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Standing watch in thought

From the May 27, 2013 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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In a community where violence, hatred, fear, and apathy appeared prevalent in thought, there abode beneath that angry realm of conversation and action a quiet—a watchful atmosphere of Christly love. This selfless, vigilant love was exercised daily by a few through their prayers to God for the men, women, and children in their small town. Their prayers brought healing to this community.

Was this the story of Nehemiah, or Lot, or Daniel? Or did it take place in one of the towns where Jesus walked? It could have, but no—it was a community in the United States. Some residents there recognized that we can learn from these Bible stories exactly what we need to be doing today, right now, to bring healing and protection to our schools, churches, malls, movie theaters, street corners, and homes everywhere.

Our first duty is to acknowledge the omnipotence of God, good. A wonderful, inspired thought is revealed in the book of Revelation in the Bible: “The Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (19:6). That means only good reigns, and its opposite, evil, has no place or influence in God’s creation. After all, God, good, can create nothing unlike Himself. The first chapter of Genesis sets our thought firmly on this foundational truth of creation: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (verse 31).

First John also reminds us, “God is love” (4:8). God’s love is an unlimited source of compassion, comfort, and care. God’s tender Mother-love heals all grief, fear, anger, and hatred that we may be facing today. Acknowledging this divine presence with our whole heart drives out and destroys any evil thoughts in our consciousness, and thus begins to destroy evil in our experience and ultimately in the world.

The next duty we have is to watch. Is our thought looking back at evil or forward toward the mountains of hope? We can look to the example of Nehemiah, who was watchful about what he accepted into his thoughts. God had a job for him to do, so Nehemiah kept his focus on the good he was doing to help the people in Jerusalem rebuild the protective wall around their town. He did not give credence to enemies, or even to the suggestion that the temple was the safest place to be and that he needed to be there (see Nehemiah 6:10–12). No, he knew he had to be on guard at his post, watching and working. The vigilance of his thought—watching and praying and listening to God alone—would bring about the necessary good results he was striving for.

God’s angels told Lot, “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed” (Genesis 19:17). So, instead of giving in to evil, Lot trusted and heeded God’s demand and looked up to the mountains of hope. 

Later, Daniel held vigilant watch all night in the lions’ den, and God’s angels shut the lions’ mouths so they could do him no harm (see Daniel, chap. 6). How did this happen? Daniel had already established, as an important part of each day, time to pray and listen diligently to God. This devotion prepared and delivered Daniel from the den of lions.

Jesus walked through crowds of angry people without hurt to himself (see Luke 4:28–30). He healed a mentally ill and dangerous man, who lived in a cave (see Mark 5:1–15). Jesus kept his attention focused on all the good that God is, and on the good found in God’s creation. He proved over and over again what can be accomplished if one is a watchful servant of the one loving God, and he left these words for all his followers: “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (Matthew 26:41).

Where is my thought? Is it with God, or is it partnering with faulty, mortal thinking?

One lesson we can learn from these Bible stories is found in a question that’s worth asking continually: Where is my thought? Is it with God, or is it partnering with faulty, mortal thinking? These Bible stories indicate the importance of not giving in to fear, anger, or any of evil’s clamorings for attention. Mary Baker Eddy explains in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Contending for the evidence or indulging the demands of sin, disease, or death, we virtually contend against the control of Mind over body, and deny the power of Mind to heal” (p. 380). Instead, understanding God’s law and holding to it in our own thinking destroys any inharmonious thought or action. 

The lessons from these Bible stories formed the basis of my prayers when I lived in the community I mentioned at the beginning of this article. One day, a group of angry people converged on an area school where I taught, threatening the teachers and children with guns. But I acknowledged God’s presence right in the midst of the chaos. I know a few people in the town were praying quietly in their homes, too. I prayed to know that right in the heat of the moment, God was there, communicating thoughts of calmness, sanity, and love. Divine Love’s protection was for all Her children. No one would be left out, and solutions could be found to address the anger and frustration that were being expressed. Our ardent and consecrated prayers brought healing to the town—the cultural tensions that had led to the attack melted, and “the mighty actuality of all-inclusive God, good” (Science and Health, p. 52) was revealed (see “The Lord’s Prayer brings peace,” Christian Science Sentinel, November 20, 1989). I recently talked with two individuals from that area, who confirmed that this prayerfully grounded progress in the community and the school has continued in the intervening 35 years.

We are all thinkers; therefore, we must make sure our thinking is of the right sort. Are our thoughts in accord with Truth and Love? Are we holding spiritually grounded thoughts about individuals who think differently from us? Are we quick to deny the suggestion that evil is real or able to influence God’s children? Are we accepting sin, disease, and death as a given in some instances? Rather than our accepting them in any instance, let’s practice always opposing them based on our understanding of God. As we do this, we put on the armor of Spirit and wield the sword of Truth against every form of evil. We’ll find healing solutions, just as Nehemiah, Lot, Daniel, and Jesus did—evidence of the gracious goodness of one loving God.

Katie Mangelsdorf lives in Palmer, Alaska.

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