MANY years ago, as a young camp counselor on a hiking trip, I became separated from our group. Soon I knew I was utterly lost. I was angry, too, because I felt I was not fulfilling my responsibilities to the group.
I began to pray about my anger and fear. I was sure God was present to guide me, and that helped to lessen my fear. But at first I couldn't shake my self-imposed fury, and it left me exhausted. Then I turned gladly to God in complete surrender. I remembered a poem I'd learned much earlier in a Christian Science Sunday School. It's called `` `Feed My Sheep' '' (Poems, p. 14) and is by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. It begins:
Shepherd, show me how to go
O'er the hillside steep,
How to gather, how to sow,--
How to feed Thy Sheep . . . .
I became calm in thinking of God as my Shepherd. His power would show me the right way to go. All I had to do was let His love direct me. I felt chastened. A great sense of love and peace filled me.
The search party that found me a little later was guided by the sound of my voice. I was singing a hymn that had that poem as its words. No one teased me about becoming lost. Their relief at finding me and my happiness at being found united us like a team, or even a family. I felt restored. Not just to the correct pathway, but to my original understanding that I could never be lost. I could prove that God's love for me would protect and guide me in any circumstance.
Since that boyhood experience there have been many times I've needed to think about true restoration. Restoration is really a spiritual event. The challenging experiences we all must face can create a strong feeling of loss. In listening to and embracing the wonderful inner voice of trust and love for God, however, each one of us can conquer fear and regret. An awakening to our true relationship as God's beloved, intelligent, resourceful child is what heals us. Through spiritual restoration, our ability to retrace our steps and move in the correct direction is at all times available to us.
It's not always easy to put down the human pride and willfulness that would keep us going in the wrong direction when we should humbly admit we were wrong. Yet the sooner we do, the sooner we will be ready to find--and go forward in--the right direction. In the Bible are many reminders of the true restorative power of God. In Psalms, for example, we read: ``Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. . . . Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free sp irit'' (51:10, 12). Health, happiness, harmony, are man's natural birthright. In the New Testament we read of Christ Jesus' many healings: restoring sight to the blind, speech to the dumb, freedom of movement to the lame. Jesus restored the sick to their natural status of holiness and health. That same divine Love that lay at the root of all Christ Jesus' healing work is active today to guide us home again to wholeness.
Mrs. Eddy writes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``It is our ignorance of God, the divine Principle, which produces apparent discord, and the right understanding of Him restores harmony'' (p. 390). In this true restoration, we are simply turning home again to our Shepherd, divine Love, God. And Love restores us to our rightful place as His children, a place we can never truly leave.