Spiritual alertness on a trip abroad
Earlier this year I traveled to Brazil as part of a college study abroad program. One night, as our program leaders were going over travel arrangements for the next day and giving us important information, I kept having an intense feeling that I needed to go back to my room. Finally, after ignoring it for a few moments, I obeyed the command and walked out of the meeting. Later I realized that this feeling was a spiritual intuition, an angel message from God.
I was sharing my room with our abroad leader, so a lot of the money for the program, passport and visa information, and other personal items were all inside our room. When I got there the door was open, the lights were on, and our bags were not in the same place we had left them. Papers were spread out over my professor’s bed, and water had been poured on top of them. I couldn’t find my purse anywhere, and it had my passport, credit card, and cash inside it. It was such a weird situation to walk into, and I was really afraid that things had been stolen from our room.
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Then, almost immediately the calming truth that “God is the only Cause and Creator”—a paraphrase of one of the subjects of the Christian Science Bible Lesson—came to me. In fact, it was all I could think about; I clung to it as tightly as I could. I knew that God, good, was the only power or cause, and that nothing else could be present in my experience. This truth calmed me.
I heard the water running in the bathroom next door, and I could see that the lights were on. As I walked in, I saw my purse lying at the base of the sink with water spilling on top of it. I searched through it, finding all of my things there—along with a roll of money that belonged to my abroad leader and some other small items from other rooms.
Just then the intruder walked past the bathroom. He saw me, purse in hand, and asked if it was mine. I replied “Yes,” and he mumbled an apology.
Earlier that day I had been discussing with a friend about how we can respond in a spiritual way to situations that seem personally offensive. I felt that humanity’s role is simply to love, and to allow divine justice and mercy to heal the apparent sin in the human experience. Instead of joining in on the group activities that afternoon, I had decided to read the books of First, Second, and Third John in the Bible to further understand how we can reflect God’s love. Those Bible passages are full of commands to love God and to love man, and to prove our love for God by loving our neighbor. I thought a lot about being obedient to right authority, to God’s authority, and after reading about this “new commandment” to love more fully (see I John 2:8–11), I was longing to love every bit of God’s creation.
After the man walked past, I realized that this was the moment where that spiritual love was needed.
This was an opportunity to put my prayers into practice. After the man walked past the bathroom, the messages from those Bible verses came rushing to me. I realized that this was the moment where that spiritual love was needed.
The man walked back into my room and I followed him, saying that it wasn’t his room. He then walked across the hall to our resident counselor’s room and again I told him that this wasn’t his room. Then the woman who owned the inn came, got the intruder to leave, and called the police. (They picked him up, and later told us he had done this before and had been on drugs at the time.) My professor and I looked through all our things and found that nothing was missing apart from my purse, which I had already recovered.
Afterward, I felt like I should feel victimized in some way because I was almost robbed. But instead of going down that path, I turned to the Christian Science Bible Lesson from that week. The Golden Text was from John’s account of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God” (John 11:4). This meant to me that what I’d experienced, this seeming evil, didn’t have to make me feel offended or victimized. Instead, I could see it as an opportunity for God’s power to be seen and glorified.
This helped me realize that I was still feeling personally attached to the situation. So again I turned to the Bible Lesson, and in Science and Health I read, “He who has the true idea of good loses all sense of evil, and by reason of this is being ushered into the undying realities of Spirit” (p. 325). I claimed the presence of Christ in my consciousness, and I knew that Christ, Truth, was the only power that could tell me who I was. No evil situation or condition could lay claim to my identity. After this there was no lingering fear, and I felt completely free. There was no fear on the part of the other abroad students, either—in fact, our whole group recognized the spiritual protection and supply that was really going on.
I know it was God who led me to read those Bible passages that day, and God who led me back to the room. That obedience to God, and love for God and man, protected me and everything in that room. God truly is the only cause and creator, and this truth brings peace and harmony to all situations. I am so grateful to have been able to witness God’s power in such an inspiring way.