Are You Resourceful?
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Any trouble solved through prayer
is "an outward sign of a mental change in which liabilities are erased and
spiritual resources are established in consciousness," a Christian Science
lecturer told an audience at The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ,
Resourcefulness, said Roy J.
Linnig, C.S., of
"Christ Jesus life points the way to understanding spiritual resources," Mr. Linnig said. "He showed the power of these resources to cancel the liabilities of sickness, sin, danger, even death. Jesus canceled liabilities by taking sides with Spirit and Spirit's ideas. . . .
"The master Christian took sides because he knew that spiritual resources are substantial, lasting, and indestructible. In other words, they're real. But liabilities are essentially unreal; they have no substance and they don't last. That's why their spiritual opposites cancel them out."
Throughout his lecture, Mr. Linnig recounted experiences of men and women who have overcome problems and liabilities by utilizing Spirit's resources which "flow to each individual heart without limit and without fail."
Mr. Linnig was introduced by Mrs. Elizabeth Glass Barlow, Second Reader of The Mother Church. His lecture, entitled "Are You Resourceful?" is printed below substantially as it was delivered.
When I was a boy, my buddy and I hiked in the woods. It was a chilly spring day. But the snow was melting, and the creek where we had our swimming hole was near flood stage - swollen and rushing. A big tree had fallen across the stream. I decided to cross on it. So I found a stick for a leaning pole and started out. Halfway I tried to touch bottom with the stick, but the water swept it from my hand. I lost my balance and in I went. I was in a fix! But I caught hold of the log and hung there with the icy water tugging at me.
Now, I had the resources to get to shore. I had the intelligence and the strength to slide one arm along the log, then the other. More than that, my mother had ingrained in me the fact that God is, and that He's a present help. So I had the most valuable resource - a recognition of God's presence and power. Yet I was so frozen with fear I forgot. My buddy yelled at me, "Don't just hang there, do something!" But he couldn't think of what to do either; so he ran for help. In a while he came back with a man, who calmly told me just to shinny along the log. In a minute I was on shore. I dried my clothes at the man's home, and already the whole thing seemed like a bad dream.
To me, this portrays human experience - a sort of allegory. At one time or another, perhaps everyone's been in a fix, where he thought, "I just can't see any solution." Yet, as in my experience, if the available resources are recognized and used, the solution can come quickly. Each of us has in his thinking spiritual resources - those elements which come from a higher source than the human mind. I mean elements like fearlessness, intelligence, wisdom. With these each of us can shinny along the log, so to speak, and get out of the cold stream of trouble. When there's difficulty, he can say to himself or another, "Don't just hang there, do something!" More than that, he can use these resources to stay out of trouble.
This leads to the main point: Men can use spiritual resources to solve their difficulties.
Now this may sound like a contradiction since trouble is as old as humanity. Apparently there's such a backlog of unsolved problems - for individuals, for groups, for nations - that it could be discouraging. Still, many are finding that even though they may not avoid troubles, they're able to recognize the spiritual resources which resolve their troubles. They're able to understand these resources and use them practically. They're finding this through spiritual understanding.
All this poses some questions. What causes troubles? What resources are available to lick these troubles? And how do we use these resources?
What causes our troubles? Consider some specific difficulties - consider pollution. The tons of pollutants being poured into our rivers and lakes are a dangerous liability. Yet our waters themselves are not liabilities. They're a valuable resource. The liabilities are mental. Selfishness, carelessness, irresponsibility, all tend to produce and perpetuate water pollution by failing to support corrective measures, whether legal or technological.
Or consider ill health, a common liability. A healthy body itself is a useful resource. Ill health may appear to have many causes, but basically the liability is in our thoughts. Many are convinced that descriptions and illustrations of disease, imposed and impressed on individual thought through casual gossip, the mass media, or any other means, actually make the body ill. In a recent book medical doctor John A. Schindler warns: "Never before in history has a public been made so aware of and so afraid of the diseases which our day is heir to. This constitutes a tremendous factor in the onset of emotionally induced illness" ("How to Live 365 Days a Year"). On this same point Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, makes an arresting statement that goes even further. In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" she says plainly and without reservation: "Disease is an image of thought externalized" (p. 411). The disease images so widely broadcast today, if taken into thought, make the body liable to disease. So here again the liabilities are mental.
