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Prayer paves the way for college

From the Christian Science Sentinel - September 29, 2010

Originally appeared on

I was an exceptionally busy student in high school. From academics, to varsity sports, to extracurriculars, I involved myself in a wide array of activities and learned many important life- lessons during this time. The ideals I encountered of scholarship, morality, responsibility, and leadership formed my perspective on work, family, friendship, personal worth, and purpose. And when I applied to my activities the lessons I was learning in Christian Science about God, and man as His perfect expression, I not only found answers to the day-to-day challenges I faced in school, but also experienced a demonstration of supply that has been central to my life.

My father passed on when I was in elementary school. Though my dear mother immediately began working—and taking accounting classes to gain a better understanding of business—when I was in eighth grade, she told me she was afraid we didn’t have the money to pay for my college education.

Mom and I regularly attended a local branch Church of Christ, Scientist, where she was a member and I was enrolled in the Sunday School. So, during our conversations about college, she would regularly remind me of what Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” (p. 494). She knew that if my place was at college, God, Love, would provide a way for me to attend. She encouraged me to become a student that a college would like to enroll. So, in high school I became as active as possible. For four years I participated in interscholastic athletics, was active in student government, sang in the choir, and took the college preparatory courses that my school offered.

In thinking recently about this time in my life, I found new insight from a Bible story. In Second Kings, chapter 4, a widow seeks out Elisha at a time when she is under crushing debt. Elisha asks her what she possesses, and she responds, “Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.” Knowing that she had all she needed, the prophet directed her to go and borrow many vessels, even empty ones, from her neighbors. And then he told her to go into a private place and to pour out her oil into every one of them. As she did this, she found the oil filled every vessel until there were none left! When she told Elisha what she had done, he responded, “Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt and live thou and thy children of the rest.”

As I thought about this story, it became clear that it relates in a wonderful way to my own experience. Each class, homework assignment, examination, athletic event, and social and academic relationship was really a kind of “vessel” to fill. My job was to pour oil—my faith in God—into them and to act with assurance that He was guarding and guiding my every act and filling my heart with heavenly inspiration. And all along the way my Sunday School classes helped me see how these activities were chances to know God more fully and prove His power.

The opportunities to uncover proofs of God’s presence and power were everywhere! I had wonderful healings of athletic injuries and sickness, overcame my nervousness about public speaking, and found that time became less of a burden as I grew more aware of God’s enduring presence.

I’ll always remember one Sunday, when on top of all my schoolwork, I had to write a speech for the next day. I wasn’t sure how it would all get done, but my grandmother, a Christian Science practitioner, reminded me that I was blessed by every activity and protected as “the loved of Love.” Later that day, while I was focused on something else, inspiration for the speech just began to flow, and I wrote down notes as the ideas took form. I completed the speech, along with all my other work, with no sense of stress or burden.

When it came time for me to choose a college, Mom received an unexpected notification from one of my father’s first employers that some shares of stock he had been given as part of his compensation package years before were now worth a great deal. She then learned that the value of these shares along with the financial assistance I’d been offered from the school of my choice was enough to cover the gap between the funds we had and the cost of my education at that school.

This provision proved so conclusively the value of the “oil” we had poured into the “vessels” we gathered. Clearly the oil Mary Baker Eddy defined as “consecration; charity; gentleness; prayer; heavenly inspiration” has immediate redeemable value (Science and Health, p. 592). If we pour into each school task or lesson—each vessel—the oil of moral courage and spiritual freedom, never fearing but knowing God is near, we can see the light of Truth dispel doubt and reveal the wisdom of the Christ that heals and saves.

Lessons learned in this way spiritualize our lives and reveal life’s possibilities. Mrs. Eddy explained this so clearly in her writings: “The spiritual sense of Life and its grand pursuits is of itself a bliss, health-giving and joy-inspiring. This sense of Life illumes our pathway with the radiance of divine Love; heals man spontaneously, morally and physically, – exhaling the aroma of Jesus’ own words, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ ” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, pp. 19-20).

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