Think about the Story in 1 Samuel 17. The giant, Goliath, challenged Israel, shouting, “Choose your man to meet me. If I kill him, you shall be our slaves.” For forty days, he repeated his challenge. David, a young shepherd, came forward to meet Goliath, putting his trust in God. David chose five smooth stones, and with his sling, ran to meet Goliath. He said, “the battle is the Lord’s, and He will put you all into our power.” One stone later Goliath was dead and his armies turned and ran.
Goliath symbolizes the fears–sickness, substance abuse, war, crime, poverty, mental illness, etc.–that appear so threatening. These fears say, “Fight me; if you lose you’re my slave.” A Goliath may be any collection of materialistic beliefs of “the basic error,” which Mrs. Eddy defines by the term, “mortal mind.” But the problems of our day, no matter how large they appear, are like Goliath. They can’t carry out their threats if they are met with prepared reliance on God. David gives a model for how we can respond to challenges today.
A challenge is a demand to identify ourselves, as in a sentry’s, “Halt! Who goes there?” Our task is to respond with confidence, “We are children of the one God, and we have our place in His kingdom of love, health and harmony.” Many people have had instant Christian Science healing from right identification. But what if the challenge doesn’t let us pass? Are we at the mercy of Goliath?
For years I thought that David was an underdog–Goliath’s armor, sword and spear against a defenseless boy throwing rocks. We’ve seen news photos of young men throwing rocks at a tank, and that’s what I thought of when David met Goliath. But a sling has an effective range of over 100 yards, so David could stay out of Goliath’s reach. Sling stones were up to three inches in diameter and made of flint, a very heavy material. And accurate! Soldiers could sling a stone and nor miss their target by a hair. David was well-armed, indeed. Most importantly, David knew his identity and proclaimed it to Goliath, loud and clear: “I come to thee in the name of the Lord,” with the strength of Spirit and Truth.
David was NOT the underdog, and he knew it! Neither are we underdogs when we face Goliath challenges today.
It is essential to remember where the challenge and the ensuing struggle take place. It’s not at Fern Lodge or in our churches or homes. The call and the battle are wholly within consciousness. Here is an important fact: There is one God; one infinite, eternal, spiritual, divine Mind, who creates and maintains man and the universe, expressed as individual ideas. There appears to be a lie about Mind, claiming that mind is finite, limited, and expressed by lots of mortal minds. This lie seems to generate its own set of conditions, which it calls the physical universe, including the material earth, and man with a precarious sense of health and happiness.
But mortal mind is a lie, and its creation always remains a lying collection of beliefs–beliefs of a lie and about that lie–without a shred of Truth. Many of the beliefs of mortal mind appear dangerous; these are its weapons, and they threaten our health, our happiness, even our lives. But remember that you, God’s spiritual idea, are beyond the range of mortal mind’s weapons. And remember that truth always destroys a lie, as light destroys darkness. In each case, mortal mind is defeated–its beliefs are denied, and its weapons are ineffective. Goliath may have a lot of weapons, but he is killed with one stone.
There are practical applications to this understanding of the powerlessness of mortal mind to keep up any of its threats when it is opposed in the name of God. A man called a Christian Science practitioner for treatment of a cold. With the affirmation in prayer that man is God’s likeness, immune to mortal mind’s belief of sickness, the symptoms quickly vanished AND a cyst disappeared, for which removal surgery had already been scheduled.
On his way to meet Goliath, David selected his stones. He didn’t take just any rock that was lying in the creek bed. Misshapen ones don’t go as far or as accurately as the smooth ones he picked, proven to be hard by tumbling for generations in the stream of life. Let’s select stones that will be effective in meeting the specific challenge Goliath throws down.
Mary Baker Eddy writes of Christ Jesus, “Of the lineage of David, like him he went forth, simple as the shepherd boy, to disarm the Goliath…the three-in-one of error: the world, the flesh, and the devil. ” What were the stones Jesus armed himself with? When tempted by the devil (see Matt 4), he used some of them, and they had the form, “It is written,” followed by a statement in Scripture telling of man’s identity and his proper relationship to God. Jesus, like David, didn’t just believe in God, he believed God. That is, he trusted that if God promised, it would happen.
