Protected from life's realities or proving them?
I chuckled. The cartoon in my local newspaper depicted a man feeding his dog and remarking to the patient canine, ''Next time around, I want to be like you - protected from life's realities.'' n1
n1 Jim Berry, "Berry's World," Copyright (c) 1982 by NEA, Inc.
I've felt like that cartoon character sometimes; no doubt we all have. Maybe our day at the office or with the kids has been a hectic one; maybe the list of bills to be paid seems never ending; maybe it's even the ''reality'' of disease or global conflict that has us wishing we could find a quiet place to hide from our cares and let the world go by.
Protection can be found. However, it lies not in escaping from the world, or even in fortifying ourselves against it, but in discovering what the present realities of being really are - and the consequent illegitimacy of strife or stress of any sort.
The unshakable, all-encompassing reality of life is the Biblically supported fact that God, good, is supreme, filling all space, and that man is His spiritual image. Although the physical senses may argue to the contrary, the irreversible truth of the matter is that there is no genuine power other than God - no condition that can threaten His cherished offspring, man, the real selfhood of each one of us.
Wasn't it on this basis of the supremacy of God, and the perfection of His spiritual creation, that Christ Jesus found protection from mortality's most menacing ''realities'' - angry mobs, violent storms, and ultimately death itself? The Master, however, didn't reserve to himself some kind of select protection; he proved the reality of God and the insubstantial, fleeting nature of discord for those around him and for all mankind.
The truths of God and man - the realities of being - are demonstrable today. They provide a scientific haven of good for the world-weary, a foundation on which to recognize and prove the harmony of life by demonstrating the illusory nature of what seem to be mortality's entrenched ''realities.''
In an address to her followers, under a section titled ''No Reality in Evil or Sin,'' Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''Do Christian Scientists believe that evil exists? We answer, Yes and No! Yes, inasmuch as we do know that evil, as a false claim, false entity, and utter falsity, does exist in thought; and No, as something that enjoys, suffers, or is '' Farther on she adds, ''We regard evil as a lie, an illusion, therefore as unreal as a mirage that misleads the traveller on his way home.'' n2
n2 Message to The Mother Church for 1901, p. 14
It may seem naive, even downright foolish, to declare that harmony not discord, health not sickness, Spirit not matter, are the sole realities of being. There certainly is no question that it requires great courage, humility, and spiritual vision to seek refuge, not by shutting oneself off from the world, but by standing in the midst of it and prayerfully acknowledging the omnipotent presence of God.
But in standing for God, we are never alone. He stands with us even in the most challenging times; in fact, He tenderly embraces us. A friend once shared an American Indian proverb with me that I have loved because it hints at this always present deific care: ''Sometimes I go about pitying myself, and all the while I am being carried on great winds across the sky.'' The Bible tells us plainly in Moses' words to the children of Israel: ''Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day . . . . The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.'' n3
n3 Exodus 14:13, 14.
When life seems dark or lonely, when we feel beset by pressures, we can, through prayer, discover the spiritual realities of life right where we are - realities that ultimately override mortality and its deceptive claims and reveal in their stead the harmony of our Father-Mother's tender, enduring presence. DAILY BIBLE VERSE My brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God. Ephesians 6:10, 11