"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32

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PROBATION AFTER DEATH

Among other definitions, Webster's gives this regarding probation: "a period of testing and trial to ascertain fitness (as for a job or school); a state of being under supervision." I especially like this verse in the Responsive Reading from Job: "When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person." (Job 3:29)

Mary Baker Eddy writes: "Mind's infinite ideas run and disport themselves. In humility they climb the heights of holiness." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 514:7-9)

The first step in this climb, however, has to be our own recognition of a need for correction and the willingness to acknowledge a mistake as well as the resolve to replace it with Truth. Mrs. Eddy is emphatic that what we call death is not an end to life or to progress. Indeed, because God is Life, there is neither beginning or end to Life. As a child, I used to question why some people seemed so much more advanced (in character or spirituality) than others.

Now, I'm convinced that we all pass through periods or stages of growth. Mary Baker Eddy indicates this in her exegesis of Genesis when she writes: "Understanding is the line of demarcation between the real and unreal. .. This understanding is not intellectual, is not the result of scholarly attainments; it is the reality of all things brought to light." (S&H 505:21-22, 26-28) How long it may take to bring this reality to light in thought, we can't estimate.

We only know that it must, either here or hereafter, take place. Certainly, we all want to learn as much as we can and to grow spiritually to the best of our ability here and now. I'm convinced that we won't have to repeat the lessons we learn. Shall we not join with the Psalmist in declaring: "Thy face, Lord will I seek." (Ps.27:8) The Psalmist also acknowledged that none can flee God's presence-that even if darkness should cover us, the night would be light about us. (Ps.139:11)

Mrs. Eddy insists: "If you or I should appear to die, we should not be dead." (S&H 164:17-18) She adds: "As death findeth mortal man, so shall he be after death, until probation and growth shall effect the needed change." (S&H 291:23-25) She also gives this definition of death: "An illusion, the lie of life in matter; the unreal and untrue; the opposite of Life." (S&H 584:9-10) And she adds: "Not death, but the understanding of Life, makes man immortal." (S&H 485:18-19)

Obviously, then, the experience we call death doesn't solve anything, nor does it advance us spiritually. She puts it this way: "Life is deathless. Life is the origin and ultimate of man, never attainable through death, but gained by walking in the pathway of Truth both before and after that which is called death." (S&H 487:3-6) She also insists that the belief in death is "of no advantage. It cannot make Life or Truth apparent." (S&H 42:5 6)

So we might as well resolve to make the most of our present experience-to learn all we can here and now. The account in John Chapter 11 of Jesus' raising his friend Lazarus from apparent death confirms Mrs. Eddy's statement: "The death of a false material sense and of sin, not the death of organic matter, is what reveals man and Life, harmonious, real, and eternal." (S&H 296:10)

She also writes: "When it is learned that disease cannot destroy life, and that mortals are not saved rom sin or sickness by death, this understanding will quicken into newness of life. It will master either a desire to die or a dread of the grave, and thus destroy the great fear that bests mortal existence." (S&H 426:16)

Let's resolve to shed this "great fear" and to go forward with a conviction that "Life is real, and death is the illusion." Certainly, it is true that man lives. And that this life "can no more die nor disappear in unconsciousness that can Soul, for both are immortal." (S&H 427:1-7)

Yes, "Being is holiness, harmony, immortality." And progress, God's law will inevitably "destroy all error and bring immortality to light." (S&H 492:7-12)

Jamae van Eck