Remember God’s promises; they are spiritual stones, not just words. Here are just a few: “I am the Lord your God, your Deliverer … Have no fear for I am with you;” “I am the Lord thy God … open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it;” “I am the Lord that healeth thee. ” Each stone we select to put in our bag as we run to meet every Goliath-challenge will be an idea of God’s presence and our identity.
David’s victory over Goliath has special significance for Christian Science nurses. Christian Science nursing demonstrates man’s reflection of God’s care for His children; it is a human expression of God as Mother. The qualities of our Mother-Love are those we associate with womanhood–nurturing, nourishing, cherishing, and bringing out the best in everyone. Remember this idea, and consider the statement, “Materialistic hypotheses challenge metaphysics to meet in final combat. In this revolutionary period, like the shepherd-boy with his sling, woman goes forth to battle with Goliath. ” Woman–the expression of mothering, cherishing, nursing qualities–battles with the materialistic hypotheses which suggest that men and women are merely material, mortal beings, subject to the whims of chance and the sufferings of age, accident, disease, mental decline, and so on. Mrs. Eddy also wrote, “The ideal woman corresponds to Life and to Love,” and to “…faith armed with the understanding of Love.” The battle of faith armed with love describes Christian Science nursing.
We’re not killing big men. We are utterly destroying the appearance of evil in consciousness through the demonstration of divine Principle, Love. We’re standing up with Christ, Truth, in the face of aggressive mental suggestion, that comes disguised as a giant in our thinking, demanding that we be afraid. We are standing up for our true identity in the face of lies and the liar, mortal mind. Now let’s take a look at some challenges and pick out some smooth, tried and true stones of Life and Love that will meet each one with a correct identification of ourselves and overcome Goliath, each appearance of mortal mind.
Challenge #1: Christian Science doesn’t really heal; it’s not as effective as modem medical practice.
“The ancient Christians were healers. Why has this element of Christianity been lost? Because our systems of religion are governed more or less by our systems of medicine. ” We should be clear that our system of religion cannot be governed in any degree by current systems of medicine. We can put off any suggestions that material means and methods are effective in meeting material challenges. Then our stones will be tried and trusted ones, not weakened by the influence of material modes of treatment or health maintenance, and not misdirected by fear of future needs.
Mrs. Eddy wrote, “It has been said that the New Testament does not authorize us to expect the ministry of healing at this period,” and she concluded her response, “…the shepherd’s sling would slay this Goliath.” The promise is, “Stick to the truth of being…you will heal the sick.”
Let me illustrate the aggressive nature of material medical hypotheses. Not long ago I suddenly felt sick. As I prayed for God’s help, I was aware of physical symptoms indicating an internal problem, challenging me to submit. At the same instant, I was aware of a brand of medication, advertised as able to reverse the symptoms I felt. I just laughed out loud. I saw that the Goliath of sickness was nothing more than mortal mind’s description of itself, offering itself to me for acceptance as my experience.
The symptoms, the diagnosis of a specific illness, the medication, and the advertisements for that medicine, were all just one thing, — materialistic hypotheses of mortal mind, the liar and the lies it tells, including the lie that material medicine is more effective than Christian Science. As I laughed, I flung a mental stone of Truth at that liar; I was completely free of the symptoms, which did not return.
Challenge #2: Christian Science doesn’t appeal to people these days.
“Millions of unprejudiced minds-simple seekers for Truth, weary wanderers, athirst in the desert–are waiting and watching for rest and drink. Give them a cup of cold water in Christ’s name, and never fear the consequences….Those ready for the blessing you impart will give thanks. ” Hear this call for us to love and to witness the effects of Love. We need to “reduce to practice the real man’s divine Principle, Love.” Divine Principle, Love, reduced to practice, heals.
