Watching Point 107
From 500 Watching Points by Gilbert Carpenter
Click here to play the audio as you read:
107 — WATCH lest you permit a human estimate or attitude to blind you to the true and divine significance of your human experiences. This is an important point, since it is your attitude towards anything that determines how it will affect your progress. A postman who complains and grumbles about the long distances he has to walk, gets no benefit from the walking. But if he regards it as training for a marathon, he will rejoice in it, and thus profit by it.
In order to harden steel, so that it will be stronger and retain a sharp edge longer, it must be heat treated. It is heated red hot and then plunged into cold water, or oil. Perhaps the divine purpose back of some of our trials in this dream, that seem to swing between discord and harmony, is to sharpen our spiritual sensibilities, so that we can separate between the false and the true, and make nothing of every phase of this mortal dream.
Steel would receive no temper unless it was both heated and chilled. A student might retreat to some quiet place in order to gain a sense of God’s nearness, far removed from the upsetting contacts with the world, — but of what value would such a sense of good be? It would not wear well. It would be so fragile, that the first human storm arising from contact with mortal mind would shatter it. How can we ever declare that none of these things move me, until we have proved it?
It is God’s dear purpose that we should make progress under difficulties and obstacles as well as in peaceful times, in order that our sense of God may be strong and able to endure. The divine purpose back of much of the discord in our branch churches is to train students, so that they may be able to hold to God under all kinds of pressure.
Some smoking stands are made with a round weighted base, so that if they are pushed to the floor, they will at once bob upright. The Christian Science organization is supported by God. If it seems to lean over and be in dan- ger, this is only to train members to rally to its support. By its very ups and downs, it is valuable in bringing forth spiritual exercise; more so than as if it appeared always to be safe and secure.
It is our attitude toward every experience that matters. If we whine, complain, or wonder why God is picking on us, when we get into hot or cold water, then we will get little spiritual growth. Once a man was thrown into a pit. Instead of becoming angry, when people threw stones at him, he used the stones to build steps, on which he climbed up to freedom.
Jesus says in Matt. 10:22, “He that shall endure to the end shall be saved.” This ability to endure is gained only as we learn to maintain our spiritual thought under all human difficulties and problems; but what good will such difficulties do us, if, like the complaining postman, we grumble? Does a wise student bemoan the fact that he cannot seem to maintain human harmony all the time? Does he look upon a problem as a badge of shame, as if it exposed his lack to other students who are demonstrating more human harmony? It would surely spell an end to spiritual growth, if one could maintain harmony in matter.
What would be the value of a consciousness of God, and an understanding of Christian Science, that had not been toughened and strengthened so that it could endure to the end? When one has the right attitude toward human persecution and affliction, he will never be ashamed of his problems, nor will he personalize the channels through which such experiences come to him. Rather will he rejoice at whatever plunges him into a hot or cold experience. He will perceive that it is Love’s plan and Truth’s way of training him to endure. A prospective aviator is put through gruelling tests to develop and test his stamina. Love knows that we need to be trained for our spiritual flights, and it provides tests for the pilgrim all along the way.
The gist of the Master’s statement is that, if one desires to establish himself in the character of the Christ, which means holding steadfastly to the realization of one’s spiritual identity until the claim of material selfhood is silenced, he must suffer the effects of persecution and affliction, in order to develop his receptive and retentive qualities, which will enable him to receive and maintain the eternal good.
The most deadly thing, as far as spiritual growth is concerned, is the harmonious state of mortal belief, which sees no clouds on the horizon to mar the mesmerism, or to startle mortal man out of this mortal dream. What will stir one to mental activity, unless something jars him, unless some phase of error shakes him? Certainly a false peace, serenity or security in matter must be broken. Mortal man must be shaken out of his complacence. Otherwise he will never make an effort sufficient to throw off mortality, or to accomplish anything constructive along spiritual lines. The effort necessary to change one’s thinking from the human to the divine status requires something more than a feeble desire. It requires something drastic to cause him to cry out, “Lord, save or I perish.”
Continuous human harmony tends to wear a rut in man’s thought that is deadly to the life of the soul. Mrs. Eddy recognized the danger of this ease in error, and watched that the students in her home were stirred if necessary, so that there would be no opportunity for apathy. An even tenor of harmonious human existence is a most dangerous human condition, unless one has reached the point where he can work out his human problem through Science, rather than suffering. Unless one is progressing as he should under harmony, he should welcome whatever tends to keep him at the peak of spiritual endeavor, even if human sense rebels, and cries out to be let alone.