God], and were delivered."4  This is the good news of Christianity: that God will deliver us and loose us from bondage.

Jesus didn't promise anyone a lifetime of enslavement — regardless of how hopeless the situation looked.  He proved that no one — no one — need ever be bound up by any series of circumstances.  He woke people up to new views of God's goodness and love which not only brought them hope but freed them and transformed their lives.  He said, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."5  This kind of freedom, true freedom, is what I'm going to talk about today, and it's found by opening our thought inwardly to our true selves.

 

Illustration of Businessman

Proves "Where the Spirit of the Lord Is, There is Liberty"

Let me tell you about an experience of mine.  For a number of years I was employed as a planning and scheduling engineer in the aerospace industry.  It was back in the days of the early manned-space program.  Because we were in this space race, everything had to be done yesterday.  That meant everyone on the project was under tremendous pressure. My job was to get information from the engineers responsible for the basic design of the space capsule, work with it and then coordinate it with procurement, manufacturing and even management.  In lots of ways, I was a middleman and that placed me right in the middle of all this tension and pressure.

After three years, I felt I was trapped in a frustrating job.  It had been exciting from the beginning but now, as the program was going on and on, my job was becoming routine and repetitious.  The same old thing.  The constantly changing engineering inputs often meant I'd have to redo everything I had done.  I even considered quitting, but I knew that wasn't the answer.  So I hung in there.  But at times I felt I was in a giant cobweb ensnaring me deeper and deeper in its web.

One day I walked away from my desk and began pacing the corridor outside the area we worked in.  Like the Psalmist I cried out to God to deliver me from all this.  "Why did I have to be in the middle of all this?  Why me?"  And I'll be honest — real tears came. Then I thought of some Bible verses I'd been reading that morning.  They brought out that nothing could "separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."6

I suddenly glimpsed something I hadn't seen before.  I saw that nothing could separate me — the man I really was, God's man, the man made in His image and likeness — from the love of God.  No job, no situation, no drawn-out program, no engineer, no constantly changing engineering inputs — nothing could separate me that very moment from the love of God.

You know what happened? Months of frustration and despair fell off my shoulders.  I was free — mentally — of being trapped on the job.  Nothing had changed as far as my work was concerned.  In fact, when I went hack to my desk, I had more work than ever to do.  But I now knew I was free.  Nothing could keep me in bondage.

Within thirty minutes I was called into the project manager's office.  He said to me: "Ed, we're thinking of trying something different in the planning area of this program. And we'd like you to represent engineering."  Now, any of you that have ever been connected with a large organization, you know you've got to be suspicious of an opener like that, even when you're all prayed up as I was.  So I very cautiously said to him, "Tell me about it."  And he did.  It sounded great.  I would be doing my job with a whole new approach.  I liked that.  And it was progressive.  I would be building on everything I had learned on the program.  And that appealed to me.  The boss even asked me if I'd be happy doing it.  Here certainly was proof of God's love to me.  Here was the project manager of this immense project in this large company being concerned about me.

Then he turned to me and said, "And you're to give up everything you're doing immediately."  I said, "Would you repeat that?"  He did, and it came out the same way. Of course, I took that job.

1 walked out of that office a new individual.  I now was not only free mentally.  I was free physically of being trapped on the job.  And for the remainder of my time with that company — about three more years until I resigned and became a Christian Science practitioner, I went from one interesting assignment to another.  Never again, while I was working there, did I feel trapped on the job.  My acceptance of man's inseparability from God had liberated me from what I felt was frustration and despair.  And it can do the same thing for you.  Why?  Because God made man free.

 

Since God Is Divine Love,

He's Ever-present and Embraces All His Creation

God is Love, divine Love, and He loves us all dearly, completely, impartially.  The tender love that a mother has for her children simply hints at this great love which God has for all His creation.

You know, I was driving by a church one day and saw this sign out in front: "If you feel separated from God, who moved?"  God, divine Love, doesn't stop loving any of us. We're all embraced in His love.  And this love being divine and not human, never runs dry, never leaves us in the lurch, never comes and goes.  It's always constant, ever-present and ever-available.  Its love has no limits, no boundaries, no restrictions, no confinements, no chains.

As I found out that day in industry, and probably many of you have experienced the same thing, I didn't have to go somewhere else to find love.  I found it right where I was.

Because man — not this mortal you and I are looking at, but immortal man, who we all really are, our true being made in God's likeness — is never separated or cut off for a moment from the love of God.  Man can't be separated from his source of being: God, divine Love.  And "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

 

Christliness Is Man in God's Likeness

Now that's one way to find freedom — accepting man's inseparability from God. Another way is accepting man's Christliness.  What is Christliness?  And how practical is it to you and me — today — in breaking the bonds that hold us?

