I love sports, especially tennis and golf. I love both viewing sports and participating in them. And this love of sports, coupled with my love of God, has led me to think deeply about a passage from the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy: “Mind’s infinite ideas run and disport themselves” (p. 514). We all are these “infinite ideas” of Mind, God; in fact, we are God’s infinite spiritual reflection, and so we have the God-given capacity to “run and disport” ourselves. And one wonderful way we can do that is through sports, through which we can express so many beautiful spiritual qualities.
Some years ago, after failing to win a national golf championship in Northern Ireland, I decided that in preparing to compete again the following year I would not focus on trying to build muscles. Instead, I would build on and review all the elements that are necessary for such an accomplishment, including the spiritual elements. I asked myself, Why am I doing this; what is my motive? Am I looking for kudos or acclaim or to massage my ego? Or am I seeking to glorify God through expressing spiritual qualities that He is manifesting in each of us—qualities such as strength, control, skillfulness, dominion, and intelligence? I decided to seek the understanding and expression of this spiritual reality.
I asked myself, Why am I doing this; what is my motive?
I thought deeply about these questions, and I also thought about love. I thought about my love for God as well as my love for everything involved in golf: the open air; the sky, grass, trees and flowers; the songs of birds; the sound of a golf club on the ball; the sand in bunkers; and even the water hazards. I thought about how grateful I was to be able to participate.
So, all the winter months I trained as I normally would—by going to the gym, running many miles, hitting thousands of golf balls at a range, and putting and chipping on a carpet for many hours a week. But I thought increasingly of my training not as an effort to build muscles for playing golf, but instead as expressing joyful, God-inspired activity. The more I thought about my training in this way, the more it became a form of spiritual training. I was putting into practice what I had started to learn from becoming familiar with Christian Science and its teaching about each of us being spiritual in nature, the reflection of God’s being.
When July came around and it was time for the championship again, I felt prepared mentally and spiritually. My focus had changed from a goal of winning to one of expressing all the Godlike qualities I had been contemplating. I thought about some Bible passages, such as this one: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Also, I knew that fear and nervousness can result in a diminished performance, and that I would sometimes get very uptight and nervous at the start of a tournament. So I thought about another Bible verse: “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7). This helped me greatly.
Another thought I carried the whole week of the championship was to strive to love everything and everybody. I warmly congratulated some of my fellow golfers on their good shots. I didn’t see them as opponents or enemies, but as fellow children of God, expressing divine Love. I defeated all negative thoughts of competition. Instead, I saw the challenges of the golf course as giving me opportunities to express my God-derived qualities and talents. My focus became more about glorifying God, and I saw this championship as a way to demonstrate the beauty, power, and grace of God, and to reflect the one divine Mind.
My goal had become one of expressing, being directed by, and manifesting my inalienable oneness with God.
Such spiritual truths can apply to any wholesome activity, including not only sports, but also art and music. Since we are the reflection or manifestation of infinite Mind, we must be truly infinite. Therefore, we can overcome suggestions of limitation, and we can overcome fear, or the thoughts arguing that we are not good enough or don’t have enough talent.
Well, although I did win the golf championship and led the qualifiers that year, my real victory was in the change that had taken place within me. No longer was I motivated merely by the thought of winning. My goal had become one of expressing, being directed by, and manifesting my inalienable oneness with God.
Although not writing about sports, Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health about “business men” and “cultured scholars” in ways that can apply to athletes as well: “The term Science, properly understood, refers only to the laws of God and to His government of the universe, inclusive of man. From this it follows that business men and cultured scholars have found that Christian Science enhances their endurance and mental powers, enlarges their perception of character, gives them acuteness and comprehensiveness and an ability to exceed their ordinary capacity. The human mind, imbued with this spiritual understanding, becomes more elastic, is capable of greater endurance, escapes somewhat from itself, and requires less repose. A knowledge of the Science of being develops the latent abilities and possibilities of man” (p. 128). We all have this inherent capacity to express Godlike qualities in every human activity, and this expression is for our own as well as others’ benefit.
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