From all this we can agree that our liabilities - the troublemakers in our experience - are mental. They're harmful thoughts or motives. They're the limiting, yes even destructive, attitudes we hold in consciousness. It's these which exercise a harmful effect on things and situations. Shakespeare wrote: "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" ("Hamlet").
We can readily spot these liabilities in thought by watching their effect on our experience. Any motive which defiles our noblest aims is a liability. Any attitude which causes strife; which works against constructive aims; which causes suffering and disease; which makes us deviate from the best moral standards - any such as these are liabilities.
To be specific: As we replace selfishness and irresponsibility with better motives and attitudes, which in turn will produce better controls and further chemical know-how, we'll go a long way toward correcting water pollution. And if we stop promoting diseases in idle conversation, in the press, or over the air, and so stop inducing the emotion of fear, we'll go a long way toward eliminating disease. To quote Dr. Schindler again: "When you, or I, or any one of us, has a physical illness, the chances are better than 50 percent that our illness is emotionally induced." The emotions he refers to are mental attitudes - like fear, discouragement, anger, superstition. All such elements are liabilities and cause the nonuse, misuse, or abuse of useful resources.
You can look at almost any phase of human activity and see that it's limiting, destructive thoughts which are the troublemakers. They start from what the Bible calls the carnal mind. This supposed fleshly mind is the exact opposite of divine intelligence. Based on and oriented toward matter, it promotes the belief that all substance, all resources, are material. Because this mind restricts, endangers, causes suffering, and finally destroys, we see that it produces only evil.
Now these liabilities, these ignorant and incorrect thoughts of the fleshly mind, not only put us in trouble. They keep us there by preventing solutions. Why? Because they strap us to the belief that our troubles are primarily physical or material and that material things and conditions exist independent of thought. Yet the Bible contradicts this belief. Christ Jesus said: "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts . . . these are the things which defile a man" (Matt. , 20). He was showing how evil thoughts subject us to all kinds of difficulties.
Trouble then is the objectification of incorrect thinking. All troubles are based in fear, ignorance of God and of man's true nature, or sin. They may be our own thoughts or general errors accepted into our consciousness. Their cure comes with changed mentality - with change of thought from a material to a spiritual basis.
If you think about it, this becomes clear. Everyone knows sayings like: paralyzed with fear, blinded by hate, burdened with guilt. These aren't just figures of speech. They show how evil motives - fear, hate, guilt - affect our bodies adversely. They produce the very troubles from which we need release.
Take my experience at the creek. It was foolishness and poor judgment which put me in a fix. It was overpowering fear which kept me there. I was hypnotized by the rush of water and sense of danger. I was paralyzed with fear. Like all wrong thoughts, these thoughts which put me in trouble were liabilities.
But the sequel shows how opposite thoughts based in Spirit, God, will get us out of trouble. From the time I fell into the creek until I arrived at the man's home was at least half an hour. All this time I was soaking wet in chilling air. Yet I had no bad effect, not even a slight cold.
Why was this? While I was in the stream, fearful thoughts seemed to be in control. But once I was out and walking to the man's home, I was using some of the spiritual truths I knew. I was hanging onto what I had learned - that God is a present help, and that His power maintains man safe and healthy. In this way spiritual resources came into control. Because I was trusting God, fear was gone. Really, what I was doing was praying. This prayer, this acceptance of my spiritual resources, brought me through the exposure unharmed.
Now just what do I mean by spiritual resources? Just what are they? In the first place they're opposite to materially mental liabilities, to harmful matter-oriented thoughts. Spiritual resources are spiritual ideas, Spirit-based thoughts. They're the higher elements governing our thinking, such as spiritual affection or love, trust in Spirit, intelligent expectancy of good. Their effect is to lift limits from our lives. They make us safe and healthy. They give us a higher basis of action, from which we drop off fleshly limitations.
Christ Jesus' life points the way to understanding spiritual resources. He showed the power of these resources to cancel the liabilities of sickness, sin, danger, even death. Jesus canceled liabilities by taking sides with Spirit and Spirit's ideas. All the good he did, he did by siding with Spirit. He let God's resources subdue and outweigh liabilities. As our thoughts are oriented to Spirit, spiritual ideas appear in our consciousness. These give us ascendancy over liabilities. Then health is restored to the body and order to our affairs. The master Christian took sides because he knew that spiritual resources are substantial, lasting, and indestructible. In other words, they're real. But liabilities are essentially unreal; they have no substance and they don't last. That's why their spiritual opposites cancel them out.
