A Christian Science perspective: When human effort is commendable, but not enough ...
In a YouTube video with more than 2 million views, a mouse hits the jackpot: a giant cookie that’s nearly twice as big as he is. In the minute that follows, he makes several dozen attempts to hoist his unwieldy treasure from the ledge where he discovered it, up to the ledge where he must make his home – quite a reach for a little mouse. As time elapses and his repeated attempts fail, the endeavor starts to seem like Mission: Impossible.
About a minute in, the mouse almost gives up. He nibbles the cookie, as though resigning himself to merely a taste, then leaps up to his ledge, leaving his treasure behind. But that’s not the end of the story. Seconds later, he’s back. And in a most epic triumph, he finds a new approach to cookie-hoisting, scrambling up to the ledge with the cookie grasped firmly in his tiny jaws, and this time, making off with his prize.
I’ve had my own moments when I’ve felt like that mouse. As if I were just one tiny person, struggling with a burden that seemed far too big. Human effort is commendable, but it hasn’t always been enough. Even the willingness to keep persevering can feel as if it’s falling short. But knowing I was created to enjoy and experience the infinitude of God’s love? That’s when that second ledge starts to seem within reach.
To me, the ultimate example of success is Jesus’ life and ministry – a ministry marked by an extraordinary beginning. During Jesus’ baptism, the heavens opened and God’s voice was heard to declare: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
Jesus knew what it meant to be God’s beloved. His dear Son. God’s precious child. He knew, without a doubt, that feeling a constant connection to divine Love was a natural part of existence – that Love was the heart of his ministry and the center of his being. And feeling the security and strength of God’s love was no doubt what enabled Jesus to walk over the waves, to feed the multitudes, even to raise the dead. In short, to confront enormous obstacles with grace and resilience and the knowledge that nothing – nothing – was too big for Love.
Too often, instead of remembering that that same love is also mine to enjoy, I’ve been more like the mouse in his early attempts with the cookie. I’ve tried hard, even valiantly, to persevere and succeed. But when the going has gotten difficult, I’ve felt doubt creeping in. I’ve thought maybe I had to content myself with a nibble of the cookie, instead of the whole thing.
That’s how I felt when a small business endeavor seemed fraught with problems at a critical juncture. We didn’t have the right resources, the right people, and we were facing a tight deadline. One night, I stepped out to get some air and found myself crying. I looked up at the vast sky, wondering, praying, asking God where He was. How could I say He was here when the success we longed for seemed completely out of reach?
And then I felt it. I felt a little of what it means to be God’s beloved. I heard the tender message that God had always been there, and that I was created to see the good that really was present and tangible – even specific to our needs. This was Love’s covenant with me. I felt like the mouse, pausing as success still seemed just out of reach, and then being propelled back. God’s law of love, the one that says that we’re designed to feel and know the fullness of God, nudged me back.
By the time I got home, everything had started falling into place. Several tech issues were solved in the most unusual and creative ways. And all of us involved in the business discovered that we had abilities and know-how we hadn’t even known we’d had.
It didn’t take a pronouncement from the heavens for Jesus to know God’s remarkable love for him, but it’s a good reminder for the rest of us. Each day brings us new proofs of what it means to be loved by the Love that actually constitutes the universe. And knowing the presence and power of this Love imbues all our endeavors with success – be they big, or as small as a mouse’s.