‘Safe in His encircling arms’
Hymn 53 in the Christian Science Hymnal has an inspiring message to cherish as we go about our day. It opens this way: “Everlasting arms of Love / Are beneath, around, above.” And it closes,
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Safe in His encircling arms,
He will keep us all the way,
God, our refuge, strength and stay.
(John R. Macduff, adapt. © CSBD)
Whether it’s a short ride to the grocery store or a trip of hundreds of miles, I have learned to begin my traveling by prayerfully acknowledging that each of us, because we are in truth God’s children, or ideas, can travel free of danger. I declare that I am a spiritual idea of God and that right where I am, God is, and right where others are, God is. He is guiding, guarding, and protecting all of His ideas.
I’ve found that neither storm, breakdown, nor any other untoward experience can interfere with travel that is supported by listening, in prayer, for God’s direction. The 91st Psalm has some wonderful comforting verses that envelop us in the assurance that all is truly well under His government. For instance: “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.… he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (verses 4, 11).
I had been praying to know that everyone on the road was safe.
As we make humble, spiritual listening the bedrock of our daily prayers, we find ourselves receptive to all the good that God is imparting, good that becomes our unmistakable prompter and guide.
When our granddaughters were quite young, they wanted to accompany me to church one Wednesday evening when I was scheduled to usher. A few blocks from our church there is a crossroad, one of a series of intersections, with a stop sign at every corner. I looked both ways, saw that no one was coming, and tried to start through the intersection. Though I wanted to accelerate, I could not lower my foot to make contact with the gas pedal, even though I tried two or three times.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a car appeared, going at high speed through each intersection, including ours. There was a moment of stunned silence as we processed what had just occurred. I told the girls that I had been unable to accelerate, and without hesitation they acknowledged that God was right there protecting us.
In an address to a branch Church of Christ, Scientist, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: “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” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 149–150).
Years later, I experienced another instance of unquestionable, divine protection during a busy Christmas vacation week. My husband and I owned a gift shop at a ski resort, and we took turns closing up late at night. A winter storm developed late one evening when I was closing. Customers who were staying at the resort had been coming in until 11 o’clock, and by the time I was able to close up and leave, I was feeling exhausted and concerned about the road conditions.
Driving down the winding road, I held to the first lines of Mrs. Eddy’s poem, set to music, titled “ ‘Feed My Sheep’ ”: “Shepherd, show me how to go / O’er the hillside steep” (Poems,p. 14). Part way down the mountain I was suddenly jarred awake by the horn on my vehicle sounding continuously, even though both of my hands were tightly grasping the steering wheel. I was instantly wide awake. Then the horn stopped blowing, and I safely pulled away from a drop-off back into my lane.
During the rest of the trip home I was filled with gratitude for my “wake-up call” and for the beautiful landscapes that were dressed in pure white snow. Though I had felt overtired when starting down the mountain, I had been awakened to travel in safety and harmony during the 45-minute drive home.
It is such a joy to acknowledge God’s goodness and protection.
Several years after that there was another demonstration of protection—another proof of the spiritual fact that God and man are inseparable and that our Father-Mother God is always caring for His creation. My son and I were driving to Canada from New England one early spring. The weather was excellent for a road trip. As always, I had been praying to know that everyone on the road was safe and cared for, that one spiritual idea of God could not interfere with or hurt any other idea.
As we were leaving North Conway, New Hampshire, and heading up into the White Mountains, I heard myself saying to my son, “Let’s pull over at the rest stop so I can take a picture of Mt. Washington.” As he slowed down to let an oncoming car pass by before turning into the scenic overview, I realized that what I had requested had not been in thought; I hadn’t planned or wanted to pull over. The request just spontaneously came out.
We headed straight into a parking space. At that moment my son discovered that there were no brakes and quickly pulled up the emergency brake. We came to a jolting stop against the granite curbing. As we looked under the car, we could see the remaining brake fluid draining out of a sliced brake line. Had we not pulled over, we would have traveled several miles up into the mountains before beginning a brakeless descent.
Being prayerfully alert to listen for God’s direction when traveling had once again resulted in complete protection from any harm. We were in awe of the timing—the appearance of the rest stop coincided perfectly with our unknown need to pull over. A call to our mechanic back home put us in touch with a local garage that quickly responded and replaced the brake line. While the work was being done, the rest area provided snacks, comfortable seating, and a wonderful atmosphere to study, pray, and give humble thanks for our guidance and protection.
Within three hours we were on our way, acknowledging that it had to have been the operation of divine law—the law of God’s perpetual care for His spiritual idea, man—and our receptivity to it that had guided us at that very moment to pull over. I did get a picture of a snow-capped Mt. Washington, but it seemed insignificant compared to the immense blessing we had just experienced.
It is such a joy to acknowledge God’s goodness and protection, to quietly listen for His guidance, and to experience the blessings that follow.