My neighbor is a fisherman. Walking the dogs near our home one morning, I saw his little boat safely anchored in the small harbor. It was a lovely day, and the sea was calm. As I looked beyond the boat to the large expanse of sea beyond, I began to wonder how it must feel to be out earning a living in that little boat when high winds are causing big waves to throw themselves at the rocks and crash against the sea wall. I asked myself, “How would I feel? Would I be afraid? Would I panic and fear for my life?” As I stood pondering this, the thought came, “But boats are made to stay afloat!”
How important, then, to keep the boat watertight. Any chinks in the hull, and the water will find them and seep in. And if they go undetected, we might soon find our boat filling with water, which would lead to trouble.
The coronavirus pandemic has been causing huge waves of disturbance worldwide, and in the midst of this challenge the government of the United Kingdom has often used the familiar expression “We are all in this together.” It is comforting to know that we are supporting and helping each other during this difficult time through deeds of kindness and unselfed love. Of course, while we are all facing the same crisis, our experiences may be vastly different.
There is an account in the Bible of a time when Christ Jesus was in a boat crossing a lake with his disciples (see Mark 4:35–41). Soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was asleep at the back of the boat, and the disciples woke him. Fearing for their lives, they asked, “Carest thou not that we perish?” Immediately, Jesus “arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”
We can choose how we steer our mental “boats” through turbulent times.
They were all in the same boat, but the disciples’ experience was entirely different from their Master’s. Where the disciples saw a raging storm and were filled with concern, Jesus was aware of stillness and calm. Where they felt fear, Jesus was at peace. Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Jesus’ true and conscious being never left heaven for earth” (No and Yes, p. 36). Never for a moment did he rely on the testimony of the physical senses for an accurate record of God’s wholly good creation.
We, too, can choose how we steer our mental “boats” through turbulent times. We can do our best to maneuver through tricky times with a mixture of frustration and patience, fear and love—or we can drop anchor for a moment and humbly acknowledge God’s omnipotence and omnipresence. A promise can be found in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which says, “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” (p. 494). The book’s author, Mary Baker Eddy, proved this promise in her own life, and we can prove it in our experience, too.
To maintain our course amidst turbulent waters requires courage, but if we have divine Love at the helm and an unwavering faith in God’s love for all of His children, we can find our way safely into calmer waters. Mrs. Eddy puts it this way in an address published in another of her books: “We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 113).
When news of the coronavirus pandemic hit the headlines, my husband and I were preparing to move house. With a lockdown imminent, our moving company contacted us to ask if we could be ready ten days earlier than planned. They explained that in an endeavor to move as many customers as they could, they would do our move in two loads, the second one to follow three days after the first. Because of work commitments, my husband hadn’t been able to pack up all his tools, machinery, and essential equipment, so we agreed that I would go with the first load, and he would follow in three days with the rest.
I felt surrounded by God’s love.
The day before the second load was due to come, the lockdown was enforced, so there could be no move. But the contents of the workshop had to be moved out of the house to avoid incurring costs we couldn’t afford. This resulted in my husband being delayed from joining me for a further ten days.
Realizing that I was alone in isolation in an area I didn’t know at all, with neither internet nor telephone connected because I had arrived so early, I began to feel overwhelmed. I didn’t even know where the shops were. I hadn’t expected to be alone there for ten days, and it all felt quite unsettling.
Then the thought came, “Now I know how John felt when he was exiled to Patmos!” A follower of Christ Jesus, John was banished to this small Greek island, where, having been taken away from all that he knew, he was left alone. Clearly, his situation was much more severe than mine, yet his example spoke to me when swift on the heels of this thought came the message “Well, I don’t imagine John spent his time in tears and feeling sorry for himself!” John explains in the book of Revelation, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (1:10). His thought was uplifted and ready to receive the spiritual truths that were about to be revealed to him.
This realization brought a shift in my thought, and I started to feel grateful for the incredible way I had been “express-lifted” to my new home just before everything closed down.
The following morning, I went for a walk and continued expressing gratitude for the beautiful scenery and the wonderfully peaceful location. While I was walking, this message came clearly to my consciousness: “God will put his angels in charge of you to protect you wherever you go” (Psalms 91:11, Good News Translation). I thought, “Wow! God has put His angels in charge of me! A multitude of the heavenly host surrounds me!” Science and Health gives this spiritual definition of angels: “God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality” (p. 581). I knew that what I needed to do was listen to and obey these spiritual messengers that were guiding and guarding me.
Later in the day, as I started to unpack, I came across a little wooden trinket in the shape of an angel, with these words inscribed: “Angels are all around you.” I felt surrounded by God’s love.
The ten days passed quickly. A neighbor spoke to me from a distance, another neighbor popped a welcome card through my door, and the telephone company managed to get me sufficiently connected that I was able to place an online grocery order. Never again during that period did I feel alone or concerned. My husband joined me after the ten days, having found a secure location to store all his workshop contents until the lockdown lifted.
Likening our individual experiences to fishing boats on a stormy sea, we can choose to keep fearful thoughts from flooding our consciousness. We can also help repair our brothers’ and sisters’ boats by sharing words of comfort and encouragement with those feeling concerned or afraid. We need to keep a watch that there are no chinks in our consciousness where the floods of fear can seep in and overwhelm our trust in God. If we keep our focus on the “lighthouse” of divine Truth, then no matter how turbulent the waters seem to be, we will sail safely through them and into His harbor of Love, knowing we are all safely anchored in God’s care.
Yes, boats are made to stay afloat, and we can find peace in ours right now!