One Saturday morning during my high school sailing class, we sailed into San Francisco Bay. For weeks we’d been practicing our sailing skills while it was very calm—waiting around for any bit of wind. But today was different. There was a nice breeze, and for the first time we were allowed to sail all the way out into the bay. As the more experienced sailors, my friend and I had been sent ahead of the rest of the class.
As we entered the bay, the wind picked up, and the waves grew. We had been instructed to sail on a particular course, and while we were turning our boat to stay on this path, a large gust of wind capsized us. In a matter of seconds, my friend and I were underwater. Both of us were trapped under the sail, and my foot was caught in the ropes in the boat’s cockpit.
I was inhaling gulps of water and thought I was going to drown. But right in that moment, I felt the presence of God guiding me. I knew it was God, because I felt a sense of calm that wouldn’t have otherwise made sense, given how scary the situation seemed.
In the Christian Science Sunday School I attend, I’ve learned that God is always with me, and that His guidance comes to us through angel messages. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy describes angels as “God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; …” (p. 581). These angel messages gave me direct and clear guidance on how to escape the situation. First, I pulled both of us out from under the sail, allowing us to breathe. Then, I found a way to disentangle my foot from the ropes.
I didn’t need the wind to cease. I just needed to get rid of the fear so I could sail confidently.
We righted our boat, but I was feeling pain in my ankle and lungs and was afraid of capsizing again. I took a moment to pray for help. The first thing that came to mind was the story of Jesus calming the sea in the middle of a storm (see Matthew 8:23–26). The Bible records what happened this way: “He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.” As I thought about this story, I realized that the real problem in our situation wasn’t the physical wind and waves we were facing, but rather the “storm” of fear in my thought. Windy weather is exactly what you want for sailing, so I didn’t need the wind to cease. I just needed to get rid of the fear so I could sail confidently; I knew I had all the skills necessary to do so. The thought of Christ Jesus calming the storm calmed me. I realized that the same power of God that was with Christ Jesus was with me—protecting and guiding me.
For me, one helpful way of understanding God and God’s universe is through math analogies. For example, 2+2=4 is a fixed mathematical law. Similarly, it’s a law that our real spiritual identity is God’s image; as it says in the Bible, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). You don’t have to make these rules true; they’re true no matter what. And they never change. As time passes, two plus two will always equal four. This is also true for all of God’s laws. In this situation, I reasoned with the spiritual law that a spiritual idea of God always reflects God, so it can never be injured, waterlogged, or afraid. And as God’s perfect spiritual idea, I couldn’t be either. This recognition eliminated my fear, and the pain began to subside.
We were able to finish our course and sail back to the marina. Once we docked and explained what had happened, the yacht club officials were concerned and put my foot in a brace. However, when I got home and took a shower, I took the brace off so it wouldn’t get wet. In the shower I continued to pray with the idea that I am the image and likeness of God. By the time I’d finished showering, I had forgotten all about the brace.
A few hours later, I was headed to a friend’s house to celebrate her birthday. At this point, my foot was still bothering me a little, but I wasn’t fearful or concerned. I knew that God created me to fully express His joy, and that nothing could interfere with that. I felt comfort in knowing that, as God’s spiritual reflection, we are completely unlimited. By the time I reached my friend’s house, the pain in my ankle had vanished, and I knew I’d been healed.
This healing happened almost two years ago and has continued to help me. When other situations have tempted me to feel fearful—be it a hard test, learning how to drive, or relationship issues—I’ve thought about this healing, and it’s reminded me that God is always here to protect me, guide me, and give me peace and joy.