At a low point during college, one of my friends went to talk with her pastor. They prayed together, and he offered some spiritual counsel on how to move forward.
“So what about you?” she asked me afterward. My friend and I had had a lot of conversations about religion, and she knew that instead of having a person as a pastor, my church has two books: the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy. “Who can you count on when you’re struggling?”
What if I came to the Bible and Science and Health with a problem?
I’d talked to my friend about the role Christian Science practitioners play—not in offering counsel, but in being available to pray for healing, no matter what kind of struggle someone is having. But her question got me thinking about what my own pastor has to offer. I’d heard other Christian Scientists talk about the fact that they appreciated how the Bible and Science and Health are available 24/7. How they loved the fact that because the pastor of the Church of Christ, Scientist is a set of books, not a person, it can’t be swayed by opinions or trends of thought or a personal agenda.
One of my other friends, who was a Christian Scientist, even joked that she was grateful to have a pastor that never got tired of hearing from her. No matter how many times a day she turned to it, and no matter how many problems she unloaded on it, her pastor—the Bible and Science and Health—was always there for her. This pastor—these books—could never turn her away, and they always had answers.
I appreciated all these aspects of my pastor, but I did have one nagging question. Could I count on my pastor to speak? In other words, what if I came to the books with a problem? Could my pastor talk to me, with words specific to my need, just as my friend’s pastor had spoken to her?
Fast-forward a few years and I was about as low as I’d ever been. One day, in tears, I found myself wondering: If life is just one trial after another, then what’s the meaning of it, anyway?
Sounds like a question for your pastor, came the thought.
Honestly, I didn’t think the Bible and Science and Health really had anything to offer me in this situation since I’d already been praying and wasn’t getting anywhere. But again, the nudge came: Ask your pastor.
It was almost an act of defiance when I finally picked up the books because I was so sure that whatever random page I landed on was going to be a letdown, just like everything else in my life seemed to be. Nevertheless, I asked the question, “What’s the meaning of life, anyway?” and I opened Science and Health.
When I did, my eyes fell on this passage: “I began early to ponder and to study into the meaning of life …” (p. 667). I gasped, then read on to find out how this woman (whose words appear in the “Fruitage” chapter at the end of the book) had grown up thinking that God probably existed, but that it was impossible to connect with Him. When she first began reading Science and Health, “life was a burden” but “since that glorious day I have been a well woman”
This pastor is the Word of God. It is reliable. Unfailing.
There’s more to this woman’s story, and it’s worth reading. I read her whole account hungrily that day—filled up by this new understanding of how Science and Health and the Bible spoke to her and gave her the true meaning of life, just as that same pastor was speaking to me and giving me a new, true meaning of life, too.
Since then, I’ve had a much deeper appreciation for Mrs. Eddy’s provision of a pastor, whose messages are so much more than well-meaning thoughts or even loving encouragement. This pastor is the Word of God, speaking in a way that expresses all the specificity of Mind, all the power of Spirit, and every bit of the tender care of Love. It is reliable. Unfailing. And because it is infinite, it meets every need, for everyone, in every situation, forever.
I know it’s not by chance that when I turned to my pastor, I “happened upon” the words that spoke directly to my heart in a way that uplifted and transformed me. The spiritual nature of this impersonal, universal pastor is what undergirds its efficacy in our lives—and guarantees that anyone who turns to it will be spoken to, comforted, and healed. Yes, we can count on it.