Journeys of faith and discovery
Originally printed as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel
Perhaps we each begin our religious and spiritual search for different reasons. Some of us may have felt lost in a world of confused values and uncertain outcomes. What is my life really worth; what does it all mean; is there a purpose for me? we may wonder. Some of us might be disappointed with what our lives have so far accomplished. We want and need more. Some may be sick or in pain - searching for healing and divine comfort. Some may be struggling with sin. We all want to be free and to feel clean.
Some of us are seeking truth simply because we're impelled to. We're moved by an unstoppable desire to know the reality of God - to experience His loving presence and power in our hearts and our lives.
An observer could argue that among these varied reasons, some motives are perhaps better than others. Yet if we're feeling the need for a deeper spiritual purpose - if we're yearning to know God - is one reason really better than another? Is that for anyone else to judge? Isn't it enough that we've actually begun that journey of faith and discovery? God can surely take care of the rest.
It's true that Christ Jesus did provide guidance for his followers when he explained how hard it is, how impossible, to serve both "God and mammon," Spirit and materialism. He observed how short-lived are the search and faithfulness of those who are seeking after "loaves and fishes" - searching only for more and better materiality rather than for the pure Word of God. Still, Jesus welcomed all those who came to him for healing, redemption, enlightenment - even sinners. And he healed them, lifted them out of sin, taught and inspired them. "Follow me" was an open invitation to the sincere and humble.
Earlier this year, an editorial in The Christian Century raised a warning to readers about undertaking the journey of faith simply because religion has in recent years received a degree of clinical validation through medical tests (Jan. 27, 1999, pg. 77). The writer made it clear that he wasn't discounting medical studies and reports on the health benefits of the "faith factor" as though they were merely commending religion as some sort of "nutritional supplement or a leafy green vegetable - something to add to one's life just to be on the safe side."
But he was suggesting that when faith has a measure of real depth and unselfish, God-centered purpose to it, "the actual journey of faith" has a lasting, solid foundation from which we can move forward.
The writings of Mary Baker Eddy, who established the Monitor almost a hundred years ago, often encourage the seeker on his or her personal journey of faith and discovery. They comment on how individual that search will be for each of us. Mrs. Eddy knew this well from her own long experience. And that, to discern and follow God's direction, qualities of faithfulness, patience, humility, persistence, sincerity, consistency, are vital.
Eddy wrote: "Individuals are consistent who, watching and praying, can 'run, and not be weary;... walk, and not faint,' who gain good rapidly and hold their position, or attain slowly and yield not to discouragement.... When we wait patiently on God and seek Truth righteously, He directs our path" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 254).
This column supports each person's own search for spiritual purpose and direction - the individual journey of faith and discovery that leads to a deeper understanding of God and divine reality. What brings divine power directly to human experience is discovering more of God's true nature as pure Spirit, unbounded Love, universal Principle, Mind, Soul, Life, eternal Truth. And realizing more of our own true being as God's good, spiritual creation. This enables us to know the real meaning and purpose of life. To be healed, redeemed, and transformed.
The journey, the seeking, is to be honored wherever it is occurring.
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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society