God’s grasp of the universe and the weather

A grass fire had started. It was out of control, and my friend needed help.

Originally published online on June 16, 2022

In the early spring of 1971, I witnessed a compelling example of answered prayer that proved to me the power of God. 

A friend and I were counselors at a large horse and cattle ranch in Zion, Arkansas. The ranch also had facilities and staff to care for about twenty emotionally disturbed teenage boys. We had set up a school in a small farmhouse on the far side of the ranch property. My friend would take about ten students on horseback across the ranch each weekday morning and teach morning classes. I would drive over with lunch around noon and teach in the afternoon, and then the boys and I would ride the horses back to the ranch house and cabins in time for dinner. There was no phone at our makeshift school.

One dry, windy morning, my friend was in the schoolhouse with the kids. As I was getting ready to head over to relieve him, we got an urgent call from one of the kids, who had run to a nearby farm. He told us a grass fire had started near the schoolhouse. It was out of control, and my friend needed help. 

Some ranch hands and I loaded the pickup truck with blankets, shovels, and rakes and sped over. My friend and I were relatively new students of Christian Science, but as I drove, I silently prayed to know that God, good, was the only power and always provided dominion, harmony, and peace in any situation. I affirmed that nothing could be beyond God’s infinite grasp of the universe. When we arrived about 15 minutes later, we were amazed to see that the fire was almost out. Everyone was safe. 

I affirmed that nothing could be beyond God’s infinite grasp of the universe.

My friend told us that he had been inside teaching when two of the boys snuck out behind the barn to smoke. They had inadvertently started the fire in the tall, dry grass that covered a large clearing between the barn and the woods. By the time my friend came out, the fire was racing along toward the dry woods, driven by a strong wind that had been blowing from the southwest for a couple of days. 

He and the boys attempted to beat back the flames with their jackets, but stopped and pulled back as the fire burned out of control. Once the kids were safe, my friend turned away from the fire to quietly pray, affirming the truth that God—infinite, omnipotent Spirit—was present and in control. Just as the fire reached the woods and the first tall pine tree had caught, the wind suddenly reversed direction and blew the fire back on itself, snuffing it out. 

When we arrived, you could see the burned grass and a half-burned tree, still smoldering—one half charred and barren, the other half green and untouched. It seemed miraculous to the kids and the ranch hands. There was no rational explanation for how the wind could have reversed itself like that. Without that change, it could have turned into a major forest fire. After the fire was out, the wind again blew from the southwest for the next few days. 

In describing his experience, my friend talked about the helplessness he had felt in the face of the fire, which turned him completely to God. He said that as he yielded to God in prayer, he left a fearful, mortal sense of himself and the situation behind. 

The Bible includes compelling examples of individuals leaning on God’s power in this way. When the children of Israel were trapped between the overwhelming Egyptian forces and the Red Sea (see Exodus 14:9–21), Moses told his despairing people, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to-day.” Then, in obedience to God’s guidance, “Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided,” enabling the Israelites to escape to safety. 

In another instance, Jesus rebuked and stilled a raging storm at sea along with his disciples’ fear (see Mark 4:36–39). In doing so, he must have seen through the apparent danger and discord and was conscious of the kingdom of heaven with its perfect calm and peace, right where the storm seemed to be.

Is the weather external to consciousness and beyond our ability to see it as under God’s control? Or could a better understanding of the omnipotence, allness, and nowness of God lift each of us to spiritually perceive God’s wholly good atmosphere of calm and peace right where unsettling and threatening weather events seem to be—even if they are believed to be related to forces outside of God’s control, such as climate change? The Christian Science textbook states, “Mortal mind sees what it believes as certainly as it believes what it sees” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 86).

Safety and healing are the practical outcomes of a clearer understanding of all-encompassing spiritual reality.

In a biography of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer, a reminiscence by one of her students describes a time when a cyclone threatened Mrs. Eddy’s home in Concord, New Hampshire. Upon being told of the impending storm, Mrs. Eddy went to the verandah at the back of the house. The student, Clara Shannon, joined her a few minutes later, and says: “She was looking up, and I could see by the expression on her face that she was not seeing clouds but was realizing the Truth. I saw the black clouds turn to indigo, the indigo to light grey, the light grey turn to white fleecy clouds which dissolved . . . and she said to me, ‘There are no clouds to hide God’s face, and there is nothing that can come between the light and us—it is divine Love’s weather’ ” (Yvonne Caché von Fettweis and Robert Townsend Warneck, Amplified Edition, pp. 354–355).

Ironically, catastrophic weather events are often called acts of God—a phrase that reflects outdated theological beliefs of a manlike God who causes both good and bad things to happen to humanity. But our Father-Mother God is always 100 percent good, and is all-power, radiating love and protection for mankind and the universe. More than one hundred fifty years of Christian Science testimonies of healing and protection prove that safety and healing are the practical outcomes of a clearer understanding of all-encompassing spiritual reality—of the kingdom of heaven, which Jesus made plain was always “at hand” (Matthew 10:7).

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