One morning a student of Christian Science who had experienced many proofs of God's care in the way of trials, passed a big hill where a great old tree stood alone. It was a bright, frosty fall morning. The hillsides and valleys were brown, except for a speck of green here and there. In the valley below, protected by the big hill and a number of smaller hills, stood many trees. Although protected more or less from the wind and from the extremes of the weather, many of the trees which grew in the lower land were scrawny, and their leaves, of which the greater part still remained, were clusters of drab blotches.
As the student of Christian Science stood there on the hillside, near the great tree, where the breeze was stiff and cold, he thought of the words of our dear Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, in her book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 66), "Trials are proofs of God's care." He pondered the fact that many of the trees which were protected in the valley below were of small dimension and seemingly undeveloped; whereas on the hillside, defying fierce winds and extremes of weather, and standing alone, was this great tree, a thing of strength. Although the winds had whipped it bare of leaves, it still stood, a symbol of austere faith and beauty. Yes, trials had been helpful to this great tree. When adverse conditions had prevailed, it stood firm, and slowly but surely extended its roots deeper and yet deeper into the soil.
When adverse conditions—errors—arise, as students of Christian Science we can with the help of our Leader's words and works make such conditions a means for extending our understanding deeper and deeper into the solid foundation of spiritual Truth. We should do this. And we must always be alert. It is well to remember that "always" does not mean just part of the time. Even in the days of sunshine and calm the great tree did its work. It put forth its green leaves, sending out to the world cheer and beauty, and furnishing shelter or shade, as the need might be. Yes, the tree did its work in the days of sunshine as well as of storm.
In Hebrews we read, "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." Note—exercised, not overcome. Then when the extremes of error seem to attack those who have been alert in their spiritual work, even though they may not be able for a time to rise above the suggestions of so-called mortal mind, they will firmly and continually declare God's allness; and this right exercise will extend their understanding ever deeper into the solid foundations of Truth. Ere long the "perfect day" will glow in all its spiritual glory in the consciousness of such students, who will no longer be mastered by the physical senses. Their conscious endeavor will then be to please God. In the midst of error they will praise God, even before the manifestation of harmony becomes apparent, as did Jesus at the raising of Lazarus. They will be confident in Truth. They will be willing to wait until "afterwards" for their reward, and "not be weary in well doing."
The writer of Hebrews did not say that chastening was not joyous. He said plainly that it "seemeth" not to be joyous. Is it not possible to one rooted and grounded in the understanding of the one Mind, infinite good, to bear a claim of discord with joy? It surely is possible. A sincere student of Christian Science who is alert, stands "porter at the door of thought" (Science and Health, p. 392), and such error as may present itself at the portals of his consciousness will but serve to exercise him; and he will experience a sense of joy in the work he has to do in demonstrating infinite good! He has learned through the consistent study of Christian Science that any thing or any condition which does not come from God, good, is false. He places no measure of confidence in the testimony of the physical senses; for he has learned that they are unreliable, because there is no truth in them. Therefore, he is not confused in the midst of error, but calm, serene—even joyous. Furthermore, the alert student of this great truth known by experience that with each demonstration made in the establishing of harmony where discord reigned, there comes an indescribable peace and humility which carry him farther from the valley of matter. Thus he grows stronger spiritually, until he becomes so firmly rooted in his understanding of spiritual Life, Truth, and Love that at all times and under the most trying conditions he is able to "stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord."
Yes, those who are truly "exercised thereby" and not overcome with self-pity or discouragement, but are willing to "go forth with honest hearts to work and watch for wisdom, Truth, and Love" (ibid., p. 15) will be able to say, without any mental reservation whatever, as did Paul, "None of these things move me." Then afterwards it "yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness," the realization of the ever-presence of God, good; while underneath are the everlasting arms of Love, guiding, guarding, supplying every need.
Let us remember the great tree which grew alone on the exposed hillside and flourished.
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