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‘Shelter in place’? Sheltered in God

From the March 14, 2016 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

“Shelter in place,” the instruction to immediately take shelter from a dangerous situation going on around us, is a phrase we hear sometimes these days. While it may be sound advice, my main job as a Christian Scientist is to be a healer, so I can’t be apathetic about praying for a better understanding of the spiritual shelter, the safety, that can bring tangible protection for everyone.

After an incident in the news a little while ago, as I turned to God, asking for a deeper understanding of how to be sheltered and how to help others find safety, I realized the first thing that I needed to do was overcome fear. One of my favorite Bible verses was great to pray with: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10). 

Fear can’t stake a claim in our thought when we realize we are always in the presence of God. When we acknowledge that Father-Mother God is with us and turn wholeheartedly to Him, Her, that presence rules fear right out of thought. This has biblical authority behind it, and we can trust and rely on it. And it doesn’t just take away our own fear, but it can have widespread effects. 

I also thought of the power of the Holy Ghost. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy defines Holy Ghost, in part, as “Divine Science” (p. 588). It made sense to me that I (and all mankind) can find protection in an understanding of divine Science, God’s universal law of good. After all, in Christian Science—divine Science as it applies to each of us and our needs—we learn that God is with us, His spiritual ideas, all the time. And further, our very being is in Him (see Acts 17:28).

Suddenly I had an “aha” moment. I realized that what truly protects us is an understanding of our origin and where we really live—that we always have lived and always will live in God, and that we exist in oneness with Him, not in matter. We are, in fact, sheltered in God at all times.

So what’s the deeper significance of this fact? Let’s go back to God’s law, the order maintained by divine Principle that keeps the spiritual universe together and harmoniously functioning. The fact of our true origin in God, Spirit, isn’t just something nice to think about; it’s the law of who and what we really are—spiritual ideas of God, who is Love. That law is expressed in us through and through, has infinite divine power behind it, and is unchanging.

The illumined, or inspired, understanding of who and what we truly are as God’s ideas opens our thought to the power of God to overturn material beliefs that would threaten harm. To know that God is All, all good, the only true source of action, transforms our thought and leads us to respond in a manner that will promote our safety and the safety of those around us. Spiritually we’re enveloped in God, good, at all times because God is infinite. 

The allness of God is a law that dispels the belief of something “out there” or even “in us” that can come at us. Understanding God’s all-goodness and our relation to God enabled Christ Jesus to overcome every seeming law of matter and to heal, time after time.

We are already safe in Christ.

The best part about this is that the power of God isn’t just something uniquely belonging to Jesus. His understanding of it was much deeper than ours; it was complete, and inherent in his divine nature as the Christ, the Son of God. But he came to show us that we all have the same Principle of good as our source and heritage—we’re all loved children of God with a Christly nature. Jesus fully manifested the Christ, our link to God that enables us to feel God’s power. And yet he showed that this eternal Christ is actually working in each of us to awaken us to our spiritual being and our ability to reflect this divine healing power.

How can these truths help us if we’re faced with a frightening or dangerous situation? I had an experience years ago that illustrates this; I was protected when some young men attempted to mug me while I was out running errands one day (see Storey Hieronymus, Sentinel, October 6, 1997). As God’s children, we all inherently have spiritual intuition, a God-given sense of what is right. This spiritual sense enables us to respond to the ever-present Christ, Truth, and guides us as we quietly listen for God’s guidance. 

In this case, I turned my thought to God and didn’t feel afraid. Although I felt guided to stand up to the group of men (and they backed off and left me alone), spiritual intuition can show us whatever way is right for us to be safe; it isn’t necessarily standing up to someone who is threatening us. After that experience, it seemed as if I was walking on air! I tangibly felt the understanding of our true, spiritual origin sheltering both me and the young men.

It’s interesting to me that Mary Baker Eddy knew that world events wouldn’t always be smooth and harmonious, but we have a divine right to protection. Understanding this can bring safety; it can guide us into helpful and appropriate action. 

In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy writes: “The breaking up of material beliefs may seem to be famine and pestilence, want and woe, sin, sickness, and death, which assume new phases until their nothingness appears. These disturbances will continue until the end of error, when all discord will be swallowed up in spiritual Truth” (p. 96). 

Later on that page, we read, “During this final conflict, wicked minds will endeavor to find means by which to accomplish more evil; but those who discern Christian Science will hold crime in check.” Each of us can prayerfully work to hold to and deepen our understanding of God’s law, which, along with alertness, enables us to be active representatives for good in our communities.

“Sheltering in place” can take on a new meaning in our experience as we do this. It can mean, rather than becoming harried or fearful, going back prayerfully to the truth of our origin: that we are created by God, that we are made in His image and likeness (see Genesis 1:26, 27), and that we are one with Him and one with good right now. That’s who we are, where we come from, and where we live. It’s God’s law.  

We’re already sheltered in God, safe in Christ. Striving to fixedly rest in this understanding dissolves fearful thoughts that would rock us out of the certainty of God’s protecting presence. This enables us to mentally stand up to fear and listen for divine direction, knowing that God is with us. And we will feel and experience that we and those around us are truly sheltered in God, right here and always.

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