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How can I be safe?

From the Christian Science Sentinel - April 3, 2013

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With all the discussion on gun control in the wake of recent shootings, one can’t help but wonder how we can be safe. Questions and arguments swirl around gun laws and gun availability, but whatever measures national and international leaders or individuals, as civilians, take to address these issues, for me the main question to ask is: What is the basis of our safety? 

There are numerous stories in the Bible depicting the followers of God facing insurmountable odds. The children of Israel were defenseless, blocked by a sea as Pharaoh’s 600 chariots and army bore down to kill them (see Exodus 14). Daniel was thrown into the pit with hungry lions (see Daniel 6). Elisha and his servant found themselves surrounded by the Syrian king’s army (see II Kings 6). Yet, by relying on God for safety in each instance, men, women, and children were safe and gained victory over evil. Even Jesus found himself in what we would say was an extremely dangerous situation. When preaching, he was suddenly in the midst of an angry mob that wanted to kill him. They dragged him to a cliff to throw him to his death, yet he walked through them—untouched, safe (see Luke 4:28–30).

In the periodicals published by The Christian Science Publishing Society, there are testimonies and articles that report life-threatening situations resolved by turning to God as the only power (see: “Danger and Violence Defused,” Christian Science Sentinel, September 3, 2001; “Sanctuary in Captivity,” The Christian Science Journal, April 2011; and “Divine Love Heals and Protects,” News of Healing podcast, August 7, 2012).

In none of these situations were weapons the answer. The answer is an unswerving faith built on knowing God, built on understanding that divine Love can and does transform a situation. An experience I had in my mid 20s showed this to be true.

I was meeting my husband after hours at his office. It had been a beautiful day, the first warm spring day that had everyone opening windows, sitting on street benches, lingering outdoors. I bounced up the stairs to the office building coatless, smiling, and inhaling the fresh air that promised warm weeks ahead. At the top of the steps, tall glass windows reflected the setting sun. A man was standing at the door. As I approached, he returned my big smile and gallantly opened the door with a big whoosh. I thanked him, commented on the beautiful day, and we exchanged pleasantries.

I knew what the man of God’s creating was: strong, innocent, pure—full of integrity, honesty, and righteousness.

This man continued to chat with me in a friendly manner as we both walked to the elevators. On the elevator he asked if I worked in the building. I said no, that I was meeting my husband. Then he asked if he could kiss me. I was taken aback, to say the least, and before I could respond, he stepped forward and kissed me on the cheek. Dumbfounded and a little embarrassed, I did not know what to say. He continued smiling. But then his face changed. He said, “Can I kiss you? I mean, really kiss you?” The smile went out of his eyes, and he backed me against the wall.

Quickly these questions came to me: “Is this the man of God’s creating? Can a happy exchange turn into an ugly experience?” As a Christian Scientist, I knew what the man of God’s creating was: strong, innocent, pure—full of integrity, honesty, and righteousness. I knew that under God’s law of perpetual harmony, an innocent conversation could not become sullied.

Here was my unswerving faith. I knew God’s supremacy, to the point where I was unafraid. Immediately I firmly said, “No!” Not to the man’s question, but to the questions in my mind, to the image that was playing before me. I pushed him away. His arms dropped, and he stepped back. Looking a little sheepish, he said, “Your husband is a lucky man.” The elevator doors suddenly opened and he got off.

Wow. That happened so fast. He was friendly, and then he wasn’t. Isn’t the suddenness of evil or danger what frightens us the most? We feel we can be unprepared, helpless, and defenseless. Was I prepared? I wouldn’t have thought so, but it turns out I was. Was I defenseless? The results showed I was not. Knowing who and what God’s man is defused the situation, to the point where the elevator doors opened as if on cue from a film director. That man was on and off the elevator in maybe 60 seconds. Turning to God as the only lawgiver, the only power, the one solution to any situation, no matter how dangerous, kept me completely safe.

Completely safe? What about aftereffects? One woman I shared this with asked me if I was afraid of elevators. I was surprised by that question because, no, I’m not afraid of elevators, or of being alone with men I don’t know. I admit I did get angry about that man’s actions. But after I told my husband what had happened and how I’d been firm in my quick prayer, he reminded me that I was unharmed and that my prayer was effective. I calmed down and became grateful for the protection. The anger melted away. My husband called security to report the situation, but for the most part that was the end of it. There has been no lingering side effect, so, yes, I was completely safe. So was that man. He was protected from doing something harmful and illegal.

When we know God, really know Him, as omnipotent and omnipresent governing harmony, we can use that knowledge in a crisis situation with wonderful, and even lifesaving, results. And if we want to be sure we are prepared for any unexpected danger, we can practice knowing and recognizing God throughout our days. Armed with our unswerving faith and understanding of God, we can have a sure basis of safety.

Amy Nickell lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and works in alumni relations.

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