A small child stood up in Sunday School class and announced: "I don't want to be good, I want to be bad."  That's not Christliness!  A little boy became quite ill, just as he and his parents were about to leave on a trip.  The parents were in a big tizzy wondering what to do next.  Whereas the little fellow — he was only two and a half — quietly sat down and repeated and accepted simple statements about God's love for him he had learned in his Christian Science upbringing.  He was instantly healed.  That is Christliness!

Christliness is the active expression of God's qualities.  It's the doing, not the talking. Jesus best exemplified this, and so we call him Christ Jesus.  But the Christ is much more than part of his name.  It's the understanding of man's true eternal, spiritual nature.  It can be grasped and understood in some degree by any one of us, as the little boy illustrated. And in the process, we'll find release and healing.

No one can ever take the place of Jesus, but we all can begin — starting today — expressing more of the Christ in our daily lives than we ever have before.  We can do this because the Christ is incorporeal and immortal, ever with us.  We can't be separated from the Christ.

The Christ reveals man in God's likeness, the likeness of Spirit, and so man is spiritual and immortal.  Anything that tries to obscure this Christ-image in our consciousness is our enemy.  Mrs. Eddy has given us this thought-provoking definition of our enemy.  She writes.  "Simply count your enemy to be that which defiles, defaces, and dethrones the Christ-image that you should reflect."7

"Defile," according to one dictionary, is "to make unclean or impure . . . to corrupt the purity or perfection of. " 8  What is it that will try to corrupt us, make us unclean?  What is it that will try to attack our Christliness, man's inherent goodness?  It's what Paul refers to in the Bible as "the carnal mind," or "enmity against God." 9  Jesus referred to it as "a liar." 10  It's any evil impulse, any evil suggestion, that tries to talk to us.

 

Accepting Only the Christ Leads to Purity and Innocence

But as we accept only what the Christ reveals about man — his divine sonship as a child of God — we're not being fooled or taken in by any lie of evil.  And any lie collapses and falls to the ground when exposed to the truth.

The human being, then, being touched by the Christ, is transformed and redeemed.  He recognizes his true, undefiled spiritual nature which evil can't touch or contaminate in any way.  He sees himself as God made him: not only spiritual and immortal, but also complete and satisfied, joyous and spiritually strong, pure and innocent.  He sees himself as invulnerable to any evil suggestion that tries to trip him up.

What we're doing, then, is viewing ourselves in this Christ-light.  We see ourselves not as a material organism or a mixture of good and bad, matter and Spirit, but as we really are: a spiritual idea, the very embodiment of every good, Godlike quality.  What we're doing is cherishing and upholding the Christ-image in our consciousness, which, in turn, upholds, protects, frees and transforms us.

The Christ dissolves any suggestion of evil trying to take root in our consciousness.  We find we have the courage to stand up for what is right.  We value and appreciate man's purity.  And we start fighting for it, defending it.

We see what true freedom is and what it is not.  It's of God, good, and it's not license to do whatever we want to do.  True freedom uplifts us, gets us more in tune with God.  It doesn't pull us down to self-will, self-righteousness, self-indulgence or self-gratification. It liberates us from any self-centered obsession or attraction of evil or the carnal mind.

Now suppose we make a slip and do something wrong.  Who hasn't?  Does that mean we have to carry self-condemnation around with us the rest of our lives?  Of course not. As we let this Christ-light of man's spirituality shine more brightly in our consciousness, and in our lives, we'll find our freedom.

Let me tell you about a young woman I know.  She became sexually promiscuous while in college. She was a student of Christian Science, and through her continued study of Christian Science, she finally awakened to see that this promiscuous behavior wasn't the right way to go, and so she stopped it of her own accord.

She wrote me a letter about what happened next, "I knew I'd found something far better to commit myself to."

"That was well over a year ago," she continued, "[and] in that time I've weathered a lot of trials, each one adding strength to my convictions.  But for a long time," she said, "I was haunted by an awful guilt and unworthiness."

And then she told me she attended an inspirational meeting put on for young Christian Scientists.  She added in her letter, "All that light [at the meeting] didn't give guilt a shadow to hide in, so it just dissipated itself."  That Christly atmosphere completely wiped out her self-condemnation and guilt.  She waited until several months had passed before she wrote that letter.  She wanted to make sure her healing was complete.  And it was.  Accepting man's Christliness freed her.  Since that time she has happily married and is busy now with her husband helping other young people discover the transforming power of Christ.

