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"Look from the place where thou art"
Mankind's ideas of the nature of good cover the widest imaginable range; but it is certain that there is no more active or universal desire than to attain good. Both consciously and unconsciously this desire shows itself in the whole round of human existence. How important, then, not only to know what good is, but the infallible means for gaining it!
But is there indeed such a way? cries the despairing and hungering heart. There are countless numbers who, in response to that appeal, can confidently and gratefully affirm that they have found it through the Book of books, the Bible. For themselves and others they have proved that there the way is clearly pointed out in definite commands, and in experiences which have grown out of obedience to those commands. Among many such they may turn to the narrative of Abram and Lot, as set forth in the book of Genesis.
It will be recalled that strife had arisen between the respective herdsmen of Abram and Lot, which made it seem desirable that these two men should separate, the one from the other. At the outset it is worth observing that Abram did not temporize or compromise with this condition of error. Nor did he condemn anything but the seeming condition, holding and voicing the fact that so far as Lot and his people were concerned. "We be brethren."
In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, we are told that Abraham "illustrated the purpose of Love to create trust in good" (p. 579); and this trust, the assurance of the ever-presence and abundance of good, was so alert and so well grounded that he could urge Lot to take the first choice of the land he would occupy. He could stand by and see Lot exercise that choice in unshaken confidence that in what was left there would be an abundance to satisfy his requirements and those of his people. "Is not the whole land before thee?" he said. Is not all good ours? There was no sense of competition or limitation in his thought about the situation; and, consequently, one need not be surprised at what followed. We read that after he had manifested this trust, and Lot had gone his way, then God commanded him to lift up his eyes and look in all directions from where he was, assuring him that all that he saw would be his.
Throughout the Bible men are urged to lift up their eyes. If Abram's possessions were to be limited by what he saw, then, even from the ordinary human standpoint, it were well that he lift his gaze above his immediate surroundings to make it as inclusive as possible. But Mrs. Eddy tells us that the word "eyes" means "spiritual discernment" (Science and Health, p. 586). We therefore see that Abram's need was to elevate his thinking or enlarge his spiritual perception, and that the degree in which he did this determined what he should receive. What he saw, or, in other words, what this increased spiritual perception revealed to his consciousness, became his. Nothing was created for him anew. It was there already and always, and he had but to see it. Let us note, also, that his reception of good was not limited to any one particular direction or channel, for he was told to look "northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward," and that all he saw comprised his own. All else was indeed excluded from his gaze, or consciousness.
Especially impressive, however, is the fact that God's command to him was, "Look from the place where thou art." We are so apt to think that we need to go somewhere else to see the good that may be ours. Perhaps the suggestion comes to us that somewhere else the climate or the air is better, the environment more favorable, the opportunities greater or more numerous; that we could see more of good, if only we were standing where some one else is. But it is not true. Hear God's firm but loving command to "look from the place where thou art," and rejoice in the fact that however humble, or sordid, or unhappy that place may seem to be, it is the very spot from which we can come into our heritage of good! We may be sure that when we stand where Abram stood, having that "trust in good" which he exemplified and those uplifted eyes, it does not signify a particle where we seem to stand, so far as the human sense of location is concerned. Let us be careful, however, always to remember that the command is to look "from." If, instead, we become inveigled into looking "into" the place where we believe we are, we shall not succeed in lifting up our eyes, and so shall not experience the transforming and beneficent influence.
At this point does that same despairing and hungering heart suggest that however helpful this sounds, it is only the ideal, or but the experience of Abram, who lived so long ago? Then let it be remembered that the so-called human mind has changed but little since his day, and that God has changed not at all. His commands and His promises are "from everlasting to everlasting." Since He is good and ever present, it must indeed be true that good is all about us; but while good is already ours in unstinted measure, it becomes consciously ours only in the degree that we qualify ourselves to see it and to appropriate it as our own. It is not only a privilege but a command to do this; and, moreover, we may press forward confidently, knowing that God never demands of us what we cannot certainly achieve.
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