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Find Safety in God--in Divine Life!

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Monday, January 14th, 2019

Find Safety in God--in Divine Life!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Lesson on

"Life"
January 14—20, 2019

By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. Glen Ellyn, IL (Bartlett)
craig.ghislincs@icloud.com / (630) 830-8683

Have you ever been in a life-threatening situation? Many have faced such challenges, and still more do every day. Surviving such circumstances often has a profound impact on a person. Afterwards it’s not uncommon for the individual to give thanks, or at least acknowledge, a “higher power.” But others facing this type of situation think of God as a last resort. When sharing Christian Science I’ve often been questioned about the practicality and safety of turning to God in emergency situations: “What would you do?”

When his life was in jeopardy, the psalmist faced the threat by standing his ground, and choosing life. In the King James Version of Psalm 118:17, citation B17, we read, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” In my view, those are pretty strong fighting words. I’ve used them many times in my life. And yes, I’ve used them in life threatening situations. What is it that enables us to make such a firm declaration?

The Contemporary English Version of Psalm 118:17 as used in the Golden Text provides a clue: “…my life is safe, and I will live to tell what the Lord has done.” The psalmist could declare he would not die, because he knew his life was safe with God. This comforting thought brings to mind a promise found on page 149 of First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany where Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Remember, thou canst be brought into no condition, be it ever so severe, where Love has not been before thee and where its tender lesson is not awaiting thee.” [See W's PS#1]

This expectation is reiterated in the Responsive Reading. Albert Barnes (1798-1870) tells us that the words, “holdeth our soul in life” literally mean we will stay “among the living.” Additionally, suffering “not our feet to be moved” means keeping us in a “firm position of safety.” Our existence is intact, and safe—not because God will forever sustain a material body—but because God literally is our Life. In Revelation, John depicts life flowing as a pure, abundant river, nourishing all it touches within a perfect environment. There is no pestilence there, for the tree of life brings continuous healing. Neither is there a curse, for there are no sins that need cursing. Nor is there a need for a candle, or sun because in this environment God is the only light that exists, and the only light needed. Nobody is excluded from this fountain of life. The Spirit invites everyone to come and drink freely from these abundant waters.

Section 1: Blessings of Hard Experience [See W's PS#2]

When we find ourselves in the midst of trouble we often wish we could just fly away and be somewhere else. According to Barnes, the words translated as “wings like a dove” (B1) mean “a wing feather or pinion…by which a bird steers his course” as distinguished from the wing itself. In other words, the request isn’t merely for escape, but for guidance amid the storm. The psalmist says he thirsts for God (B2). We’ve mentioned in previous Lessons that thirst isn’t a choice. It’s a basic need that must be met for survival. Just so, is our need for God.

Elijah has both an urge to flee for his life, and a deep thirst to find God (B3). His predicament could serve as a metaphor for anyone who feels his life is threatened. Not all such threats are from individuals bent on killing us as in Elijah’s case. The threat could be financial ruin, or character assassination, or a severe health problem. In such cases one might be tempted to give in, as Elijah was.

I always love this story because even though Elijah is ready to give up, the angel rouses him from sleep, and meets his need before he even knows what it is. Elijah may have been discouraged because he thought the spectacular display of fire consuming a sacrifice, and licking up a trench of water would have been sufficient to turn the people to God. But Elijah didn’t leave it there. He had all the false prophets killed, and Jezebel was out for revenge (See I Kings 18:17-40). Elijah needed to learn that God reaches mankind, not by force, or through spectacular displays, but through the still, small voice.

When we get flustered, riled up, fearful or anxious, we can remember the psalmists’ counsel: “Be still, and know that I am God” (B4). [PS#2]

Our textbook states plainly, “We all must learn that Life is God” (S1). Just as the sun is unaffected by the rotation of the earth, God, who is Life, is unaffected by sin and death. The sun only appears to go away because of our point of view (S2). Likewise, if we are reasoning from a limited human standpoint, and think that matter sustains life, we may believe that life can be terminated. Whereas, the fact is Life is God—the only presence there is—and we can never be outside of life, nor separated from it. As appealing as this truth is, it often takes some extreme challenge to compel us to “turn us like tired children to the arms of divine Love” (S3).

