Press on! Press on!
BESIDE the highway of life sit thousands of thought weary travelers, not taking a single step toward the city of God, the consciousness of man's glorified unity with his creator. Why have they halted? Some, because they believe that the way of spirituality is too hard; some, because they are not sure that peace or health or joy can be found on this road. Others are not moving onward because they are looking backward; while others are peering so far ahead that they cannot see the road at their feet. To all who are tarrying by the roadside the voice of Truth calls, Go forward! One cannot mentally stand still anywhere on the road of eternal Life; he must forever move steadfastly on toward perfection, with firm, resolute thought-steps. Every slightest overcoming of evil with good, every petty purpose forsaken, every erroneous human yearning quenched in the divine, every sense of self vanquished by Christliness, are steps gained. Thus is the journey taken by each one, and in this way alone can the goal of Godlikeness be reached.
Paul, who was one of the most inspired thinkers of any age, spoke earnestly of man's need of forever pressing on toward spiritual living when he said: "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." In the grandeur of humility, he recognized that nothing was of importance but progress toward the prize of his high calling. In steadfast allegiance to this ideal he said: "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind . . . I press toward the mark."
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Before anyone can really move onward, he must obey these two mighty rules which Paul gave. First, he must forget the things that are behind. Let Truth blot from the canvas of memory every remembrance of the injustices, hardships, or pains of yesterday. The past is gone. The present teems with possibilities. Break loose from finite yesterday and step into the boundless grandeur of to-day. When the weights of a troubled yesterday drop off, one can spring to his feet and obey the second rule of spiritual advancement —to "press toward the mark." No evil plot or plan has power to hold back one who has settled it in his heart to press toward the mark of his spiritual identity in the likeness of God. The very force and power of resistless good strengthens him as he goes forward. All the false suggestions of mesmeric allurements whisper in vain to him who in obedience to God and in real love for mankind has pledged himself to move on toward perfection. He has found his direction and sees, through spiritual sense, his destination. Nothing is more spiritually stimulating to the lagging thought, entangled in the meshes of small purposes, than to meet on Life's highway one who for humanity's good is moving on. It is a holy fact that the sound of this one's steady tread arouses those made dormant by self-mesmerism; and rising to their feet shake off the stupor and start along the path with him. Thus does example serve the holiest purpose.
Down through the centuries men and women have pressed toward the mark in faithfulness to God, even though cast into prisons, lions' dens, and fiery furnaces; and as they walked on, history has been illumined with immortal light. Such a soldier of God was Mary Baker Eddy. When the sacred revelation of Christian Science dawned upon her vision, made clear through a life submerged in Love, she thought of those in pain and anguish. They too must have it. She knew what it would cost to impart the revelation to a world unprepared for spiritual light, but she faltered not. Of this moment in her experience she writes in her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (pp. 226, 227), "I saw before me the awful conflict, the Red Sea and the wilderness; but I pressed on through faith in God, trusting Truth, the strong deliverer, to guide me into the land of Christian Science, where fetters fall and the rights of man are fully known and acknowledged." What heart-inspiring words, "I pressed on"! They rebuke, they rouse, they inspire. If anyone's feet ever seem weary, let him think of her who through thickest fog of slander and materialism pressed on that we might see the light. Think what it means to us that she pressed on! Think what it means to others that we press on to demonstrate the grandeur of Christian Science in our lives! How can we falter or halt, or even sigh, when we think of her, that noble pilgrim with a torch, going on ahead, calling: "Beloved students, you have entered the path. Press patiently on; God is good, and good is the reward of all who diligently seek God" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 206)! One cannot make his way by himself, nor for himself, alone. One hand must be in God's, the other in humanity's.
A student of Christian Science had been very ill for some weeks. Clouded by the mirage of fear, she saw only dark and frightful pictures closing in about her. In this attitude she telephoned from her bed to a friend, who was a Christian Scientist, and told her how ill and disheartened she felt, adding, "I do not know what to do next." "Have you prayed for the world?" asked the friend. "How can I until I am well?" said the one in distress. "Do not wait," replied the friend. "Others are having all that you are having to overcome and do not know that God's heaven of health and peace is here. Forget all else. Help them." That night the patient put self wholly aside and prayed for God's gentle presence to fill each suffering heart with joy. Towards morning she fell asleep. When she awakened, she was well. Thus does he who presses on, following the star of unselfed service, find health in God. It is not always easy, but it is always glorious, to press on by the straight and sheltered way of love. Such know no loneliness, for in thought they clasp hands with all world workers and move on with them in triumphant companionship. Thought expands, fetters fall, obstructions give way before the mighty purpose which actuates their march.
