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A path of blessings — for me and my son

From the May 2, 2011 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:33

There was a time in my life when I felt hemmed in on all sides by fears and discouragement. I had recently been divorced, and as a newly single mother I had the responsibilities of running
a household, raising a young son, and paying the bills. I felt alone and afraid.  I wasn't sure what I should do to meet my responsibilities and provide a happy, secure environment for my family.

One day during this time, I was visiting a wild animal park, riding a tram high above acres of open land. The tram operator pointed out a giraffe that was pacing back and forth in a figure-eight pattern, wearing a path deep into the soil. The guide asked if anyone knew why the giraffe was doing this. None of us could even guess. He explained that this animal had spent many years caged in a zoo, where his exercise was limited to the  exact dimensions that he currently walked. The giraffe was now liberated from his cage and surrounded by open space, but habit, or perhaps fear, kept him confined to the same space limitations as when he was caged. He could not venture beyond his comfort zone. It was frustrating and very sad to watch this scene.

About this time, a friend of mine gave me a copy of the Bible and Science and Health. This was my first encounter with Christian Science, and when I returned home, I opened the book and read this: “Truth is limitless; error is limited” (p. 466). This seemed to describe the giraffe’s situation. The mistaken,  erroneous habit of thinking he was in a cage kept him from his freedom. I felt a bit like that giraffe, hemmed in and  despairing about my own situation, but the idea that my provision came from God was inspiring. I began to have hope that I could express limitless truth, bounty, and provision, and as I studied Christian Science, I began to lean on God to open my eyes to see beyond limitations.

I kept turning to prayer at every point, and continued to see how God did indeed meet my needs.

At the time I was trying to finish my college education as a step toward earning an adequate income. I wanted to enroll at a local university, but I did not meet the math requirement for admission, and the amount of time and money it would take to fulfill this requirement was prohibitive. I was about to give up on my goal, but deep down I felt my prayers were leading me in this direction.  I thought a lot about this short Bible verse: “For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall” (II Sam. 22:30). Contemplating this helped me better understand the limitless nature of God, divine Truth, and gave me the courage to attempt to overcome whatever seemed to be standing in the way of provision for this progressive step in my life.

Led by my prayers, I felt impelled to call the university and explain my situation. The woman I spoke with listened respectfully and asked me to write a letter describing my needs and concerns, which I did. One day not too long afterward, I received a phone call from the school telling me that the math requirement was waived and that I could be admitted to the university with no restrictions. Even though I had prayed to demonstrate my freedom in this case, it did feel like a miracle to me.  I gave thanks for this demonstration and delighted in what Science and Health states: “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need”  (p. 494).

I was excited about my acceptance to school, but I was still concerned about my finances. I knew I would receive spousal support for a limited time, but it did not cover all of my expenses. I had to pay tuition as well as meet the cost of raising a child on my own. As I prayed, I kept being drawn to a story in the Bible of a widow who had nothing (see II Kings 4:1–7). The prophet Elisha asked this woman, “What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house?” The widow said that all she had was a pot of oil. But with Elisha’s blessing the oil in- creased to fill many vessels, and she was able to sell it for a profit.

At first I did not see how this story could apply to me. I believed that it had happened for the woman in the Bible, but I could not think of anything that I had in my house that I could use for income. However, as the story kept coming to mind, I continued asking myself, “What do I have in my house?” I would pray what I called a “dual prayer” for protection and supply: to know that my child was protected by God from lack or want, and to understand that my supply really came from God.

As I prayed, I came to see that my “house” was bigger than my physical home; it was my consciousness, continuously supplied with abundant ideas from God. Then, one day, I realized that I had a substantial amount of equity in my house. I was able to use this equity to pay expenses. The answer had been there all the time; I just needed to see it.

At around the same time, I was driving an old car, which always needed expensive repairs. I also felt that the car was not as safe as it should be, but it was not in my budget to purchase a new one. I didn't even know how to go about buying and selling a vehicle. So I prayed about this, knowing that God was for me and that He was guiding me in tangible ways.

