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Your spiritual safety net

From the February 6, 2012 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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safety net
© Bruno Budrovic/Stock Illustration Source/Getty Images

Recently, high winds swept down canyons, snapping branches and toppling trees. Three hundred and forty thousand homes were without power in California. While the fiercest part of the windstorm wasn’t in my area, thinking about friends, family, and other residents in its midst prompted me to pray. It also reminded me of times when I’d been in equally charged environs. 

Besides bad weather conditions, I’ve rocked and rolled near the epicenter of more than one earthquake and have faced financial uncertainty. And yet, at these times, I’ve been able to feel a sense of security despite all that was swirling around me. I found mental freedom from fear through what I’d learned from studying the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s writings. Like clockwork, after I regained my sense of peace, the circumstances harmonized, the healing occurred, or I found the path I needed to take.

So, how can one maintain an assurance of safety and well-being while in the eye of a storm, no matter what form that storm takes? There are a few important things I’ve learned. First, neither matter nor people offer any kind of security, so it’s pointless to put one’s trust in these. One may find a material shelter from the elements or be helped along by another person, but these are instruments, not sources, of safety. Rather, throughout the Bible, we read about many people whose challenges have required that they trust a much more reliable source. 

The books of Psalms and Proverbs, in particular, offer strong reminders of what this source is. Proverbs observes, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe” (18:10). And Psalms promises: “The Lord is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge” (94:22). So our security is sourced solely in God.

The Bible’s record covers thousands of years and provides vivid examples of those who trusted in God and were protected from the elements, from armed enemies, injustice, even death. Daniel was safe in a den of hungry lions; David escaped King Saul’s efforts to kill him; three Hebrew men were unharmed even in an über-hot furnace; Ruth was cared for while facing an uncertain future; and Paul was protected in the thick of an angry mob. 

I’ve been particularly touched by Daniel’s story. Here was an honest and upright man, justifiably favored by King Darius. Jealousy among other princes who were not so favored, led them to seek ways to undermine Daniel’s position. When they could find nothing against him, they beguiled the king into writing a decree that for a 30-day period, people could petition only to the king. Anyone who petitioned to any “God or man,” would be thrown into a den of lions. This meant that Daniel would be in danger if he prayed to God, but as his enemies expected, he was undeterred. They caught him in the act of prayer, and brought him to the king. 

The king, who loved Daniel, was forced to sentence him to the lions’ den by this decree. While in the den, Daniel continued to worship the one God—the giver and maintainer of all life. When the king found him still alive the next morning, Daniel explained: “My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt” (Daniel 6:22).

Sometimes the metaphor of a lion’s mouth takes surprising turns. One time for me, it came in the midst of a transpacific flight. I’d never been afraid of flying, but this was a different kind of trip. I was on my way to Auckland on an Air New Zealand flight. Several days earlier, an Air New Zealand airplane had gone down in the Antarctic. No one knew why. And I was on the flight with the families of those who had been lost on that earlier flight. 

One could palpably feel the pervasive sorrow and fear these dear family members were struggling with. Even while getting on the plane, I found myself unusually concerned about the trip. But when we hit some patches of turbulence, a tsunami of fears overpowered me. It certainly felt like a den of hungry lions waiting to devour my inner peace.

I’ve found throughout my life that these experiences, whether real or imagined threats to one’s safety, provide a needed wake-up call. I’d generally turned to God for my safety and as a result, had found my calm even in challenging situations. This time need be no different.

Daniel's childlike willingness to, figuratively, put his hand in God's, rather than be impressed by matter or personality, provided his real safety net. 

The thought came to me that I needed to know that each of us was tucked under God’s sheltering wing. I smiled to think that even if those on the aircraft went fifty million miles out in space, God was there first. In fact, none of us could find ourselves in any place where omnipresent God, Love, Life wasn’t already present. Acknowledging God as the sole cause and creator assured me that He was tenderly governing this aircraft and everyone in it. Needless to say, a gentle calm came over my thought, the turbulence stopped, and the remainder of the flight was peaceful.

Safety doesn’t come from building an impenetrable material fortress or living in a bubble. Were that the case, few of us could expect to be or feel safe. Rather, we are all safe in God. Mary Baker Eddy was an avid student of the Bible and, like Daniel, was subject to threats and unjust accusations. She offered this firm assurance in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “The weapons of bigotry, ignorance, envy, fall before an honest heart” (p. 464). 

Daniel’s childlike willingness to, figuratively, put his hand in God’s, rather than be impressed by matter or personality, provided his real safety net. So, when he found himself within the lions’ den, his Christly nature left nothing in him to be attacked.

Could the key to this spiritual concept be found in the words of Christ Jesus, who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6)? Jesus wasn’t speaking about himself as a human being, but about the Christ—his eternal selfhood. He promised that the kingdom of heaven is within us, not “out there”—not dependent upon favorable circumstances or other people’s approval. 

Christ comforts each of us no matter what we’re facing! Jesus promised this Comforter when he told his disciples: “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16). In fact, Mrs. Eddy saw that the Christ comforts, by its very nature. She wrote, “Jesus demonstrated Christ; he proved that Christ is the divine idea of God—the Holy Ghost, or Comforter, revealing the divine Principle, Love, and leading into all truth” (Science and Health, p. 332).

This Comforter assures us of God’s love for us and gives us an unshakable sense of safety. We don’t find it by ignoring challenges, but by lifting our thought to God, getting to know Him better, and, thereby, expecting to see harmony in our day-to-day lives. 

One of the things I’ve learned from my experience on that flight and in other situations, and through my study of Christian Science in general, is that each challenge provides opportunities to better understand the nature of God as Love. No one need be in the dark regarding what’s to be trusted. So when faced with a fearful situation, when feeling like you’re in a lions’ den or a fiery furnace, lean on God and His Christ. This will bring great comfort and the assurance that all is well. 

Colleen Douglass is a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science, who lives in the Los Angeles, California area.

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