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Safety right where we are

From the April 2020 issue of The Christian Science Journal

What does our safety depend upon? Does it require being in a particular place, with trusted people or the right set of circumstances? Many believe so, assuming that only perfect material conditions can ensure safety. But let’s consider a powerful alternate view, one that’s been tested over the centuries—safety as a state of consciousness, an understanding of God’s presence right where we are. 

To show how this approach can be helpful even in really tough circumstances, I’ll share an experience I had as a university student where I found myself in a threatening situation, and what bolstered my trust in God during this time. On a Saturday afternoon I was studying in the downtown university library, and at the end of the day I decided to put my books in my locker in a part of the building that was shut down for the weekend. Although I would have to travel down two floors of dark hallways, I knew there was a small window in the basement women’s locker room that would provide enough light to find and open my locker. 

Walking through the unlit hallways to this cellar room, I assumed I was alone, but just as I closed my locker, I suddenly knew this was not the case. I began to tremble with fear, sensing that I was in danger because I had allowed myself to be in a dark, deserted place alone with an intruder. 

I stood in the darkness and prayed.

Before I tell you how that turned out, let me explain what my confidence in prayer was solidly anchored in. Christian Science has taught me how to find safety through what we learn from the events and teachings of the Bible. The rich collection of stories in the Scriptures provides a logbook of people who could be said to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, often surrounded by enemies and in horrendous circumstances. Yet when these people turned in prayer from the fearful human scene and looked to God for help, they found His everywhere-present protection and love right where they were. 

This points to the fact that true safety begins with recognizing man’s (everyone’s) inseparable relation to God. God does not come and go, but is ever at hand. In fact, wherever we are, God is. Why? Because God, Principle, is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient, and man lives in God as His spiritual expression. There is no place to be where divine Love is not, because there is nothing outside of infinite Love. There is no power that can counter the absolute all-power of divine Truth. And God, who is Mind, knows all there is to know—all that really is. 

No one in all recorded history recognized this oneness with his Father-Mother God more completely than Christ Jesus; in fact, as the promised Messiah, Jesus exemplified this oneness in order to show us our own oneness with God. Matthew 14 records that Jesus walked on the surface of the sea, and Luke 4 relates that he passed right through a crowd of people intent on harming him. Neither the roiling waters nor the angry mob could shake Jesus’ steadfast conviction that God was ever present, right there, preserving and protecting him. 

The Old Testament tells of individuals who proved that right where they were, they were in the presence of God’s protection and direction. And to some degree they were able to demonstrate the Truth Jesus represented even before his ministry on earth. Young David, for example, displayed a bold confidence in God’s safekeeping when he stepped forward to battle the dreaded giant Goliath. His brothers and the rest of their army stood immobilized by fears of how big, strong, and formidable this enemy appeared to be. But knowing God alone was in charge, David ran, armed with only a shepherd’s sling, to meet the boastful warrior. The single stone he shot brought the giant to the ground, proving that the seeming might of evil yields as we humbly accept that God’s all-powerful presence is leading and shielding us (see I Samuel 17). 

And what about the Hebrew leader Moses? Could there have been a more hopeless-looking circumstance for the fleeing children of Israel than the Red Sea blocking the way in front of them and an army of Egyptian chariots closing in behind them? But instead of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the challenge, Moses acknowledged that at that very moment, they were in the presence of all-knowing God; and he encouraged the people with these words: “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to-day” (Exodus 14:13). Then he raised his rod at God’s command, and a pathway parted in the waters, enabling the Israelites to walk safely across dry ground on their path to the Promised Land.

True safety begins with recognizing man’s inseparable relation to God.

These spiritually minded individuals glimpsed and humbly trusted God’s ever-present, all-powerful, all-knowing care for man to keep them safe, instead of depending on places, persons, or circumstances. Their dramatic experiences provide powerful examples for us in dealing with the minor and major fearful challenges of today. And Jesus, through his teachings and healing and saving ministry, set forth the standard for all humanity to follow. 

Demonstrating our own freedom from danger requires our willingness to recognize man’s relation to Spirit, God, as God’s spiritual, perfect idea, and that we are not subject to matter and its so-called laws, which offer only a tenuous hold on happiness and harmony. Actually, man’s dwelling place is in God, good; “in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28), as the Apostle Paul proclaimed.

An understanding and conviction of this truth ensures our safety, since we can’t get outside the allness, the totality, of God and His laws of goodness and harmony. Because God, Principle, is All-in-all, no fearful suggestion can enter His omnipresence, no harmful motive can oppose His omnipotence, and no clouded thought can dim the light of His omniscience. Whatever poses as a threat can be seen as a mistaken sense of existence as material, or a combination of good and evil. Since God, good alone, is present and active, it is provable that we are actually safe every moment.

Now back to my experience in the cellar. 

As I acknowledged that God, infinite Love, was present right then and there governing the situation, the trembling was replaced by an inner sense of calm. Now alert and listening for direction, I reached out to divine intelligence to show me what action to take. And a realization came immediately. I recognized that because I hadn’t actually seen anyone or heard any sound, this awareness that someone was in the locker room was God revealing to me what I needed to know. The one all-knowing Mind, God, had forewarned me and was directing and keeping me safe.

Next, the thought came not to leave by the way I had come in. I was so sure that this was divine direction that I headed for a distant exit at the far end of the locker room, even though the closest door was mere steps away and the other exit was farther from the light.

As I moved out of the cellar and up the hallway stairs, I saw a man step out of the shadows of the women’s locker room, now far behind me. I climbed the steps to the library and alerted the school authorities about the intruder. And I stayed on campus until the locker room was secured.

Before joining my college friends that evening, I stopped in at a nearby Christian Science Reading Room to prayerfully consider the spiritual lessons I had just prayed with and learned more about, and how I could put them into even broader practice. 

I had seen such wonderful evidence of the presence and might of God, guarding and guiding His child. I had seen proof that I could never leave the safety of God’s loving and protecting care, because it is always available to each one of us. Gratefully, now I claimed this sheltering care for everyone on campus.

No matter where we are, no matter who is present or what the circumstance, our omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient God is embracing us. We are forever safe and can prove it!

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