Once we accept man's Christliness, it does much more than destroy what we feel needs destroying.  It changes us.  It quickens within us a desire to want to help others and it shows us the right way to do it.  That's the Christ at work in each one of us.  As we continue to cherish more and more the Christ-image in our consciousness, we'll not only find true liberation.  We'll see this true liberation maintained in our lives.  And we'll find the best way for us, right where we are, to help mankind better.

 

The Bible Tells Us God Is Cause

A third way to find freedom is to accept God as the only true cause and man as His effect.  True cause and effect.  What does this mean?  How can this fact liberate us?

The Bible says: "To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him." 11  God, the Father, is the cause of all things.  This means all things spiritual because God is Spirit and that's all He knows.  "And we in him."  Man is effect; he is God's expression, God's outcome.

These are not abstract statements to somehow make you feel closer to God.  These are basic spiritual facts about man which when accepted more clearly in your consciousness today will bring healing.  One time I was ill.  I asked a Christian Science practitioner to pray for me.  The next day I was fine.  But, the following day I woke up with all the same symptoms.  Very discouraged, I dialed the practitioner and said. "This is Ed Leever again."  You know what she said to me? "Hello, Ed Leever again!"

I laughed like you just did.  I began to see how ridiculous this whole thing was.  I began to see how impossible it was for man, my true God-given being, to be anything less than the effect of God, anything less than spiritual and harmonious.  I saw that was the truth about me and always had been.  By the end of the phone call I was completely free of the illness, and this time I stayed free.

Now, what had happened here?  It was really very simple.  I accepted the basic spiritual fact that man is — not that he is going to be, but that he is right now — the effect of God. Since God is cause and creator, man is His expression.  Since God is Spirit, man is spiritual.  Since God is good, man is good.  Since "God is 'the same yesterday, and today, and forever,' " 12 man, God's outcome, stays the same forever — intact and whole.

Consider a sunbeam, it gets all of its light from the sun and just includes light.  There's not a single trace of darkness that can ever penetrate a sunbeam.  Because sun is cause and sunbeam is effect.  No amount of darkness can ever alter the ray of the sunbeam.  We could even try all we wanted to, but we could never trap a sunbeam, box it in, or prevent it from doing what it is supposed to do — shine!  It's just not the nature of a sunbeam to be anything other than what it is.

Similarly, man, in his true being, can't be anything else than what he is — the effect of God.  He can't for one moment lose any of his God-given liberty which God has given him and maintains for him forever.  He isn't subject to a single darkened condition, circumstance or thought that would rob him of this Christ-light I spoke of earlier.  Man includes good because that's the way God made him.  He's completely spiritual and doesn't include a bit of matter that can suddenly malfunction or get diseased.  God, good, is man's only cause and creator.

 

Three Who Saw God as Cause

Jesus certainly gave God full credit for being cause and creator.  He didn't submit to any material cause or go around looking for one.  And he certainly wasn't impressed with any verdict of illness or bodily malfunction.  He let God, and God alone, reveal to him the spiritual truth of man's being.  And this truth brought healing of sin and sickness. Jesus said. "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also." 13  He didn't limit any of us.

Jesus knew nothing could stop God's goodness, God's jurisdiction, God's law, or God's power from reigning supreme in people's lives.  He got this from his reference books, the Holy Scriptures, which plainly said, "the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" 14  There's no looking for any material cause there.  There's no listing of any circumstance, situation, event, or medical verdict which could possibly limit or hinder God's spiritual law of healing.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of Christian Science, went along completely with this line of Scriptural reasoning.  "From my very childhood, she writes in her autobiography, "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." 15

Even as a child, you see, she found it hard to believe that God was not all-powerful. And for the first forty-five years of her life she was no stranger to "human woe."  She suffered greatly from chronic illness and much heartache.

Finally, as she put it, "Frozen fountains were unsealed." 16  Spiritual truths about God and man, which had lain dormant for centuries, suddenly came to light for her.  She began to recognize, and to accept as law, that God, Spirit, was the only supreme cause.

