Oct 24, 2007 |
by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.
None of us want to waste the precious times of our life. But I suspect we’ve probably all been guilty of doing just that. Oh, how much time I’ve wasted being mad, unhappy, depressed, frustrated, indecisive, complaining, feeling discouraged, overwhelmed!
So, how do we combat these enemies to our joy, peace, progress and success?
I’ve never forgotten an idea a friend shared with me several years ago. The phrase came from a book about Jesus and management — I never knew the title. But the phrase was, “Jesus didn’t allow any energy leaks.”
Nothing could deter him, distract him or stop him from doing his work. He had a clear sense of his mission and his purpose. He was steadfast and centered. But he wasn’t willful or headstrong. Since his work involved obediently following God’s direction, he had to remain ever prayerful and listening for His next instructions.
He maintained his spiritual energy, never allowing any “leaks” that would pull his thought and attention away from his focus. This kept him in a state of readiness, flexibility, openness and willingness.
My friend offered this idea about Jesus, trying to help me get through what seemed like a day of impossible roadblocks at work. It was a day of time constraints, confusion, unclear communication, and backtracking. Ever experience a day like that?
I was just about ready to write the day off as hopeless. At the peak of my frustration, this idea of Jesus not allowing any energy leaks was compelling. I felt like I was running on low fuel, so the thought of being able to stop energy leaks was very desirable.
I considered how the master of the Master Way remained calm and focused on his work when confronted by multitudes with many different needs. Or how he was able to express dominion and confident resolve while doing his work even in the midst of angry and jealous peers.
Deciding perhaps it was possible for me to take the example of Christ Jesus as my problem-solving model, I began a new approach with each calamity that presented itself. This required a response-change on my part — to remain calm regardless of the circumstance. And it worked! With the calming of any would-be anxieties, stress or pressure, came peace, freshness, and new views — spiritual energy. I felt refueled to tackle anything.
With additional challenges — and there were more — solutions came quickly. I resolved to maintain my spiritual poise and not allow any “energy leaks.” What a day! Instead of a day of everything going wrong, much was accomplished and deadlines were reached.
I’ve often thought about the lessons learned that day.
There are many enemies to our joy and peace — sickness, pain, worries, and a myriad of fears. But my spiritual energy lesson has taught me that a calm and spiritually poised response leads to healing and progress. As I’ve been successful at not allowing any energy leaks, I’ve found myself prepared and equipped to handle whatever comes my way.
Oct 13, 2007 |
by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.
When I think of Easter, I think of one of the most precious gifts Christ Jesus gave to mankind. The promise of resurrection – of life, and not of death.
At this time of year, many focus on the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. I embrace his crucifixion as the supreme model of unconditional love and forgiveness. He unselfishly bore our infirmities. And I’m humbled.
But I can’t stop there. Especially in light of the fact that the crucifixion was not the end of the story. Evil didn’t win the day. How important for humanity that his life example continued with his resurrection and ultimately, his ascension.
Renowned spirituality and health author, Mary Baker Eddy, writes much about the life and works of Christ Jesus and shares poignant ideas about the meaning of his example. These ideas are found in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
Of his crucifixion she wrote, “Despised and rejected of men, returning blessing for cursing, he taught mortals the opposite of themselves, even the nature of God; and when error felt the power of Truth, the scourge and the cross awaited the great Teacher.” And she describes the cross Jesus carried “up the hill of grief” as “the world’s hatred of Truth and Love.”
Truth, as well as Life and Love, are among many Biblical synonyms for God, and error, the opposite of Truth, is one of many names Eddy uses synonymously with evil. And unfortunately, mankind has often found itself being misguided and controlled by evil in some form or fashion – dishonesty, jealousy, hypocrisy, slander, hate and all the etceteras.
Many have questioned why Jesus allowed his enemies to crucify him since they believed he had the power to stop them.
But might that be where one of the incredible lessons of the resurrection comes in? He allowed his enemies to attempt the destruction of his mortal life. But his resurrection gave us proof of his immortal life. And as Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Nothing could kill this Life of man.”
What a promise for each of us!
His example teaches us that we can never be separated from Life, God — the source of our spiritual, indestructible, eternal life.
Can’t this knowledge also become our resurrection, in a sense, right now?
Think of the many ways we may feel like we’re being crucified today.
Overwhelmed with debt that seems impossible to get out of. Battered with illness leaving our body weary for peace. Depressed with loss and loneliness with dim prospects of a brighter tomorrow. Feeling misunderstood or not appreciated.
Might Easter give us the promise of being resurrected from such crucifixions?