Once we see the healing, limit-lifting effect of spiritual ideas on our lives, we ask, What's their source? The answer is: God, Spirit - that original Being who is essential, the source of all existence. Now, it's hoped that the God-is-dead speculation has run its course. This speculation should be dead. And of course the vague belief in God as a remote superman, along with other such theories, should also be dead. But when it comes to assuming that no essential cause underlies creation, that's another question. One might avoid using "God" as the name of this cause; but it's hard to ignore its existence altogether. Einstein humbly admired God as "the illimitable superior spirit" and "a superior reasoning power" (Barnett, "The Universe and Dr. Einstein"), or the divine Mind. Just because we can't be conscious of God through the physical senses is no basis for denying His existence. These senses are like a prison which limits our scope. They don't even detect much that's material - the flow of wind, a dog whistle. We should break out of imprisonment in them.
Einstein's concept of God has a basis in the Bible. Christ Jesus said God is Spirit. The Old Testament says that God's understanding, or intelligence, is infinite. Mrs. Eddy adopted "Spirit" and "divine Mind" as prominent names for God in Christian Science.
Spirit expresses how limitless God is. He's without physical form, without any matter properties. He's the opposite of matter or materiality. So He's not confined to time or space. Rather, He includes all that truly exists. That's why the Psalmist could rejoice: "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?" (Ps. 139:7). The writer of these words broke out of the prison of the limiting material senses and won a vivid awareness of God's all-presence. Another Psalm declares: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Ps. 46:1).
As I've mentioned, another aspect of the supreme Being is divine Mind, the infinite intelligence. Divine Mind is the source of all spiritual ideas. You and I can't express one good thought - industry, inventiveness, joy, originality - except as we have these from God.
If we consider our sun as a symbol of Mind, a famous astronomer's words hint at God's inexhaustible giving. Harvard astronomer Harlow Shapley writes: "What can be the source of the solar power that radiates energy into space at the rate of more than 4
million tons a second and yet does not exhaust itself over the millions of years?" (Shapley, "Of Stars and Men"). Of course, the sun's rays express material energy, while the ideas of God express the spiritual energy of Spirit. Spiritual energy just never runs out. God, Mind, is limitless in His power for good. All individuals are endowed with His potent ideas.
Christ Jesus often revealed gems of spiritual truth in his parables. In one of these a father says to his son: "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine" (Luke ). Here Jesus defines the relationship between Divine Mind and Mind's spiritual idea, man. The presence of resourceful divine Mind assures the resourcefulness of individual man.
Jesus' estimate of man was opposite to the customary estimate. Man isn't a material consciousness, shackled to a physical form. He's a spiritual consciousness, Mind's formation. He's composed of spiritual ideas, spiritual resources. Knowing this, Jesus could erase the limits and sufferings inflicted on men by their material thoughts. He furnished instead God's unlimited ideas, which produce health.
Jesus expressed the Christ, and its power to cancel troubles, fully and convincingly. He knew the Christ, God's true idea, as the sure resource for healing. And he knew that this Christ is present and potent in each human heart. The fact that man is spiritual is an aspect of the Christ, the Truth of all real being.
Experience shows that, despite any opposite evidence, man is a spiritual idea.
A friend of mine grew up in a medically oriented family and had no use for Christian Science. He viewed man as material. His leanings were to dependence on material medicine. But after he married a Christian Scientist, he saw several Christian Science healings in his own family and so he started to study this religion.
Some time later he and his wife
were driving to
This quotation from Science and
Health came to him: "There is no power apart from God. Omnipotence has
all-power, and to acknowledge any other power is to dishonor God" (p.
