Hidden changes that bring sure renewal
At this time of year, many of us are thinking more deeply about Jesus’ stunning victory over the cross. Referring to his body, he had said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). I find it interesting that Jesus’ three days hidden away in his rock-hewn tomb after his crucifixion were so startlingly productive.
You can imagine how still and lifeless Jesus’ tomb must have appeared from the outside. The huge stone that had been rolled in front of it must have looked so final. But in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy explains, “His disciples believed Jesus to be dead while he was hidden in the sepulchre, whereas he was alive, demonstrating within the narrow tomb the power of Spirit to overrule mortal, material sense” (p. 44).
Rather than lying in there dead, Jesus was experiencing a big transformation. On that same page, Mrs. Eddy says, “The lonely precincts of the tomb gave Jesus a refuge from his foes, a place in which to solve the great problem of being.”
A mortal, material sense of life seems so vulnerable, so transient, yet Jesus showed the world that real life is deathless. Christian Science teaches that Life is not physicality but God, Spirit. The Life that is God is eternal, invulnerable, and is the genuine Life of each of us as God’s spiritual creation. All the crosses in the world cannot kill, or even imperil, divine Life or its spiritual expression.
Outside of Jesus’ tomb, it must have appeared as though nothing were happening.
There is no telling the exact direction of Jesus’ thoughts and prayers in the tomb. Likely, he was basing the substance of his thinking, just as he always had, on the inspiration that God continually provides for everyone. And this apparently solidified, finally and completely, Jesus’ conviction of the eternal invulnerability of the Life that is God.
The Holy Bible says that God is also Love, and Jesus so beautifully exemplified this truth. It is tremendously comforting to have your thoughts grounded solidly on the spiritual fact that your eternal Life is divine Love. The Bible presents this blessing: that “ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:17–19).
We can follow Jesus’ clear example from his experience in that tomb; we can let our prayers and thoughts become solidly rooted in the fullness of God, divine Love, even when it seems as though we are in a dark place of hopelessness and despair. God’s presence is unopposed. To be rooted and grounded in Love is to have your hope moved by divine Love to spiritual goodness and wholeness as the foundation of your life.
Matter is not included in divine Love’s foundation, and that is why it is also not an element of God’s creation. The same goes for limitation, injustice, illness, hopelessness, and so on. How can they be in God’s creation if they are not in God? All that is eternally good defines God, and God’s goodness defines us. Spiritual goodness defines us as eternal, unstoppable, and unending, even though sometimes it’s not immediately visible.
Maybe you’ve heard of how amaryllis flowers develop in such unobtrusive ways that before they bloom it appears they are not really doing anything at all. Even if you plant the bulb in fertile soil and water it when you’re supposed to, it’s easy to become discouraged. Day after day, the tip of the bulb showing there above the soil doesn’t change a bit. Every time you look at it, you see the same old dull, brown tip.
Take heart and remember the amaryllis bulb.
Finally, there may appear a tiny green shoot, barely peeking out of the top. It looks so insignificant that it is easy to think the whole effort is a failure. Yet at that point, if you were to expose the rest of the bulb, you’d see that significant hidden things have been taking place. The bulb has been growing an extensive and very robust root system! Unseen, yet so wonderfully strong, these new roots are preparing the plant to grow and bloom rapidly with strikingly beautiful, inspiringly tall blossoms!
When praying each day, as your thoughts are rooted and grounded in the Love and Life that are God, don’t think for even a moment that nothing significant is happening. Big, though perhaps hidden, changes are steadily taking place. As a result of being rooted in Life and Love, your understanding and outlook at the most basic level are expanding, being transformed and strengthened. The result is your blossoming realization that what God gives is yours and that only what God gives will ever be yours.
On many occasions when praying for myself, I have remembered these encouraging facts. While not obvious to an onlooker, at the most fundamental level my thoughts and perspectives were being transformed by God. The result was a rooted, grounded system of reasoning that provided the basis for blossoms of healing. (See, for instance, Mark Swinney, “Keep knocking!” The Christian Science Journal, January 2010.)
When praying about something for a long while, take heart and remember the amaryllis bulb. While hidden to human sense, the inner spiritual growth occurring as you respond to God’s ever-present influence speaking to your consciousness is utterly transforming you, bringing sure renewal. As Science and Health puts it, “Christians rejoice in secret beauty and bounty, hidden from the world, but known to God” (p. 15).