There is a special gift in this week's Bible Lesson, Soul and Bod,y and I am very grateful to be reminded of it this morning. Students of Christian Science are familiar with the story of how our Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of this divine Science, had a remarkable experience that lead to this discovery. She had been a devout student of the Bible all her life. She suffered with various ailments during her childhood and adolescence and this followed her into her adult life. It lead to studying other alternative medicine methods being used in her day. Some afforded relief but none gave her a permanent healing. Always, she returned to her Bible.
One day she was walking on an icy sidewalk and had a fall that caused severe injuries. She was taken home, her husband, a traveling dentist, was sent for, and her doctor and her friends did not expect her to survive. Even if she did the injuries would have left her a helpless invalid. She called for her Bible. Here is what happened next in her own words:
"St. Paul writes: "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." "This knowledge came to me in an hour of great need; and I give it to you as death-bed testimony to the daystar that dawned on the night of material sense. This knowledge is practical, for it wrought my immediate recovery from an injury caused by an accident, and pronounced fatal by the physicians. On the third day thereafter, I called for my Bible, and opened it to Matthew IX,2. As I read, the healing Truth dawned upon my sense; and the result was that I rose, dressed myself, and ever after was in better health than I had before enjoyed. That short experience included a glimpse of the great fact that I have since tried to make plain to others, namely, Life in and of Spirit; this Life being the sole reality of existence." (Miscellaneous Writings 24)
Those verses in Matthew are in this week's Lesson which is filled with references to light and the glory of God. What a gift to be reminded of her experience and to remember that she gave the rest of her life to writing our textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, and presenting that Truth to the world that all may come to know God as Good and man as made in His image and likeness. Spiritual healing is as possible now as it was in Jesus' time and when Mrs. Eddy experienced it herself and then began to heal others.
Today I will be thinking about that paralyzed man, brought by his devoted friends into the presence of the Christ. Surely the physicians of his day had pronounced his case hopeless, condemning him to that condition as long as he lived. And at that time, it was thought that such things were the result of having committed sins. How depressing! And I suspect he was pretty unhappy. He and his friends must have heard about this new teacher and preacher who was performing miracles. So he seeks out the one person who might be able to help him overcome the physical problem. Unlike the doctors who pronounced his case incurable and gave him no hope, the Master's first words are 'Son, be of good cheer." What encouragement for any of us who seem to be struggling with a physical problem that does not yield or seems incurable or feeling hopelessly depressed. Be of good cheer, lift up that depressing thought and let go of it. Jesus continues, "thy sins be forgiven thee." The man was given the gift of forgiveness, and being forgiven the sentence was lifted as well.
But they were surrounded by a great multitude, among them Scribes that felt Jesus had no right to forgive sins. They certainly did not want to accept that the man could be and was forgiven. This needed to addressed and Jesus did address it. He shows them that he did indeed possess that power and he tells the man, who has not yet changed his position and moved, to rise up off that bed and go home. Only then did the full healing happen and the man walked away healed and free.
As did Mrs. Eddy. Preserved blameless. We are all blameless in the sight of God, who forgives all our sins and mistakes. His great love lifts us out of any depressing belief that is trying to keep us from seeing and understanding our true status as sons and daughters of God, made in His image and likeness.
I consider this my first Christmas present this year and am so very grateful to be reminded of how this Bible story figures into the discovery and founding of Christian Science.