228). As they reached the hospital, my friend also reached his decision. But
let me read an excerpt from a letter he wrote me concerning the experience:
"I gently but firmly declined attention and asked for a telephone, and
called a practitioner, explained briefly what had happened, and after talking
to me for a moment I asked that my wife be wheeled over to the phone, which I
placed against her ear while the practitioner talked to her. She promptly came
around, and also refused medical aid. The doctor said we had broken bones and
needed stitches in facial cuts. I again declined and he asked if this was because
'of religious reasons,' and when I told him it was he did not insist, but
washed us off." Within a half hour they walked out of the hospital and
continued their trip to
How did this healing take place? Through studying Christian Science my friend had started to view himself as not material, but spiritual. His thinking was changing so that liabilities such as fear and trust in matter were being canceled. Resources of true courage and trust in Spirit controlled his thinking and the situation. What looked like a concrete material situation of injury was resolved simply by siding with Spirit.
The practitioner took sides, too. He prayed. He knew that Spirit is the creator. Therefore man is spiritual. The practitioner saw my friend and his wife in their true spiritual state, dominant over material threats of injury. He used Spirit's resources to restore health and soundness to the body.
Mrs. Eddy's discovery of Spirit's resources and their healing power came through experience. Her discovery taught her that man is spiritual. She saw apparently fixed states of sickness, sin, and other evils fade out as the Christ, Truth, came into control in the individual's heart. She learned how flimsy apparent fixities of suffering are. So she dubbed them dreams. She writes: “Wholly apart from this mortal dream, this illusion and delusion of sense, Christian Science comes to reveal man as God's image. His idea, coexistent with Him - God giving all and man having all that God gives” ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 5).
How did Mrs. Eddy reach this conclusion that mortal existence is a dream, unreal, and that man is really Spirit's idea?
She grew up in a happy home, but sickness plagued her from the start. The suffering persisted and was compounded as time went on. Her first husband died before her son was born. Later her family arranged to have the boy taken from her because of her poor health. This broke her heart. For years she lived in restricted circumstances. Yet she fought bravely against liabilities. Her search for Truth in the Bible convinced her that God's power would save men from their troubles.
So when Mrs. Eddy struck the mother lode of spiritual resources in Christian Science, she wanted the word to get around. The discovery transformed her life from limitation to expansive action and from sickness to vigorous health. She worked intensely and selflessly to open the wealth of spiritual resources to others. She wrote the textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health. She founded the Church of Christ, Scientist. She did remarkable healing work. She established the Christian Science publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, a respected and influential newspaper. These and other important accomplishments show how her discovery lifted her above limiting liabilities. It advanced her to outstanding creative and executive achievements.
Along with all this Mrs. Eddy was a woman, amazingly courageous yet infinitely tender and unselfish. Eager to share her discovery with all, she involved herself totally in scientifically lifting burdens of suffering and sin from humanity's shoulders. These words give her own estimate of her discovery: "Christian Science is not a dweller apart in royal solitude; it is not a law of matter, nor a transcendentalism that heals only the sick. This Science is a law of divine Mind, a persuasive animus, an unerring impetus, an ever-present help" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 3).
Spiritual resources can solve difficulties of all kinds. As God's ideas flow into consciousness they effect a change - a renewal of our thinking. Any trouble solved through spiritual means is an outward sign of a mental change in which liabilities are erased and spiritual resources are established in consciousness.
A man I know learned how spiritual understanding helps in athletic competition. As a skier, he had success in national meets, but it escaped him in the international field. Time came for the last amateur competition of his career. It was the Nordic Combined Ski competition, consisting of two parts - a cross-country race and a jumping event. Before the cross-country he prayed to know himself as in reality a spiritual idea of God, with unlimited spiritual qualities, such as endurance, coordination, strength. Also he established his motive. He remembered a statement in Science and Health: "Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action" (p. 454).
Well, even though he was skiing against the world's best, he won the cross-country race. Two days later the jump was to take place. His jumping wasn't as strong as his cross-country, so speculation about the outcome was tremendous. He prayed as never before to rule out liabilities - pressure, wrong motives, doubt, pride. He tells me he worked to identify himself as an expression of God with a relationship to God as a ray of light to the sun. He was expressing Spirit's resources - humility, joy, gratitude, poise.
You know, his prayers eliminated pressure. He went into the jumping competition relaxed. He even rejoiced in a fine jump by a competitor. His jump was the best ever, and he won first place in the overall competition.
This victory was welcome, but it was more than just winning. It was learning that spiritual resources do solve difficulties. Also he got a new sense of competition. It wasn't just competing against other athletes, although he wanted to win. It was competing against the belief that matter-oriented thoughts have reality or power. Experience proved to this man that only God's ideas are real and powerful. Through his victory, his thinking was changed - spiritualized in a measure.
