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Recognizing the Preserving Power of God - Bouncing vs. Breaking - Lesson Met by Kathy

Kathy Fitzer, St. Louis, MO & Park City, UT
Posted Wednesday, June 11th, 2003

Recognizing the Preserving Power of God - Bouncing vs. Breaking Lesson Met for "God, the Preserver of Man" - June 9-15 Prepared by Kathy Fitzer, CS

This week's lesson helps us understand that God is always there to preserve (to protect from evil, harm, danger, etc.) us, His beloved children. The lesson also brings out what is required of man (of us) in order to feel that protection - to take advantage of the care that is always available to us. As we do, we find that problems, (including the seeming effects of envy, hate, and lies) just bounce right off and we rebound (like Joseph) to bless those that would have injured us. Warren's analogy of the egg and the golf ball fits here, I think. The harder an egg is thrown down, the more it splatters. The harder a golf ball is thrown down, the higher it bounces and the farther it moves. You have the right to choose - will you be an egg or a golf ball? Will you bounce or break under pressure?

The Golden Text instructs us to cast our burdens on God. As we do, He sustains us - He gives us what we need to get through whatever seems hard or dangerous to us. But, we do have that initial responsibility of turning things over to God - to divine Love which meets every need - rather than trying to tough it out ourselves!

The Responsive Reading from Psalms continues to point out our responsibility: to cry (to call) unto God and allow ourselves to be led; to abide in God's tabernacle (covering -- home) and trust Him; to follow His rules; to accept the evidence of God's care that the Bible tells us about; to hope in God's word and not be confused (ashamed) by what else is going on. Our reward - we will be safe. God's role is also outlined: He hears and responds to our call ; He provides shelter and strength; He has established His creation to be forever; He directs us and cares for us as a good master directs and cares for His servants; He is our "hiding place and shield"; and He holds us up under any pressure or stress or danger that may confront us.

Section I clearly spells out the relationship between God and man. God is: creator (important to remember when we're tempted to think it is our responsibility to create a solution or an idea); rock (solid foundation on which we can get a good footing and not be afraid of slipping); fortress (safety from attack of any kind); deliverer (rescuing us when we do find ourselves in a tight spot); our strength (hmmm... so muscles aren't really the source of strength?); and His way is perfect (so, makes sense to follow the path God is outlining for us). We, too, have a role to play. We're told that man (that's us) is: God's image - male and female (notice, it doesn't say male or female. Man is a complete idea, possessing all the qualities humans think of as either masculine qualities or feminine qualities, but God knows simply as perfect Life, Truth, and Love reflected); God's witness - testifying truly to the presence and power of God; strong (reflecting God's strength); and the expression of God's perfect being. God needs man and man needs God. By looking in a mirror we see the exact image of the original. But we have to look! And to see God's image we have to look in the mirror of divine Science (the absolute truth of God's law.) When we see God correctly - as the only power and all good - then we see man that way, too.

Section II presents the idea of the Christ as being this perfect man that Section I talked about as the perfect image of God. Jesus explained the Christ as being the light which naturally eliminates darkness and then goes on to explain that the Christ is eternal - that it existed before Abraham was perceived. Jesus embodied and demonstrated the Christ in all he did. The power of the Christ was illustrated early in Jesus' career by an instantaneous healing of Simon Peter's mother-in-law of a fever. She didn't waste any time lying around in bed recovering afterwards either, but was up and doing what she knew needed doing - serving her guests. Word spread fast and soon many were coming to be healed and were healed. The Christ is here now, too! The Christ was never a person. "Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness." (S&H 332: 9) It is so wonderful to realize that the power to heal - that Jesus demonstrated for us - is as present right now as it has ever been. But, just like when a teacher in school or a chef on a cooking show puts on a demonstration, the student then must practice what he has learned. We must practice welcoming the Christ - this true idea that is speaking to us always - so that we can witness its power to heal. A light always replaces darkness, but the light has to be turned on and pointed in the right direction to do its work.

