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God's guidance on my trip to Ethiopia

From the Christian Science Sentinel - August 24, 2010

Originally appeared on

Many years ago, when visiting a friend in Copenhagen, I’d gone off by myself intending to explore the art museum which, I was assured, was just a few blocks away. After walking for what seemed like hours, I found myself on the other side of town, no museum in sight – lost! I went into a shop and asked a friendly looking young man for help.

I told him I was lost and he replied, “You’re not lost, you’re right here. We just need to figure out how to get you where you would rather be.” Those charming, lighthearted words made a deep and lasting impression on me. I’ve thought about it this way: We can never be lost; we are always right here in God’s presence, held in His right hand.

I’ve often read assurances in the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s writings of God’s omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient guidance. But what does that mean? And can we rely on its promise in moments of need?

Omnipresence means that God is present wherever we are, but also that wherever we are, God is the only presence. There is nothing else present; nothing else exists that can interfere with God and His goodness.

Omnipotence means that God is the only power there is. Despite the temptation to believe our eyes in moments of challenge, there is nothing else present that can influence in any way the working of God’s omnipresent goodness.

Omniscience means that God is the only Mind or intelligence, the source of all right activity, absolutely able to guide us harmoniously through whatever situation we may find ourselves in.

Clearly, then, it is impossible to wander out of the presence of God, the safety of Spirit, the security of divine Mind, the assurance of Love’s protection. I’m grateful to have had opportunities to prove that promise, to rest in the assurance of Good.

More recently, I was traveling in Ethiopia with a friend, and when we found ourselves in a serious situation, I immediately called upon that sweet understanding of God’s constant presence.

We were taking a side trip to the gorgeous historical sites in the north, having left in safe-keeping most of our luggage and bringing with us just what we would need for a week, including adequate cash. Or rather, I had brought cash, but my friend had planned to get cash using her ATM card. Unfortunately, for some reason her ATM card did not work, and she discovered that wire service was temporarily unavailable to Ethiopia. A local Ethiopian friend had come with us, but neither he nor I had enough with us to make up the difference. We were miles from help with apparently no means of meeting our needs, such as hotels and food, let alone entry to the historic sites we had come all this way to see.

The three of us sat down at a café over a cup of tea (thinking it might be our last for a while), trying to figure out what to do. While my two friends fretted over possible solutions, I was praying, talking with God. As I quieted my thought, two quotations came gently to my aid: The first was from The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany by Mary Baker Eddy: “Remember, thou canst be brought into no condition, be it ever so severe, where Love has not been before thee and where its tender lesson is not awaiting thee. Therefore despair not nor murmur, for that which seeketh to save, to heal, and to deliver, will guide thee, if thou seekest this guidance” (p. 149-150). The second was from Mrs. Eddy’s Miscellaneous Writings: “God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment” (p. 307).

These two ideas seemed perfectly suited to our situation. As I listened, immediately an answer came. I turned to my Ethiopian friend and said, “We can call your brother. I can tell him exactly where to find money in my luggage. Then ask him to hop on a plane and bring it to us.” Since he lived only about an hour’s flight from where we were, the solution was so clear and simple. Without a word, my friend picked up his cellphone and called his brother. He had that week off from work, so we paid for his flight and the next day we had the cash we needed. And there was an unexpected additional blessing: My friend’s brother had never flown before, and he was thrilled with the adventure and was able to stop on his way home to visit relatives in the north.

My friends and I went on our way, fulfilling what was for me a lifelong dream of walking through the ancient churches at Lalibella, and seeing Lake Tana with its indescribably beautiful monasteries, as well as the source of the Blue Nile.

I found that Ethiopia is one of the world’s great treasures. I loved the spirituality of its people and the innocence and joy of its beautiful children. What a privilege to share a few weeks of my life with them and to be able demonstrate that wherever we wander in God’s kingdom, His tender Love surrounds us!

Thy hand leads me:

King James Bible
Ps. 139:7, 9, 10

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