In practically every area of human experience we may observe substitution. On a given day we may deal with a substitute teacher, mail carrier, or bus driver. ''No one is irreplaceable,'' I frequently heard when employed at a large organization.
But most of us dread the thought of being replaceable. Children, parents, and grandparents may complain of being replaced by someone else, or something else, in family relationships. New forms of machinery or technology often replace certain employees.
However, there is one pivotal area of human life where no one and no thing can provide a substitute for you: your relationship with God. Your relationship with God is unique, sacred, and eternal. No one else can fulfill your obligations to your creator, and certainly God does not see any of His children as replaceable.
You are precious to God, and God is eternally devoted to His offspring. God has not created any person or thing to stand between Himself and His creation. God thoroughly and eternally cherishes each one of His offspring. The more we grasp this truth, as presented in the Bible, the less we'll feel vulnerable to being displaced.
Christian Science teaches that God is the only cause, the only creator, our eternal friend. As we recognize this timeless fact, come to feel it through prayer as the reality of life, we see that we can never be forced out of useful service. We discover that no one can take our place in God's family.
Understanding God's constant and practical love for us, we realize that we can never truly lack purpose or appropriate relationships. It is true that our relationships and employment may change as years pass, but understanding our ongoing, eternal relationship to God will cause these changes to bring progress instead of loss. We can learn to be grateful for the good of the past while not allowing it to blind us to the good of the present.
Since we are, in our true selfhood, children of God, we are not ''just another social security number,'' as some have said when referring to themselves. Christ Jesus emphasized the value of each one of us when he spoke of the sparrows that God cares for. (See Matthew 10:29-31.)
We belong to God. God provides His children with all that is rightful and needed. And what our Father gives to us is lasting. He does not provide us with merely temporary joy or temporary usefulness. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes, ''Love gives nothing to take away.'' n1
n1 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 193.
So the good that God, divine Love, gives to His offspring is eternal, though to human perception it may change in form. We need not allow personal opinions, wants, and philosophies to keep us from the satisfying discipline of spiritually accepting the eternal presence of God's goodness.
Today we have the opportunity to recognize and appreciate what God is giving to us. And He is not withholding good from certain of His children. As the Apostle Paul stated, ''The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.'' n2
n2 I Corinthians 12:7.
As we give our relationship with God top priority, our human relationships actually take on deeper meaning and fulfillment. We discover that the elements of true friendship, such as unselfishness and joy, and the elements of true employment, such as satisfaction, purpose, and provision, are as omnipresent as God is.
Knowing that God is constantly caring for man, we progressively abandon the vulnerable feeling of being replaceable. The sometimes jarring changes of human life shake us less as we come to understand the present practicality of God's love.
Right now you and I are very special to God. We always have been and we always will be. No one can stand in or pinch-hit for us in our relationship with Him. There are absolutely no substitutes for you.
1 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 193. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee. Jeremiah 31:3