Staying on course—paddle! by MARCIA HUFSTADER Member, Third Church of Christ, Scientist Yesterday some friends and I were kayaking in a big lake. The waves weren’t huge, but significant, and the wind was blowing. In order to stay on our course we had to keep paddling. If we stopped paddling we’d get blown off course, lose ground and be broadside to the waves. There was no urgency to what we were doing and no danger; we were having a great time, but it definitely reinforced a metaphor for life for me. Sometimes it seems when goals are set there are obstacles in the way, “outside forces” that distract, and problems that arise and slow the process down. If those are the waves and the wind, what do you do? You keep paddling! The “paddling” of life comes in many forms. For me it’s prayer—a deep recognition and contemplation of God being good and being all and directing each of my steps. Recognizing that God is all good, that He is so loving that we can think of “Love” as a name for Him, and understanding that He is the governing divine Principle of the universe including all of his children, helps me let go of human will and trust His direction. Because God, who is good, is an infinite intelligence or divine Mind, why would I look to another source for intelligence or direction? I have found human will to be one of the biggest winds and waves of life that slows down my growth. Human will and preconceived notions of what is right are obstacles that keep me from seeing God’s purpose and direction for me. When I change my thought and look to Him for help I find the paddling is without fear and safe, joyful and fulfilling. The paddling (praying) takes work, diligence and perseverance and the obstacles sometimes seem to never end, but eventually I do get better at negotiating them. Referring to Jesus’ struggles, Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Yet he swerved not, well knowing that to obey the divine order and trust God, saves retracing and traversing anew the path from sin to holiness.” Christ Jesus stuck to his course with humble prayers and unconditional love through the assurance of […]
Angel Messages by MARCIA HUFSTADER member, Third Church of Christ, Scientist “Angels we have heard on high,” the words from a well-known traditional French carol, are words we can all claim today and every day when we are hopeful, faithful and listening for God’s messages. In the carol, the angels were telling the shepherds about “Christ the Lord, the newborn King.” This newborn King showed us the way to heal. We can hear that message, too, ultimately the message about the healing power of the Christ that Jesus so clearly taught throughout his ministry. “Angels: God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality.” This definition Mary Baker Eddy gives in her primary book, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” has been so helpful to me as I listen for guidance in relationships, employment, direction—in everything. Because we are all God’s children we are spiritual, so those “spiritual intuitions” are natural and specific to what our needs are at every moment. We can feel the inspiration of goodness and follow it. The inspiration of purity, as a result of God’s love for us, naturally counteracts any action that could be harmful to anyone, including ourselves. These angel messages, of the healing power of the Christ, continue to be with us here today. What Jesus taught us is timeless. We can’t be separated from the lessons that he so unselfishly gave the world. It’s the divine Principle that underlies the function of the universe, including man. We can utilize this Principle as surely as we can utilize the principle of mathematics. The laws that Jesus taught, starting with loving God with all our heart and our neighbor as thyself, lead us all in the right direction. God’s angel messages will speak to all of us and lead to the same healing power that Jesus taught. We just need to be willing and expectant.
Struggles—good or bad? by MARCIA HUFSTADER Third Church of Christ, Scientist One answer to the question “Good or bad?” could be: It’s all in how you handle it. While mowing the lawn the other day, I found myself singing a song I danced to when I was six years old. Part of the lyrics go like this: “Though April showers may come your way, they bring the flowers that bloom in May; and if it’s raining, have no regrets; because, it isn’t raining rain, you know, it’s raining violets.” Analogies can only be taken so far, but this made me think about how we interpret our experiences, our struggles. In this song the rain could symbolize our challenges and struggles. Sometimes struggles get the better of us, especially ones that have gone on and on. We might find ourselves focusing on the struggles and how to get out of them, how to manage them, or how to avoid them. In the midst of it all, maybe we need to look for the blessings instead of the pain, the flowers instead of the rain. Just knowing that there is a good side to every challenge or struggle can be helpful and hopeful; it can give us a reason to go on and proceed with even an ounce of joy. That ounce of joy does wonders. Maybe that’s the type of leaven that Paul refers to in the Bible (Galatians 5:9): “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Sometimes all that’s needed is to add even one little part of joy, hope, forgiveness or perspective to our thinking process so that we can start seeing that the situation isn’t as bad as we thought. I read and study another book along with the Bible, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy. I have found comfort and assurance in its pages as I have faced challenges and struggles. One of the statements I have found helpful is, “The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares.” This is especially assuring when we think of another statement from the Bible (1John 4:16), “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. […]
Family Ties by MARCIA HUFSTADER member, Third Church of Christ, Scientist What is it that binds us together or breaks us apart? What is it that makes us want to be with some people and not with others? Sometimes we face these feelings within our own families and sometimes in our circle of friends. Is there a way to always feel harmony and peace within relationships? Wouldn’t it be great if the solution was a simple one and we could flip a switch and all would be perfect? The Bible teaches us that the solution to keeping happy and strong relationships with both friends and family is grounded in our love for God, divine Love. When we do love God, who is all good, it is natural to love His creation: our fellow man. It becomes a joy, not a burden, to follow Peter’s admonition to “…see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently,” (KJV) I Peter 1:22. That doesn’t give much room for dislike. When we begin to understand God, good, to be the only Creator and His creation to be His “image and likeness” as Genesis 1 (KJV) tells us, we no longer see others as unkind, jealous, envious, dishonest, uncaring, selfish or arrogant. We literally change our perspective and see a new view, God’s view of His creation. This view, through understanding God better, will overrule and replace any negative feelings we have about family, friends or foes. Challenges will most likely come up in our day-to-day activities. In her book, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy explains the importance of following Jesus’ example of loving others, stating, “Love must triumph over hate.” It’s that action—to love with “a pure heart fervently,” consistently and with great expectation—that brings progress to relationships. This strengthening of family and friendship ties is worth all the discipline it takes to be sure we are thinking about people the same way God thinks about them. It’s a responsibility that we can’t pass off to others. Each day it’s a joyous endeavor.
The power of gratitude by MARCIA HUFSTADER member of Third Church of Christ, Scientist Grand Rapids Every day the news is filled with signs of anger, resentment, uncertainty and dishonesty. What is there to be grateful for, and does gratitude do any good? Sometimes it takes searching our heart, searching our inner thoughts, to feel a deep sense of gratitude, a feeling of profound thanks for all that is good. Starting with the fact that God is good and therefore can produce only good, opens up wonderful vistas. Being grateful every time we see an expression of happiness and peace will begin to replace the anger that we hear about. Understanding God’s immeasurable gifts to everyone will replace the resentment we see or feel. Knowing that God, good, is in control and perfectly governing His “image and likeness” will remove uncertainty. Recognizing that we are complete ideas of God, equipped with all that we need to fulfill our purpose, dishonesty can be wiped out. Looking for and recognizing all the good going on in day-to-day life, is an action step that brings our life into harmony with God, divine Mind. This action is a step of gratitude that results in blessings, because we are more aware of God’s presence. With these blessings we feel free of anger, and we want to help others. We have no resentment; bitterness falls away, and we feel at peace. That peaceful feeling is an action that attracts others you can help. When thoughts are filled with gratitude, there is no room for any other thoughts to abide. Yes, being grateful has wonderful results. Christ Jesus set a great example of gratitude by actively expressing thanks “before” the results were seen. So, even though things don’t look so great in the news, if we all actively give thanks right now for what we know to be true about our God-given peace, love, certainty and honesty, it will be an action step that makes a difference. “Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech.” Mary Baker Eddy writes about this idea in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Gratitude is a way of life.