Remember the disciples’ mistaken grief over the death of their Master. And their hesitancy to believe his resurrection could really happen. Christ Jesus later upbraided them for their unbelief, as the Gospel of Mark tells us.
Have we given up hope?
Perhaps it’s possible to believe no more that something can forever destroy our hope and peace – or even our health.
Is it possible that such knowledge, such confident expectation, could roll away the stone from our tomb of despair?
What if the revival of our faith and hope could bring renewed strength, regenerated courage and restored confidence. Such a faith might proclaim that nothing can extinguish our health, our hopes, our dreams, and our peace that is given by God to all of his beloved children.
And today could be an Easter for you and me!
Oct 13, 2007 |
by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.
Surveys have stated that millions of Americans pray regularly. And millions believe prayer can have a healing effect.
University medical school studies continue to test the medicinal power of prayer on recovery from illness or injury. And the findings remain varied and inconclusive. Consequently, newspaper headlines also tell an inconsistent story: “Prayer no help to sick” . . . “Prayer works as a cure” . . . “Prayer’s effect on health called nil” . . . “Healing power of prayer revealed”.
I suspect that no university study examining the influence of prayer on health would be considered definitive, even in the academic community. Therefore, the underlying question for me is why should scientists and physicians continue to test prayer?
Perhaps Christ Jesus knew the answer to such a question when he said, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” Maybe the creators of these studies are unconsciously looking for “signs and wonders.” The very fact that such studies are happening cannot help but admit to the possibility of “wonders”, even if the motivation of some of them at the outset was to dispute such claims.
It’s not unusual to doubt or question when one hears of healings reported as a result of prayer. Even one of Christ Jesus’ closest disciples – Thomas – doubted that his Master could have been resurrected from death. But didn’t Thomas want to believe?
So one might describe studies exploring and probing the effects of prayer as symbolically crying out like the father of a sick son who cried out to Jesus, “Lord I believe; Help thou mine unbelief.”
I understand this hope-filled cry. My heart has sung that tune many times. Time and again I’ve caught glimpses of the omnipotence and allness of God and my inseparable relationship to God as His beloved daughter. I would be among the 41% of Americans who said they had been cured of illness or had their conditions significantly improve as a result of prayer. (Yankelovich Partners Survey 1999) Even still, moments of doubt, uncertainty and fear have brought me to my knees to reckon with my unbelief.
I can’t imagine a formula for testing prayer that can be effectively implemented, analyzed, measured or evaluated. Surely, prayer is as uniquely spiritual and individual as the individual doing the praying. Lack of healing results in a medical study on prayer would never cause the faith-filled to stop praying.
We read in the Gospel according to St. Matthew of a lunacy case the disciples were unable to heal. Jesus responded, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.” Jesus healed him. But his disciples asked why they could not heal him to which Jesus answered, “Because of your unbelief….”
Christ Jesus instructed, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” In her writings on prayer in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “The Hebrew verb to believe means also to be firm or to be constant.” She explains the Biblical injunction, “Believe…and thou shalt be saved!” as demanding “self-reliant trustworthiness, which includes spiritual understanding and confides all to God.”
So why do I pray?
Because I believe Christ Jesus’ words are a promise. A promise for all people in all times. And surely for all conditions and situations. I mean Jesus did say “And all things.” I’m praying to understand more fully what this means.
Oct 13, 2006 |
Do you believe in miracles?
I’ve read lots of theological definitions of a miracle but I think many of us might simply define a miracle as that which is unlikely, impossible or unexpected, but yet it happens. Being a country music fan, I was inspired by Joe Nichol’s song, “The Impossible.” In fact, I would say it’s a song about miracles. And these words from his song sum up my belief in miracles: “I’ve learned to never underestimate the impossible.”
People everywhere long for something. For better health, for improved self-image, for a happier and more satisfying life, for peace, for purpose, for security, for safety, ….
What miracle do you seek? Do you believe it’s obtainable?
The Bible offers some assurances. Matthew, Mark and Luke all wrote that “all things are possible with God.” I’m sure this trio saw the apparently impossible proved possible more than a few times.
Jesus told us faith can move mountains. Of course this kind of faith sounds like it requires belief that the impossible is truly possible before we can witness it.
Considering the virgin birth of Jesus itself gives us reason to think that what may seem to be miraculous and unbelievable can happen. Perhaps that’s why the Christmas season inspires my childlike enthusiasm that wishes can come true, that dreams can become realities, and that anything is possible.