In any competition, the important contest is against the limiting liabilities in one's own heart. In such higher competition, every contestant who masters limiting thoughts in his consciousness is a winner. Any human difficulty can be licked by putting off the mental fabric woven of liabilities - fear, suspicion, rivalry, worry - and putting on the new fabric woven of God's spiritual resources - genuine courage, honesty, noble ambition, trust in Spirit.
Knowing God's power expressed in His resources, how do we use these resources? A first step is recognizing God. Recognizing God means being convinced that God is. It means acknowledging His existence, not just routinely but vitally and with awe. And it means being aware of Him, His presence and power. The Bible says, "He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebr. 11:6). Believing in God is more than flimsy theory. It's a conviction - an unshakable conviction - that God as Spirit is present and God as Mind is supreme.
God's presence and supremacy are practical spiritual facts. These facts are relevant to men's needs because, recognized, they make God's resources available and usable. God can do for us what we can't do for ourselves. Recognition of God brings conviction of what God does for men.
Mrs. Eddy's words, already quoted, express it: "God giving all and man having all that God gives." All God gives to man is spiritual resources, potent spiritual ideas. These ideas are what men need. These are what solve our troubles. God's ideas keep us healthy and safe, as they kept me healthy and safe through exposure at the creek.
Recognition of God as vital divine Mind moves us to work to understand Him. Take again the sun and its rays as figures representing God and man. The sun and its rays illustrate the immediacy, yet the distinctness, of cause and effect. Nothing can come between them. They're inseparable. Similarly nothing can come between Mind and man, divine cause and effect. They're inseparable, one. This immediacy of Mind and man means instant spiritual power, constant power. Man is resourced fully by his Mind. This Mind is affluent. It pours out spiritual resources abundantly and inexhaustibly, even as the sun pours out abundant light. Also the sun is impartial. It plays no favorites. Its light pours out in all directions. So God is intelligently impartial. He plays no favorites. Mind's abundant resources - spiritual ideas - flow to each individual heart without limit and without fail.
Immediacy, affluence, impartiality - these words, applied to God, help us to understand God and man's relationship to God.
Recognizing and understanding God might be viewed as facets of prayer. In general, prayer is a practical and spiritually mental activity. It's taking sides with Spirit. It's deciding for the spiritual fact that reality and power rest only with God and His ideas. Destructive material thoughts are without power, unreal.
This decision leads to a choice. We choose to turn to Spirit for all we need. This choice changes the balance in consciousness. It increases the percentage of spiritual resources and decreases the percentage of liabilities. Also it effects a separation between these resources and liabilities in our thinking. Spiritual resources hold the control. Liabilities are less and less a factor in thought and experience. They gradually disappear.
Through prayer we prove progressively that we are ever with our Father, God, and all that He has is ours. Prayer can take many forms. Even a petition such as "God help me!" is effective prayer, if it's backed up by some recognition that God is, and by a desire to understand Him - to come closer to Him.
An important benefit results from recognizing and understanding God and using His resources. Each day one discovers more of his real self, his identity in Spirit, God. Each bit of study, experience, and prayer brings us closer to realizing that the whole of man's being is resources - spiritual ideas. In man's true self there just aren't any liabilities.
Using our spiritual resources is to take sides with Spirit. This results in healing and prevents difficulties. Don't these results convince us of the ultimate spiritual perfection of man as God's expression? Don't they prophesy that all liabilities and the troubles they produce will be canceled? That soon or late, we'll find man to be constituted of spiritual ideas and nothing else. We'll find him perfect in the likeness of God. What if this true self does appear only by stages? The Apostle John's words are nonetheless correct; "Beloved, now are we the sons of God" (I John 3:2).
From this basis, if we face trouble of any kind, we needn't wilt like a cut flower in the sun. We're rooted deep in the presence and power of divine Mind. So we can challenge hopelessness and doubt with a strong "Don't just hang there, do something!" Yes, do something, do your own thing - the right thing - under the impulsion of God. Each of us is able to reach this point because God, our Father, does give all, and man does have all God gives.
[The Christian Science Monitor, May 22, 1970, under the headline “God’s resources help us ‘do something’ in time of crisis”.]