Face the storm

In some ways, material life offers a certain kind of ease. Certainly, individuals and societies must cope with challenges—inflation, crime, international tension. But mortal existence provides an array of little material shelters we can burrow into as a protection from stormy circumstances.

Whether difficulties involve health problems or inadequate income, fear or injustice, people retreat from the aggressions of materiality into what they hope will be more benign or perhaps safer forms of materiality. But the problem, of course, is that as long as mortal concepts appear to give us comfort, we'll not want to leave them behind. And we must begin relinquishing mortal concepts if we are to worship one God, immortal Spirit. A material sense of existence wants to be left alone. It wants to smooth over disruptions and keep things as undisturbed as possible.

Christian Science doesn't promise us that every difficulty will always be avoided. In fact, the very effect of divine Science is often to stir up the waters of life to disturb self-satisfied attitudes, apathy, stagnation.

"If you venture upon the quiet surface of error and are in sympathy with error, what is there to disturb the waters? What is there to strip off error's disguise?" asks our Leader, Mrs. Eddy. And she goes on to counsel, "If you launch your bark upon the ever-agitated but healthful waters of truth, you will encounter storms." Science and Health, p. 254;

We should be willing to launch our bark. There's a difference between the preparation and the launch. Are we endlessly preparing—always getting ready, for instance, to delve into a deep and systematic study and practice of Science, but not quite plunging ahead? Perhaps there appear to be many reasons such a thrust forward hasn't been undertaken: lack of time, too many interruptions, other interests. But the latent reason may be the human mind's reluctance to launch the bark, to engage the blustery winds and rising waters. We shouldn't be intimidated by the storms. The challenges, whether they come to us individually or collectively as a religious movement, are "healthful waters."

Turbulent events may take place around us, but that never means we have to become part of the storm itself. The Christ can preserve within consciousness a gentle quietness, a calm assurance that Spirit is in supreme control. What is this tender presence of the Christ? It is God's message to individual consciousness revealing His allness. The Christ is the true idea of God; it is felt in human consciousness as an urging—divine Love urging us to know we are secure, embraced, cared for.

But what real basis is there to feel safety when the waves seem threatening, even raging? Our confidence lies in what the Christ reveals about man's relationship to God. True being is never tossed helplessly about by uncontrolled circumstances. We are not at the mercy of materiality. God is Soul; and man's being, his substance, expresses the stillness and peace of Soul. Because man is spiritual, the reflection of divine consciousness, genuine action is never perturbed, but always settled.

When we move over the sea of human events with an awareness of these truths, material-mindedness may be troubled. But we ourselves can be untroubled. Though the waters may be agitated, they will be healthful. Whenever waters are stirred by truth, we are roused into a stronger position. Although we may appear to be within a disturbance, we can be untouched by it.

Christ Jesus was not in sympathy with relatively still seas. He stirred them dramatically. In a way, the impact of his life could almost be symbolized by his journey across the Sea of Galilee. When a storm arose, the disciples allowed themselves to be drawn into the disturbance. They were afraid. But Jesus was undisturbed. He felt so secure during the violent storm that he rested quietly. Yet he did illustrate the ultimate effect of the Christ on mortal disturbances. In response to the disciples' fear, "he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." Mark 4:39;

Could Jesus have avoided his trip? He didn't need to. He launched his bark, so to speak, and he rested in a secure sense that God was All, omnipotent, omnipresent. The Christ gave him an unmatched composure and, beyond that, enabled him to overpower the turmoil.

Even his most agonizing struggles finally gave way to an inherent, Christly peace. This same Christ that enabled Jesus to still the waves, even to overcome the world, is present now. The courage that leads us to encounter storms isn't left unsupported. The Christ is here, today, empowering us, preserving a gentle and calm assurance of God's allness, and finally quieting the storm.

To her followers who are learning to worship God in truth, Mrs. Eddy writes, "Thus founded upon the rock of Christ, when storm and tempest beat against this sure foundation, you, safely sheltered in the strong tower of hope, faith, and Love, are God's nestlings; and He will hide you in His feathers till the storm has passed." Miscellaneous Writings, p. 152.

We can confidently face any storms that may arise from the effect of truth upon error. Those disturbances won't engulf us. They will deepen our love for God. They will strengthen us.

NATHAN A. TALBOT

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