Not long afterward, a distant relative gave me a gift that was large enough, along with the sale of my old car, to purchase a new one. Around the same time, I was standing in line at my bank when I saw a notice that they provided a service, free of charge, to buy and sell vehicles. A representative made all of the arrangements for me, and about two weeks after this meeting I drove my old car to the bank parking lot and drove away with a new, safer, and more economical car. On the drive home I surely gave thanks to God for taking care of me.
I kept turning to prayer at every point, and continued to see how God did indeed meet my needs. I was leaning on God a little more every day.

After I began classes, I was surprised to learn one day that I lived just four short blocks from a Christian Science Reading Room. This Reading Room became like a second home to me. I was a “regular.” When I was tired or frustrated, or if I was worried about exams, I would go
to the Reading Room. The librarian always greeted me with a welcoming smile.  I would read the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson, which always showed me more of God’s love and guidance.

In the evenings I would walk my dog on a route that passed the Reading Room,
which was always lit up. It was a beacon of hope and encouragement to me. On the way home I’d sometimes take a copy of the Sentinel from the box outside.  I always turned to the “News of Healing” section while I made my way home— magazine in one hand, dog leash in the other.

After a time, a Reading Room librarian suggested that I attend a Christian Science church service. I was reluctant to go, and told her that I was too fidgety to sit still for an hour. She offered to meet me at church the next Sunday, so I decided to give it a try. I will never forget her holding my hand and guiding me through the order of the service. I attended many church services after that, often in the company of this librarian, and eventually overcame feelings of self-consciousness about at- tending church. In fact, church services became a quiet time for me to pray about life’s challenges.

I remember being encouraged by many Bible stories, particularly the account of David’s response to Saul just before he went out to meet Goliath: “David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee”  (I Sam. 17:37). David recalled how God had seen him through the situations that he had faced in the past, and was confident that he could face Goliath. Similarly, I was learning to acknowledge that since God had brought me through difficulties in the past, He would see me through the challenges of class schedules, test taking, and writing term papers. I continued to trust that the Lord would deliver me from whatever I might need to face, including the rigors of school.

Held up by a loving God, I worked diligently to complete my degree and rejoiced when I did. But the blessings didn’t stop there. After graduation, I faced the challenge of getting a job. For several years I held a number of entry-level jobs in the field of social work, but I knew it was right for me to have a full-time career that would enable me to use my skills to bless others. I had learned that, as Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Unity of Good, “. . . God is our helper. He pities us. He has mercy upon us, and guides every event of our careers. He is near to them who adore Him” (pp. 3–4).

It was a happy day when I got my dream job as a social worker at the county’s Department of Children and Family Services. In this position I was able to utilize my skills to help children be safe in comfortable and loving homes. As time went on, I received increases in responsibility and in salary.

Throughout my whole experience, I understood that God knew my needs and that He was supporting me. God is not limited, but limitless—and by reflection, so am I. I gained confidence that I was not alone, struggling with a stream of human demands. My prayers allowed me to recognize the abundant life that God had given me. This realization brought other healings, too, as I studied Science and Health. A long-standing habit of smoking cigarettes was healed when I accepted my freedom from this enslaving habit. I rejoiced, knowing that “for victory over a single sin, we give thanks and magnify the Lord of Hosts” (Science and Health, p. 568).

The years of raising my son as a single mother were blessed. All of our needs were met. This son is now a successful businessman, happily married and raising two children of his own. He has told me more than once that he appreciates that there was so much love in the home when he was growing up. Later, at the right time, I met and married a wonderful man, who came to share my love of Christian Science.

Through yielding to God, leaning on Him, and listening for His guidance, I was led, step by step, as to what I should do to demonstrate His abundant love. God’s limitless provision is available to everyone. We don’t need to be like the giraffe at the park, tracing a path of limitation. Instead, we can reach beyond any sense of confinement, trusting that “it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

Nancy Venuto lives in Irvine, California. 

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