"Numbering the people"
[Written Especiaily for Young People]
At one time the writer had invited a group of friends to her home. The day before, however, many sent word that they would not be able to come. Turning earnestly to divine Love for guidance as to whether the meeting should be postponed, she was led to open her Bible at the third chapter of Proverbs, where it is written: "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give." With a grateful heart the student humbly thanked God for the answer and went on preparing for the joyous occasion, which she had been anticipating for several weeks. When the little group gathered, so much love, kindness, and interest were expressed that the smallness of the number did not detract from the activity of the meeting.
How often we permit the human sense of numbers and quantity to deprive us of the good things divine Love eternally has in store for all! Many times we learn that mere numbers neither make nor mar our demonstration of Truth.
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In the Bible it is related that when Gideon was called by God to save Israel from the Midianites, he gathered the people around him. But, on humbly listening for divine guidance, Gideon learned that the army was too large, for with this number the children of Israel might take the glory of the victory unto themselves. He was told to decrease it by letting all the fainthearted ones go back home. Thus the number was reduced to ten thousand. But still God told Gideon that the army was too large. Then he received the counsel to take the men down to the water. The result was that three hundred, who "lapped, putting their hand to their mouth," were allowed to go on with him. This seemed a very small number to go against the Midianites, especially as the enemy had secured the aid of the Amalekites and others, so that together they "lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number."
However, each man in Gideon's army was provided with a trumpet, and a pitcher, inside of which was a lamp. As they stood around the enemy's camp, each in his place, the trumpets were blown and the pitchers broken. The noise and the light from the lamps confused the enemy, and they fled. Thus was it shown to the Israelites that the battle was not won because of numbers. Being receptive to divine guidance, and depending upon God, the Israelites were freed from the mortal beliefs of greed and destruction, for these carnal beliefs could not stand before the light of humility and obedience.
In the Manual of The Mother Church, under the caption "Numbering the People" (Art. VIII, Sect. 28), our beloved Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, says, "According to the Scripture they [Christian Scientists] shall turn away from personality and numbering the people." When one looks to numbers for help, and finds it not, thought may be opened wide for discouragement, fear, doubt, and procrastination to enter. If one is off guard, one may forget that qualities which reflect divine Mind, such as perseverance, courage, steadfastness, meekness, love, are allied to the power which supports, maintains, guides, and governs right activity. A right idea constantly expresses right activity. since it is governed by omnipotent, eternal Mind. Thus it is that as the elements of so-called mortal mind give way before the ideas or qualities of divine Mind, a right activity reveals itself to us.
In the various school activities one may become discouraged at times because meetings are not well attended. It may seem that the more urgent the need, the fewer respond. For instance, few of those who are eligible may go out for track and baseball practice. Yet athletic practice goes on, games are won, and honor is brought to the school. This shows that success is not dependent upon numbers, but upon qualities such as unselfishness, obedience, and perseverance, expressed by those participating. As team members work together for the good of the whole, they reap just rewards.
As each one does his part in closing his thought to criticism, resentment, inertia, and the like, and learns to express right activity, he rejoices in the proof that "consciousness of right-doing brings its own reward" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 37). As there is only one cause, and that is God, good, there is in reality no effect aside from that which is good. As we cling unwaveringly to Godlike characteristics, knowing that each of God's children expresses only these, the activity in which we participate becomes an opportunity for us to manifest harmonious relations with our associates.
Even though one may not at once be successful in his various activities, there is a right reward awaiting him as he mentally goes over his work to find where he has not stood porter at the door of his thinking, where he has failed to reflect Godlike attributes. As the student uncovers and destroys the erroneous beliefs which have handled him, and claims his birthright of divine intelligence as a child of God, he protects his mental home more securely, and goes forward a better student, a better player, and a better member of his home circle, so proving that "one on God's side is a majority."