It’s natural for Christian Scientists to think of Principle and Love used as equivalents, as synonyms for God. But many people believe that love is something people can give or withhold, and that often loving is just too difficult. It is not yet understood that Love is the very substance and law of man’s being. When our lives bear witness to our nature as active expressions of divine Principle, Love, we will heal. And we will be known as children of God — and as followers of Christ Jesus.
Jesus promised, “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples–when they see the love you have for each other” (John 13:35, The Message). By our love for each other, we will help mankind grasp our Leader’s revelation of Love as divine Principle. I’m comforted by Christ’s promise. To maintain His church, all we have to do is love each other. We don’t have to agree on every theological point, or on how to further the mission of Christian Science, or on what a Christian Science nursing facility or church should look like.
But no matter what else we do, we have to show our love for each other! How? Jesus gives an answer, “This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends,” (John 15: 13). Putting your life on the line for your friends describes Christian Science nursing. Every day nurses put their lives on the line for our friends in Christ. We face Goliath in the fears expressed by patients, in pictures of disease, and in lies of mortality, and we are willing to sacrifice our own comfort to cherish Christian healing.
It was the sacrifices Christ Jesus made, his limitless expression of love, that led Mrs. Eddy to recognize Love as the Principle of the Master’s life. Love is the Principle of our lives, too. And we will sacrifice our wishes, wants, and opinions in order to love. We have to do this. Remember, we are vanquishing the Goliath that claims Christian Science doesn’t appeal to people today. Let’s acknowledge the vital role played by Christian Science nursing in forming the stone of Love which lays that giant to rest.
Challenge #3: Our work is fraught with lack. There are too few Christian Science nurses, and we lack funds for benevolence, and other activities.
Our Father-Mother, Love, tenderly cares for each of His children. Man, as the reflection of God expresses Love’s care everywhere. We cannot be afraid of the Goliath-claim that there aren’t enough Christian Scientists who are willing and able to nurse. We cannot be afraid that a lack of funds will keep us from providing loving care. But to meet these challenges we must understand God’s law of supply and demand, identify ourselves with this law, and run to meet the giant with a practical response.
Science and Health includes a nursing example t0 illustrate the truth of supply and demand. “Florence Nightingale and other philanthropists engaged in humane labors have been able to undergo without sinking fatigues and exposures which ordinary people could not endure…The spiritual demand, quelling the material, supplies energy and endurance surpassing all other aids, and forestalls the penalty which our beliefs would attach to our best deeds.”
Supply and demand are qualities of God, which, like tenderness and might, coincide in all of God’s creation. Man expresses the divine coincidence of supply and demand, and our lives demonstrate the fact that spiritual demands supply whatever qualities are needed to meet them. God’s demand for care supplies each of us with energy and endurance, patience and persistence, mercy and affection, readiness and resources, and so on. The demand and the supply must be inseparable. Lack and insufficiency are aggressive suggestions that are native to mortal mind. Lack is nothing more than mortal mind’s admission to itself that it is not capable of supplying the needs of man.
“God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies.” Animal magnetism may suggest that daily supplies are material things, which man demonstrates. But man is God’s spiritual idea, and spiritual ideas don’t demonstrate material things. When God meets our needs, then that which we call daily supplies–health, nursing staff members, or financial resources–are our objective experience of our understanding of God’s spiritual ideas.
Our understanding of God’s ideas is the work of Christ, the “divine influence ever present in human consciousness, and repeating itself….” Christ comes to the belief of life in matter, and repeats the nature of God, our real identity. As God’s idea, we have no fear or experience of lack, and that’s what Christ repeats to us. We hear what David heard; Goliath is not a threat; we are better armed. We know we are fully supplied. Supply is not the addition of things to material lives, it is Christ’s revelation of the abundance of divine Life and Love to man.
Is another Goliath standing in the valley, shouting a challenge and threatening to enslave us? Let’s pick up some of the plentiful stones lying at our feet, smooth ideas from the Bible and Science and Health, and let’s run to meet the challenge, doing whatever God directs.
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Isaiah 43:3. 5
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