It’s those moments of complete surrender—when we are spent, and have nowhere else to turn—that we are finally ready to hear that “still, small voice.” In 2002 I was in a severe physical situation. Within a week I lost forty pounds, and was severely congested. Among other things, my right lung had collapsed, and I could barely breathe. I was on my knees, alone in the dark, with my head to the cold wooden floor. I had nothing left. All of the citations and rules I knew felt worthless, but I knew I wasn’t going to give up, so I just listened. And my angel came in the “still, small voice” that gently whispered words to this effect: “It doesn’t matter what you know. God is your Life. You live because He lives, and because He knows you.” There it was—I will not die, but live, because my life is safe in God, and God is my Life.

The rest of the story is quite long, so no room for it here. Even though it took several months for the full healing to be realized, I “went in the strength” of that singular moment until my next angel, and it solidified my resolve throughout the entire ordeal that choosing Life was the only course. I can identify very closely with Mary Baker Eddy’s description what she learned while “standing already within the shadow of the death-valley” (S5). This awakening is an ongoing process. Eventually we will wake to realize that, “Life is Spirit, never in nor of matter,” and this will lead us to the point where all our needs will be met in our understanding of God, and “no other consciousness” will be needed (S6).

Section 2: Life Is Self-sustaining

There is today great concern for the environment, and fear that in the near future the earth will no longer be able to produce enough food to sustain its inhabitants. This is based on the long-held presumption that environment creates and sustains conditions for life. But there are some scientists who feel the reverse is true—that Life creates its own environment. The theory is called Biocentrism, and you can read about it in the book of the same name by Dr. Robert Lanza, and Bob Berman.

Biocentrism isn’t Christian Science, but it’s on the right track. While Christian Science does not teach that God created a material environment to sustain life, it does teach the biblical precept—that God made everything that was made, and that everything God made is spiritual. The book of Genesis tells us that God, Life, indeed creates an environment capable of sustaining, and maintaining life (B5). However, this environment is spiritual, and therefore, incapable of being contaminated, or becoming harmful to life.

Elisha, the protégé of Elijah, had the opportunity to prove this when the men he was with inadvertently used poisonous gourds in a stew they were preparing (B7). The story has Elisha neutralizing the poison with meal, but this was more than culinary chemistry. The author clearly intends this to be viewed as a demonstration of spiritual dominion over the flesh. The psalmist has no fear of anything flesh can do to him (B8).

Science and Health confirms that Life is God, eternal (outside of linear time), and self-existent (S7). Mrs. Eddy exposes the fickle nature of dietetic theories (S8, S9). This is borne out over the last few decades in which we’ve seen opinions change on the nutritional value or dangers of eggs, meat, tofu, coffee, sugar, salt, wheat, and host of other foods. The bottom line is—if mortal belief says a certain food is either good or bad, it will be so until opinions reverse themselves. The so-called dietary laws of mortal mind don’t originate in God, neither do they have any power at all to govern our health. We’re never obliged to concede to material laws claiming to harm, or help us. Mary Baker Eddy tells us we have only to enter our protest against these false laws in order to annul them (S10). That’s not an invitation to brashly thwart those so-called laws, and disregard common sense. But it does mean that if our motives and aims are good and pure, we don’t have to suffer for inadvertently breaking one of those laws. Doing rightly, being spiritually and honestly motivated, keeps us on a safe path.

Section 3: Riding Above the Flood [See W's PS#2 & #3]

Isaiah uses the imagery of an enemy overtaking him “like a flood” (B9). Anyone who has ever canoed or kayaked down a river, knows that water currents can be very powerful. A flood is even more so. Back in 1993 there was massive flooding in the Midwest United States. In some places the waters crested almost fifty feet higher than normal causing catastrophic damage. After the waters receded, a relative took me to a point by the Missouri River to show me evidence of the damage. It looked to me like a powerful bomb had gone off in that area. Gray colored debris of all sorts was plastered on every stationary object that withstood the force of the current. I recall seeing a clothes-washer lodged in the branches of a tree twenty feet above the ground. So when Isaiah uses the analogy of a flood, he’s suggesting a seriously powerful onslaught.

