The Nature of Illusion

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A Sermon Given in the Plainfield Church February 15, 1987

Good morning, loved children of God.

There was something very interesting the other day on television, concerning the nature of illusion, the nature of misdirection; how human thought can be misdirected to think it sees what it does not see. A famous magician named Blackstone performed a trick for twenty years that no one was ever able to figure out. The trick was this: The magician appeared on a stage before a thousand people, and began to pull handkerchiefs out of a tube. After a time, a young lady stepped out of this tube. He continued the performance, removed more handkerchiefs from the tube, and a donkey appeared. For twenty years he fooled people with this illusion. And when he retired, he was willing to tell how he had done it. He said, “It was clearly a case of misdirection” (which is what magic is all about, and also what animal magnetism is all about). While he was pulling the colorful handkerchiefs out of the tube, people were much engrossed. And when the young woman appeared, they were very engrossed. And while that audience of a thousand was watching him do this, he quietly took two steps into the wings, brought out the donkey that was waiting, covered it with colored kerchiefs, and brought it out to the front of the stage; and no one saw him do it. For twenty years, no one ever saw it, because they had been misdirected to be watching what wasn’t the main event.

Pretty good lesson for the metaphysician, isn’t it? We have been misdirected by mortal mind to watch a human body, or a human pocketbook, or a human business situation; and to be so wrapped up in that, that we don’t see that right where the problem seems to be, there the Lord God Almighty is in full power and presence, and complete willingness to care for His creation. What a good lesson! If you’re ever tempted to get so wrapped up, and obsessed by a problem, declare that you will not have your thinking misdirected by the devil, so that you are not able to see the tremendous good and harmony that are right there with you, ready to operate in your behalf.

The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” In all thy ways. Do we, as we go about our affairs, see that God is present in every situation? If we’re in a triumphant state of mind, the temptation is to think, “Well, I don’t really need Him now; I’ll wait until later.” And if we’re in a defeated state of mind, the temptation is, “I’m sunk so low that He wouldn’t even hear me, so what’s the use?” That’s the way error always works, to get you to lean on this feeble thing called your own understanding, which is misdirected thought; and it will keep you in the realm of illusion, accepting what isn’t good, until you finally rouse yourself and realize that you can call upon a God so great, so glorious, so kind and merciful, and have His power operate in your behalf to wake you from the hypnotized state that animal magnetism would try to put you in.

The Bible tells us, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delighteth in his way.” God delights in us. God is delighting in every one, watching over, caring for, protecting us. This kind, good, loving God answers prayer and cares for all His creation. There’s nothing in this universe that is outside of God’s love and care. There is no unhealable disease. There is no unforgivable sin. There is no impossible situation. God never said that; and therefore, we do not need to be misdirected into believing what could not possibly be true. The hogwash of the devil is unacceptable to the man who walks with God.

We heard a very interesting story the other day from a fine Scientist, a friend of ours. He saw an old friend after many, many years and was led to remark on what beautiful teeth she had. He’d never noticed them before. And she said, “Well, that’s an interesting story; and I’d like to tell you what happened to me.” She said she’d been having trouble with her teeth and had gone to a dentist. He said, “All your teeth are discolored and decayed, and they need to come out at once.” And she said, “Well, I don’t want to do anything about it right now. I will contact you later.” And she took this problem to God. She refused to let her thought be misdirected by materia medica calling itself dentistry. And she decided that she was going to see the perfect man everywhere. She found a beautiful verse in Song of Solomon which said in essence, “Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep; none of them barren; all perfect.” She began to study Mrs. Eddy’s writings; and she found an interesting fact: That two words were always coupled in Mrs. Eddy’s writings. These words were “discord” and “decay.” As she thought more deeply on it, she realized she needed to go back into her experience, and see that there had never been discord from the moment she appeared on this planet. She needed to wipe out the belief that any discordant situation had ever taken place in her life. And so she did. She worked at this for many months, beholding the perfect child of God everywhere she went, making sure she didn’t see anybody unloving, impatient, sick, or hateful, refusing to let error misdirect her thought. After many months, she went back to the dentist. He examined her and said, “These are not the same teeth,” because they were perfect, bright, and beautiful. And they showed in her mouth as they never had before, and there was not one trace of decay.

Think about it: “Discord” and “decay” always coupled in our Leader’s writings. Go back in your thinking and make sure that you haven’t stored some picture of discord that may have seemed to happen to you in years past, that you aren’t keeping it around where it can spring up and bring forth a nasty picture, one that God never made, that God does not support; and therefore, that with a clear understanding of Him, can be destroyed.

We had a long-distance call this morning from someone who had received our magazine, “Healing Thoughts,” through the mail. They said they were deeply impressed by the content, that it was so full of spiritual power and love. They said the magazine begins simply. The things that first appear are simple and easy to understand. But about halfway through, it turns and becomes profound. They said that the way it had been put together could have been by nothing other than God’s direction and plan. It has been God directing every thing we’ve been doing here. It’s been God upbuilding this church, into a widespread membership of wonderful workers. Let’s put our prayers behind this lovely magazine and know that its blessing is spreading. We’ve had many good reports. It’s going everywhere, blessing and healing.

Our church is made up of God’s ideas claiming their immortal privilege to do as the Bible says, “becoming the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in,” the restorer of Mary Baker Eddy’s pure and wonderful sense of church. This is our God-appointed mission and it’s our God-given right to fulfill it. It’s our God-given joy to walk in this path, with triumph, tenderness, and love. Love opens every door. It heals as nothing else will. As Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health, “The tender word and Christian encouragement of an invalid, pitiful patience with his fears and the removal of them, are better than hecatombs of gushing theories, stereotyped borrowed speeches, and the doling of arguments, which are but so many parodies on legitimate Christian Science, aflame with divine Love.” (p. 367) And also, in the trial, Science and Health tells us, Christian Science (the counsel for Mortal Man, who has been condemned to death in the Court of Error) looks at the patient with utmost tenderness, and brings about his healing. Let’s look at each other with utmost tenderness. And let’s look at the world in the same way. This will heal as nothing else can.

And let’s keep on thanking God for our beloved Leader, Mrs. Eddy, who humbly and faithfully followed God’s direction. In that way we’ll never stray from the right path.

Wherever I am, no matter what I am confronted with, I must see the man God made. And most of all, I must love him.

Doris White Evans

The kingdom of heaven is at hand: Wherever God is, is heaven, and He is everywhere, omnipotent and omnipresent.

Mary Baker Eddy

Those who have turned to the fountainhead of Being for the solution of any problem, have brought such titanic force into intelligent activity, that the results may seem incredible.

Mary Baker Eddy

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