Several years ago, while living in Chicago, I enjoyed occasionally doing musical theater. Yet I had an even deeper desire to sing as a soloist in a Church of Christ, Scientist. I had some music reading skills but learned mostly by ear, taking pieces to a voice teacher to help me prepare. My repertoire was limited, and I wasn’t confident enough to fill in for someone at the last minute, so I didn’t pursue becoming a substitute soloist.
I prayed about the situation, taking comfort in a statement from Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. It says that “desire is prayer,” and I trusted the promise in the full passage: “Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds” (p. 1).
After a few years I heard of a unique job in which a Christian Science church wanted to hire someone to share the solo position, trading off from month to month. This opportunity, which would allow ample time for preparation, seemed like the perfect answer.
My audition would be substituting at one of their Sunday services, and I prepared a piece. However, the Saturday before that service I woke up with cold symptoms, which became more severe as the day went on.
Would I be able to sing the next morning? A decision had to be made: I felt it would be terribly inconvenient for the church to have me cancel, but I also didn’t want to show up, only to do poorly. Caught up in my busy day as a mom, I only halfheartedly prayed for myself. There wasn’t any progress.
In the early evening, I realized I needed to truly pray in earnest. I remember blowing my nose repeatedly and feeling worse than ever as I sat down with a box of tissues and a copy of the weekly Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly—which consists of passages from the Bible and Science and Health—and said out loud, “There is healing in this Lesson.”
Right at the top of the Lesson—I believe it was the Golden Text—was this verse from Isaiah: “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” (2:22). Although I had read this all week, now it made me laugh; it was such a clear, perfectly fitting instruction. I understood that verse to mean it was time to stop identifying myself as a runny-nosed mortal! Instead, I should identify with my true selfhood as the upright, perfect, healthy, completely spiritual child of God, created in divine Spirit’s image and likeness. The rest of the Lesson affirmed these very thoughts.
I pondered the Lesson, cherishing the spiritual facts about God, and about my true being as divine Love’s reflection. When I finished reading, I felt much better; the cold symptoms were far less aggressive, and I went to bed confident that I’d be able to sing the next morning.
Morning came, and I felt refreshed and healthy. The solo at church went well, and I got the job. I enjoyed singing at that branch church until our family relocated a couple of years later. The experience and musical repertoire I built there gave me the confidence to substitute-solo in new locations and in various branch churches. Soloing proved to be deeply inspiring and richly satisfying.
I’ve never forgotten this experience, and I still appreciate God’s clear instruction that came through the Bible Lesson. Also, I love the reminder that it’s never too late to finally pray in earnest.
South Pasadena, California, US
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