The physical challenge I mentioned earlier was like that. I was hit point blank with a variety of maladies that, as I said, left me totally depleted. It was as if mortal mind was quoting the psalm at me: “An evil disease…cleaveth fast unto him; and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more” (B10). But I could quote right back from the same psalm, “thou upholdest me in mine integrity (literally meaning ‘in my perfection’), and settest me before thy face for ever.” Several commentators note that the “evil disease” mentioned above can also be translated as “a thing of Belial.” But even if our challenge seems like an attack from the “devil himself,” the book of Malachi promises that God will “rebuke the devourer.” When calamity seems to strike, no permanent loss can occur, and through God’s care we shall emerge victorious, and blessed (B11).

Mary Baker Eddy assures us that “God never endowed matter with the power to disable Life or to chill harmony with a long and cold night of discord: (S11). In the midst of what seems to be a “long cold night” we sometimes tend to wonder how we got into that situation. Our textbook assures us of two points: “that neither Life nor man dies, and that God is not the author of sickness” (S12). That second point is important because if we thought God had anything to do with either causing, or allowing us to be sick, there wouldn’t be much we could do about it. In Christian Science, our prayer is based on the spiritual fact that God knows nothing of evil, and that God is the author, and preserver of all that is good.

If God didn’t cause it what did? Although it seems to be a natural thing to wonder about, this question leads to trouble. Our Leader says, “Nothing is more disheartening than to believe there is a power opposed to God, or good, and that God endows this opposing power with strength to be used against Himself, against Life, health, harmony” (S13). During the physical challenge I’ve been mentioning, after just over two months of consistent progress and healing, I was feeling pretty good. But then a symptom showed up that needed more prayerful attention. In obedience to the law and The Mother Church Manual, I went to a local clinic just to be sure I wasn’t contagious. The results of one of the tests they took were very alarming to the staff at the clinic, and they were demanding that I immediately begin taking several medications in their presence daily for ten weeks while they waited for further test results.

This was a shock to me, because, as I’ve said, I had been feeling very good. Fortunately, I knew an attorney who was also a fellow Christian Scientist, and she discovered a statute that allowed me to choose ten weeks of quarantine instead of being forced to take the medication. I was grateful for that, but while I continued to pray and improve during those weeks, there was an insidious, and disheartening suggestion that something foul was going on unseen inside me. This was so contrary to the direction of my prayer. I followed the instructions in our textbook: “Be no more willing to suffer the illusion that you are sick or that some disease is developing in the system, than you are to yield to a sinful temptation on the ground that sin has its necessities.” I spoke the truth to error (S14), and I knew that disease could not destroy my life (S15). With the help of a fellow practitioner, I turned away from trying to heal a diseased body, and concentrated on purifying my thought, and living in the kingdom of heaven (S16).

After the ten weeks was over the clinic called to say I did not have the diseases they were screening for, and I was free to resume my normal activities. The full story of this experience is much too long to tell, but through it all, I never once thought of giving up. I chose life every moment, and so can anyone else who is facing a difficult challenge. God is your life, and my life, and that’s all there is.

Section 4: Let It Flow [See W's PS#5 & #6]

While Isaiah uses water as a powerful force in a negative sense, the Bible also uses water in the positive sense as a metaphor for life. As multiple commentators point out, “in this life, nothing is more necessary than water.” Also, we’ve already mentioned that hunger and thirst are natural (B13). Barnes elucidates:

“Nothing would better express the strong desire which we ought to feel to obtain righteousness than hunger and thirst. No needs are so keen, none so imperiously demand supply, as these. They occur daily, and when long continued, as in case of those shipwrecked, and doomed to wander months or years over burning sands, with scarcely any drink or food, nothing is more distressing.”

In his encounter with the woman at the well, Jesus offers the woman “living water” from the fountain of life that never runs dry (B14). This living water heals and purifies every aspect of our lives. Jesus pointed out to the woman that the water from the well would never satisfy her thirst. Similarly, his pointing out her history of five husbands, with a sixth waiting in the wings, may have uncovered to her that she wouldn’t find satisfaction there either. True satisfaction can only be found in God.

Jesus’ teachings offer mankind the path to truth and life (S17). Looking to material means and methods will never meet our deeper spiritual needs. Pursuing a false sense of life obscures the true view (S19). It was Jesus’ spiritual mindedness that enabled him to discern the needs of others (S20). Our Leader tells us there are “millions of unprejudiced minds” still waiting to drink from that fountain of life. She urges us to exercise our spiritual sense, freely share the truths we’re learning, and “never fear the consequences” (S21).