What had happened?  She was healed of a severe physical injury by turning to her Bible, studying one of Jesus' healings.  But as wonderful as the healing was, Mrs. Eddy wanted to find out what it was she had discovered.  So she spent the next three years trying to find out.  She writes of this time in this way: "The Bible was my textbook. It answered my questions as to how I was healed: but the Scriptures had to me a new meaning, a new tongue.  Their spiritual signification appeared; and I apprehended for the first time, in their spiritual meaning, Jesus' teaching and demonstration, and the Principle and rule of spiritual Science and metaphysical healing, - in a word, Christian Science." 17

Because this was a Science, Mrs. Eddy tested it over and over and proved it to be law through her healings.  Each healing she witnessed helped her see God is the only true cause, and man is effect.  But still she didn't stop.  She wrote her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, so we all can share in her discovery.  In it we find these statements: "There is but one primal cause.  Therefore there can be no effect from any other cause, and there can be no reality in aught which does not proceed from this great and only cause.  Sin, sickness, disease, and death belong not to the Science of being.'' 18  And they don't belong to anyone.

Let me tell you how this "Science of being" helped heal a clergyman.19  Mrs. Eddy and her husband were visiting Washington, D.C. on business.  They went to hear a clergyman preach in his own church and afterward talked to him.  The three of them decided to spend the afternoon together, as the clergyman was interested in their explanation of the Bible and Christian Science.

When it came time for dinner, he explained he's like to keep them company, but he couldn't eat anything.  He was on a strictly liquid diet.  He'd had stomach trouble for years, and now, according to his physician, it had developed into cancer.

Mrs. Eddy was never one to pass up an opportunity to share this Science of being.  She came right out and asked him why didn't he test what they'd been talking about.  You can imagine his reply!  He said he could hardly consent to such a test for fear of killing himself.

Mrs. Eddy spoke some truths to him of man's spiritual being and reassured him he could eat in comfort.  The clergyman accompanied them to the dining room, soon forgot himself and ate heartily of the salad, meat, and pastry.

Suddenly it hit him: "What have I done?  Will I ever survive?"  Mrs. Eddy and her husband assured him he was in no danger. "He felt no harm and never was again troubled." 19

In the years since, many, many people have found freedom over every known illness through accepting this "Science of being," this Science of the Christ she discovered.  Let me give you an up-to-date example of this.  A woman I know was troubled by hemorrhaging from time to time over a period of sixteen years.  It was felt only surgery could correct it.  But she didn't want to go that route.  She wanted to rely on God, and God alone, for healing.  One day she got worse and called me for help through prayer. We discussed, among other things, truths about God and man, such as we've been discussing here today.  I also reminded her about the account of Jesus' quick healing of the woman with the issue of blood for twelve years,20 because, you know, Jesus reminds us all in the Bible that "with God all things are possible." 21

Upon hanging up, I simply prayed to know only good was flowing from God to man.  In effect, I was saying that God, Spirit, expresses Himself in man and that there aren't two of us — a material person sometimes sick and sometimes well, and a spiritual something — but there's only one of us and that one is the man God created: spiritual, forever intact and whole.  Why?  Cause is good.  And so effect has to be good.  And I accepted that.

The woman was instantly healed.  She witnessed tangible evidence of what true freedom is.  That healing took place several years ago and has remained permanent.  God had made her free.

 

Man's Perfection Is Hard to Accept for Many

So far, we've seen today, that in finding true liberation, all we're doing is accepting basic spiritual facts about man.  And the key word is accept.  Accepting man's inseparability from God, accepting man's Christliness, and accepting God as the only true cause and man as effect.  One more approach I'm going to bring up now and with it — if he were only receptive — Charlie Brown could pick himself right up from that pitcher's mound he collapsed on a little while ago.  He could break through any asphalt mire entangling him.  Because you fans of Charlie Brown — you know his big problem.  He's always looking for perfection in people — in himself and others.  And when he doesn't find it, it tears him up.  He doesn't know how to cope with it.  But we could tell him, "Good grief, Charlie Brown, you'll never find a perfect mortal."  At least I never have.  In the "most perfect" mortal we'll ever see, if we look close enough, we'll find a few flaws — and would you believe, probably quite a few flaws.  Just go talk to the family of someone you think is almost perfect.

Anyway, the only perfect man there is, is the immortal man God has created — spiritual man.  So another way to find freedom is to accept man's spiritual perfection. God is perfect; if He weren't perfect, He wouldn't be God.  And the man God has created, the man created in His likeness — not in the likeness of mortals — is also perfect.

The Bible says, "Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God." 22  No mincing words there!  Christian Science teachings are right on target with this spiritual fact.  Science and Health says: "God is the creator of man, and, the divine Principle of man remaining perfect, the divine idea or reflection, man, remains perfect." 23  Man is not only made perfect, he remains perfect.

