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‘Above all that we ask or think’

From the December 26, 2016 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

That short phrase in the title of this editorial has been a huge help to me whenever I’ve come upon it in a Christian Science Bible Lesson or in an article in the periodicals. It serves as a potent reminder to stop thinking about what I’m trying to accomplish with my prayer or treatment and have more of what God is already doing. I find those few words bringing me home to the basic spiritual fact that there is something far greater and more essential always available than the human mind’s impressions of whether it knows enough or is inspired enough.

Jesus of Nazareth was so totally at-one with all that God is giving and doing that we know him as Christ Jesus. He wasn’t just a powerful personality presenting yet another version of religious opinions and doctrines from the past. His very selfhood was, in effect, God’s expression, and this enabled him to show the full nature and meaning of God for the first time in human history. 

We, too, may want to focus more on the simple question, “What am I hearing God saying to me today?”

In the light of Christ, or this true idea of God, pervading everything Jesus said and did, those with “eyes to see” saw an extraordinarily new thing. They saw the “realness” of God made evident, proved, demonstrated. Impressions of being hopelessly sick or crippled or the kind of person who can’t escape sinning were shattered. In essence, Jesus was telling the people, “The kingdom of God is here now, and if you look within yourself, you will begin to find you are living in it.” No wonder people were not only healed and inspired, but many wanted to become followers and disciples. They hungered to keep on living as closely as they could with this new conception of how life really is! 

So do we as Christian Scientists. We know that the Christianly scientific explanation of God’s allness and His infinite goodness makes eminent sense. Who can conceive, really, of worshipping some entity that created an amalgamated universe of good and evil and left his creation—us—to cope with it as best we can? But an unlimited God, who is Love itself, the essence and source of all the things we most value in our experience, such as upwelling joy and love and boundless good, soaring glimpses of justice and freedom, and the awesome grace seen and felt from healing—that is worth all our devotion.

Yet the question may nevertheless remain: Are we still tending to think of ourselves as being based in a limited material selfhood that must somehow manage to think the truths of Science and so “make them work”? 

The question brings to thought a healing shared with me by a friend who is a Christian Science practitioner. She had been asked to pray for a boy who was becoming increasingly deaf over a period of four years. At school he had to be seated in the first row of each class so that he could catch at least a little of what the teacher was saying. At home the parents had to turn up the volume of the TV to an uncomfortable level for themselves so the boy could follow the programs he wanted to see.

The practitioner’s prayer led her to tell the boy to pay attention to what God was saying to him rather than to the way he had been thinking about himself. Each time she had a phone conversation with the boy, she would ask him a simple, direct question, “What did you hear God saying to you today?” After a while the boy began to be able to report what he had heard God say to him, and he was finding that it made him happier to hear that God loved him so much. 

One day when he was upstairs and the parents were downstairs with the TV volume turned up, it seemed much too loud to him and he shouted down to them, asking them to lower the volume. From that point, it was clear that the healing was underway, and it was soon complete. It included a transformation of character and a healing of behavior problems that the parents hadn’t previously mentioned to the practitioner. The boy was so sure of his healing of deafness that he asked the school nurse to give him a hearing test. Afterward the nurse reported to him, “You have perfect hearing.”

The boy’s experience holds a depth of meaning for all of us, and we, too, may want to focus more on the simple question, “What am I hearing God saying to me today?” And yes, we can hear God’s answer, and it is incredibly good.

In a letter written to church members after their church’s annual meeting in 1905, Mary Baker Eddy obviously was feeling the need to help them realize they had boundless abilities for spiritual work. Quoting only from Bible passages in the opening portion of the letter, she wrote: “ ‘I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able’—‘able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,’ ‘able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work,’ ‘able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day’ ” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 156).

Are we today actually drawing on the vast resources of limitless divine grace and infinite Love that are behind Christ Jesus’ teaching and works, and that bring such astounding newness and power for change? Are we starting from the “higher standpoint” of the revelation of one divine Mind that will impart the consciousness of Truth and abundant spiritual understanding beyond anything a mortal human mind can ask or think? 

Allison W. Phinney

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