HAVE you ever noticed how things you've eagerly anticipated, yearned for, even determinedly pursued, often seem to fall short of your expectations? And how rich and meaningful those unexpected moments of happiness can be -- an especially beautiful sunset that occurs during your drive home from work or the smile of a child you pass on the street? The difference isn't in the experiences so much as it is within us. Christ Jesus pointed out, as Luke records, ``The kingdom of God is within you.'' In other words, harmony, or heaven, isn't up in the sky or ``out there'' to be found in some situation, circumstance, person, location, time, or possession. The harmony, peace, and joy we experience stem from our consciousness of God -- of His goodness and allness. But these joys are apt to be overlooked if one is seeking for joy in external things and events.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says of the kingdom of God in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``This kingdom of God `is within you,' -- is within reach of man's consciousness here, and the spiritual idea reveals it. In divine Science, man possesses this recognition of harmony consciously in proportion to his understanding of God.''
This is not to say that we should just sit around waiting for good to fall automatically into our laps. Gaining a greater understanding of God and of our true identity as His children takes effort. As we are more receptive to the ``still small voice'' of God that gives us spiritual ideas, these, in turn, provide for our daily needs.
Not too long ago I had an experience that showed me God's blessings. I had planned to spend some time away from family duties to accomplish a special project. I must admit that I was counting on this time for quiet refreshment as well as for an opportunity to get my work done. But as the time drew near, it was apparent that we couldn't afford the expense of the trip.
I was disappointed at first, but I resolved to know that my happiness was not subject to circumstances. I didn't need to be somewhere else either to be happy or to accomplish my project, but could trust that God would provide everything I needed.
Unexpectedly, a relative called to invite me to accompany her by car to her vacation home, as she had business there. The trip cost me nothing, and I readily accomplished my project in this quiet atmosphere. My family was beautifully cared for during my absence. A spirit of unsought joy undergirded the whole week.
Finding our joy in God truly blesses us as the natural outcome of God's law of infinite care for His children. Since spiritual supply comes through God's ideas, it shouldn't surprise us if money, time, and space are seen to be less of a factor in meeting our needs. As we turn to God, we'll find a foundation of meaningful satisfaction supporting all of our experiences.
One of my favorite hymns, found in the Christian Science Hymnal, tells us:
Only God can bring us gladness,
Only God can give us peace; Joys are vain that end in sadness,
Joy divine shall never cease.
No matter what the sought-after joy -- a marriage partner, a vacation, a loved one present -- matter will never in and of itself satisfy us. God's love alone satisfies. And when we trust that God loves and blesses all His children, we will come increasingly to bear witness to God's law of love, meeting every need we have in legitimate, appropriate, and enduring ways.