The Bible is filled with accounts that stagger the imagination. Again and again good conquers evil, the incurable are healed, the impossible is proven possible. Biblical scholar, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, “The so-called miracles contained in Holy Writ are neither supernatural nor preternatural; for God is good, and goodness is more natural than evil.”
Christmas fills my heart with hope and my soul with expectation. Believing anything is possible opens us to new ways of seeing – a change in our point of view. When the premise for our viewpoint has no limits, then strong is our faith, firm is our hope and great is our expectation.
We can begin by noticing what seem like everyday miracles. Look at the stars on a clear night. What could be more awe-inspiring than the fact that the universe exists – that you and I exist? That each of us must surely be here for a purpose?
What could be more incredible than the profound statement of hope written by Anne Frank in her diary from her hiding place in Nazi Germany: “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart”?
Many times in my life it’s been proven to me the impossible can become possible and the unlikely and unexpected can be naturally and assuredly experienced. That I could go to college even though I had no money and was uncertain how the tuition would get paid. That I could meet the man who would become my husband for 24 years and counting. That I could have a baby. That I could be freed of pain when medication didn’t work. That I could love and be happy where I live. My list could go on and on. I could write a book telling about all the “miracles” of my life. I bet you could, too.
If we open our eyes and deepen our perception, we will see miracles all around us. Albert Einstein says, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Keeping my heart filled with hope and expectation, I will never underestimate the impossible again. Thanks, Joe Nichols, for your song of promise! As the French proverb says, “There are no miracles for those that have faith in them.” For those that believe, what seems impossible is possible!
Oct 13, 2006 |
by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.
With all the hype, how could I not see the film, The Passion of the Christ, ― although I was not the first in line?
First, I watched Mel Gibson interviewed on TV explaining his motives and hopes for the movie. There were countless published dialogues with theologians and religious leaders to read as well as editorials by religion editors and guest columnists. Not to mention participation in the on-line chats and discussion boards. And yes, I re-read the Gospel accounts. Yet perhaps more intriguing is a chapter titled, “Atonement and Eucharist” found in the book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy.
Long before the movie, I was caught up in the stir of a pre-Easter examination of what the sacrifice and triumph of Jesus meant to humanity, then and now.
I can tell you I was initially surprised by my reaction to the movie. As one who tends to get squeamish confronted with graphic violence and suffering on-screen, my usual practice would be to avoid that type of show. But after reading a comment on the website www.spirituality.com, “…can I not watch 126 minutes with him,” I decided to go. In fact, my eyes rarely left the screen.
During the movie I felt strength, love, awe, humility, and spiritually empowered. And a deepened desire to be obedient to Jesus’ teachings and to follow his example.
Expectation has a direct effect on results in any situation, including watching a movie. My view of Jesus as Master, Way-shower, Teacher, and Exemplar entered the theater with me. My expectations for watching The Passion of the Christ were from the perspective of a student. Open and eager for learning, I anticipated lessons, and expected to be taught and was.
For me, “The Passion” was a classroom as is the entire life and ministry of Jesus. But class didn’t end with the crucifixion. It continues with lessons learned from the resurrection and 40 days later with the ascension. Of course, Mel’s movie didn’t tell the whole story of Jesus, but for me there was never a moment that Jesus appeared to be a helpless victim. To the contrary, there was never a moment when Jesus wasn’t continuing to teach and heal. Could his most profound lesson be his teachings on love? If so, what kind of love?
A love that can forgive those who falsely accused and tortured him, even as he hung on the cross.
How many times have I felt defeated or thought about revenge when friend or foe did something to deliberately hurt me?
A love that could express compassion toward his grieving mother while he himself was suffering.
How many times have I been too self-absorbed to express compassion to another in need?
A love that could offer comfort and heal others, not only while suffering himself, but also in the midst of his enemies.
How many times has a sense of inadequacy stopped me from sharing a hopeful message or fear kept me from saying what I know is true, because criticism or laughter might follow?
Watching “The Passion” has increased the fervency in my heart and soul for Jesus’ commandments: Love one another. Love thy neighbor. Love thy enemy. Bless them that curse you. Do good to them that hate you. Pray for them, which despitefully use you and persecute you. All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. And what about the commandment regarding his works when he said, He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also. Consider his healing works and the possibilities of this promise!
In Science and Health, Eddy writes, “To keep the commandments of our Master and follow his example, is our proper debt to him and the only worthy evidence of our gratitude for all that he has done.” Gratitude fills my heart to have been reminded of the sacrifice and triumph of Jesus, and reminds me to commemorate his lessons to humanity by obeying his words, If ye love me, keep my commandments.