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True deliverance

From the September 2015 issue of The Christian Science Journal

The Bible is a virtual testament to the many ways in which God delivers humanity from enemies, afflictions, and even itself. When the children of Israel were delivered from the Egyptians at the Red Sea, Daniel from the lions, and the Hebrew boys from the flames, it was God who answered their need. King Hezekiah even said, “With us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles” (II Chronicles 32:8). 

But a simple reading of these accounts can leave us with a false impression of how the Almighty saves and protects us. Spiritual discernment reveals a God who is far more than an arbiter of human events, and prayer as much more than a request for Him to be so. A true understanding of God through Christian Science reveals deliverance to be more than some hoped-for future salvation. It is the demonstration of our oneness with God and our consequent invulnerability to threats of any kind, whether they take the form of a pursuing army, hungry lions, an intimidating boss, a fearful financial predicament, an advancing storm, or any other danger. 

Christian Science offers a strikingly different view of deliverance than the conventional one of having a human crisis set right. Deliverance is an uncompromising affirmation of the immutability of God’s perfection, where affliction is unknown and harmony reigns supreme—as described in the first chapter of Genesis

Under the marginal heading “Mission of Christian Science,” Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “This apodictical Principle points to the revelation of Immanuel, ‘God with us,’—the sovereign ever-presence, delivering the children of men from every ill ‘that flesh is heir to’ ” (p. 107). Her statement implies that deliverance results not from hoping God will reconcile human events but from knowing that we have never, even for a moment, been separated from God—that He is with us, and always has been with us, caring for us and maintaining our perfection as His likeness, even when the material picture tempts us to believe we are in the midst of a struggle. 

Believing that discord is real and therefore events have to somehow be set right is indicative of the false consciousness that has accepted the mortal dream, in which we find ourselves pleading for God’s intervention. The only way to resolve a dream-problem is to awake from the dream itself. In reality, there is no power opposing the omnipotence of God, and man dwells safely and forever in His universe of everlasting good. True deliverance is the transformation of consciousness out of the dream that a problem ever existed in the first place—and into the understanding that there has never been a time when our Father-Mother God was not holding and protecting us.

Deliverance is never a hit-or-miss proposition, or a vain hope in the improbable, or going from “here” to “there.”

Paul described this deliverance when he said, “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:4, 5). The afflictions we see in our world are false images of the material human mind. They have no more reality than a sleeping dream, which is every bit as convincing to the sleeping consciousness as the waking dream that our senses report. 

We read in the Bible that several times Elisha revealed the location of the Syrian army to Israel’s king (see II Kings 6:8–23). In response, the Syrian king sent soldiers to capture Elisha. When Elisha’s servant saw the soldiers and became fearful, Elisha told him confidently, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” After Elisha prayed for his servant, the young man saw that “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire” protecting them.

The servant’s fear made a reality of the threat. But Elisha was not in the servant’s dream. He never doubted God’s presence. Elisha’s understanding opened his servant’s eyes to their safety and dominion. As we read in Science and Health, “We must realize the ability of mental might to offset human misconceptions and to replace them with the life which is spiritual, not material” (p. 428).

That deliverance sometimes comes at the moment of our greatest need should be no surprise. Sometimes in our extremity we are compelled to give up long-held fears that have kept us from feeling God’s loving presence. And in those moments we become conscious of God’s love, and we find ourselves literally lifted out of harm’s way. 

I witnessed this saving power firsthand on a road bike trip several years ago. Speeding down the side of an interstate highway, I hit a patch of road so rough it shook the handlebars of my bicycle completely loose from the wheel. By the time I realized what had happened, my bike had drifted into speeding traffic. Vehicles swerved to avoid me, and the only thing I could do was surrender myself to God. It was a simple prayer—an affirmation of His complete control in the face of what seemed like unavoidable danger. 

My bike then drifted through two lanes of heavy traffic to the center median, where it rolled to a stop. I was safe and untouched. A set of skid marks several hundred feet long told the story. My companions said they had watched as a utility truck had come up behind me, horn blazing and brakes smoking, with no apparent way to avoid me. But the truck missed me entirely, and I never even saw or heard it. As we stood in the middle of that busy highway, all of us agreed that only God could have guided me to safety. 

Our human circumstances may seem so convincing that we feel unable to see ourselves “delivered” from the dream before us. But deliverance is never a hit-or-miss proposition, or a vain hope in the improbable, or a matter of going from “here” to “there.” It is a proof of what is already true. God’s presence is sometimes so palpable that it may appear like a divine hand in our human affairs, but in actuality it is nothing more than the mortal dream being subjugated to God’s grand design and destroyed. God promises us, “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me” (Isaiah 45:5).

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