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A ‘pillar of cloud’ leading the way

From the June 2017 issue of The Christian Science Journal


Driving to a meeting last year, I noticed a light, wispy cloud—delicate, upright, and reaching high into the sky through all the other clouds round about. It was a damp morning, and on the periphery of my vision I could see a dark, leaden cloud signaling the heavy rain that had been forecast. But there, right in front of me, reflecting stray rays of sunlight, was a beautiful white column that seemed to be beckoning me onward, signifying an idea from God showing me the way ahead. 

Immediately, with a sense of peace, I was reminded of the journey of the children of Israel, and how “the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way” (Exodus 13:21). I was struck by a feeling that the beautiful cloud ahead was indeed a reminder that God was leading me along the way, like an angel message appearing as the answer to recent prayers and providing sunlit encouragement not to feel intimidated by the gloomy darkness of fretful thoughts.

As clearly as if a voice had spoken, I understood this to be a gentle nudge simply to follow God’s guidance.

Sometimes we may feel as though we are navigating our way through a disheartening drizzle of expectations, family problems, financial pressures, or health concerns, leaving us feeling overwhelmed by a hovering dark cloud of fear.

But we really don’t need to feel like that.

The Bible is a wonderful source of hope, full of promises evidencing God’s unceasing care for all, which are realized as we are willing to listen and place our trust in His lovingkindness. When she needed loving support, Ruth received this reassurance from Boaz: “And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest” (Ruth 3:11). And, when surrounded by a vast enemy army, Elisha was able to comfort his servant: “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (II Kings 6:16).

Any lingering fear will slip away when we yield to the one all-knowing Mind, letting this Mind guide and support us every step of the way. 

So many biblical promises of divine support and guidance include that loving, uncompromising command, “Fear not.” These aren’t empty promises based on naive, wishful thinking. They are accompanied with authoritative reassurance backed by practical healing outcomes. Ruth’s life was blessed with fruitfulness and loving companionship. Elisha and his servant were saved from the enemy army in a most peaceful manner, without bloodshed and with the result that at that time “the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel” (II Kings 6:23).

One of the most loving promises in the Bible came from Christ Jesus, whose life actively expressed and demonstrated the healing Christ. He encouraged his followers: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). We can take heart from this and trust that there is good reason to “fear not,” finding courage and hope in the knowledge that it is God’s “good pleasure” to care for us, to guide us, and to keep us safe and secure in the kingdom—described by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, as “… the kingdom of heaven,—the actual reign of harmony on earth” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 122). 

Ruth, Elisha, and Jesus all demonstrated the unfoldment of harmonious good, and we too can experience the real, practical, and demonstrable nature of such heavenly harmony—the “actual reign of harmony on earth”—when we turn to God with wholehearted and honest trust based on an understanding of our indestructible relation to our Father-Mother Love. Any lingering fear, or temptation to feel anxious or out of control, will slip away when we yield to the one all-knowing Mind, letting this Mind guide and support us every step of the way. As Mrs. Eddy writes: “… that which seeketh to save, to heal, and to deliver, will guide thee, if thou seekest this guidance” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 150).

When I saw that glorious pillar of cloud, I was running late, having been held up by urgent emails that I felt I had to respond to before setting off. I was heading for a meeting that I would have loved to avoid, as I felt too busy to spend time driving around the county and in meetings. I felt burdened, afraid that I couldn’t cope with my workload. However, guided by advice from a loving friend, I was trying not to clutter my mind with worries, but instead to be grateful for and responsive to all the good in my life, knowing that this good is in and of God and is the natural outpouring of divine Love. I was in effect praying to “fear not,” working to remove any sense of fear through understanding and demonstrating my identity and purpose as God’s child.

Prayerfully, I shut out the clamor of mortal mind. That is, I challenged the validity of the material thoughts that seemed to come from a mind apart from the divine Mind, God. Instead of fretting about being “held up” or delayed, I strove to reverse this thought and to see how my harmonious relationship to God was in fact upholding me. I prayed to see this trip as an opportunity to meet a valued colleague and to share ideas with her. I thought of the journey not as wasted time, but as a period in which I could pray not to be reactive to human pressures. I was “seeking guidance” from God. 

The sunlit pillar of cloud pointed to an answer to those prayers; right ideas were lighting the way ahead and helping me understand that “this unfolding is God’s day, and ‘there shall be no night there’ ” (Science and Health, p. 584). As we’re receptive to spiritual guidance, “this unfolding” brings to our consciousness the dawning of truth, within which there is “no night,” no dark cloud, no troubling thoughts, and definitely no fear.

At the end of my journey, the person I was due to meet was welcoming and had been glad for some extra time to get more work done. The meeting went well, and we finished early, leaving me time to catch up on various tasks before setting off for home again.

In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Angels are pure thoughts from God, winged with Truth and Love, no matter what their individualism may be” (p. 298). On that day, a pillar of cloud had inspired angel thoughts that helped me to be still—freeing me from anxiety and demonstrating that God’s guidance is just as available, reliable, and relevant to us now as it was to the children of Israel in biblical times.

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