A willingness to be childlike and change
The need for an openness to change is a constant in the practice of Christian Science. Talking of “the new birth,” Mary Baker Eddy’s Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896 states, “It begins with moments, and goes on with years; moments of surrender to God, of childlike trust and joyful adoption of good; moments of self-abnegation, self-consecration, heaven-born hope, and spiritual love” (p. 15).
That “childlike trust” accepts God as governing and knows that whatever change comes, God remains in control. As a verse from Hymn 148 in the Christian Science Hymnal says: “In heavenly Love abiding, / No change my heart shall fear” (Anna L. Waring). It doesn’t say there will be no change in our lives, but rather that we don’t need to fear change when our thoughts are anchored in God.
We can even embrace and eagerly seek change in a childlike manner. Change can bring hope, joy, energy, and stimulation to thought. It forces us to get out of the rut of a personal sense of things and of old ways of doing and thinking.
Recently, in thinking about change, I was reminded of the Bible story of Moses being confronted with a burning bush. If he had just continued on his way, he would have missed a fundamental shift in his approach to his relationship with God. Stopping and contemplating the phenomenon of a burning bush that was not consumed gave him a direct conversation with his Maker and a sense of science not based in matter: divine Science.
God revealed Himself to Moses by proclaiming, “I AM that I AM” (Exodus 3:14). This set forth the basis for Moses’ work as a leader of the Hebrew people. Moses led them out of captivity, and through a wilderness of new thoughts and experiences, to a new understanding of their relation with the creator. He led them to government by divine law. This was a profound change for the people. They had been slaves, and through forty years of wandering, and many centuries of change and struggle in the Promised Land, they and their descendants found liberty and governance through a changed view of God, the supreme lawgiver.
How do we truly work with changes that take us out of our comfort zone?
Changes that come prompt us to improve our view of God’s creation. Hymn 148 also assures us: “And safe is such confiding, / For nothing changes here.” Is this contradictory when it’s obvious that human circumstances are changing? Well, no. In heavenly Love, where we abide, God has created everything, and it is very good, and “nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it,” as the Bible says (Ecclesiastes 3:14). No change is necessary in God. But we are constantly given the opportunity to change our human view and see more clearly the present reality of God’s divine creation and feel His tender love. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy states, “In Christian Science mere opinion is valueless” (p. 341). We can leave our human opinions, our preconceived notions, and see God’s care and guidance in every change.
How do we truly work with changes that take us out of our comfort zone and make us feel uncomfortable, or so uneasy that we do not want the change to happen?
I recall a time in my life when I fought change in every way I could.
The United States Navy requested that I move from my country home in the Midwest to Washington, DC. Where we were, our families and friends were all close by, with several free babysitters for our two-year-old and willing caregivers who could help. In addition, my wife was struggling with what was considered an incurable disease. For all these reasons, I felt there was no logical, economic and productive, let alone harmonious and wise, reason for change.
I thought good would change to evil for me if I made this move. However, good is God, Spirit, and God is ever present and eternal, so good never leaves us. We are all God’s eternal, harmonious children, and that eternal fact cannot change.
The real question was not, Why is this change happening? It was, Am I really going to, as the Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all [my] heart; and lean not unto [my] own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5), or am I instead going to be tempted to trust God with a few ideas and then bring my own opinion to others? I remember opening Science and Health to the following: “Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea” (pp. 323–324). I humbled myself and decided to accept whatever would glorify God the most, and I left the old for the new.
The change that I thought would create evil in my life brought only good. When we picked up and moved, we made new friends who became like family. My position took me higher in doing good and led me to the full-time practice of Christian Science healing. I became First Reader of the new branch Church of Christ, Scientist, we joined. Most important, my wife was healed. God, divine Mind, knows only good, even when we, as yet, cannot see the wisdom behind a possible change.
As a current Trustee for The Christian Science Publishing Society, I have also seen a need for openness to change, such as the changes coming to this magazine at the beginning of 2021. It has been wonderful to observe and participate as this has evolved. But if I ever feel even a little trepidation, I just remember how my world advanced each time I trusted God’s will and not mine. I found that I wasn’t deprived of good, but experienced more of it.
As needed change takes place, each of us can uplift the world by being childlike, and by knowing that God, divine Love, is the foundation from which we prayerfully work. With childlike trust we can say, “No change my heart shall fear,” because we forever abide in Love—heavenly Love.
T. Michael Fish
Guest Editorial Writer