A spiritual slam dunk
Swish! The crowd cheers in response to the first basket of a competitive game. The players settle into their rhythm as both coaches shout encouragement from their benches.
To some, basketball is just a game, but for me it is an opportunity to glorify God by exemplifying qualities such as sportsmanship, strength, and endurance. Radiant spirituality can be expressed in sports of all kinds.
One day, at a basketball open gym, one of my friends challenged me to a little game of one-on-one. I accepted, eager to practice some new moves. What I didn’t know was that my friend had retrieved a men’s sized ball for us to use. Three or four shots into the scrimmage, I went up for a rebound, and the ball, bigger and heavier than I was used to, jammed the index finger of my left hand. Still focused on the game, I continued to play without any difficulty. Although at that point I hadn’t given the injury any treatment, I’m sure that my familiarity with Christian Science naturally kept me from giving the scenario a second thought.
As I was driving home, though, some pain and stiffness began to set in, and I couldn’t bend my finger at all. With some time to myself, I started to pray about this condition. My very first thought was that an activity as fun as basketball could never harm me or have negative results because I was approaching it with the motive of wanting to glorify God. God is all-encompassing, so there is no room for error, such as being in the wrong place or misjudging the direction of a rebounded basketball. These thoughts were wonderfully reassuring, but something told me that I had only scratched the surface of what God was communicating to me.
I continued to pray and listen that evening, as well as reading the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson. One thought that kept coming was that I needed to evaluate my sense of identity. Instead of assessing myself harshly or comparing my abilities to someone else’s, as I often found myself doing, it was time to step back and see myself through God’s eyes. In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy noted Jesus’ ability to withdraw himself from a chaotic scene, adding, “He had power to lay down a human sense of life for his spiritual identity in the likeness of the divine; . . .” (p. 51). That was what I had to do! By following Jesus’ example, I knew that I would find my spiritual likeness perfect, whole, free, and sinless—because my creator, God, wouldn’t have made me or any of His children any other way. When I realized this lovely truth, it gave way to more spiritual ideas, and the belief in error lost its foundation!
Something told me I had only scratched the surface of what God was communicating to me.
In the morning, though, I was surprised to find my finger stiff, bruised, and swollen. This picture remained in my thought only for a moment before I smiled to myself and thought, “Game on—bring on the second half.” In basketball we’re told that “winners never quit,” and the same idea applied here: I didn’t need to give up expecting a healing.
Monday brought school, and while I stayed plenty occupied with homework, there is always time for angel thoughts. One of the thoughts I prayed with that day was that I am a strong spiritual thinker, free from the limits that bind mortal man. A mortal, or limited, state of mind is destroyed and replaced by an awareness of God, the divine Mind, when we “stand porter at the door of thought” (Science and Health, p. 392). Everyone has the ability to know God, and with every step toward healing, I was—and still am—growing closer to Him.
Another thought that inspired me was the overwhelming sense of freedom that comes with knowing that each man and woman is perfect because we are modeled after a perfect God. Like the Scriptures say, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), and “The truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Perfection and freedom are supplied to everyone, everywhere, all the time! There are no exceptions. Jesus came, and the Christ he demonstrated remains to teach us the unreality of error and the reality of harmony, exhibited in eternal Life.
I couldn’t help but think of my prayer in terms of a basketball game. This realization about God’s perfect model felt like the last part of the fourth quarter, when athletes on the sideline excitedly count down the final seconds. The sense of release I felt at realizing my own freedom was the basketball spinning through the air with the flick of a wrist, falling through the hoop as the buzzer sounded.
I woke up on Wednesday morning and found my finger completely healed. What a wonderful proof of God’s constant care. I am so grateful for the abundance of inspiration God continuously blesses me with. I never once felt like I was stuck during my prayers, because Christian Science promises only joy and progress for each of us. The healing power of Love is victorious, and success feels as sweet as the “swish” of a basketball sailing through the net.