Dispelling the fear of money
The sense of swimming in God’s goodness opened the floodgates of supply for me.
On a recent Sentinel Watch podcast, London-based finance and business journalist Jasmine Birtles shared how she discovered the spiritual truths underpinning what money represents, and how this understanding helped her get out of debt, pay her bills, and establish her career as a freelancer. The following is an excerpt adapted from the recording featured on JSH-Online.com. To listen to the full podcast, visit sentinel.christianscience.com/sentinel-audio/sentinel-watch/dispelling-the-fear-of-money.
How do you pray in a practical way when you’re in debt and there seems to be no possibility of money coming in from anywhere? As a longtime freelancer, I’ve faced that situation a few times.
Prayer in Christian Science isn’t asking for money or for material things. It’s praying for a wider, deeper, more consistent understanding of the spiritual reality of God’s goodness—goodness that is not just big but infinite, a constant fountain of good. And when we gain even a little sense of that, it has to have expression in our lives.
Some years ago, I was struggling with a lack of income and, frankly, with life generally. I talked about it to a friend who is a Christian Science practitioner, and he mentioned the passage in the Bible where Ezekiel is describing a vision in which a man takes him into a river. The waters come up to Ezekiel’s ankles, and then up to his knees, and then higher. And Ezekiel says, “It was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in” (Ezekiel 47:5).
Our experience is very much related to what’s in our thinking, so it’s important to fill thought with good.
I had never really understood what that passage was about, but my friend said, “These are the waters of good. It is God’s infinite goodness that we swim in, this ocean of love.” And I got it. It’s like what Sojourner Truth said about God: “He is a great ocean of love, and we live and move in Him as the fishes in the sea.” So, I consciously, mentally swam in that divine goodness each day and throughout the day. Even when things didn’t seem so good from a human perspective, I thought, “I am swimming in good.” I really held to it, even while there seemed to be nothing for me.
And suddenly it was like a river flowing in. I got TV and radio programs. I had a couple of book commissions and columns in magazines. I was doing keynote speaking. And I’d never made so much money before. It just flowed.
At about this time, I took Primary class instruction in Christian Science to learn more about how to heal through prayer. This class gave me such a big and solid sense of God’s goodness, of God being right here and filling all space. This is not the “God of the Gaps” (the God to whom the world assigns responsibility for any phenomena that science can’t explain), which much of the world seems to accept, but an all-encompassing God, infinite good, the supreme power. This sense of God filled up my thought with light. And that thought, combined with the sense of swimming in God’s goodness, opened the floodgates of supply for me. As Mary Baker Eddy says, “God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 307).
Our experience is very much related to what’s in our thinking, so it’s important to fill thought with good, because God, good, is the reality. I’m not saying this in a Pollyanna kind of way, where we all just think good thoughts and hope that good happens. It’s more like what Bible commentator J. Alec Motyer wrote: “Faith is not credulity, wishful thinking or a leap in the dark. Rather, it is a leap into the light, for faith is conviction and action based on evidence” (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Isaiah, p. 138).
We need to get our facts from Truth and not be impressed by what’s being said all around us.
There is a huge, mesmerizing fear at the moment about a global economic crisis. It says, “Look at the figures. Look at what everybody is saying. It’s on the television, it’s in the papers. Obviously, it’s true!” But that’s a material sense of things, not the reality that God, divine Spirit, created. So, we can turn away from it and see that our real, spiritual source of supply is God, divine Truth. We need to get our facts from Truth and not be impressed by what’s being said all around us. Sometimes, I’ll admit, we have to keep turning away from evidence that seems very real and solid and frightening, but persistence wins the prize.
For example, at one point early on, I found myself in debt for thousands of pounds, and I was also wondering what my purpose was. I asked for prayerful help from a Christian Science practitioner to heal a general sense of fear and emptiness. Gradually, she helped turn my thought away from my small, limited, and unhappy sense of myself to looking outward and upward and aiming to bless the world rather than trying to make myself happy somehow. At the same time, I realized that I needed to take responsibility for the debt. And I did. I did all kinds of work; I didn’t spend any money; I sold every possession I could.
Then I got called by the BBC to do some freelance reporting. The first day I was there, I absolutely loved it. Up to this point, I’d been a features journalist, doing all sorts of stories, but now I was doing personal finance and business, and I really enjoyed it.
I found that this was something I wanted to continue, as I realized that this money thing was not as complex as I had previously thought. It’s mostly common sense. So, how come I was in debt? Because nobody had explained money to me. So then I thought, “Well, I’m good at explaining things. That’s what I’ll do. I will make it my aim to explain money to people in a way that someone like me can understand.”
Not only did I pay off the debt within a year, but I’d found purpose, and a career that continues today. So, that sense of unlimited good has expression in our day-to-day life. God’s blessing isn’t something up in the sky, a rarefied goodness that you can get only if you’re a bit of a saint. It’s here. It’s genuine. It’s solid. And it has expression in a way that makes sense to us at this moment.
There’s a wonderful passage in Malachi: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (3:10).
That’s a wonderful depiction of the fountain of good that is constantly present. But a church friend of mine pointed out to me the other day that you could also read it as “I will pour you out as a blessing.” I had always thought of that passage as meaning that God will pour out blessings to us (which He does, of course), but to realize also that we are the blessing itself opens out a universe of possibilities. If we can understand that we are each individually a blessing to the world, that’s a good place to start.