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Angels by our children’s side

From the September 5, 2011 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


For all parents, the safety of their children is of paramount importance, from the time they take their first steps and their horizons widen beyond their mother’s arms, to the time their horizons broaden worldwide and they “go travelling” or maybe take up military service. In between, there is a whole series of “firsts” and experiences that sometimes cause parents anxiety—the first day of school; the first sleepover, the first late-night party, the new driver’s first journey alone in the car, and ultimately the journey to independence at college. The paradox of parenting is the natural desire to hold your children close and safe while progressively letting them go! 

Whether a child is in the next room or on the other side of the world, I’ve found that one way I take the best care of my children is by knowing that they are in the care of their Father-Mother God, whose love, wisdom, and government can be felt and known everywhere. This is because God is present and active everywhere. God’s love for every child generously equips him or her with every quality needed to be successful and safe—qualities such as honesty, wisdom, self-discipline, perception, and unselfishness. The parent’s role is to recognize and nurture these divinely derived qualities in themselves and in their children.

Children may gradually move away from their parents’ “hands-on” care, but they can never leave the care of their heavenly Parent, nor loosen their relationship with Him. This relationship is eternal! In fact, no matter at what stage of life we find ourselves, we are always parented by the fatherhood and motherhood of God, kept safe and supplied with all that we need. God’s parenting isn’t limited to young children and families—He nurtures all, as well as those who are single, including single parents, career professionals, and the bereaved. As Mary Baker Eddy noted in her book, Science and Health: “Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation” (p. 332).

Prayer that unfolds along these lines has been an effective and essential parenting tool for me that releases me from worry and frees my children to advance and adventure unencumbered by parental anxiety. Media images, films, and television drama invite the imagination to run riot with depictions of danger, including the fear of falling victim to unscrupulous behavior, often unfairly doubting people’s hospitality and goodwill. Fear of any sort is best faced and overcome. We can achieve this through an understanding of God as Love, always present as the principle guiding thought and action.

At the end of her first year in college, my daughter went with an organized group of ten students from England to work on a project to build a school in a remote village in Tanzania. She found the work physically hard but very worthwhile, and she developed a love for the villagers and a respect for both their traditions and their desire to move forward with modern education for their children. Two years later, she decided to return on her own to see how the project was taking shape and to renew the friendships she had made with the local people. 

I felt comforted and confident that my daughter would be in the company of angels on her travels. 

A couple of weeks before she was due to leave, we began to question whether it was a good idea for a young European girl to travel alone in rural Africa, especially as nobody at her destination was expecting her. It was only many months later, that our daughter admitted that she had the same thoughts, but at the time, she was determined to go and we could not persuade her to reconsider her plans. All I could do was pray!

I have always loved the promise that God gave to Moses as he prepared to lead the children of Israel to the land of Canaan: “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared” (Ex. 23:20). It was echoed by the Psalmist, centuries later, when he said that God “shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (Ps. 91:11).

I felt comforted and confident that my daughter would be in the company of angels on her travels. But more than a comforting idea, there is a principle behind these declarations. From her close study of the Bible, Mary Baker Eddy deduced and revealed that angels are “God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality” (Science and Health, p. 581).

This assured me that God’s thoughts were passing to both my daughter and to everyone whom she encountered on her travels. Her safety was confirmed by the words of a verse from a hymn that I prayed with during this time: 

O perfect Life, in Thy completeness held,
None can beyond Thy omnipresence stray;
Safe in Thy Love, we live and sing alway
Alleluia! Alleluia!
(Violet Hay, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 66)

My daughter and I discussed these ideas together before she left and I cherished them every day she was away. After flying into Nairobi, Kenya, she travelled to Tanzania by local buses and occasionally, taxis. Even though this was only a few years ago, it was just before mobile phone networks were widespread in Africa, yet I received very brief but reassuring text messages from her such as, “In Moshi.” When she returned home after six weeks of adventures she reported that everywhere she went there had been people to give her whatever help she needed. [See sidebar.]

Imagine how I felt when she told me, “Everywhere I went, there were angels”! And truly there were! God’s thoughts inspired the motives and actions of the people she met. This was the practical care of her Father-Mother God, care that could never have been provided by her father and me.

Since that trip, my children have travelled extensively and, at times, courageously, and I have always felt confident about their safety. In fact, I have come to understand that there is actually a divine law of safety. It is based on the biblical premises that God is Love (see I John 4:8) and that every child, man, and woman is made in the likeness of God (see Gen. 1:26), and therefore in the likeness of Love. 

In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy drew the conclusion that “divine Love is infinite. Therefore all that really exists is in and of God, and manifests His love” (p. 340). These two simple sentences constitute the divine law of safety. They tell us that there is no limit to the presence and power of Love, that Love is everywhere. All that we can be, know, interact with or be in contact with expresses the nature of God as Love and is clearly evidenced in kindness, cooperation, and respect. Divine Love rules out both hatred and fear. Love is the origin and quality of the thoughts of every citizen in every country. To recognize the allness of Love is to invoke the law of safety and protection, and to identify everyone with Love is to obey it. Divine Love itself enables us to do both! 

_____________________________

In 2005 I travelled to Tanzania to visit a small rural village 45 minutes from the seaport city of Tanga. I had worked there on an education program in 2003, and in the intervening two years, I had raised a sum of money from a university theater company that I co-directed, which I wanted to deliver to the local inhabitants to support the on-going program. Getting to and from the village presented many practical challenges and travelling alone demanded a great deal of mental strength. I had attended the Christian Science Sunday School and had learned that God is always with me. And I was encouraged by the spiritual ideas my mother shared with me in preparation for the trip. So I was conscious of the practical ways in which divine Love met my needs and contributed to my safety. And I found that wonderful things happened.  

For example, early on the trip, I had to change from one bus to another on the other side of town and a young boy offered to show me the way and carried my bags. When I arrived in Tanga, the town nearest to the village I intended to visit, I asked a taxi driver to take me to the hostel I had booked. He told me that the part of town in which it was located was not safe at that time because of rivalry between the town’s own football team and a visiting team, and so he offered to take me to a safer hotel. The next day, I ventured forth to find a way to get to the village and to my surprise, I found that the local leader of the education program was in town for the day. He was very pleased, and equally surprised, to see me and took me to the village straight away. Finally, after a successful stay, I made the journey back to Nairobi on a very crowded bus, sitting next to a man who talked to me for the entire day-long journey, barely drawing breath. By the time we arrived at the bus station late at night, I felt that I knew him so well, that when he offered to find me a safe taxi and accompany me across town to my destination, I accepted. What’s more, he refused to take any payment for my share of the taxi ride.   

A verse from a hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal says:

O longing hearts that wait on God
Through all the world so wide;
He knows the angels that you need,
And sends them to your side,
To comfort, guard and guide.
(Violet Hay, No. 9)

I really felt that everywhere I went, there were angels!

 — ,  


Lindsey Taylor is a Christian Science practitioner. She lives in Gloucester, England.

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