 

Understanding There Is No Undisciplined Thought Brings Healing

A friend of mine discovered how practical this is.  Her eleven year old daughter was driving her up the wall.  She threw tantrums, was disruptive, difficult, and just made their home life miserable.  Discipline just aggravated the situation.  And the family still had the so-called challenging teen years to look forward to.

One day my friend was dusting a table in the living room.  She was praying about this whole situation to try to see her daughter's perfection as a child of God.  And suddenly she realized, she, the mother, was the undisciplined child in the family.  She was the one with the flaws and the blemishes.

One moment she was proclaiming the truth of man as the perfect child of God for her daughter, and in the very next breath she was condemning and blaming the child for being disobedient, unmanageable, and unloving.  The mother would yell at her daughter and often had even hit her.

The mother saw clearly she was the one who was inconsistent.  She stopped blaming the daughter for the discord in the home.  The mother saw that she was the one who must prayerfully stand — in her consciousness and in her speech and actions — with the perfection God was ever maintaining in all His children.  To the mother this meant she must see discipline as a spiritual quality.  She reasoned in order to have more evidence of discipline in her home, someone must make an entrance for it in consciousness.  And she realized she was that someone.

She committed herself to do so.  Two hours later the mother had her first test.

The daughter began acting up, and right then the mother could prayerfully see her daughter as God had made her and molded her — a spiritual, perfect idea. The tantrum

ceased.

Never again did that mother strike or even yell at her daughter.  There were crises, to be sure, but in each one the mother quietly acknowledged the truth about God and man, and harmony would then prevail.  In the process, the daughter began to change.  She began curbing her domination, self-will, criticism, and condemnation.  The mother became more gracious and loving.

After one year, the daughter one night hugged her mother and said, "Mom, I'm so glad you don't yell at me anymore."  That was the first time the daughter acknowledged any kind of healing was taking place, and you can imagine the mother's delight.

From then on, there was a new closeness between them.  And throughout the teen-age years, the daughter was a joy to have around.  There were challenges, but the daughter participated in family activities, took an active interest in Sunday School, and began an earnest study of Christian Science.  At the age of 18, that girl had class instruction in Christian Science.  But most important of all, the mother and the daughter each had a new respect for truth and for each other.  That mother had seen the importance of seeing everyone as we all really are — perfect in our true God-given being.  Man, spiritual man, can no more lapse into imperfection nor fall out of perfection than God can.  Accepting this, we see more and more evidence of perfection expressed in our lives.

The Bible promises us all: "The Lord will perfect that which concern-eth me." 24  And that includes our home life.  We can expect to see family friction, as well us any other family discord — not only at home, but at work and in our church home — be healed as we accept man's inherent spiritual perfection. Are you really accepting this for everyone?

You don't have to remain trapped by any kind of imperfection.  And why?  Because God made you free, and this true freedom is for everyone.  Not one of us has to tolerate or put up with any kind of bondage.

Let me share something with you here.  "Police and firemen in Farington, England, had to rush to a man's rescue [recently] when he was trapped inside a phone booth.  He got out after they explained that the door opened inwards.  How long had he been in there pushing?  He didn't say.  He just walked away." 25

Isn't that what I've been trying to tell you today?  The door to freedom opens inward. Trying to push somebody or some situation out of our experience never brings freedom.

True freedom comes only from within, from within a spiritualized consciousness of man's inherent freedom as a child of God.

No, you're not trapped!  None of you have to become a lump in the blacktop, mired down by job frustration, retirement frustration, self-condemnation, illness or family friction.  You can all be as free as a sunbeam because God made you free.  Don't settle for anything less.

 

1.   "Peanuts" cartoon strip, Chas. Schultz.

2.   Science and Health, p. 227.

3.   II Corinthians 3:17.

4.   Psalms 22:5.

5.   John 8:36.

6.   See Romans 8:38, 39.

7.   Mis. 8:17-19

8.   Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary. 8th ed., p. 297.

9.   Romans 8:7.

10.    John 8:44.

11.    Corinthians 8:6.

12.    Science and Health, p. 2.

13.    John 14:12.

14.    Isaiah 14:27.

15.    Retrospection and Introspection, p. 31.

16.    Ibid., p. 31.

17.    Ibid., p. 25.

18.    Science and Health, p. 207.

19.    See Irving C. Tomlinson, Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1945), pp. 70, 71.

20.    See Matthew 9:20ff; Mark 5:25ff.

21.    Matthew 19:26.

22.    Deuteronomy 18:13

23.    Science and Health, p. 470.

24.    Psalms 138:8.

25.    Orlando, Florida, telephone company enclosure.

 

[1977.]

 

 

HOME PAGE                INDEX OF LECTURES