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Woe unto Them That Are with Child - Jesus
In Luke 21:23, Jesus' prophetic warning, "Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck," is not just a warning for women and mothers about being ready when the Son of man comes, for its meaning is much larger! Since the belief of our finite birth here on earth, we have conceived and nursed our own personal wants and desires and have often given either God or Satan credit for our good or bad fortunes: our health or sickness, our homes or lack thereof, our assets or debts, our good looks or homeliness, our companionship or loneliness, and our joys or sorrows. This is the child that we must not have when the Son of man comes, and here are the reasons why: First, being vainly with child blinds us to His presence, causing us to miss the event entirely. Dull to the spiritual directive, we may think that we are burning in hell when, in reality, Christ, Truth, is scrubbing us clean of some cherished belief. Second, the baggage of any material object, good or bad, slows us down, makes the finite appear divinely inspired or required, and blinds us to the real spiritual intent - the knowledge that Mind is right here, thinking us directly as image and likeness. Life must be discerned spiritually. "Then, when the winds of God blow, we shall not hug our tatters close about us" (SH 201:14).
Mary Baker Eddy said that those who first saw Jesus after the resurrection misconstrued the event. Mary Magdalene's first impression of him was that of a gardener. On the walk to Emmaus, Jesus' friends did not even recognize him until the breaking of bread. His own apostles' first impression of him was that of a ghost; then they recognized and touched his body, identifying the scars of his crucifixion. Only after witnessing Jesus' ascension did his disciples receive the Holy Ghost - the spiritual discernment of his Godlikeness and the true meaning of what he had taught. The first impressions of these eyewitnesses were misconstrued because they were relying on their physical senses for evidence of God's love and care. Even today, the evil that appears to make minds mortal would gladly idolize Jesus' body. These cults call Jesus "God" and look up at the sky to beg him for healthy bodies and material things in an attempt to fulfill their personal desires. Alternatively, "when we understand man's true birthright, that he is 'born, not . . . of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,' we shall understand that man is the offspring of Spirit, and not of the flesh; recognize him through spiritual, and not material laws; and regard him as spiritual, and not material" (Mis 181:15).
When we look to the body for evidence that prayer has healed us, are we misconstruing the event? By Christ's logic, the answer is yes, for all material evidence is misconstrued. The only sure result of prayer is the realization that "I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt 28:20). As I review some of my own experiences, I now see how the problems and the solutions that were presented by grace were molded to some extent by my own naiveté. Although my prayers were humble and honest, in my ignorance, I thought I saw God intervening in my personal affairs and giving me my heart's desires: a place to live, a job, money, and so forth, even describing in great detail where I should go and what I should do. As incredible as these experiences were to me, and as grateful as I was for the obvious spiritual source of good to meet my human need, my first impressions misconstrued the events at the moment in which they were received. By attaching material evidence to answered prayer, I concluded that God gave me these things. Now I see that all the magnificent healings that I had witnessed should have brought me to the understanding that 'I, Spirit, am here to deliver knowledge of salvation.' Of course, all the experiences were the result of grace, but the hungering after righteousness was lost at the moment the material solution appeared and I misconstrued the event. We must stop insisting on physical evidence, even that which appears as the result of prayer, and begin to see that spiritual enlightenment is our primal and only real goal.
To illustrate this point, imagine yourself to be in total darkness in an unknown space. You do not know the consequences of a single move. You call out, and there is no answer. You grope in the dark and find nothing to hold on to; no direction seems better than any other. As you eventually tire of this eventless struggle, you stop wandering. In this moment, you fulfill the mental state of the first Beatitude, being poor in spirit; the physical senses have failed to satisfy you. At last, you know that you have no answer and you get humble. (In your darkest hour, Christ consciousness is available and ready to enlighten you. Christ's first gift is hope, and it always brings enough light to meet your immediate need. Simple good ideas may come to mind that you have not thought of before, waking you up to a better way of seeing.) Before long, in your state of humbleness, you find what you need: food, clothing, a warm blanket, and so on. In gratitude, you thank God for the objects, and your light goes out. So, you get humble again. (Your newfound faith has expanded your view farther than before: now you think God has given you many blessings. You become satisfied with your bounty, telling everyone that God has given you things and circumstances (like a family, meaningful work, and fun). Before long, your light goes out again. Then the process repeats itself over many years: you pray, receive more light, see more objects, become satisfied with the objects, stop praying, and experience the return of darkness.
Thus, spiritual education appears to have stages of progress rather than a continual ascent. This process can be likened to climbing a ladder. The ladder rung, or plateau, is a stationary place that feels secure between the start-and-stop actions of climbing. In your spiritual climb, as you become satisfied with things and circumstances that give you a feeling of security, you reach a plateau in your progress for a while. Do you see how clinging to objects misconstrues the event of enlightenment? Instead, cling to humility! Cling to the light! Cling to the Christ that brought you the light so that you will not wander back into darkness. Earth's shadows are our misconceived and misconstrued children.
If we see our neighbor traveling down a very long road of his choosing, in an effort to give birth to his most cherished beliefs (his children), do we walk by on the other side, asking, "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen 4:9). If so, then we have missed something of Jesus' example. He loved all mankind, waking the receptive mind to the grand reality of being, which is outside of material law. If we want to follow in Jesus' footsteps, we must begin by following his instructions. First, we must establish in ourselves all the mental conditions of the Beatitudes. Second, we must prove his words by our works. Third, we must witness the unveiling of the Son of God from the mount of vision. Jesus has promised us that we can learn his method and impart evidence of Christ to others without making a god out of physical evidence: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt 5:16). The light that shines through us is the prize, and it is the best evidence that we can impart. Mary Baker Eddy called this light Christian Science. Christian Scientists must close the chapter on material sense, witness the mortal molecules disappear, and rise to the Science of being. Soul's formations are permanent spiritual substance. Cling to your identity as a transparency of Soul, and you will bring these "immortal forms of beauty and goodness" into view (SH 503:22).
Standing at the center of all real being,
present with the intelligence of Mind, emblazoned by the light
of Life, Truth, and Love, all creation radiates out from where
we are with infinite range and resolution. We ask, and it is
George Denninger ©
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