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The spiritual ripening that goes on within us

From the November 30, 2015 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

When fruit ripens, it matures. There’s a kind of ripening that is going on in many of us, too, a ripening that also involves maturing—the maturing of our spiritual understanding of God and of who we are as God’s child. 

This ripening isn’t a personal push to achieve personal improvement. It’s a quiet, God-impelled spiritual development and unfolding—as a blossom unfolds—which reveals our eternal identity found in God, and the sweet, indestructible relation we have to our Father-Mother God. 

At times I’ve been quite moved and spiritually uplifted by momentary glimpses of the fact that I have always been known to God, our Father-Mother, the divine Mind who has from eternity conceived me and all of His children. These glimpses have helped quiet a sense of fear about myself—about traits or physical conditions that seemed to be part of me as a mortal with a material history, but which in many cases have diminished or disappeared as I’ve grown spiritually. 

The book of First John in the Bible speaks of having hope in Christ, hope that our Christly identity, already established by God, will indeed come to light, through healing and spiritual regeneration, as the only individuality we have. First John says: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (3:2, 3).

This isn’t a declaration that at some point we will be something different from what we are now—God’s perfect image—but that what we already are as God’s expression will appear, be increasingly proved and made evident. This progress comes through the spiritual impulsions of the Christ, the Truth that speaks to our human consciousness and moves us forward spiritually. 

Wherever we find ourselves, the hand of divine Love is leading us into the understanding of the perfect identity Love has bestowed on us.

Fruit on a tree ripens and comes to full fruition as the tree is nourished by rain and feeding, and kept healthy and strong through pruning. The continual maturing of our spiritual understanding also requires both nurturing and pruning. 

Spiritual nourishment comes through study of the Bible and the writings of Mrs. Eddy, and from prayer that draws on these truths. Our thought is fed with the truths from these books. We are inspired more and more with the comprehension of God’s infinite allness and His divinely beautiful, harmonious nature—and of our nature as the very image of God, representing faithfully His perfection and wholeness. The truths we learn support our prayers, and in turn the utilization of these truths in prayer strengthens our grasp of them and opens up new understanding and inspiration. 

The pruning of needless branches also comes through prayer. Whatever doesn’t belong to God, doesn’t belong to us either. How can the image of Love include self-centeredness, thoughtlessness, resentment, or hatred? How can the reflection of Soul contain imbalance, disorder, or abnormality? Or how can the expression of infinite, perfect Life have a mortal history scarred by imperfections?

Pruning calls for genuine, honest prayer—prayer that is honest about our need for growth and that is equally honest in accepting the truth of our being. The spotless goodness God has bestowed on each of us must be recognized, accepted, and understood. Prayer reaches out to truth, affirms sincerely what is true, and then we stand humbly with every gleam of truth that we glimpse. 

This is how the understanding of our real individuality ripens. The removal of selfishness, for example, reveals the love we inherently express as the image of divine Love—and we become happier and more loving. Conquering our fear of sickness makes us more conscious of our spiritual harmony, which results in a sounder, healthier body. The healing of character defects or weaknesses allows more of the spiritually lovely individuality we truly have to become evident.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote in the textbook of Christian Science: “Progress is born of experience. It is the ripening of mortal man, through which the mortal is dropped for the immortal” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 296).   

She also wrote, no doubt from her own experience: “We must resign with good grace what we are denied, and press on with what we are, for we cannot do more than we are nor understand what is not ripening in us. To do good to all because we love all, and to use in God’s service the one talent that we all have, is our only means of adding to that talent and the best way to silence a deep discontent with our shortcomings” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 195).

We can’t determine what human experiences we will have. But wherever we find ourselves, whatever our lot, the hand of divine Love is right here leading us into the understanding of the perfect identity Love has bestowed on us. We do understand what is ripening in us. And there’s no downhill side or slide to this patient spiritual maturing. Its course is always upward spiritually and outward mentally, into broader love for others.

You and I should feel very encouraged, because divine Love is working with us, causing us to see each day a little more of the goodness that is ours to live and to prove in healing.

David C. Kennedy

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