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"The Lion of the tribe of Juda"
LOUISE WHEATLEY COOK HOVNANIAN, CSB
Who of us has not, at some time or other, been placed in a hard situation, a trying position, an embarrassing predicament, from which there seemed for the moment no possible way of escape? That so-called mind, which is always enmity to God, likes nothing better than to get mortals into "a tight corner," as the saying is, and then stand off and laugh at them. "What are you going to do about it?" it seems to say... Yet as we stand there, praying for wisdom to know what to do, it begins to dawn upon us after a while that the one thing needed to break our bonds and set us free, is moral courage.
Following this conviction, quickly comes the realization that no matter how much mortal mind may be laughing at us, there really is a way out after all. If this were not so, would not the one All-power be powerless on some occasions? Divine Love has always and under all circumstances provided "a way out;" let us never forget that. So, as we look about us, gathering fresh courage now from our confidence in God's willingness and ability to help us, a strange thing sometimes happens; instead of seeing no way out at all, we now see two ways, a right way, which looks like a hard way, and a wrong way, which seems to be a very easy way. The question now arises, Which shall it be?
It should not take a true Christian Scientist long to decide, and the decision once made, all we need is moral courage to take the next step. Sooner or later, today or tomorrow or next month or next year, according to our faith in the omnipotence of good, this step is taken, and we find that with it our bonds are instantly broken and we are free to go forward as Principle may direct in that right way, though it may seem the hard way. This is wonderful enough of itself, but after a while another even more wonderful thing happens: the right way gradually ceases to be the hard way, and becomes the easy way instead. Why? Because Love is right there with us, to help us through.
It may be, however, that some of us have had to learn a much needed lesson by trying to get out of a corner by taking the other path, the wrong way, which seemed the easy way. Then what did we find? Just this, that we were simply going round in a circle, and would sooner or later find ourselves exactly in the place from which we started. For the easy way is only the hard way camouflaged, as many of us have found to our sorrow. No matter how innocent and alluring it may appear, it never gets us anywhere but right back in our corner again. In other words, the predicament in which a student of Christian Science may find himself will present itself again and again, until he has extricated himself from it in the right way. It may present its claims in a new form and call itself a new set of circumstances; but underneath it all ever lurks the same old lie, the lie which was never squarely faced and overcome, as it should have been, but avoided and evaded and condoned instead.
Another thing we find, when we endeavor to escape the issue by a wrong path: we find that the farther we travel, the darker things seem to grow. It is no small thing to have let go of the Father's hand, and of course that is what we are doing when we voluntarily turn from Principle. We no longer have anything on which to rely, no basis for our conclusions, no foundation for our footsteps, no law to govern our actions, no stability, no permanence. We begin to be afraid, and that is only natural; for when we are walking in a wrong path, we have reason not only to be afraid but to be very much afraid. God has not changed in any way, of course; but what has happened? Even that of which Isaiah wrote, "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." Has not our Leader expressed the same thought on page 19 of Science and Health, "If living in disobedience to Him, we ought to feel no security, although God is good"?
Why should we, then, why do we, ever wander into that insecure path which never goes anywhere but round and round in a circle? What keeps us from taking that first right step in the other direction? Nothing but a lack of moral courage.
Right is right, and wrong is wrong. There is no convenient middle ground. We stand at the parting of the ways. Will we choose the right path now, or do we prefer to go round in a circle a little longer?... Everyone who has ever done anything for humanity has been misunderstood more or less. Our Master himself was mocked and reviled, as he trod in mighty meekness the shores of Galilee. Then, many centuries later, another great teacher had to stand and face the world alone, a gentle, patient, loving woman, misrepresented, maligned, misunderstood. Have we ever considered what it must have meant to be the only Christian Scientist on earth? No wonder that the sublime quota of moral courage which enabled our beloved Leader, Mrs. Eddy, to take her single-handed stand for Truth, was also that which opened for her the seven seals, and gave us the complete and final revelation of Truth as contained in our textbook.
Let us cultivate this moral courage which enables us to take the required first step, thereby helping others to do the same. "On ne passe pas" should be our daily watchword, as each wrong suggestion is halted and challenged. Let nothing pass which is not in accord with Principle. Let nothing elude our mental vigilance; most of all, that phase of evil which may come in the guise of good. Let there be no good-natured, easy compromise. Since we must take our stand against error, sooner or later, why not meet every question fairly and squarely as it comes? In the presence of "the Lion of the tribe of Juda" it will quickly show itself for what it is; for it dares do nothing else. And why not take our stand at once? Surely there is nothing to be gained by waiting. We live not in a past of unhappy memories, nor yet in a future of vague possibilities. We live in the today of Mind's eternal presence.
by Louise Wheatley Cook Hovnanian, CSB
Christian Science Sentinel, September 20, 1919
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