The neighborhood belongs to God

THE policeman at our front door said that our neighbor's house had been ransacked. Had we seen anyone or anything? I felt cold all over. Our neighbor had asked me to keep an eye on his house while he was away. I thought he wanted me to take in the mail and water the plants. But no, he wanted me to ``keep the evil spirits away.'' He was teasing, of course, the way he said it. But I understood that he wanted me to watch his house with prayer. He's a minister, and both he and I believe that prayer makes a difference in one's life.

As Christians, we both study the Bible. I'm a Christian Scientist, and that means I also study Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. It's a companion to the Bible. The very first line of that book says, ``To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.'' 1

Well, what had just happened didn't feel much like a blessing.

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Two thoughts confronted me: ``You failed your neighbor,'' and ``Whose house will be next?'' (There had been several break-ins in our neighborhood recently.)

The policeman left, and I picked up my Bible. I needed to know what God was saying. I wanted to exchange the discouragement for healing inspiration.

Many people find that Scripture informs and rescues them in the hour of honest listening, of receptivity to God's direction. The Bible records a line of spiritual light--of practical truth--that has illumined the thought of mankind for thousands of years. To invite God to speak to us through the Bible is to enter into that shining history of the Christ, the divine healing message blessing humanity. It is to be in the company of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, the prophets and apostles.

Jesus frequently turned to Scripture in his mission of teaching and healing. Mrs. Eddy sought, and found, the Science of Jesus' teachings--Christian Science--in the Bible. She learned as a child that inspiration from the Bible heals. She never deserted that premise throughout her long and interesting life. She wrote as the first tenet of Christian Science, ``As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.'' 2

What would the Bible tell me about this unexpected circumstance of breaking and entering? How would it guide me? I opened the book, and this is what my eye fell upon: ``Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood: . . .that there be no complaining in our streets. . . . Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.'' 3

I thought about the words ``strange children.'' I affirmed in prayer that only God's children inhabit God's universe, and they aren't strangers. They're known to God and express His nature. They are His loved offspring, impelled by loving intelligence, empowered only by good. To be rid of ``strange children,'' I thought, is to be rid of believing that the real, Godlike selfhood of anyone could be unholy or unwholesome. This truth of man may not look like the fact in daily life, but an acknowledgement of this as fact brings blessings to humanity.

I realized that identifying God's creation as wholly good is ``leaning on the sustaining infinite.'' I saw, too, that in the deepest sense, the safety of our streets is the responsibility of God. ``Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.'' 4

Was it too late for me to watch? No! I felt I had to watch more carefully than ever. But the kind of watching I knew I had to do was thought-watching. Continuing to think that I had let my neighbor down got in the way of finding the blessing in all this. And to fear for our neighborhood wasn't to trust God.

As it turned out, there was no damage, and only a small amount of loose cash was gone. Apparently a friend had come to check the house at the very moment the intruder was inside. The intruder had quickly left through the front door while the minister's friend was coming in the back door. The intruder left fingerprints, was found, and arrested.

The entire neighborhood was grateful for the outcome. My ``big blessing'' was seeing more clearly that the neighborhood belongs to God. 1 Science and Health, p. vii. 2 Ibid., p. 497. 3 Psalms 144:11, 14, 15. 4 Psalms 127:1.

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