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The Bible in our lives

From the November 13, 2017 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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My first remembered encounter with the Bible was when I was in my teens and feeling ill. I’ve never forgotten my mother’s remedy. She read to me from the Bible, and as she read, the fever broke.

In the years since then, the Bible has become more and more important in my life. I read it every day—often with another book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, whose author, Mary Baker Eddy, treasured the Bible from childhood. She cited it as her “only authority” in her work as Discoverer of Christian Science, and she called it “the chart of life, where the buoys and healing currents of Truth are pointed out” (Science and Health, pp. 126, 24).  

Study of the Scriptures has made me confident that no matter what seems to be happening, an all-good God—infinite Love—is the only creator and governor of His creation. Powerful biblical images illustrate how God provides for His creation, giving certainty that He is caring for all of us. Here’s just one example: “I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 34:26, 27). Other word images portray being in God’s arms, or under the shadow of His mighty wing, or being crowned with His lovingkindness.

While I love these comforting word pictures, I’ve found it’s important to think deeply about their spiritual meaning. Mrs. Eddy spoke unequivocally about searching out the spiritual sense of the Scriptures: “The one important interpretation of Scripture is the spiritual” (Science and Health, p. 320). And, “When the Bible is thus read and practised, there is no possibility of misinterpretation. God is understandable, knowable, and applicable to every human need” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 238).

Thoroughly pondering Bible stories in this way has given me clarity about God and strengthened my trust in the power of good in my life and in the lives of others. The people in Bible accounts faced many things common to human life. To me, we are those people, and their stories are our stories. These accounts guide and comfort, letting us know that there is hope. No matter what seems to be going on in your life, you too can meet it, and you too can triumph. Three scriptural accounts have provided especially helpful and healing lessons for me.

Hagar’s account in the Old Testament reminds me to trust in God’s goodness and ever-presence right in the midst of difficulties (see Genesis 21:9–21). Hagar and her son were banished into the wilderness. When their bottle of water was empty, Hagar wept, fearful for the life of her son. But an angel appeared and told her that God knew what they needed. Then “God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water.” Their lives were saved.

Christ makes us new in thought and action, ready to fulfill our own grand purpose.

Why didn’t Hagar see the well of water at first? Perhaps because she was overwhelmed with fear. But the voice of God awakened her spiritual sense, and she heard the promise that He would save them and “make [of her son] a great nation.” Mrs. Eddy shows the importance of spiritual reasoning—of utilizing our understanding of God, Love, to tell us what is true: “The evidence of the physical senses often reverses the real Science of being, and so creates a reign of discord,—assigning seeming power to sin, sickness, and death; but the great facts of Life, rightly understood, defeat this triad of errors, contradict their false witnesses, and reveal the kingdom of heaven,—the actual reign of harmony on earth” (Science and Health, p. 122).

The disciple Peter’s story resonates in a different way. It assures me that no matter what mistake we’ve made, we can forgive and be forgiven. 

Peter was eager to please, teachable, trusting, insightful, obedient. But when Jesus was captured before being crucified, Peter—no doubt in great fear—denied that he even knew Jesus. Later, recognizing the magnitude of what he’d done, “Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). Christ Jesus didn’t give up on him, though. He continued to teach and guide Peter until the disciple was ready to fulfill his grand purpose of healing and of leading the early Christian Church.

Most of us, like Peter, have been disappointed in ourselves because of what we’ve done or not done. And perhaps like Peter we’ve wept bitterly in remorse. His story can be a strong reassurance for us. The Christ action in Peter’s life saved him. That same Christ is still here and is saving us. Christ is showing us what it means that we are God’s loved child, at one with Him as His image and likeness and, in reality, spiritual. Such clear, true views of ourselves act to wash away whatever is not actually us—fear, impurity, selfishness, and so on. In this way, Christ makes us new in thought and action, ready to fulfill our own grand purpose.

Lastly, there’s the story of Jonah—and the whale (see Jonah, chapters 1 and 2). Its rich spiritual lessons had deep meaning for me early in my search for a sense of hope and peace after my husband passed away. When Jonah was thrown into the sea in order to calm a storm and save the ship and its crew, God provided a great whale to swallow Jonah. He was kept safe in the belly of that whale and then, after a time of prayer and spiritual progress, released to land. 

Of course the men on the ship couldn’t have known any of this. They didn’t know about the saving whale. To them, when they threw Jonah into the sea, he was gone, drowned. But even though they couldn’t see him, Jonah hadn’t been abandoned or his life destroyed. Instead, he was in a safe place, continuing to grow and to progress in his love for God—and to go forward to fulfill the mission God had given him. 

This realization brought home to me a precious lesson about God’s saving grace and made Christ Jesus’ message of eternal life much clearer. Prior to his own resurrection, Jesus promised that all who followed him would be saved. He said, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). I knew that my husband loved God and lived his love for God. I knew I could trust that Jesus’ promise was true for him.

This new view of God’s saving love was incredibly comforting to me. I became more certain that even though I couldn’t see the next steps for my husband, I could trust that there had been a “saving whale” for him. His life hadn’t been destroyed. He was moving forward, learning more about God and himself. I understood more profoundly that Life is eternal, and that God’s power and love forever hold us dear.

“Our thoughts of the Bible utter our lives,” wrote Mrs. Eddy (Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 4). Seeking out the deeper, divine messages of the Scriptures provides us with life lessons, great comfort, and sure healing as we move forward in our lives. What a treasure we have in the Bible!

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