One winter evening, while I was driving back to my college with two friends after an evening out, my car hit a patch of ice and spun out. We were all pretty scared, but I was so grateful that we were very quiet and nobody panicked. The car was heading toward the metal guard barrier at the edge of the road and spinning around.
All of a sudden, I heard the quietly reassuring voice of my friend, whom I trusted very much, telling me very calmly and authoritatively to put on the brakes. I knew from my driver’s education classes that when you are spinning out on ice, you’re not supposed to hit the brakes, but as I heard this voice I felt a clear sense that it was, nevertheless, the right thing to do in that moment. I put on the brakes, and the car came to a gentle stop, and we were even facing the correct direction on the road. We all caught our breath, confirmed everyone’s safety, and then continued driving.
I quickly thanked my friend for telling me to brake, as I never would have thought to do that. He and the other friend in the car looked at each other. They told me that no one had said anything; they had just been silently praying.
There was no question in my mind that it had sounded just like my friend’s voice, though, and I realized that the clarity and trust that had inspired me had been exactly what I needed to hear. I was so grateful for the immediacy of what I then realized had been an angel presence, meeting the moment’s need exactly.
By that, I don’t mean that a physical being was talking to me. Mary Baker Eddy explains in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures that angels are “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). Since God is ever present, His thoughts—His angels—must be ever present, as well. When we’re willing to prayerfully listen, we can perceive inspiration that keeps us safe.
Throughout the Bible, we read accounts of restoration and protection when people encountered angels—glimpsed something of a deeper sense of God’s presence, of the spiritual reality of salvation and health. In one instance, the Syrian army had been sent to capture Elisha, the Hebrew prophet, and his servant was terrified when he saw the army the enemy had sent (see II Kings 6:8–23). Elisha, though—and ultimately the servant, too—saw that heavenly hosts were surrounding them, protecting Elisha from the wrath of a vengeful king. When the tables were turned, and it was actually the Syrians that were captured by the army of Israel, Elisha then told the king of Israel not to kill them, but instead to feed them and send them home. Vengefulness or apathy didn’t win the day.
Do such angels change the nature of reality? Do they intercede on behalf of those who pray, and perhaps leave others out? No, they are indications of the immediacy of God’s saving presence for all. Elsewhere in Science and Health, we read: “My angels are exalted thoughts, appearing at the door of some sepulchre, in which human belief has buried its fondest earthly hopes. With white fingers they point upward to a new and glorified trust, to higher ideals of life and its joys” (p. 299).
Because our reality is actually spiritual, the manifestation of God, it reflects God’s unchanging good. Revenge, anger, and violence are not included in God’s reality (the only reality). God’s angel messages uplift receptive thought to a correct view of God and man, including our native peace and brotherhood.
A statement remarkable for its depth, clarity, and brevity, is given in Science and Health; it is “the scientific statement of being,” and it is founded not on physical evidence, but on the revealed truth of God’s being. It includes this line: “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all” (p. 468). Mind, here, is a synonym for God. When we consider that God is good, and therefore created everything good, it makes sense that God is “All-in-all.” God is not divided into a number of manifestations, but rather, is expressed in infinite ways.
God’s angel messages uplift receptive thought to a correct view of God and man, including our native peace and brotherhood.
Therefore, as God’s exalted thoughts, angels help us feel, see, and experience the depth and breadth of the reality that is God and His expression, and they destroy the misconception of an opposing existence, experience, or power.
It can often seem as though evil is the end of the story, so to speak. Sometimes the evidence of another power—evil, anger, sickness, death—seems so apparent that it can be hard to doubt its reality. For example, after Jesus was crucified, the disciples went back to their old lives in the face of what appeared to be a tragic evil. A few followers came to Jesus’ tomb to see where he was laid.
But instead, an angel appeared, transforming their entire sense of the scene. Those at the tomb heard this message: “He is not here: for he is risen” (Matthew 28:6)! We can imagine the uplifting of their hearts as they dared to believe that all might not be as it had seemed. Sure enough, the disciples were soon reunited with Jesus, and soon after, as is described throughout the book of Acts, they went on to spread the gospel and do the works that Jesus had taught them to do.
So in our lives, when it may seem as though we are right in the thick of things, with darkness fast closing in around us, we have the right to remember that the angels are always present with us. They represent not just a promise of salvation, but the actual rejoicing that salvation—health and heaven—is present now. The spiritual interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer, found in Science and Health, makes this abundantly clear: Not only can we pray to recognize “Thy kingdom come,” the coming and the presence of God’s kingdom, but we can acknowledge that “Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present” (p. 16).
This is the reality of life: that God is Life, and as the expression of divine Life, we are intact—entirely upheld by, and at one with, God, eternally. We can practice listening for, witnessing, the angels that show us God’s love. It’s a joy to respond to God’s angels, to trust them and be alert for them. It’s a wonderful daily discipline that we can nurture, to pray to have our eyes opened to see what God has already done. His angels are sheltering, guiding, and illuminating the way forward. As the second verse of a hymn I love says:
Lord, open my eyes that I may see
Your presence everywhere,
My dwelling circled by Your might,
My mountaintop aflame with light,
The shining sentinels of Your love
Triumphant in this hour.
For You with me are greater far
Than all the seeming evils are.
Be still, O heart, and trust
God’s omnipresent power.
(Elizabeth Glass Barlow, alt., Christian Science Hymnal: Hymns 430–603, No. 527, © CSBD)
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