AS children we used to play in the woods near our school. One day I discovered a small clearing in the trees where the sun streamed onto a fallen branch. In that beautiful spot I felt the presence of God. I called it ``the church'' and would sometimes return there to pray. Years later when I became a student of Christian Science, I no longer associated the presence of God with a special place. I was beginning to learn that God, omnipotent, universal Love, is the actual Life and substance of all being, and therefore is always present to care for our needs. Not only can we feel the presence of God, but by humbly yielding in prayer to the fact of spiritual being and its harmony, we can increasingly experience His healing power.
Some philosophy insists that since thoughts and feelings about God's presence are not based on physical evidence, they can't, in the final analysis, be shown to be true. Yet the practical religion of Christ Jesus proved the existence and power of God through the healing of sin and disease. Questioning those whom he perhaps felt should better recognize the practical implications of his Christly proofs of God's power, Jesus said, ``Ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?''1
Mankind needs to understand better the depth of Jesus' teachings and the availability of God's power to the sincere student of those teachings. Clearly, something more than speculation is required to prove God's presence, and yet drawing conclusions from the basis of material evidence has not resolved mankind's difficulties.
What is needed is a better understanding of the divine nature and presence that Jesus taught and proved. The tendency to make a god of matter clouds this understanding. It hides from view the power of the only true God, who is Spirit, as the Bible teaches. Spirit is the Life and Principle of all real being, whereas mortals tend to view matter as the source of life and material laws as controlling existence.
Because our creator is Spirit, the actual identity of man is concretely spiritual, safe in God's ever-present care. Our eyes may deny this, but this is precisely the fleshly sense of life that underlies human ills. ``Our false views of life hide eternal harmony, and produce the ills of which we complain,''2 writes the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy.
When, through prayer, we become convinced of man's spiritual wholeness in God's presence and disbelieve the supposed validity of disease, healing takes place. This was proved to me when our young son woke one night because of severe pain in an ear. As I held him and prayed, it was clear that one could not afford to have a speculative or theoretical sense of God's power and presence in a situation like this. If divine Love was indeed present and supreme, then the evidence of pain was illegitimate and could not govern the child. I saw that this spiritual truth--because it is truth--was law to the situation; that God was present and nothing unlike His nature had genuine power or authority. After I had prayed along these lines for a short while, the pain stopped and the child fell asleep. The next morning it was clear that all was well.
We learn of God's presence by degrees. We increasingly experience His loving, intelligent control as we become willing to forsake the belief that our existence can possibly be separate from our creator, from the one almighty God.
1Matthew 16:3. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 62. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. Psalms 42:11