How quickly the battle with personal sense, expressed through bad dispositions, earthward attractions, the desire to smoke or to drink intoxicants, is won when one rises from self-indulgence to press on in the way of holiness, that he may add his gift of purified manhood to the race! Ah, what a gift it is!
To keep on the path, to be sure of the direction, one must study often his compass, the Bible and the Christian Science textbook. When tempted to look to matter for help or comfort, the compass points the way to Spirit's allness. When thought turns for a moment to the lower things of self, the compass points the way to the higher things of Love. Precious compass! He who has it need never lose his way. When misjudged, condemned, or misunderstood, the man who is guided by this compass walks calmly on, acknowledging no power, no force, no influence, no reality, but good. Before his godly knowing, the mists of unreality give way to heavenly sunshine.
A Christian Scientist who knew the mesmeric effect of discouragement in times when healing was not instantaneous, once gave to some friends this example which has blessed them through the years. "Whenever you are working out a problem for yourselves, or for another," he said, "this rule will help you. If on the second day of your endeavor the condition appears worse, be found, then, with twice as much conviction of Truth's all-conquering power, and in expectation of the victory of good. If on the third day the evidence appears more complicated, be found with three times as much steadfast courage and certain confidence that error will fall before the victorious power of the Word of God. If on the fourth day the evidence has not yet yielded to Truth's irresistible power, be found with four times as much expectation of beholding now the majesty and might of good." Thus he went on for fifteen days, saying at the end: "If on the fifteenth day the problem appears as difficult as ever, be at your post with fifteen times as much faith in the almightiness of God, good, and the powerlessness of evil. For the promises of Scripture are definite, positive, and through obedience to the rules of Christian Science, one can prove them true."
Paul must have had in mind the need of ever increasing expectation of seeing the force or power of resistless good, expressed through prayer, when he wrote: "My beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." Whenever victory seems delayed, expectation of the triumph of Truth must increase instead of decrease. The one who is truly pressing on, claims from God increasing, and still increasing, expectation of immediate victory from the operation of the majestic law of God.
He who recognizes the grandeur of Life, its onward movement and its purpose, does not trip over such tiny pebbles as sensitiveness, irritability, or self-sympathy; nor can he be disturbed or disheartened by the underbrush of nonessentials as he presses on. His mental footsteps rise above it all as he pursues the path of spiritual advancement.
Each time one hears an earnest person say, "I want to do everything I can to help my family," one's heart whispers, Who is one's family? From Love the answer comes: All of God's children. Yes, even all! for them each one should work as joyfully, as prayerfully, as purposefully, as for the loved ones whom he once thought to be his only relatives. For his great family his duty is not yet complete until he sees that no disheartened, uninspired thought should pass from him to rest upon mankind, his relatives. So, even when alone he corrects each downcast look with eyes upturned to God's effulgent glory, that he may bless his kindred with thought inspired. Each day with utmost care he tends the lamp of vision, replenishing it with clearer views of God and man—the oil of deeper consecration to the Christ—that its heavenly glow may help the family find Life's path. To live as a true example of a Christian Scientist, one forever governed by his God, is highest helpfulness to all. When each word, each motive, each desire, is weighed in Love's eternal scale to keep the measure accurate with Principle, then an example shines, a star in the heavens of consciousness, to attract the family to its tender Mother-God. Of such a one it may be said, He presses on. In the sunlit way of service a world of purity and beauty glows, a world unseen by those who drowse in selfish aims. Inspiration! It is heaven's recompense for those who seek good first, and in the path of unselfed love press on to higher heights.
Betimes a weary traveler halts and says, Those dearest to me have now gone; I care not what may come to pass. Awake! Life's problems are not yet solved. You have not reached the mark. Perfection is not won. Press on! The time that you call yours is His, and to His children it must be given. In the strength of a sublime purpose forget yourself in love. Then will you see the fadeless beauty of unbroken Life and feel its tender warmth enveloping you. Your faith in good, your song of courage, your gentle thoughtfulness, your vision of the real, humanity must have. For them, press on, press on!
"By thy trustful, calm endeavor,
Guiding, cheering, like the sun,
Earth-bound hearts thou shalt deliver;
Oh, for their sake,—press thou on!"
Copyright, 1930, by The Christian Science Publishing Society, Falmouth and St. Paul Streets, Boston, Massachusetts, Entered at Boston post office as second-class matter. Acceptance for mailing at a special rate of postage provided for in section 1103. Act of October 3, 1917, authorized on July 11, 1918.