Section III introduces the story of Joseph to us after it helps us see the agelessness of the Christ. The Christ is the power of God that was with Joseph all the way through his career - that remains with us throughout our careers - and that is eternal, since God is eternal. (Remember that God is I AM - always in the present tense!) Joseph had to deal with his brothers' envy and jealousy of him. They thought they could get rid of him by throwing him into a pit. Are we ever tempted to try to get rid of something or somebody that is threatening us - instead of appreciating their good qualities and knowing that there is enough good to go around? Or, have you ever felt like a victim of someone who thought they could push you around? Either way, it doesn't work. The Christ was right there in the pit with Joseph and continued with him into Egypt where Joseph's strengths were recognized and put to good use. Because God is All, there is no place for evil to reign! We learned in the first section that God is our rock - our solid ground - so there is no place to fall. Joseph demonstrated that fact by being saved from destruction and placed where he could serve. The Bible doesn't indicate whether or not Joseph felt afraid, but I suspect that his faith in God gave him the courage he needed to face the situation he found himself in. Certainly, after seeing how Joseph was saved, we can know that we never have to fear. As long as we are still and trust God, we can be sure we'll be okay. Mrs. Eddy repeats in Science and Health this promise of the Bible "All things work together for good to them that love God." That's the law - stick to it and you'll demonstrate the truth of it. We can't tell how things will work out, but we can trust that they will!

Section IV illustrates the mercy, ever-presence, and deliverance of the Christ. It also brings out the role Joseph played and the example he gave us. Joseph was tempted by a beautiful woman to betray his master (who treated him very well) by having an affair with his wife. Joseph knew that this was wrong. He undoubtedly knew the commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery." His "reward" for doing what was right was being thrown in prison. But, the story tells us that he received mercy from God and was given special treatment by the man in charge of the prison. Sometimes it seems as though we are punished for trying to do right, but we can know, as Joseph demonstrated, that "tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword" cannot separate us "from the love of Christ," but rather "in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." (Rom. 8: 35, 37) And so, when we are tempted to "lie with" any suggestion that isn't from God - even the temptation to not do what we know we should do, or the temptation to hang out with friends that aren't doing the right thing - it may seem that we suffer by being left out. But, it is more important to be obedient to God's laws (like the 10 Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount) than to come down to the level of human pleasure. Ultimately, the rewards will show up (as we'll see with Joseph). Science and Health has this to say, "Christians must take up arms against error at home and abroad. They must grapple with sin in themselves and in others, and continue this warfare until they have finished their course. If they keep the faith, they will have the crown of rejoicing." (p. 29: 1) Hmmm... the cross and the crown! It is often a struggle to do what's right, but it is worth it. What a great example Joseph is.

Section V has Joseph being released from prison and providing Pharaoh with the insights he needed to provide enough food to feed his people throughout the years of drought - and also people from neighboring areas. When Pharaoh came to Joseph to get an explanation of his dream, Joseph tried to explain that looking to him as a person for his answers was the wrong approach. He told him, "It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace." (Gen. 41: 16) Joseph understood that all good is supplied directly from God! It is available to all - just like light is available to all. BUT, in order to benefit from the divine wisdom, man has to perform his role as witness and recognize his position as image. As one turns to God, he is delivered from evil - just as when one turns to the light, he is delivered from darkness. Joseph listened, and so was able to hear God. It takes practice, but we can all do it! "Whatever holds human thought in line with unselfed love, receives directly the divine power." (S&H 192: 30)

Section VI illustrates how infinite the love of Christ is, as Joseph's steadfast obedience to the Christ enabled him to save those who had tried to destroy him. Because he didn't get hung up hating his brothers, he was able to save all of Egypt and his own family as well - ultimately bringing them to Egypt to live with him. (Thus, the children of Israel came to be in Egypt, and to prosper in Egypt for many years -- later to be delivered from slavery by Moses). Joseph recognized the universal love of God for all his children and he knew that his mission (as God's perfect image) was to express that love of God by blessing all. Mrs. Eddy tells us, "... blessed is that man who seeth his brother's need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another's good." Joseph was blessed by being reunited with his father and brothers - whom he loved. As we see all as being at one with God (just as "a drop of water is one with the ocean, a ray of light one with the sun") we see that there can't be conflict between our fellow man - any more than individual drops of water, or individual rays of light can feel threatened by each other. God loves each of us equally and takes care of each of us - meeting each need as it comes.

The Christ is here to lift us up whenever we get knocked down. Joseph had more than his share of difficulties presented to him. But the harder he got thrown down, the higher he bounced back up. He chose the golf ball route. We can, too!

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