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The shelter of divine law

From the August 21, 2017 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


Have you ever felt anxious about the weather or some other apparently out-of-control situation? We can be comforted to know that we are always under God’s protection. In the book of Acts in the Bible, we read that St. Paul survived shipwrecks and many other difficulties, including being bitten by a venomous snake. I find his many proofs of the presence and power of God deeply inspiring.

For example, before sailing to Italy, Paul prayed for guidance. He then urgently warned the ship’s owner and Julius, the centurion, that the voyage would be disastrous unless delayed. But the ship sailed anyway, right into a violent storm. Yet Paul’s courage and confidence in God were indomitable. Two weeks of storms passed. Then after earnest prayer, he encouraged everyone, telling them that an angel of God, a divine message, had told him that the ship would be lost, but the 276 men aboard—prisoners, crew, and soldiers—would be safe. From this point on, Julius and the others heeded Paul’s orders and survived shipwreck (see Acts 27).

We might ask ourselves: “What did Paul know with such certainty? Is that same divine guidance and loving protection available to us today?”

Paul knew that Christ Jesus’ teachings stemmed from this radical thought: “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). Man, God’s likeness, cannot be separated from God, and God’s laws alone govern man and the universe. As we learn more of God’s allness and that we actually do “live, and move, and have our being” in God (Acts 17:28), not matter, we forsake the belief that material laws or conditions (including weather) can limit us, hedge us in, or harm us in any way. 

Paul acknowledged the divine law of man’s oneness with God: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:35, 37). 

The divine law of oneness with God operates without partiality and tenderly governs and embraces all.

Man is never apart from God, never outside Love’s reach, never beyond Love’s care. No matter what seems to be going on around us, we can be sure that God holds us firmly in His care. Understanding man’s oneness with God can free us from present problems and painful memories. 

To be “more than conquerors” means to be ultimately untouched and unimpressed by error and its false claims. So a past situation cannot ruin the present because our spiritual identity was never subject to trauma or drama of any kind. Right when error suggests discord, we are safe in Love’s embrace—surrounded by the shield of divine Love. 

We become “more than conquerors” as we accept our present oneness with God and refuse the temptation to feel trapped by discord or danger, for man never was and never will be outside the security of Love’s presence. We can feel so wrapped in God’s love that neither mental nor physical scars, nor fears or nightmares, can have a place in our thought and experience.

Paul knew from experience the protective and liberating power of God’s law. He wrote, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). The higher law of God, Spirit, frees us from all so-called material laws or beliefs of material cause and effect, including fear.

This divine law is always operating. This law naturally applies to everyone, regardless of circumstance, race, gender, age. This law does not distinguish between believers and nonbelievers. We all belong to God as His spiritual and pure reflection. The divine law of oneness with God operates without partiality and tenderly governs and embraces all. And as we humbly, obediently listen for divine direction and guidance, our footsteps are guided unerringly.

When the Sylmar-San Fernando earthquake hit the Greater Los Angeles area, I was living at Asher House-UCLA (student housing for young adult Christian Scientists). My bed lurched, my eyes popped open, and I thought, “Earthquake!” 

I immediately reached for my bedside Bible and opened to the 91st Psalm. Amid the commotion of my roommates and housemates, I read out loud with perfect confidence that God, divine Love, was present and keeping all of us safe. The screaming and yelling stopped, and the tremors ceased. We were all safe.

I later learned that my roommates were thankful that someone had affirmed God’s all-power and ever-presence out loud. It helped them to focus and pray, too.

Later that day, I was on campus in a cantilevered second-story classroom when aftershocks swept through. The building swayed and students were frightened. But our professor, a Bible literature scholar and Christian Scientist, calmly reassured us with these words: “Be not afraid! ‘The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’ (Deuteronomy 33:27).” 

Nothing and no one can be outside the perpetual order, harmony, and security of God’s perpetual care.

He continued by quoting from the Christian Science Hymnal: “Everlasting arms of Love / Are beneath, around, above” (John R. Macduff, No. 53). The deep conviction of his words strengthened and comforted the class. The aftershocks stopped; we were safe. This remains a treasured memory.

My understanding of God’s ever-present, sheltering care for each of His dear children has deepened over the years. The constancy of divine Love’s care meshes with the flawlessness and precision of perfect Mind’s guidance. A humble willingness to rely on God can bring only blessings because the all-knowing Mind alone—not human reasoning or well-intentioned advice—knows all and therefore governs all harmoniously.

An example of this occurred several years ago when I lived in Florida. Tropical storms and hurricanes swept through Tallahassee. As a new resident, it was unnerving to see nearby trees being whipped and lashed by the wind. But as I turned wholeheartedly to God in prayer, I remembered that our Master, Christ Jesus, had rebuked wind and wave, restoring calm and normalcy (see Matthew 8:26). 

I affirmed that where ferocity and violence appeared to be holding sway, the tender power of divine Love was already there, keeping us safe. Nothing and no one can be outside the perpetual order, harmony, and security of God’s perpetual care.

It was the beginning of hurricane season, and I was preparing to move when the sellers of my new home had a change of plans and moved out earlier than expected. I wondered whether I should remain where I was until the end of my lease or also move earlier than planned, so I prayed for guidance. 

Quickly the answer came as an angel message: Move! I notified my landlady of the change in plans and she kindly encouraged me, saying that this would give her time to make some repairs before new tenants moved in.

I have to admit that this was not the path I was hoping for. But the spiritual discernment that prayer gives us helped me see clearly that the right step in this case was to move immediately, not stay the course.

I set aside the impulse to rely on human will and planning, and I resolved to let God wisely, lovingly, and intelligently order my steps. Soon the details fell into place, and I was in my new home ahead of the original schedule.

A few days later, my former landlady called me to say that a large tree had fallen onto her rental property, and she was grateful that the home was vacant! Her insurance covered the damage, and because the home was empty, nobody had been in danger. I was so grateful that I had listened to the angel message to move early, and I felt in awe of divine Love’s complete care for each of us.

Man is forever one with divine Love, God, and eternally under the protection of ever-operative divine law. Each one of us can experience this right where we are.

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