As a lifelong Christian Scientist, I once envied people who...
As a lifelong Christian Scientist, I once envied people who had found this religion later in life. I thought I had missed the experience of awakening into spiritual consciousness in a moment of great inspiration.
This misconception was corrected when I came to understand that each student of Christian Science must make it his or her own; there is no free ride on a parent's (or any other person's) shoulders. Paul said, "Work out your own salvation." Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health, "The recognition of Spirit and of infinity comes not suddenly here or hereafter" and "Emerge gently from matter into Spirit. Think not to thwart the spiritual ultimate of all things, but come naturally into Spirit through better health and morals and as the result of spiritual growth." Pondering these statements, I began to see that I'd had many instances of spiritual insight and healing.
My first healing that came completely on my own happened when I was at Boy Scout camp. With an upset stomach and a pounding headache, I wanted to be by myself to pray as I had learned in Sunday School. The only place I could think of was the "kybol," which was basically a large outhouse. I paced back and forth, saying "the scientific statement of being" aloud from memory. (This statement can be found on page 468 in Science and Health.) I said it over and over. Finally I began to listen to the words. Slowing down and thinking about their meaning, I glimpsed my true, spiritual nature and was immediately healed. This experience has always stood out to me as a wonderful example of divine Love being omnipresent and meeting my need—even in an outhouse on a hot summer day!
Later in high school and college I experienced many healings while playing football. Once I developed a contusion on my upper arm from tackling improperly. The biceps swelled, and I was unable to straighten my arm. The coaches told my parents an injection would be necessary to correct the problem. We assured them I would be healed through prayer and called a Christian Science practitioner for help.
The condition did not seem to improve. After about two weeks, my father asked me to do some push-ups to see if that wouldn't loosen up the arm. I remember thinking this was not in accord with Christian Science treatment. The practitioner spoke with my father. I don't know exactly what the practitioner said to my dad, but he was healed of any fear for my recovery right then. By the end of the week my arm was completely normal and I could fully extend it. The coaches let me play in that week's game.
In another game I was blocked from behind, and twisted my ankle severely. Because the coaches knew I was a Christian Scientist, they dispensed with the usual ice pack when I came out of the game. (I remember feeling disappointed that I didn't get the "attention" the other players received when they were injured.) We had a week and a half before a Thanksgiving championship game, which I thought would be plenty of time to recover from the sprain. During the next week the coach asked if I wouldn't like to have hydrotherapy. I accepted this, rationalizing that water wasn't medicine. But the condition did not improve. I remember the trainer commenting that it was unusual that the ankle showed no signs of improvement, and the coaches told me I would not be allowed to play if I could not make sharp cuts while running.
This woke me up. I admitted to myself that I had not been relying on God and had even made a god of hot and cold water. I had been "sitting on the fence," trying to work equally with matter and Spirit. I had to choose one or the other method of healing. I chose spiritual healing and dispensed with the water treatments. Improvement began immediately, and I was able to demonstrate an ability to run and cut without a limp.
Then in the championship game, just before half time, I resprained the ankle, and wrestled with whether or not I should continue to play. I wasn't as afraid of hurting myself as I was of hurting the team if I couldn't play well. During that moment I prayed to know what to do. I knew my parents were in the stands, prayerfully supporting me. I was in God's care, and so was the team. As I realized that, all anxiety left me and I was able to direct my thoughts toward playing football. When the game was over I discovered I was completely healed. We even won the game!
After graduation from college, I did not find permanent work for several months. I did a lot of temporary work, and at one job I stood at a copy machine all day long. This aggravated a back condition to the point where I was in agony by the end of each day. The work did however give me ample opportunity to think and pray silently while at the machine.
As I prayed, it finally hit me that I had accepted this back pain as the result of an injury I'd received while playing college football; I had been "cleated" by an opposing player. Watching the game films the following Monday, I had seen clearly that this player had gone out of his way to run on my back. I remembered reveling in the film and being proud of the cheap shots and taunts the two of us had exchanged during the game.
By thinking this way I had accepted the cause of the back problem as the injury from that game. I now had to accept the spiritual truth that no injury or accident could have occurred in God's perfect creation; in other words, I couldn't be healed until I removed the erroneous cause. As I continued to pray at the copy machine, I mentally replaced the counterfeit mortal picture of injury with the true, spiritual fact of harmony. I prayed to see myself and the other player as God's spiritual ideas. There could be no conflict in perfect spiritual harmony, and two of God's ideas couldn't ever be fighting. It was impossible. I also recognized that I couldn't be attracted to vainglorious thinking or mere animal courage. Even that game film had no power to make the accident a reality.
I was healed right then! I didn't believe it at first. Later I realized this was another proof that, by correcting a false belief of mortal mind with spiritual truths, physical healing occurs. I have never experienced any problems of this nature since.
I've had many other proofs of God's care and protection over the years. Christian Science is our family's greatest possession. I am especially thankful for Christian Science class instruction and for membership in a branch church. What a wonderful adventure it is to be a Christian Scientist.
John Douglas Wood
Mendota Heights, Minnesota