Section 5: Nothing Can Separate Us from Life [See W's PS#1]

After his conversion, the Apostle Paul had a very tough time in his effort to share those waters of living life. He was arrested, beaten, shipwrecked, maligned, and much more, but nothing stopped him. He considered it an honor to suffer for Christ. His devotion was possible because he knew that despite all of it, nothing could separate him from the love of God, and therefore, his life was safe in God (B15).

It appeared once that Paul had been stoned to death (see Acts 14:19), but through faith and prayer he survived. Going through the numerous challenges and healings he did, it’s not at all surprising to me that Paul would have plenty of material to keep him preaching into the night. During one of Paul’s long sermons, a young man named Eutychus fell asleep, and fell from a third story window (B16). It could have been a tragic end to a great event, but Paul didn’t for an instant concede to the picture of death. He declared, “…his life is in him.” Having full confidence in his declaration, he went right back to preaching until dawn. It’s no wonder that the young man survived.

Science and Health calls on us to “remember that Life is God, and that God is omnipotent” (S22), also that “Life has no partnership with death” (S23). If God is omnipotent, Life is omnipotent. Nothing exists to oppose, or contradict it. Mary Baker Eddy fully expects that the apprehension of spiritual life will supersede all belief in material life (S24). Christian Science completely discounts accidents, injuries, or disease as being able to deprive us of life, for Life is God, Mind, and Mind can never be touched by accident or disease.

The marginal heading for citation S25 is “The Christ Treatment.” I’ve mentioned this before, but the method of this treatment is highly important. First, we “never make a reality of disease.” This also holds true for accidents. The challenge is never a physical condition, but only a belief. Next, we’re never to inquire about the history of the disease, never pay attention to laws of health, never give drugs, and “never pray to know if God [is] willing that a man should live.” God is Life. Of course, God wants us to live! The last point is crucial—Jesus knew that “man has not two lives, one to be destroyed, and one to be made indestructible” [emphasis added]. There isn’t a material life here, and a spiritual life somewhere else. There is only one Life, and that’s God; and that Life is here and now!

Understanding this will enable us to give up belief in death, and propel us to the realization of God alone as our Life (S26).

Section 6: Take A Strong Stand [See W's PS#1]

This Lesson ends as it begins, with an alternate translation of Psalm 118:17. It’s the powerful declaration that we will not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord (B17). The psalmist also acknowledges that God freely shows us this joyous path leading to endless pleasures (B18).

Eternal life isn’t being a mortal forever. It’s living in God—sinless, joyful, harmonious, immortal, beautiful, good, painless, and indestructible (S27). Eternal life means coexistence with God—outside of time—in the eternal now (S28). Our lives are safe in God because we are God’s reflection. And as we’ve noted before, a reflection exists in the eye of the observer. That’s the safest place we can be—living in God right now.


LAST CHANCE: Date checks in 2018 & mail today for YEAR-END GIFT DEDUCTIONS:
A humble and hearty thank you to all you good friends who have already given to our recently advertised needs—as well as to those of you who still want to make a big difference in CedarS vital work and outreach blessing in 2019!

While many of you helped us meet our "Maintenance Musts" Match goal of raising $25,000 by December 31 but we still have another match to meet! You can still double your donation though by helping CedarS earn our "Adopt the Herd" $75,000 Match for the horses and riding program. (still ~$51,563 to go by Sept. 30, 2019.)

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THANKS TO YOU PRECIOUS DONORS FOR YOUR ONGOING, GENEROUS and NEEDED SUPPORT OF CedarS IMPORTANT WORK!

CedarS weekly Metaphysical Newsletter is provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers and staff blessed each summer at CedarS, as well as to CedarS alumni, families and friends who have requested it. The Met application ideas above are provided primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and daily demonstrate the great value of studying and applying the Christian Science Bible lessons throughout the year, not just at camp! YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP for weekly emails from past CedarS staff of possible ways to share Bible Lesson applications with older, as well as younger, Sunday School classes by clicking the "Subscribe Now" button (lower left) at http://www.cedarscamps.org/meta

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