After the Storm
There was once a little fishing boat which seemed in momentary danger of being dashed to pieces in the angry billows of a storm-tossed lake. It was centuries ago, and the men in that little boat were the disciples of Jesus the Christ, men destined later on to carry his gospel far and wide; and yet, on that occasion they had so succumbed to the mesmerism of the moment that they were crying aloud in fear. He was with them, but "asleep on a pillow." How could he be so indifferent when their very lives were in danger! It may have been almost with indignation that they roused him. And then, how quickly the scene changed! "Peace, be still," he said—and the little waves were lapping again softly against the sides of the ship. The warring elements of mortal mind had met their master, "and there was a great calm." Then, turning to them, he asked, "How is it that ye have no faith?"
Where is our faith today, we who are professed followers of the same great Master? Is it in Spirit or in matter? In the storm of general unrest through which the material world seems to be passing, are we standing helplessly by, like the disciples of old, overcome with fear? Or are we doing our part as they should have done in rebuking the error—in other words, denying it, each one in his own consciousness? The human Jesus is not here today, but the Christ has never left. The same spiritual power which Jesus utilized so long ago is ours to use now, today, at this moment, always, in all conditions, under all circumstances—power sustained by the ever available, ever applicable, ever operative, ever present law of God.
The true Christian Scientist knows that "there is divine authority for believing in the superiority of spiritual power over material resistance" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 134 ). He is proving for himself that it matters not what difficulties any situation may seem to present, and how many persons may be thinking wrongly about it, he can still be at peace, for he lives in a mental realm where storm and strife cannot enter. There is nothing in human experience, however overwhelming it may seem to be at the moment, which can ever change the eternal facts that man is because God is, and that he knows only that which God knows. This indissoluble union can never be broken by those various phases of mortal belief called "passing events." Beyond the reach of fear, anxiety, loss, sin, sickness, doubt, uncertainty, weariness, grief, and discouragement, the Father holds the son in his true spiritual identity, sinless, pure, upright, free, joyous, perfect, and complete—lacking nothing.
Let us turn resolutely away from earth's discordant noises to hear the soft flutter of angelic wings. Nothing unlike good has ever happened or can ever happen in God's universe. The hardest experience which anyone can ever encounter, the greatest sense of loss he can ever sustain, the deepest injustice regarding which he may have seemed the victim, have never destroyed anything which was true in the first place. All that can be destroyed is one's belief that some form of matter can make him happy or miserable; and to lose one's reliance upon matter is always a gain spiritually, notwithstanding how much one may seem to suffer in the process. Wonderful unfoldments, wonderful opportunities for spiritual growth, wonderful glimpses of heavenly reality often come when one is walking close to God, through what may sometimes seem like a strange new world of sudden readjustment. But our steps need never grow unsteady, since Love is right there to help us through.
In a testimony given in a Christian Science church a speaker once said, "While I was making my demonstration, I used to pray, 'Father, help me not only to make it, but to keep sweet about it.' " It is not always easy to "keep sweet" when one's heart is heavy, but the human character which can grow sweet in the shade, as does the lily-of-the-valley with its far-flung fragrance, is that which the world greatly needs.
Man should be the master of circumstance, and not its victim. The real man is not now happy, now miserable, whirling helplessly like a weather vane before each passing gust of wind; but he is quiet, calm, steadfast, poised, and at peace. He never had a sorrow. He never had a loss. He never had a disappointment. He never had a handicap. Our real identity, being the embodiment of right ideas, is wholly independent of matter; hence in no way subject to any material limitations or so-called laws of discord. In this, the real man, the only man there is, no imperfection can express itself, no fear, confusion, weariness, pain, deformity, abnormality, animality, infection, or dangerous inheritance. In true consciousness there is no wrong desire, no unworthy motive, no unsatisfied longing, no incurable malady, no ungovernable temper, no unconquerable evil habit, no unforgotten injury, no irreparable loss, no unrequited effort, no irresistible impulse of pride or passion, no opportunity for dishonoring God. In purified consciousness stubborn self-will has no abiding place; self-righteousness and self-condemnation find the door barred against them; self-love and self-justification disappear like dark dream-shadows. Doubt and fear melt away like fast drifting fog, and the heavenly heights of spiritual reality are touched by the sunrise glow of divine effulgence.
But all this seems so easy to forget while the wind is still tearing the sails to tatters: it seems so easy to forget that the Christ is here. When the experience is over, however, and we look back upon it all, half in wonder, many things are seen through this purified mental atmosphere which were not clear before. We find ourselves with that great gift for which Solomon prayed, "an understanding heart," gained in the midst of that very storm which swept away so many false appearances and misunderstandings and erroneous impressions. We find that we have become more patient, more compassionate, more forgiving, and more tolerant of others' mistakes, because we ourselves may have made so many while the storm was pounding in our ears.
Perhaps there are few in the world today who have not been touched recently, in some way, by material loss. But the period of universal readjustment is at hand, and everything, somehow, already looks different—and better. Our brother looks different—and better. Our outlook on life has changed; for we have proved, in some measure, the truth of our Leader's statement that "loss is gain" (Poems, p. 4 ). This is not the end, as it once seemed to our frightened, discouraged sense; it is just the beginning of better things to follow. As we read in Science and Health (p. 288 ): "The lightnings and thunderbolts of error may burst and flash till the cloud is cleared and the tumult dies away in the distance. Then the raindrops of divinity refresh the earth."
There is a story, dearly familiar to all Bible students, of three Hebrew captives who passed through Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace unharmed, coming forth without even the smell of fire clinging to their garments. Have we not the same right today, we who worship the same God, to pass through any ordeal, however trying, without having to carry with us indefinitely the outward or the unseen evidences of that experience? Was there for us once "a storm of wind on the lake"? And did we seem to be in it? Let us not carry the marks of it with us as we go on our way! Let us refuse to be weather-beaten Christian Scientists; it is not God's will and way. We should come forth purified and glorified, with something shining in our eyes which was not there before. The storm is over now. The stars are out, and the night wind is fresh and sweet. With hearts overflowing with gratitude because of new and ever increasing opportunities to serve and to give, to bless and to share, to help and to heal, let us remember only that quiet, "Peace, be still," of Love's abiding presence.