IT was early autumn. My friend and I broke camp at sunrise and paddled our canoe out of the Canadian wilderness at midmorning. As we were heading down a long stretch of Basswood Lake on the last leg of our trip, we heard the distinct call of a bald eagle. We looked up and could see four of the birds, circling and soaring on the updraft. We sat still and watched while the huge eagles appeared to grow smaller and smaller as the updraft continued to lift them skyward. When they were little more than specks and it hardly seemed possible that they could travel any higher, they simply vanished, one by one, into the white clouds overhead.
Several times that same week I had read a Bible verse that had particularly arrested my attention. Now, the words seemed to come alive. I felt I was seeing vividly just what the writer of Proverbs must have had in mind when he wrote of the unsubstantial and fleeting nature of materialism. ``Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?'' the writer asks. And then he continues, ``For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.''1
That theme of materiality's inherent impermanence and its inability to satisfy our real needs is found in many places in the Bible. The Saviour, Christ Jesus, taught his disciples that there would always be liabilities attached to worldliness --to ``treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.'' He encour aged his followers not to be anxious or fearful about their needs but to turn wholeheartedly to the one Father of all. ``Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness,'' Jesus said, ``and all these things shall be added unto you.''2
The Christian's trust is required to be in God, in the things of Spirit, not matter. Actually it is only God and His spiritual good that are permanent, truly satisfying. When material riches are viewed as the be-all and end-all of existence, the real purpose in life is missed. To idolize riches is to set up false gods, to turn from the First Commandment; and in doing so, one ultimately finds happiness to be transient, fulfillment elusive.
Writing of the First Commandment, Mary Baker Eddy3 states in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ```Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' (Exodus xx. 3.) The First Commandment is my favorite text. It demonstrates Christian Science. It inculcates the tri-unity of God, Spirit, Mind; it signifies that man shall have no other spirit or mind but God, eternal good, and that all men shall have one Mind. The divine Principle of the First Commandment bases the Science of being, by which man demonstrates health, holiness, and life eternal.''4
God is the giver of all good--all spiritual good--and man is beneficiary to this unfailing, abundant good. Reflecting the one supreme Mind, the man of God's creating--our real identity--is intelligent, always conscious of every idea necessary for fulfilling his divine purpose. Reflecting infinite Spirit, man has substance that is undiminished, unlimited, eternal. Reflecting divine Love, man expresses and feels the unbounded spiritual affection of being God's child.
These are priceless riches, ``things'' that cannot be snatched from us, nor eroded by time, nor depleted by circumstance. Realizing these spiritual riches consciously, bringing them out in the way we conduct our lives--this has a transforming effect in thought and experience. We discover here and now more of the real freedom of dominion over our day-to-day lives. We know real peace. A New Testament epistle says simply, ``Godliness with contentment is great gain.''5
Dominion is the gift of God. In the little things as well as in the larger issues of life, we have this spiritual control and direction when we have only one God and live as though nothing else were more important to us than doing His will. And certainly, nothing else is more important. Having one God truly provides a wealth beyond measure. Spiritual good--the real substance of life--will never fly away.
1Proverbs 23:5. 2See Matthew 6:19-33. 3The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 4Science and Health, p. 340. 5I Timothy 6:6. This is a condensed version of an editorial that appeared in the February 9 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord. Psalms 144:15