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Protected at gunpoint

From the Christian Science Sentinel - December 1, 2010

Originally appeared on spirituality.com


One morning a number of years ago, I had a strong impulse to get an early start on the day, so I sat down to read the Christian Science Bible Lesson before going to work. The subject for the week was “Love.”

One citation, the assertion in First John that “God is love” (4:8), particularly stood out to me and caught my attention. It’s a simple concept, but I felt its meaning as I began to think about how God unconditionally loves and cares for each of us. By the time I finished, I felt a strong, firm, peaceful sense of God’s presence with me.

Then I did something that morning I was not in the habit of doing. I paused before opening the front door of the store and prayed, “God, help me see the Christ in everyone this day.” That prayer came from a sincere desire to see the good in everyone. During my early morning study, I had discovered quite a few citations throughout the Lesson that referenced the healing power and presence of the Christ, defined in Science and Health as “the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness” (p. 332).

At the time, I was in the retail clothing business. It was not uncommon for me to work beyond store closing hours, going through a nightly routine of closing out the day. The summer evenings were long, and at night I would see many tourists and local residents window-shopping and enjoying the evening. This night was no exception: I had just spent the past four days receiving new merchandise, and I stayed into the evening to tag the items and put them out on the floor.

At one point, I noticed a young man walking by looking inside the store. He looked familiar, and I realized I had seen him hanging around the store earlier that week. He stood out, as he was wearing a baseball jacket zipped all the way closed and a cap pulled down to cover his eyes.

The shopping center where the store was located provided underground parking at the back of the building for owners and employees of the shops. You had to go down two flights of stairs and exit through a security door to enter the parking garage. Closing for the evening, I locked the front door and started to walk down the stairs to the garage, when someone pushed through the security door, blocking my way out. I immediately recognized the baseball jacket and cap.

The young man pulled out a gun from his pocket and demanded money. The love I felt as I read the Lesson that morning had stayed with me, and in that moment I felt a clear sense of protection. I handed my money to him but remained silent. He then stepped in closer, grabbed my arm, and put the gun to my head, stating that the gun was real and that he was not afraid to use it. “You’re not afraid of me, are you?” he said.

At that moment a thought from God came, telling me to say nothing. I said nothing. Still holding the gun pressed to the side of my head, the man demanded that I lie down on the floor. This time I could feel the gun pointed to the back of my head. But during the next few moments, I had an incredible feeling of peace as I realized that the Christ was present. I knew without hesitation and without a doubt that I was cared for and protected. I found myself quietly speaking these words: “God will not let you take my life.”

As I said that, out of the corner of my eye I saw the man stumble and fall backward into the wall, the gun falling out of his hand. He had been disarmed, and he looked terrified and shaken. He quickly got to his feet, reached out to pick up his gun, and ran out of the building. I immediately got up and went back upstairs to the store, where I called 911 and filed a police report.

That evening, I called a Christian Science practitioner for prayerful help. I couldn’t shake the recurring mental images of the man’s face and the gun at my head. She listened as I told her of the situation. After a moment of silence, she laid down the law: Evil has no identity of its own and does not have any power. She went on to quote Mary Baker Eddy from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “The transfer of the thoughts of one erring mind to another, Science renders impossible” (p. 211). She reminded me that this statement was not only true about me, but also about the young man. The image of hatred was just an aggressive suggestion striking at my thought; it was neither person nor personal. God made no one to be a victim.

With that thought, I slept peacefully throughout the night and have never experienced a nightmare or flashback. I returned to work the following morning feeling completely free and remembering these words from Hymn 342 in the Christian Science Hymnal: “This is the day the Lord hath made; / Be glad, give thanks, rejoice; / Stand in His presence unafraid, / In praise lift up your voice.”

I feel the joy of expressing appreciation for Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, and have a deep sense of gratitude for my continued spiritual growth, understanding, and demonstration.

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